|HMS ARK ROYAL, 1979 by Bob O’Connor|
I conceived of this conversion several years ago, and completed it several years ago as my first major ship kit conversion. There has always been a lack of kits of the Royal Navy carriers of the 60’s and 70’s, with this basic Fujimi kit (a 1950’s fit) and the Airfix 1/600 scale Victorious being the only games in town. I chose to model the Ark Royal as she appeared at her final commissioning until 1979, when she was paid off and scrapped.
As stated, this kit as purchased is the Ark Royal of 1955, not 1979, in kit form. Ark Royal went through two major overhauls, one in the late 50’s and one in the late 60’s. Both yard periods changed her look from the original (as depicted in the out of the box Fujimi kit), but the last one brought her to the form I wanted to model. The kit is tough, and lots of work needs to be done to make even that original version workable. I used the basic kit structures- hull, flight deck and island, but had to modify each significantly.
The Island was almost right, and the area that needed the least work. The Prifly overhang over the deck was enlarged, and some older original structures removed or modified. Later after the island was attached to the deck and hull, a large addition was made on the starboard side as an overhang (see photos). Gold Medal Models Photoetch was sued for the new larger and very obvious radars and railing, as well as detailing. Island decals came from spares, as the kit did not include them.
The flight deck was the focal point of this job, and the extreme enlargement of the deck took lots of research and planning. The catapult extension overhangs were of particular difficulty, getting them right and making sure they were in scale. The gun emplacements were covered over and enclosed on the sides, making a defacto sponson in each location. The deck edge catwalks were recreated with evergreen plastic. The catapults and elevator openings were filled and smoothed. Extra aircraft parking aprons were added on the aft port and starboard sides (where the Phantoms sit in the photos).
The hull was changed some, with the addition of the catapult extensions that fair into the hull. Also, minor changes to fittings all over the hull were made. The starboard sponsons were faired in to support the flight deck widening. A variety of small housings and changes were made, based upon photographic evidence.
The Aircraft are a combination of leftover and new stuff (Phantoms and Sea Kings from Revell’s USS Enterprise, Wessex and Gannetts from this kit, Bucanneers from White Ensign Models). All reflect the airwing present aboard Ark Royal in her final commission.
Markings on the flight deck are an assortment of decals, weathered to show some moderate use. I particularly like the dayglo orange of the landing center stripe.
I hope to be able to model the three “looks” of HMS Eagle soon, just as I have the three looks of Ark Royal- 1955, 1962 and 1979. It was a rewarding experience to do the research and the scratchbuilding and converting of the model.
Photos and text © 2009 by Bob O’Connor
July 28, 2009