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British Promise, Armed Tanker, 1943

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Crew-mate Mike McCabe shares a fine gallery of images of his latest build, HP Models, British Promise, in 1:700 scale resin.

I have always liked tankers and had wanted to do one for a while when I came across the HP resin kit of a ĎBritish Armed tanker 1940í. When it arrived I assumed it would be based on a particular ship so started to do some research, not knowing much about merchant ships of WW2. The main difficulty of carrying out any reseach on merchant ships of the period is that the vast numbers that were built means that so many of the ships donít appear to have been photographed, and what photos do exist tend to be mainly from a waterline level and donít show a lot of detail. So picking out a particular ship, at a particular time, which is part and parcel of warship modelling of that period, starts to fall apart when modelling merchant ships.

After searching through a number of books and many internet sites, I could not find a photograph and information on what particular ship the kit was based on. Length wise, this is quite a small ship for a tanker, the only ships that matched this were two tankers built in 1943 by Cammell Lairds yards in Birkenhead, British Promise and British Tradition. These generally fitted the layout of the kit, most tankers of the period did, but these ships had two masts were the kit had only one, and they had an extended rear superstructure, also they were unarmed, but this was close enough for me.

The kit is generally well cast but bare on detail, tankers are complicated ships with much piping, access catwalks etc, these were included in the kit but in solid resin so would have to be replaced. As the only real change would be the extension of the rear superstructure I did this first, using plastic card. There are a number of deck levels on the bridge and above the rear superstructure, the kit provides these on a layer of resin which is easy to remove but does create problems. I always find it difficult to get these deck parts both thin enough and flat, and I hate sanding. My solution was to use these parts once removed as a template and to make new decks from brass sheet. A quick score around the kit parts, cut out with scissors then flattened and a new deck was made in minutes. Where the deck parts were wooden decked, I used a scalpel to score the lines into the brass. Quick and easy, I will use this method in future.

Once the main superstructures were in place, the task of detailing started. A number of deck supports were needed, I added these with a combination of scavenged etched parts, brass and plastic rod and stretched sprue. Cutting a long story short details added to the model include pipes (brass rod), catwalks (White Ensign), winches (Battlefleet), railing (GMM), davits, life belts, open hatches, doors, valves, finishing off with the awning supports which are always prominent on photos of these ships, made from coloured copper wire (Little Cars). A great deal of the enjoyment of building this model came from the research into getting if not the exactly accurate detailing of this particular ship, then at least a right look for all the deck equipment. Most of this came from what photos I could find, but a trip to the Williamson Museum in Birkenhead where there are a number of superb large scale merchant models, including some tankers, helped me at least start to understand how these ships worked.

The colour scheme is again a matter of opinion rather than fact, the scheme is correct for a British Tanker Company ship of the 1940ís, though I cannot be certain that the scheme was worn in wartime although I did come across photos of ships in wartime fit with these civilian colour schemes. The model can be either seen as wartime or shortly post-war, depending on your choice, personally I donít mind as I think it looks extremely smart!

All in all this was one of the most fun ship models I had built in a long time and I am very pleased with the results. Iím sure I will build more tankers, I just like them, it is nice to see a few new releases on this subject, I hope it will encourage others to try and build something a little different for a change and show that a ship doesnít have to have guns to be interesting.

The model formed part of the Atlantic Convoy group build at the IPMS UK Nationals show in Telford 2007.
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About the Author

About Mike McCabe (MikeM)


Mike, That is one great looking model, the base adds to what was already a very attractive looking build, it looks so real, congratulations. PeteV
MAR 03, 2008 - 08:20 AM
Hi Mike, Extremely grand looking ship, I like this one a lot. Great work. Al
MAR 03, 2008 - 10:42 AM
Mike, Great build. Very nice setting.
MAR 03, 2008 - 11:07 AM
Hey Mike: From the looks of that tanker- You've been hanging around Jim Baumann too long! Great job!!
MAR 03, 2008 - 11:42 AM
Promise fulfilled, Mike! Peter F
MAR 03, 2008 - 08:14 PM
Very fine looking ship--especially now that we can see her close up in good light! I last saw her at Telford in the usual dreary light there--she has a good feel about her--really nice colour tones! Bravo! JIM B
MAR 04, 2008 - 06:54 AM
Very nice, very different, love the pics. Thanks for posting! Cheers
MAR 04, 2008 - 09:39 AM
Thanks guys, have a go at one! Mike
MAR 05, 2008 - 10:19 AM
Sorry Mike, just catching up some days away Excellent build and usual apparent simpleness of the ship - which isn't! A very good ship and I must say, answering to Jim Adams, that this was the only black hulled ship on the convoy - it really stand out amongst all the grey hulls there Congratulations Mike You're getting better and better Cheers, Rui
MAR 09, 2008 - 05:33 AM
What a lovely looking ship. The detail is superb!
MAR 09, 2008 - 08:59 AM