Wednesday 25 April 2012

Bewildering big balsa battleship bonanza

After one of the recent Fletcher Pratt games I ran at the Sheffield club I was approached by Richard Hawes, a fellow club member.  Richard told me that in the late 1970s/early 1980s his father, John Hawes had scratch built a number of warships in 1/1,200 scale.  Was I, asked Richard, interested in seeing them with a view to using them in games?  I leave you, gentle reader, to guess at the degree of enthusiasm I displayed on hearing this news.
The following Wednesday, Richard turned up with a number of boxes and invited me to inspect the contents.  He then suggested I take them home for a proper look.  This generous offer led to me spending a jolly hour the following Saturday in my garage being ever more astonished at the treasures the (rather dusty) boxes contained.  The photos below were taken during that inspection and are no doubt already having the same effect on readers of this blog.
US ships.  The box is a normal foolscap boxfile.

A small box containing large numbers of destroyers.

Another box file  - this one contains a fair chunk of the IJN.

British and German ships.

If pressed to pick a favourite this would be it - a box of French and Italian warships.

Just when you were bemoaning the lack of carriers!
I have now carried out a closer inspection (and done a lot of gentle dusting!).  Virtually all of these are made from balsa wood and plastic rod - the latter particularly delicate.  Some ships (particularly light cruisers) are rather overscale but hell, who cares?  I was (and continue to be) completely blown away by this collection - so much so that after further negotiations I am now the fleet's proud new owner.  Quite by coincidence, Richard's collection of 15mm figures has also grown considerably.......
More on this stunning acquisition as I repair (and use) the models.

Oh, and to save your eyesight and sanity I have already made a rough count.  About 150.


Don M said...

the megalomaniac in me applauds loudly!

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


What a huge collection! It would be a great pity if these ships dd not get the opportunity to sail into action sometime soon.

I am very envious.

All the best,


Broeders said...

Wow! What a find...they look fantastic. Glad they've gone to a good home.

ian drury said...

And I thought I had my work cut out reconditioning the whole Grand Fleet and HSF in 1/3000th scale. Can't wait to see some of these in action *whoop whoop ship noises*

Paul´s Bods said...

!!All hand made..150 ships in one collection! Amazing

Unknown said...

Hey Tim about a year ago I was up to the same sort of project to start scratch building a bunch of table top Dreadnaughts. This has greatly encouraged me not to give up my dream. Thanks for posting this ... Jeff

Peter Douglas said...


Enjoy the bonanza (I have the theme song in my head thanks) of windfall ships. Of course, if you find the collection too bewildering, I'd be more than happy to relieve you of the metal stress.


Mad Padre said...

What a treasure trove! And all scratch built - amazing.

Jim Duncan Wargamer said...

Great acquisition Tim!

Probably easier to list the ships that aren't there!


Paul said...

Awesome haul Tim. The sheer scale of your haul is amazing.

For scatchbuilt models the detail is terrific.

Nicely acquired.

Paddy said...

You lucky............!

I can't wait to see these staring in many Fletcher-Pratt games to come.

The best part is that they have found perhaps the best home they could ever have found. Ir reminds me of Tolkein..."One fleet to rule the waves, One fleet to find them,
One fleet to bring them all to a Fletcher-Pratt game and bind them!"

Tim best wishes to you and your 'precious' fleet.

Ross Mac said...


I think that somes it up. Wow.

Brian Carrick said...

This really isn't my sort of thing but I have to admit I am held in thrall by the dedication and single mindedness of the man who made them.

Trebian said...

Can't believe he hasn't thrown in model aircraft for the carriers.

Tim Gow said...

Don M
Meanwhile the megalomaniac in me gently gloats...

Tim Gow said...

Bob Cordery
I will certainly be using a few in my next F-P game!

Tim Gow said...

Phil Broeders
I will not only cherish but use them!

Tim Gow said...

Ian Drury
"Ping" back at you

Tim Gow said...

Pauld's Bods
There are about a dozen plastic kits in there, but most of them are conversions!

Tim Gow said...

Get building! I will post more detailed photos soon to further inspire you.

Tim Gow said...

Peter Douglas
"Metal stress". Was that a typo or a bid for some (now surplus) metal destroyers?

Tim Gow said...

mad padre
I still haven't calmed doen enough to work on them - I am overwhelmed every time I open a box!

Tim Gow said...

Jim Duncan
I'm sure there are still a few gaps to fill - possibly from my stock of plastic kits!

Tim Gow said...

Quality and quantity! The standard of work is very impressive.

Tim Gow said...

Your obvious envy is a great comfort to me! It is indeed a 'precious' fleet - but not to precious to be used. There are still many floors to sail...

Tim Gow said...

Ross Mac
Thst's not the first expression which escaped from my lips but it's close enough!

Tim Gow said...

Brian Carrick
Quite so. It's a hugely impressive collection.

Tim Gow said...

You think I should go back and complain?

David Crook said...

Hi Tim,

Firstly, I cannot believe I missed this post!

Secondly - and I can only second Bob, Ross and just about everybody else - fantastic, absolutely fantastic!

I can see that FP will be getting a bashing in due course and I reckon your collection is now in Reaganesque 600 ship territory!

All the based and many thanks for sharing this,


Tim Gow said...

David Crook
I was surprised you hadn't commented! Total fleet strength is some way short of your estimate, at around a modest 200-ish vessels.....

David Crook said...

Hi Tim,

I was including the kit you already own so I reckon you cannot be much short of 600!

Lovely collection though - a real labour of love.

All the best,


Tim Gow said...

David Crook
The existing fleet was 'only' 60-ish ships!

David Crook said...

Hi Tim,

My bad - that is probably why I am out of work - an inability to count!

All the best,


Tim Gow said...

David Crook
If you've been calculating Free Asset Ratios that might explain it!

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...


They are a "glorious" find :)

Pencil me in for when you organize the "WWII Jutland game"

I'll get there somehow!

Tim Gow said...

You'll be most welcome. The next Fletcher Pratt game will be in early-mid June.