The Union-Castle Line had some beautiful ships, but for some reason or other they never received the attention of plastic model manufacturers like Airfix or Revell. If you wanted UC you built from scratch. I did try scratch building many years ago, and while it is possible, without the plans you are going to be sucking on air. Sadly, Triang never dabbled in them either, but as my Minic Ship collection grew so I became more aware that there were some very nice 1/1250 ships out there if you were willing to fork out large amounts of money, and there were UC ships amongst them!. Ebay has taught me a lot, and recently I found a supplier for resin cast vessels who was offering a number of Union-Castle vessels, including some of the cargo ships. My first acquisition was the Capetown Castle and Dunnottar Castle.
The biggest question of course is: “what colour is the hull?”
The hull colour has been described as many things and it is really a difficult subject because the colour is not available off the shelf. The closest (in my opinion) that there is Humbrol 42 (Violet Matt). On my original Union-Castle webpage I used to use A77B96 and that came from a Union-Castle document that I scanned and matched using the colour dropper. I have also heard the colour described as “Mountbatten Pink”.
The Capetown Castle model is not a very good likeness to the real vessel, but it is close enough. She was not a difficult ship to paint but I did make a mistake with the deck colours and subsequently ruined the model. But it was an interesting experience painting her, especially given my tendency to not see too well.
John Bowen’s book, ‘More Miniature Merchant Ships’: has the following colour scheme for the Capetown Castle:
“Union-Castle lavender grey to the level of the top of the bulwark to the opening in the ship’s side forward in way of the Upper (C) Deck, white above, with narrow teak colour dividing line between; red below waterline (the nearest shade to this hull colour being obtained by mixing 10 parts Humbrol No 147 Light Grey, 1 part Humbrol No 174 Signal Red, and 2 parts Humbrol No 104 Blue).
Superstructure: white, inside bulwarks white. Masts, derrick posts, derricks: as built, masts were reddish-brown, derrick posts and derricks white. After the war the masts were changed to white. Ventilators: white, inside cowls red. Lifeboats, davits: white, boat covers light grey. Windlass, winches: mid-grey. Bollards, fairleads: black. Hatches: grey. Funnel: vermilion (orange red), black top, Decks: wood planked, bare steel decks mid-grey.
The first mistake I made was using too dark a brown for the decks, and that would come back to haunt me in the future.
I used to work on both ships over the weekends, and soon had them shipshape although I was not happy with the decks. The colour on the tin was a light brown but this was way too dark. I would have to rethink the deck colour. The masts were pins and the derricks were bristles from my carpet brush. They worked well and I was happy to find a ready source of derrick material. Now if only I could find out why my brush doesn’t work as well anymore 😉 .
This month I acquired a 1/1250 scale of Victoria. Built as Dunnottar Castle was one of the older ships still afloat and spent most of her life as a cruise ship. She was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, and launched on 25 January 1936. She was primarily used on the London (Tilbury) – round Africa service until the outbreak of WW2, when she was converted to an armed merchant cruiser, and later to a troop transport. In 1949 she resumed her London – round Africa service. In 1958 she was sold to Incres SS Co, who renamed her Victoria and substantially rebuilt her in Rotterdam. She entered service in 1960 on New York-West Indies cruises. In 1964 she changed hands once again, this time to Victoria SS Co, a subsidiary of Swedish company Clipper A/B, she retained her name, and Incres Line as agents. Chandris Cruises bought her in 1964, and she resumed sailings as The Victoria in June of 1976. She cruised in Europe and the Caribbean until 1993, when she was sold to Louis Cruise Lines and renamed Princessa Victoria for use on cruises from Cyprus. In 2002 it was reported that she was to be taken up for service as a hotel ship in London. This sadly never came to pass and the Princessa was laid up and in 2004 sold for scrap. She arrived at the breakers at Alang on 25 May 2004.
Reina Del Mar and Llandaff Castle
The next two ships I bought were the Reina Del Mar (under UC ownership) and the Llandaff Castle. The latter may also double as the Llandovery Castle, but I decided to go with Llandaff instead. These models were from the same supplier, but the Reina Model was outstanding.
The one irritation with the Reina was the lack of roof for the cinema but I managed to fabricate that using spare plastic I had left over from my container ship experiment. Unfortunately there is no model shop where I live and the local art supplier has a limited stock of paint, and I agonised over those tinlets for ages, hoping to find a suitable deck colour before settling on Humbrol Matt 121 (Pale Stone). I was surprised with the results and decided to overpaint the decks of the other two ships. That was not successful.
At the time of writing the basics of both ships have been painted and I need to touch up the mistakes and fill in some of the spots I missed as well as paint the cargo gear. However, just before I reached this point I was able to pick up a Pretoria Castle off ebay and when she arrived I got quite a suprise because her hull is the same colour as mine as are her decks! The ship was made by Albatros and she is 1/1250 scale.
I also have a Pendennis Castle en route and next month I hope to have an Athlone and a Durban Castle in resin cast.
My fleet of Union-Castle ships is growing. and as I get more confident hopefully my painting skills will improve.
Bucket list? Naturally I have a bucket list, but the ships in that bucket are pricey and possibly out of my league. I would really like a Windsor, Carnarvon, Arundel and Edinburgh. Till then I shall leave this blog post as completed for now and when the new ships arrive will start a “page 2”.
Page 2 may be found here
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 23/06/2016. Excerpt from John Bowen’s Book is courtesy of Glynn Price.