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About Speedbird

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  1. Greetings. I’d like to share my latest model, HMS Glatton as she appeared in the final hours of the war. The model is completely scratch built to 1/1500 scale or 125’ to 1”. The model is made from boxwood, brass, and the sea base is carved and painted wood. Paint is from ScaleColors of course. If you’d like to see more of my ships models they’re all on my website www.josephlavender.com Glatton, 5,746 tons displacement and her sister ship Gorgon were originally built for Norway but they were requisitioned at the beginning of the First World War. Due to higher priority construction, Glatton wasn’t commissioned until August 1918. Her 9.2” guns could range out to an astonishing 39,000 yards or a little over 22 miles. While the Royal Navy classified her as a monitor, she was more appropriately classified as a coastal defense battleship intended for shore bombardment. On September 16, 1918 while anchored in Dover, Glatton suffered a low-order explosion in one of her 6” magazines. The survivors were able to flood the forward 9.2” magazine, preventing it from exploding too. However they were cut off by fire from the aft magazine. The situation was very dire as a ship loaded with ammunition was anchored extremely close to Glatton. Had either of the large caliber magazines touched off, it’s likely the ammunition ship would have gone up too taking most of Dover with it. Glatton’s Captain ordered a pair of destroyers to torpedo Glatton and sink her before she exploded. This was accomplished and the wreck is currently under the Dover car ferry terminal. By disassembling Glatton’s sister ship during the subsequent investigation, the cause of the accident was found. While under construction, the shipyard, Armstrong Whitworth Elswick, left off critical rivets in the steel plate between the boiler rooms and the 6” magazines. Additionally the magazines should have been insulated with cork, but it was found that while some cork was on place, there was a mass of newspaper used as a substitute in places. Heat from cinders piled against this steel plate was pushed through the rivet holes, likely igniting the newspaper stuffed between the plate and the magazine causing the explosion. This shoddy workmanship cost the lives of 79 men who mostly died of horrifying burns, and injured another 124. Not to mention what could have happened had a main magazine exploded. [/url
  2. Well thanks! I just like to make things.
  3. After 5 weeks of work, and 946 individual scratch-built pieces, my model of the battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary is finished. The scale is 125’ to 1” or 1/1500. The model depicts the Royal Navy battlecruiser as she appeared just after commissioning in 1913. HMS Queen Mary was part of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron during the battle of Jutland in 1916. She was hit twice early on by the German battlecruiser SMS Derfflinger causing a detonation of her forward magazines destroying the ship almost instantly. There were only 18 survivors. The model was made using the John Roberts plans and photographs of the ship. These plans were reproduced in 1/200 and 1/1500 scales and measurements taken from them. The hull was constructed from a single piece of boxwood. Single piece hulls are much harder to create accurately, and require constant checking of the work to make sure it’s correctly aligned. It’s easy to sculpt an asymmetrical hull if one is not careful. The bulk of the detail is brass and boxwood. The funnels were constructed from a thin aluminum sheet so they’d be closer to scale thickness. In 1/1500, funnels appear very delicate and I try to replicate this on all of my ships. Working with aluminum is difficult since it doesn’t glue well nor does it take paint. With a little witchcraft I was able to overcome this. The rigging is 3 grades of tungsten and molybdenum wire. The water base was carved from wood and painted, and the whitecaps are canvas paste. No fancy resin needed, all traditional materials. The base itself was made from several exotic woods I had on hand which I cut and inlayed. If you’d like to see more of my work or read about my construction process in a bit more detail, visit my website: www.josephlavender.com
  4. After 36 days of work, 672 individual scratch-built pieces, my 1/1500 scale model of the British super-dreadnought HMS Ramillies is finished. The model depicts the ship as she appeared working up in late 1917 with her Wilkinson Admiralty Disruptive Dazzle camouflage scheme. The model is made from boxwood and brass, with four grades of tungsten wire for the rigging. The sea base was made from carved basswood and painted. The ship was built entirely from scratch using scale drawings and photographs. If you’d like more information about how I build these ships, I have a website www.josephlavender.com. None of the models are for sale and I do not take commissions. The 1943 Shilling is just under 1” or 24mm in diameter for scale. HMS Ramillies was a difficult subject since she’s probably the least-documented of the five Revenge class battleships. Only a handful of photographs exist of her from late 1917, the period I chose for the model. However, the originally Admiralty color plates used to paint the dazzle camouflage still exist. Ramillies wore this camouflage from late 1917 through March 1918. The colors did pose a bit of a challenge since the forward section of the ship was essentially painted pink or mauve as the RN referred to it, and that color doesn’t scale well. I chose a pinkish peach color cut with a bit of medium grey. Had I used the color right from the plate, without scaling it, I think it would have appeared too garish. The same was done with the other colors as well, cutting them with grey to soften them a bit.
  5. Thanks! I ordered the wood, glass, and steel display case the other day for the finished diorama. I’ll post some more photos of that when it comes in.
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