Building the Battleship Andrea Doria
A build-up review of the 1/700 Regia Marina kit
by Martin J Quinn
Andrea Doria was lead ship of a two ship class (sometimes listed as Duilio-class) of Italian Battleships which were an improved version of the previous Conte di Cavour class. Named after 16th century Genoese Admiral Andrea Doria, she was laid down at the La Spezia Navy Yard in March 1912, launched a year later, but was not finished until March, 1916. Although completed during the First World War, the Doria and her sister Caio Duilio, did not see any action. She first used her guns in anger in December 1920, while assisting the ouster of the Legionaries of D'Annunzio from Fiume.
In the late 30's, it was decided to modernize the two Cavour and two Doria class battleships. When Andrea Doria emerged from the shipyard in 1940, she had been almost completely reconstructed, and was, in fact, almost a brand new ship. She gained over 30 feet in length, went from coal fired to oil fired and increased top speed from 21 to 27 knots. Used mostly for escort and convoy duty, Andrea Doria did take part in the First Battle of Sirte in December 1941, when British and Italian forces that were covering their respective convoys skirmished.
After escorting more convoys in early 1942, Doria experienced mechanical difficulties which caused her to remain in Taranto. On September 9, 1943, she sailed to Malta with the rest of the Italian fleet to surrender. After the war, in 1949, she began a refit, after which she acted as both Fleet Flagship and a training ship. In September, 1956, she was decommissioned, and scrapped soon thereafter.
*Operations History from MJ Whitley's Battleships of World War Two, and various websites
Building the Andrea Doria
As I always do when I start a build up review, I first read the in-box review of the kit as part of my preparation and research. This way I can be prepared for any pit falls noted by the reviewer.
Once my research was done, I washed the hull and parts in warm soapy water to remove any mold release agent. Once this was dry, I sprayed the hull with primer. I noticed there were cracks in the deck and armored conning tower, which I filled with automotive red putty, sanded and then primed again (little did I know that this would lead to other problems later). I then airbrushed the engraved wood planking portion on the deck with teak from the White Ensign paint line. Next, I airbrushed the forecastle with ";dirty white";, also from WEM.
With the white down, I then used very thin tape from Pactra (this was before I discovered Tamiya masking tape!) to mask off the lines for the aerial recognition stripes on the bow. With the stripes down, I used Grumbacher liquid mask and covered the open area between the tape to prepare for airbrushing. I then airbrushed the deck with red. When dry, I pulled the masking off to reveal the distinctive ";candy stripes"; on the bow (As you can see from the pictures, since I had the paints out, I also did the stripes on several other Regia Marina ships in my collection). With the teak and the bow stripes done, I masked those areas and painted the steel decks dark gray.
With the decks done, I took out the instructions and began to plan how to attack the complex paint scheme the Andrea Doria wore during the time frame I wanted to represent. I started separating the parts into sections, each for a different color paint. I then placed the parts low tack tape mounted to foam board, each foam board representing a different color. With the parts ready to go, I masked off the steel decks and painted the hull with the lightest color. I then painted the associated parts that were to be that color, using both Humbrol and White Ensign paints. I repeated this step as the colors got progressively darker, masking off the pattern on the hull after each new coat dried. When done, I had all my parts with a primary coat of paint and my hull completely painted in the base dazzle scheme.
|Note the size of the Andrea Doria compared to the Fujimi Admiral Graf Spee behind it - the Doria wasn't a particularly large battleship.|
One comment I'm make right up front: Take the time to study the instructions carefully, then fit and dry fit pieces to make sure you are putting them in the right spots. Starting with the after ";superstructure"; tower, I sanded the casting over pour off the bottom and glued it in place. Next, I started adding the platforms around the armored tower that made up the forward superstructure. Again, take your time and dry fit your pieces to make sure you have the right fit before gluing them in place.
When I was done with the dry-fitting, I realized that I was unhappy with the contrast between the medium and dark gray paints. While I found a picture that confirmed (at least for me) that I had already painted the correct colors, I just didn't like ";the look"; of the two shades of gray next to each other. So, I reluctantly decided to mask off and repaint the medium gray with a lighter shade of gray from Humbrol. I also repainted the decks with Humbrol 27, so they wouldn't be as dark as the WEM dark gray on the hull. If I had to do it again, I would have made a few changes to my paint selection. I suggest using white as the lightest color, not the Regia Marina light gray, and then used the light gray for the medium gray. This would have given me the contrast I was looking for. However, I was in no mood to repaint the whole model, and settled for repainting the medium gray areas.
Once the repaint was done, I went back to working on the platforms that made up the forward superstructure. To me, this was the most difficult part of the build. While the instructions include a large profile view of the forward superstructure, it was unclear (at least to me) where to exactly locate the platforms. In retrospect, some of the problems may have stemmed from the cracks that I puttied and sanded smooth - any lines that marked where the platforms went were obliterated when I fixed the cracks. After several attempts, I finally got them on, only to find the second platform was too high. Even though it was wrong, to avoid doing any damage to the model, I left it, then began to add the photo-etch part that represents the bridge face, after repairing a platform behind the armored tower with some paper stiffened with super glue.
While the instructions do show that you have to cut the bridge face down, I thought the instructions could have been a little more clear on where to cut this part down. The other issue I faced was that, even after repeated attempt to ";roll"; the bridge face to get to to bend, it wanted to spring back into position. I know some people heat the brass up to get it to bend, but figuring I'd end up only inflicting 3rd degree burns on myself, I decided against that. I was finally able to attach it using super glue and accelerator.
At this point, I decided to mount the hull on it's base, using my usual method with acrylic gel medium. This would allow me to keep the model under it's acrylic cover and hopefully prevent me from accidentally damaging it.
With the bridge face on, I began working on adding inclined ladders to the back of the forward superstructure. Once the ladders were on, I added the massive directors to the top of the armored tower. With those in place, I cut a piece of brass rod for the foremast. I made a few mistakes at this point - I was unable to add the resin part that replicates a small structure at the base of the foremast (in fact, when I tried to drill a hole to slide it down the brass mast, I broke it) so instead I left it off. I also missed a small PE part that is some sort of support for the mast. It wasn't until after I had the uppermost PE platform on that I noticed my error. Since I had already added the PE braces and railings to this part, I wasn't going to back and rip it off to add a smaller piece. While I am at fault for missing this, I do think the directions could have been clearer.
Now that the forward superstructure was pretty much in place, it was time to start adding other platforms, directors, etc. to the model. Before I did this, I added inclined ladders in various locations, based on the instructions and the references I had. I substituted Gold Medal Models 1/700 inclined ladders for the kit supplied versions.
Moving to the resin parts, I started with the pair of platforms that held some small directors on top of them. These were two part affairs, the director and a resin 'pole' that supported it. I had to play around for awhile to get the fit just right, but finally succeeded. With those in place, I added a pair of directors that sat on top of them. Next, I had to add a pair of elevated platforms, that sat on poles, located on either side of the 01 deck 'between' the funnels. On top of these poles were a pair of directors, which were added once some touch up work was done on the platforms. There is a pair of smaller directors which go into these platforms, but I left those off until later. Before going any further, I added the PE funnel caps to the tops of the funnels.
The Doria carried boats on her 01 deck, so I added the photo-etch cradles for those per the instructions. After those were on, the AA guns were up next. The Andrea Doria carried several different sizes of AA guns. There were ten 90mm HA AA guns in 5 single turrets on each side of the ship; 12 37mm guns arranged in six pairs on the 01 deck, then 11 20mm weapons. The 90mm guns were resin turrets with brass barrels (that you have to fabricate yourself), the 37mm guns were resin bases with photo-etched barrels, while the smaller ones are just photo-etched. Leaving the 90mm HA guns off for now, I started adding the 37 and 20mm guns, per the instructions for the fit I was attempting to replicate. I also left off the three photo-etch AA guns on the forecastle til later, figuring that I'd just knock them off while adding railings to the bow. Quick note about the resin guns: When I had first started building this model some years ago, I found the resin AA guns in very poor shape. I e-mailed Regia Marina, looking to buy a replacement set. Instead, they were kind enough to mail me an extra set at no cost. Once the smaller AA guns were on, I added the 90mm HA turrets. Once these were in place, I cut some thin brass rod to size (5mm, per the instruction sheet) and super glued them into place. I then put some heavier CA glue around the joint between the brass barrels and the turrets, in attempt to strengthen the joint and blend the rod and the resin ";blast bag"; together.
At this time, I added the searchlights and some smaller directors to fore and aft superstructures, then added photo-etch railings onto the 01 deck, before I moved onto the secondary armament. Andrea Doria and her sister carried four triple 6 inch gun turrets on either side of the forward superstructure, two to a side. These come with turned aluminum barrels, which have to be cut to size and installed. During the process of doing so, I found that my kit was missing three barrels. I substituted these in one turret with brass rod, but it doesn't look as fine as the barrels that came with the kit. After touching up the turrets and barrels with another airbrushed coat of dark grey, they were installed on the ship.
Aside from a few PE guns, the armament was now finished, so I added the photo-etch platforms that support the boat cradles on either side of the 01 deck just were the break with the quarterdeck begins. These were a bit fiddly, and required some CA glue to get them to fit snuggly, followed by some white glue to fill in some gaps. During the build process, I somehow misplaced the remaining photo-etch boat cradles, so I had to make new ones from plastic strip.
Once I had fabricated, added and painted the additional boat cradles I needed, I finished painting the ships boats, then glued them in place. During the time frame Doria wore the camouflage pattern I choose to use, she apparently didn't carry as many boats, so the smaller boats that hung from the sides of the ship were left off. I turned next to the masts, which were made from two different diameter brass rod, super glued together with the help of some accelerant. This method has always worked for me, but I need to learn to use a soldering iron one of these days. One of the pages include with the instructions gives you the length for each piece, which made constructing the masts much easier. Once these were super glued into place (again, with the help of some accelerant), they were left to dry overnight and then painted.
Now that the masts were in place, I wanted to add the boat booms that were attached to the main mast, before I added any more photo-etch railings, to avoid crushing the railings with my big fat fingers. The booms were made from brass rod, with PE block and tackle. With these out of the way, I started on the railings, beginning with the boat deck and then working my way down to the main deck. While adding the railing, I discovered that the edges of the hull were slightly rounded in some spots, which made it very difficult to keep the railing straight and level. Additionally, I somehow ran out of railing! Fortunately, I keep all my old photo-etch sets for spare parts, and was able to find a run of railing from an old Tom's set that fit the bill. Now that the railings were on, Doria was almost done. Before moving on, I added more acrylic gel to the seascape to build it up alongside the hull and try and create more ";wave action";. I left that to dry and determined that I'd finish the water as the last step in the build.
So, with the the constructions done, I turned to rigging and weathering. I've been experimenting with the way I rig and weather lately. Normally I'd rig a completed model, then airbrush it with future so I can weather with oils, finally dull coating when the rigging was done. What I've found is that sometimes the future and flat finish can build up excessively on the rigging. So, what I've been trying to do is to future and weather the model first, then lightly dull coat the model before rigging (I tried rigging without dull coat, and found the rigging didn't want to stick to the model). I then follow that with a final few light coats of flat. Since I've started using a much finer fishing line for my 1/700 ships (thanks to David Griffith for the tip!), I decided to rig first and weather second. With that plan in place, I tackled the rigging, using the instructions and the references I had as a guide. I also added a flag to the gaff on the aft superstructure (thanks to Bobby Cicconi for providing me with some flags from his spares box!).
Once the rigging was completed, I sprayed the model with a few coats of future. I next mixed up a light wash of burnt umber for the wood on the quarterdeck, and then a light wash of Payne's Grey for the superstructure and hull. When this was done, I let the model dry several days before dull coating. I repeated several light coats of flat over a few days to try make sure I covered any glossy spots. Once I determined the model was ";flat"; enough, I painted the seascape again, finishing off with a coat of satin to give it a slight sheen. In discussions with other modelers, some people like their water very glossy, while some like it very flat, saying those are more accurate. Since I'm just trying to represent a look with some sort of seascape, I chose satin. With the satin coat brushed onto the seascape, the model was done!
I found this kit to be a mixed bag - some
parts were very well done, while some were not. The
photo-etch set is pretty extensive, and well done. However, while
the camouflage callouts and other parts of the multi-sheet instructions
are well done, the parts that deal with the assembly of the kit aren't
as clear. This led to some problems during the build, which
may have been avoided with better directions. If you've read
any of the other reviews I've done, this seems to be a common theme with
resin manufacturers, with some exceptions. Even with
the pitfalls, I did enjoy building this kit, but I'd recommend it for
folks who have a resin ship or two under their belt already. If your a fan of battleships like I am,
this kit is an interesting and important part of any model collection. Many thanks to Pacific Front Hobbies for
the review sample!
Here are some pictures of my completed 1/700 Regia Marina Andrea Doria: