HMS Iron Duke
by Ralf Roggeveen

1/600 HMS Iron Duke (Airfix)

The only Airfix kit ever of a WW1 ship - which none of us kids were interested in when it was released in 1969. Forty years later it had become the Holy Grail of First War plastic ship models and in my case was finally bought third time lucky off ebay. Now it is to be re-released by whoever has the Airfix moulds and brand name this week, so everyone can buy one for half what was paid for this 1984 moulding. Whether the finish will still be as crisp remains to be seen. The White Ensign photoetch, a slightly larger version of their 1/700th Iron Duke/Benbow set, is essential if you want her correct appearance as Jellicoe's flagship at Jutland/Skaggerakschlacht. Airfix seem to have given up on the topmast, but White Ensign provides etched yards and clear instructions on how to construct it properly. I have also added an Admiral's jack by HP Models, as is the ensign at her stern. Most of the portholes above the hull had to be drilled, and all the White Ensign watertight doors were used so it seems unlikely that any moulded ones will appear on the re-issue (if indeed there ever were any). Unfortunately the Loyalhanna plans are no longer available, so some of this was guesswork. As this ship was not scrapped until after WW2 she went through many refits including having a second (radio) mast added. Inexplicably Airfix seem to have been looking at her 1920s appearance when they designed the kit. Some useful photographs of the real ship were taken during a visit by King George V before the War, also before she was yet Jellicoe's flagship, but close to how she was in 1916. You will need more railings than White Ensign provide; but 1/700th ones are fairly compatible, especially if used separately higher up, around searchlights, etc. The completed model captures some of the feel of a Great War superdreadnought and is good modelling practice for moving on to a 1/700th resin waterline version.

Ralf Roggeveen