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IHP Models, 1/700 Scale HMS Starling

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Mike McCabe shares his diorama build of Imperial Hobby's Productions 1/700 scale model kit, the HMS Starling, Gladstone Dock, Liverpool, February 25th 1944.

As a native of Liverpool it seems destined that my modelling has as a core an interest in the Battle of the Atlantic and the role played by the ships and men who underwent terrible hardship to keep Britain supplied. The statue of Johnnie Walker on Liverpool waterfront is a reminder to all of the crews of the escort ships who battled the worst the North Atlantic and the Kriegsmarine could throw at them and still endured. My model of HMS Starling is a small reminder of this legendary ship and its captain and crew.

The inspiration for the model came from a well known photograph of Starling coming home to Liverpool and entering a Gladstone Dock crowded with cheering Royal Navy men and women, Starling and her escort group had sunk six U – boats on the preceding escort.

Having bought the White Ensign HMS Starling, I presumed this would be a fairly straightforward build given the high reputation of this company. I have to say I was severely disappointed in this kit, the etched parts are of the usual high standard, small parts are generally good and useable, however the main part of the kit, the hull casting, leaves a lot to be desired. A heavy casting ‘wafer’ bears a warped hull, I have to say a common feature of White Ensign kits, all this can be rectified of course but it is disappointing. The main concern I have with this kit is the heaviness of shields and platforms, softness of moulding of detail and an odd, mottled surface to the hull, which is also not long enough. Having removed all splinter shields and platforms in an effort to replace these, I then started to remove most of the cast on detail with an intention to replace it. Half way through this process, I kept putting the kit away and coming back to it, I was made aware of the IHP HMS Wild Goose, so I thought I would take a look at it.

The Wild Goose kit is one of the Apprentice series of IHP kits, requiring all small parts to be provided from other sources with just the hull and main superstructures provided. When the kit arrived I compared it to the WEM effort and was pleasantly surprised. Although showing an earlier version of the Black Swan class sloop (Starling was a modified Black Swan), and therefore lacking in some details and requiring some slight changes, the IHP casting was much superior, and it had the correct proportions. I ditched the WEM hull and decided to use the IHP kit and kit it out with the small parts from the former.

Making use of what I could salvage from the wem kit, I used the 4” twin gun mounts, funnel, boats, vents and twin oerlikons and a few other parts, as well as the appropriate parts from the etched fret. In addition I added the details required to reflect the modifications to Starling from the earlier Black Swan class, mainly extending the bridge front, as well as other items such as ammunition lockers. Masts were built from brass rod with all rigging from stretched sprue, as were the floater nets around the superstructure.

The model was painted with humbrol paints and weathered using a combination of pastels and oil paint. Crew figures came from the eduard set which comes pre-painted, though I repainted them to reflect the RN crew, altogether there are around 80 figures on the ship itself, as in the photograph I was using for reference, Captain Walker stands on top of the bridge to salute the crowd.

The dockside was built from plastic card and the buildings from paper, trucks were altered from those in the Tamiya USS Bogue kit and given a flatbed body, the various drums and boxes were left over from the Battlefleet models accessories which came with the C2 freighter kit. Figures are again Eduard, in this case about 350 to represent the crowd waiting along the dock railings. Finally the water is watercolour paper painted in a suitably muddy Mersey colour.

In my opinion the IHP Wild Goose makes a much better starting point to build an accurate model of Starling or any of the earlier Black Swan class. My suggestion if you want to build this famous ship is get the IHP kit, and kit it out with small parts from the White Ensign range along with the etched fret. This was my first IHP kit but will certainly not be the last, just waiting for that Hermes…
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About the Author

About Mike McCabe (MikeM)


Awesome work Mike. Gator
OCT 07, 2007 - 12:45 PM
Hi Mike I had already seen this at MW and everytime I see it, I always discover new things to enjoy! Congratulations on another (crown) Jewel Thanks for sharing it with us Skipper
OCT 07, 2007 - 01:24 PM
A stunning and imaginative work of art by the master conveyed with brilliant photographical technique. A great pleasure to view this classic diorama. Peter F
OCT 08, 2007 - 04:01 AM
well i didn't see this one already -probably because MW's archive is so enormous that it's discouraging -so thanks to Mike and Mark to dig out those oldies but goldies I must say that I always like Mike's diorama, that's not really obvious to do some complete scene with a bit of story in 1/350 or something, but he always manages to be convincing. I particularly like the wake of the sea and the very efficient scattering of sailors on the dock -not to mention of course outstanding photography technique
OCT 08, 2007 - 04:08 AM
Very impressive. It's hard to say which is more amazing, the ship, the great water effect, or the crowd on the dock. Then when I think that it's in 1/700 scale I can't imagine painting all those really little people. Just an incredible dio.
OCT 09, 2007 - 03:20 AM
Thanks everyone, photography with me is a bit of a hit and miss thing so glad to see you liked these. The model is only from earlier this year so a relatively new one, there are about 400 figures there and they weren't too bad to paint, I thickened them up with a bit of white glue and airbrushed them navy blue. For the crowd I just quickly painted the faces but did a bit more on the crew. At some point I want to do a Dunkirk dio with a lot more figures so this was something of a trial run. Cheers Mike
OCT 09, 2007 - 08:18 AM