by Andrew Johnson
The 11,000 t HMS Hermes has the distinction of being the first purpose-built aircraft carrier in the world. She was laid down in 1918 but had a protracted development that did not see her commissioned until 1924 (The Admiralty wanted to learn from trials with Argus and Eagle). One of the concepts of the time was to operate float planes which were to be recovered by more or less motoring into the hanger from the stern! Another throw back from an earlier era was her spotting top to control her 5.5” guns in ship to ship battles. Nevertheless, with the island to the right and her flared and enclosed bow she looks remarkably modern. A drawback of the small carrier was a relatively small aircraft fuel storage and struggling to accommodate larger modern aircraft. Nevertheless, in August 1939 she took onboard 814 NAS and her Swordfish and this is how I imagine that her Swordfish might have looked before camouflage took over in the FAA. Admittedly the ship might have been in home fleet grey by then too, but most of her previous career had been spent in light grey scheme of the Far East. Her main wartime claim to fame was ironically in an attack by her Swordfish on the Vichy French Battleship Richelieu in July 1940. Sadly, Hermes was annihilated by practically the entire Japanese dive bomber fleet that had attacked Pearl Harbor when she was spotted fleeing modern day Sri Lanka on 9th April 1942 by a Japanese carrier task force.
This is the excellent 1/700 Flyhawk kit boxed as for 1937 which includes the Swordfish. Apart from using brass rod for her masts and yards, together with Eduard 1/700 RN and carrier crew members it is practically out of the box. Rather than decals I used masking for the deck markings. I used Mig’s oil brusher paint to weather her deck from aircraft landings. I hope you can see, if you look carefully, A Swordfish with folded wings on the stern hanger deck waiting to go up to the flight deck?