musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Union-Castle Line

Fleet Manoeuvres

Regular readers of this blog may have seen posts about my slowly expanding fleet of Triang Minic Ships. The fleet occupies 2 display cases and a smaller plastic box and has become somewhat too large for the few harbour parts that I do have. This weekend I hauled the ships out and set them up on my kitchen table and took some pics.

The ships alongside here are mostly Triang Minic in 1/1200 scale, although I did sneak in one or 2 1/1250 scale ships that fit in with the others. Only the smaller warships are in this layout.

The dominant ship in this image is the RMS Queen Elizabeth; she is one of my original vessels and I really want to buy one in a better condition. Also in view is the Ivernia, Flandre, 2nd Mauretania, United States and QE2, with the Pendennis Castle underway. The piers are lengths of stripwood while the cranes are all Triang issues.

The dominant ship here is the Caronia while the Nieuw Amsterdam is in front of the venerable Aquitania.

And while the Pendennis was sailing the Pretoria Caste was arriving

The two Union-Castle ships are part of my Union-Castle collection that was also in port on this reasonably sunny day. 

Unfortunately, only while I was packing away did I realise that the Reina Del Mar was not in this image and was probably away cruising somewhere. I did rectify the matter in a later pic.

I also gathered the Cunard fleet together for a photo session.

I lined up the battle wagons for a rare airing too, fortunately they did not open fire on each other or there would have been bits and pieces all over the place. 

My newest addition is the SS Australis, but she is in limbo at the moment as she is not scaled according to what she should be.

She may be returning back to her supplier, although I may keep her and finish her off anyway because I really did like the original ship. 

The fleet is now back in its display, and the table has been restored to its former state. That was a lot of work, and I am not likely to do it again for a  long time. I do have a smaller project on the go that may end up here, although sometimes my ideas are a bit better than the actual end result. Watch this space as they say in the classics.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 26/11/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:30

Modelling the Union-Castle Line (2)

Continuing where we left off, my newest additions have arrived and I am about ready to transform them into members of my ever expanding fleet  (new additions are at the bottom of the post)

The available affordable UC models had more or less dried up by now, although some were available from Convoy Models in military garb so I decided to get at least one for the collection, and I chose Stirling Castle. The model was outstanding, and it is hard to believe how much detail is on her. She is easier to paint because you only really need 2 colours: grey and black.

Here is my Stirling Castle and her sister Athlone Castle together. Stirling is in front. (image from 10/2017)

Union Castle also had a large fleet of cargo ships, many of which served in the two world wars. I decided that I needed at least one representative of that fleet and I chose one of  “fruit ships” namely MV Rochester Castle,  Built in  1937, she took part in Operation Pedestal during WW2, and was broken up in 1970. There were 4 sisters in this class: Rochester Castle, Roxburgh Castle, Richmond Castle and Rowallan Castle. I think Convoy has them in military garb too. 

The fleet as at 26/11/2017:

(L-R) Pendennis, Pretoria, Capetown, Stirling, Athlone, Reina, Dunnottar, Durban, Llandaff, Rochester Castles. (back row) Victoria and Victoria

The two ships behind the fleet are both called “Victoria” The right hand ship being the former Dunnottar Castle, that had a very long life. First operated by the Incres Steamship Co and later by Chandris Lines under the names Victoria and The Victoria. In 1993 she joined Louis Cruise Lines as Princesa Victoria and was finally scrapped in India in 2004. 

The model I have is by Mercury I believe, and here she is with her UC iteration. 

The other Victoria on the left is amongst the many ships that I like. She is the former Sea Princess (built as Kungsholm), and she called in South Africa on a number of occasions, although mostly in Cape Town.

My usual source for UC ships also had her available in a resin cast, and she was easily adaptable to Sea Princess or Victoria, a name she carried later in her career with P&O. It was as Victoria that she did the Union-Castle 100 year centenary voyage in the year 2000.

I decided to make Sea Princess in the P&O livery

This sublime model above was in the window of a travel agent in Salisbury. How I coveted that model! 

I am considering repainting her in the Union-Castle livery so that she can join the fleet. 

At this point things dried up for awhile and I worked on other projects, the biggest one being my St Helena project and I also looked at scratch building a Carnarvon Castle, but shelved that idea when I realised that I did not have the eyesight or skills to do it successfully. However, another thought crossed my mind and I did some thinking and reading and decided on a new project. 

SA Oranje.  23/02/2018.

I have since added another Capetown Castle to my collection and it is the same as my other Capetown Castle. The reason I bought it was to convert it to SA Oranje. Theoretically I should have converted my Pretoria Castle model, but it is a commercial model and there was no way I was going to stuff it up. 

This is what I was aiming for…

SA Oranje in Cape Town (Postcard)

The only real work I had to do on her was remove the aft deckhouse and lifeboats and raise the funnel. I then modified the deckhouse and reglued it so that it was only a docking bridge, I also added a pool between it and the next deckhouse and used the top of the original funnel in my newly constructed funnel. I also have to fabricate a new mast for her and of course expend lots of white paint. So far she looks like this: 

I really like how she turned out though, and will make an interesting addition to the fleet which now stands at… 12!  I have since drilled out the area between the lifeboat davits on her and on Capetown Castle and Dunnottar Castle, now to retouch the paint. I am kind of ashamed at how many area’s I did not paint on the UC ships though and touching up shall be done! (30/03/2019, work has ceased on the ship as I am liable to damage her more than enhancing her. Make space in the showcase!)

Update 29/03/2018. 

Managed to snag myself a Transvaal Castle by CM. She is not in a mint condition, but makes a good addition to my collection. Unfortunately her signal mast was missing so I fabricated a new one, although it did not turn out too well and really needs to be remade. I always thought her conversion to Festivale enhanced her looks, she never really appealed to me. 

30/03/2018.  The Fleet now stands at 12 (plus 2 cruise liner versions).



I managed to buy a Windsor Castle this week, and she is made by Albatros and is really nice. Looking at her signal mast I definitely need to relook the signal mast on my Transvaal Castle and Oranje.

Hopefully this weekend I will get pics of her with the fleet bringing my collection up to 13.


RMMV Carnarvon Castle by Albatros. And she is a real beaut, although some spars and masts got bent in transport. I can’t believe I wanted to try scratch build her. Good thing I broke her up on the stocks.  

I am very fond of the Carnarvon, she just looked “right” although she was much better looking after she was upgraded to a single funnel with a proper bow.  There is a really stunning model of her as an Armed Merchant Cruiser at the war museum in Johannesburg. It is not an easy model to photograph because it is quite large and the glass case reflects something awful.

My newest acquisition is the Albatros AL-148 Dunnottar Castle. It is much better than the resin cast version I have already. My Hein Muck Dunnottar has been painted grey and is now a wartime version. 

I have since acquired a number of other UC ships since this last post update including:

Bloemfontein Castle (top) and Rhodesia Castle, both by CM-KR

Bloemfontein Castle

Rhodesia Castle

and my collection now stands at….  17!

(back to front):  back row: Windsor, Transvaal, Pretoria

Capetown, Llandaff, Durban (wartime)

Pendennis, Stirling (wartime), Rhodesia

Dunnottar, Athlone, Bloemfontein

Rochester, Carnarvon, Reina Del Mar

Dunnottar (peacetime), Oranje

Actually it stands at 18 as I have just managed to snag a very nice Balmoral Castle model made by  Rhenania. Unfortunately it has yellow and black funnels instead of the usual UC red and black. She did have those funnel colours when she was being used as a Royal yacht, although her hull was then white. I have two choices, either repaint the hull or repaint the funnels.

Balmoral Castle

By sheer accident I also picked up a model of the Iolaire which was Donald Currie’s private yacht.


Capetown Castle by CM. I have a Hein Muck Capetown Castle, but really messed it up when I repainted the decks. I was never really happy with how she came out but now have a proper version of her.

Capetown Castle

The fleet looks like this now:


1st column: Sea Princess, Windsor, Oranje, Pretoria, Llandaf, Dunnottar.

2nd column: Capetown, Capetown, Dunnottar, Rochester, Victoria.

3rd column: Durban,  Transvaal, Athlone, Carnarvon, Balmoral, Iolaire.

4th column: Pendennis, Striling, Reina Del Mar, Bloemfontein, Rhodesia.

The list of additions to my collection also lives on my More Small Ships page, and of course there is a master list of my collection too. What else is available? it really depends on what pops up on ebay, however I would like to add one of the wartime fruit ships to my collection, I am steadily building up a nice collection of freighters in wartime garb and she would fit in quite well. 


Just acquired the Southampton/Good Hope Castle (CM-KR-54), by the looks of it she can be used as either ship as both names are underneath the hull.

Southampton/Good Hope Castle (CM-KR-54)

With a bit of digging I can now report that the following existed/may still existed/was available (my own models are in bold):

A great place to see what is out there is

And there you have it for now. Not an exhaustive list by any means and always a work in progress.

Keep visiting here to read about more of my UC ships. They aren’t spectacular, but are nice to have. 

DRW © 2016-2019. Created 22/07/2016. Updated and shuffled around 25/03/2018, rebuilt page again 05/04/2018, added list of 1/1250 models 05/07/2018, updated with new pics and links 15/01/2019

Updated: 31/03/2019 — 09:27

Modelling the Union-Castle Line (1)

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!.  

Unfortunately during the course of adding to my collection this page has fallen out of synch so I am now hopefully going to set the record straight (or straighter).

Page 2 may be found here

Capetown and Dunnottar Castles.  

Ebay has taught me a lot, and  I found a supplier for resin cast vessels who was offering a number of Union-Castle vessels, including some of the cargo ships. For the record it is Convoy Models, and I recommend them for not only UC but other resin cast models from the Len Jordan and Hein Muck range

My first acquisition was the Capetown Castle and Dunnottar Castle.

Capetown Castle

Capetown Castle

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”.  I have stuck with this colour for all of my UC ships because I can get it off the shelf. Mixing paint can be difficult, especially when you need to touch up. 

Humbrol 42 Violet Matt


Web colours A77B96


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.

Capetown Castle

Capetown Castle

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 where my brush went to. 

Dunnottar Castle

Update 11/10/2016

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. 

Llandaf Castle and Reina Del Mar before painting

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. 

Reina Del Mar

Reina Del Mar

Llandaff Castle

Llandaff Castle

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!

Pretoria Castle

The model was released by Albatros and she is 1/1250 scale.

Pretoria Castle

Pretoria Castle

By now my fleet of Union-Castle ships had grown. and as I got more confident my painting skills  improved slightly. I also invested in “Trimline” which is great for lines on funnels, waterlines, straight lines, in fact anywhere a line is needed 

My next addition was:

Athlone Castle

She too is a resin cast and a better detailed model than the Capetown Castle is. Unfortunately she does have a mistake in her superstructure that could be corrected by somebody more skilled than me

Hull, superstructure and decks partly painted.


Basic painting is completed and most masts are fitted although no booms are in place yet. I also used the opportunity to touch up some areas on the other fleet members. 

Booms fitted. I was amazed at how many had to be fitted to the Athlone which does give an indication of how much cargo space these vessels really had. I have to sort out the sheer line on the Athlone though as it is wobbly and paint the booms and touch up more areas that I may have missed. The ships are more or less complete though. 

Durban Castle

Pendennis Castle

I looked round at other commercially made Union-Castle vessels that were available as I really wanted a Pendennis (IMHO the most beautiful of them all). Unfortunately they do not come cheap but I finally got one from L Wiedling in Germany

She is made by CM and is  1/125 scale and she is a beauty, just like the real thing. There appears to be two versions of the ship though, one with painted decks and one with white decks. I have the latter.  Her hull colour is also lighter than the colour I am using for my hulls. 

Pendennis Castle

When I eventually finished the Athlone and Durban Castles I had (counts on fingers…) 8 UC ships in total.  And here they are.

(L-r) Capetown, Athlone, Pendennis, Edinburgh, Reina Del Mar, Durban, Dunnottar and Llandaff Castles.

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.  Page rearranged 04/04/2018

Updated: 20/01/2019 — 13:02
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