Sunday 29 January 2012

1/1200 WW2 ship model availability

Some time ago I promised an expectant world a post on the availability of 1/1200 ship models - as used in my recent Fletcher Pratt naval games.  This then is it.
I will start off with the most useful, easiest to get hold of and indeed cheapest ships on the market - the Airfix 'Sink the Bismarck' set.  This set was (re-) released in 2011 and contains seven ship models - not bad for less than £20.  As well as building the ships as they are, this set offers numerous conversion possibilities.  Here are just  few I've thought of:
Hood - I have already used this to make ships vaguely resembling Repulse and the original build of GloriousBob Cordery tells me that he once used the Hood to make some Japanese battlecruisers (Kongo I think).
Suffolk - The 'County' class amounted to a total of 13 units which I'm sure could be produced with a little knocking about of this kit.
Ark Royal - I expect that this could be adapted to produce several other carriers.
Tribal - 27 destroyers of this class were commissioned, so that alone gives us a fair bit of scope!  No doubt other destroyer types could be produced.  The Tribal is a big destroyer, so could be cut down to make, for example, a K-class.
Bismarck - er, Tirpitz I suppose.
Prinz Eugen - three 'Hipper' class cruisers were completed (although five were planned).  Being quite a big ship, I'm thinking it could be cut down to build various other WW2 heavy cruisers.
The ships in this set were originally available in the 1970s as individual kits.
Other plastic kits in this scale are available from Revell.  The range currently includes the battleships Yamato, King George V, Iowa, the carrier Enterprise and the battlecruiser Gneisenau.  These currently retail for between £5 and £6 and can be adapted to other uses in the manner of the Airfix kits above.
The current packaging for the Revell kits.  They were previously sold in slimmer boxes as 'Miniships'.
 A variety of metal models can be picked up - these vary in price from reasonable to very steep and in quality from adequate to rather nice.  At the upper end of both scales are models from companies such as Superior.
My Superior model of USS Flint, an Atlanta class light cruiser.  I picked this up a few years ago and am in the process of refurbishing it.  In fact, as I type this it is in the garage clad in a recently applied coat of spray matt black.
Another maker of metal (and mixed metal and resin) kits is Mountford.  These are quite reasonably priced - destroyers are about £10 for a kit and £14 for a built and painted model. 
A Mountford 'K-class' destroyer, bought (cheaply!) as a completed model.  The pennant number is fictional and serves to provide easy identification during a game rather than historical accuracy.
I am unsure of the maker of this Japanese Yubari light cruiser.  It is a very crisp casting with separate turrets so may be an older Mountford model.
 A large range of metal models is available from Mick Yarrow.  This range has been around for a while and I think was previously sold under the 'Trafalgar' name.  These are fairly basic castings - destroyers are one-piece castings without masts but are temptingly priced at £3 for a destroyer and around £7 for a light cruiser.
MY castings of Japanese Akitsuka and Fubuki destroyers.  I have added wire masts.
 Coming at things from a slightly different angle, it is worth keeping an eye open for small vessels in larger scales which will fit in with 1200 scale models.  An example is the 1/700 Tamiya 'Tugger Set' which contains a number of small vessels including tugs and landing craft
Some models from the Tamiya 'Tugger Set'.  When assembling these I missed off a lot of the more delicate parts - partly for 'scale' but mostly out of laziness!
More metal destroyers from Ebay.  No idea of the maker(s) but these are very elegant models.  USS Fletcher (rear),Gearing and Benson (front) classes.
 Triang Minic ships often crop up on Ebay - the older ships can be prohibitively pricey (for me anyway) but may be worth looking out for at boot sales.  Some of the 'modern' ships may be of use.  These are metal (die cast) and plastic models.
A pair of Triang Minic 'Hunt' class minesweepers with (for size comparison) an Airfix 'Tribal'.
Finally, an honourable mention must be made of Lou Coatney's astonishing card models.  I'm sure that assembling them is well beyond my own modest skills (and patience!) but they are deeply impressive.

I appreciate that this hasn't been a very exhaustive or scientific listing but I hope it provides some guidance and encouragement for prospective admirals! 


David Crook said...

Hi Tim,

I had forgotten about the Trafalgar models - they are pretty basic but paint up OK. You can even get hold of some old Eaglewall models if you are feeling wealthy - and don't mind the length of the search for them!

All the best,


Paddy said...


Magister Militum also do some 1:1250 Hallmark WWII Coastal Forces. Mostly torpedo boats and other smaller stuff - but some excellent Merchantmen,m Small frigates and US Escort Carriers.


Tim Gow said...

David Crook
The fact that I don't have any Eaglewall kits tells us they they're not cheap!

Tim Gow said...

Good spot. MM charge about £9 for a destroyer.

Peter Douglas said...


Good review of the current situation. Quite a nice (and varied) collection you've got there. I've been to the card modelling sites, but they are way beyond my skill and patience.

Paul said...

Great post! I think I want a ship now.

Tim Gow said...

Peter Douglas
Maybe I should dig out my blue terrain sheet and do a 'review of the fleet' photo?

Tim Gow said...

Go for it - or at least stock up now with the Airfix sets.

ian drury said...

The Sink the Bismarck set and Mike Yarrow's prompt mail order service have kept the Walthamstow shipyards busy this January. Am pondering converting the second Hipper class into Admiral Scheer, using turrets off Gneisenau.

Tim Gow said...

Ian Drury
I have been wondering about a Graf Spee conversion too - perhaps using a cut down Gneisenau?

History PhD said...

On the pricy end, surely you should include Navis, Neptun, etc and the "on again and off again" Clydeside Models

Tim Gow said...

History phd
Fair point - I was simply using the models I had to offer a strating point.

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

OK, your fleet is bigger than mine ;)

Tim Gow said...

Maybe - but I'm sure yours has better paintwork!

Unknown said...

I've put my complementary Sink the Bismarck paper/cardstock model ship plans - colored - but not including cruisers Dorsetshire and Norfolk, which will be in my book of 30 or so World War 2 model warship plans - up on my webpage, folks.

Tim Gow said...

'Unknown' - aka Lou Coatney
Thanks for posting this Len. As I said above, I think that card models are somewhat beyond my skills but no doubt I'll find the plans useful.