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"Survey of WW1 light cruisers in 1:2400" Topic

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warren bruhn26 Jan 2012 5:39 p.m. PST

Light cruisers in 1:2400 scale present the collector with a real two way fork in the road. Unlike the destroyers and torpedo boats in this scale, which can be a broad mix of C-in-C, Panzershiffe, Viking Forge, and GHQ, the light cruisers begin to present a question of how much detail does the collector want and how much cost is the collector willing to incur. This is because there are essentially two choices, Panzershiffe vs. GHQ. Viking Forge and C-in-C light cruisers seem like evolutionary branches that got pruned not too far from the tree trunk.

Viking Forge currently produces few WW1 vintage light cruisers. For Britain, there is a Chatham (3rd county class) for $5.95 USD. I haven't seen one of these, nor is there a photo available, and I'm not sure why it is priced at nearly $6 USD a copy. For Russia there is a Bogatyr type for $5.95 USD in the Russo-Japanese list. The Russian's from that Viking Forge line look pretty good in the photos. and the Bogatyr is nearly the size and bulk of an armored cruiser. And I have high respect for Viking Forge armored cruisers because I have a lot of the British ones and like them a lot. So the Bogatyr may be worth the money.

For Germany there is the Viking Forge Nymphe for $5.00 USD. I feel lucky to have a couple of the Nymphe models, as I got them in a 2 pack. The Viking Forge Nymphe looks different from the Panzershiffe Frauenlob model in that the funnels are taller and more straight up. This looks more like the first 7 of those classes, which included Gazelle, Nymphe, Niobe, Medusa, Thetis, Ariadne, & Amazone. The Panzershiffe looks more like the later 3 cruisers of those classes, including Undine, Arcona, & Frauenlob. If you happen to be buying other Viking Forge ships, and are thinking about running a Heligoland Bight action or a Baltic minelayer action, you might want to pick up one of the Viking Forge Nymphe CLs. The metal on my copies was very brittle, so I had to very slowly and carefully bend the funnels to the upright position as I winced at the little cracking noises. But both models are in good shape, and have that really old look of the earliest 20th Century German light cruisers.

C-in-C offers the German Emden in a 2 pack for $4 USD:00, the German Breslau for $3.50 USD, the British Glasgow for $3.50 USD, and the British Sydney for $3.50 USD. I have all of these because I got them in a big package deal for a C-in-C fleet from another collector. The only one of these that I really don't like is the British Sydney (Chatham) type. The funnels seem too short and are bunched too far forward. The Emden and Glasgow models are nice enough, and have a bit of dash in their shape. The Breslau is the best of the lot, with great detail. I've got 8 of those, with the forward funnel (of 4) cut off on 2 of them to represent the 3 funnel cruisers Graudenz & Regensburg.

Generally speaking, all of these models are on the small side compared with Panzerschiffe and GHQ. I'm going to more or less relegate most of my C-in-C light cruisers to actions involving von Spee or the Goeben because they match the smaller size of my C-in-C Gneisenau & Scharnhorst and the C-in-C versions of Troubridge's 1st Cruiser Squadron. The exception may be the Breslau types, which might continue to see service with my High Seas Fleet.

Because the offerings from Viking Forge and C-in-C are so slim, only half a dozen German and British, plus one Russian, these are not a viable option for building large fleets of WW1 light cruisers in 1:2400.

Next up, the main competitors…

warren bruhn26 Jan 2012 7:05 p.m. PST

GHQ is becomming more of a heavy hitter with its light cruisers as the WW1 line expands. GHQ has recently introduced lines for the USA, Russia, and France, and these new lines include the USS Chester scout cruiser (3 of them in the class) and the Russian Bogatyr (2 in the Baltic Sea and 2 in the Black Sea). Both look fabulous. The line of British light cruisers was recently expanded with the addition of the Aurora (or Arethusa, class of 8). Those are added to the previously available British light cruisers Weymouth and Bristol, and the German Elbing, Emden, Leipzig, and Magdeburg.

For the British, all three class models have bulwarks between the guns along the side. This is very correct in the Bristol (class of 5) and Weymouth (class of 4). I'm not sure this is correct for the Aurora, however. None of the drawings or photos that I have seen of this class have the bulwark between the guns along the sides. Otherwise the model looks quite good. I used to have an assembled and painted GHQ Bristol and it looked great. I gave it to a friend because I didn't want to rebase it and repaint it to match the style of my own ships. Perhaps I should have. I think the GHQ Weymouth captures the look of the class better than the Panzershiffe version, so much so that I actually sprang the big bucks for 4 of them to represent the whole class. That may end up being the only GHQ class of British light cruiser in my collection.

It bothers me to look at the German GHQ light cruisers. The problem is the gigantic ribs on all the funnels that make them look like some form of rigate pasta. This is meant to be evocative of the thin little railing around the German funnels. I don't know what that was actually for. Perhaps something for the sailors painting the mast to hook their harness to? Close up photos show it to be very thin and insignificant, not structural at all. Medium range photos show it to break up the flatness of the funnels a little bit and give them a plated look. In long range photos they shouldn't be visible at all. But this feature is one of the most dominant ones of all the German WW1 GHQ models. If you don't like it, as I don't, then don't buy them.

All these GHQ models require some assembly, not as much as the larger ships, but some. The bits that have to be glued onto the light cruiser hulls are generally either individual funnels, funnel assemblies of multiple funnels, and bridge structures. Except on the Bogatyr, I don't think there are any turrets to be glued on at this size. The pieces do have a sort of pin that drops into a hole in the hull, so it does not require much artistry to put them together. I gave a couple of these models to a friend because I didn't want to be bothered putting them together. (That was probably a mistake, as I think he sold them.)

One of the missed opportunities for GHQ may be the failure to put in alternate funnel parts for the Germans that don't have that exaggerated ribbing. Some other GHQ models have alternate pieces in the package for things like bridge structures. I have a WW2 USN destroyer like that. For a little extra metal, collectors could have had an optional look. But there is no such option.

The total number of classes of WW1 light cruisers offered by GHQ isn't very high. That may be a consideration for collectors when deciding whether or not to use GHQ for the light cruisers. However, GHQ has been rapidly expanding the WW1 line in recent years, including new additions of cruisers. Perhaps GHQ is sensing the 100th anniversary buzz. So maybe the collector can anticipate the addition of enough light cruisers to the GHQ line to make a more complete collection possible.

All these light cruisers cost $8.75 USD each. That's nearly 3x the price of a Panzerschiffe light cruiser. One has to want all that extra detail pretty bad to buy a large collection of light cruisers at that price. But I suppose part of the draw is to make highly detailed light cruisers available to go along with collections of GHQ's highly detailed armored cruisers and battleships. Would not want to force collector's of the highly detailed models off the theme when dropping down in size to the light cruisers. Other collectors may not regard the light cruisers as show pieces in and of themselves, and may be content to acquire less detailed light cruisers to go with less detailed destroyers.

For those people, there is Panzerschiffe…

warren bruhn27 Jan 2012 12:04 a.m. PST

Panzershiffe is the most prolific company producing 1:2400 scale WW1 ship models. The size of the line is astonishing. For light cruisers, there is class after class after class that is only produced by Panzershiff. For any starting collector deciding which line of models to emphasize in the collection, there has to be some appeal in a line that is almost totally complete. It's easier to think of the few ships that Panzershiffe doesn't produce than to remember all the ships that it does produce.

The light cruisers that one can't get from Panzerschiffe include:
-British light cruisers prior to Active, Blonde & Boadicea.
-maybe British C class with their original mixed armament? (I could be looking at the photos wrong, but it seems as if the C type cruisers, both 3 funnel and 2 funnel types, are armed eith all 6 inch guns as they were in 1918.)
-late war German ersatz light cruisers, although the Jutland vintage Frankfurt & Wiesbaden look very similar to the first 4 of the ersatz cruisers.
-German upgunned versions of early war cruisers
-maybe some light cruisers for other nations (but note that the Panzershiffe Hamedieh from Turkey should work for the Italian Libya too, even though it is not listed under Italy).

Not only is the line almost complete, it's also good looking. I didn't ever imagine that a plain simple uncluttered one piece "recognition model" could look so good. There are no light cruisers in the line that look bad to me, although there are perhaps two or three whose sculpt is questionable with regards to accuracy. Specifically, the models for the British Bristol and Weymouth should have bulwarks along the sides between the gune. (That in no way means that the models don't look good.)

And they are only $3.00 USD each!

afilter27 Jan 2012 3:22 a.m. PST

I concur with Warren and Panzerschiffe is my first vendor of choice when it comes to 1/2400 scale models.

My pre-dreads are almost exclussively Panzerschiffe as well as all my WWI cruisers and below. When it comes to some of the larger capital ships I chose to go with GHQ for the extra detail. For pure gaming purposes PS cannot be beat in my opinion.

If you are like me and want to add a bit more detail to the PS models that is always and option as well by adding extra things like masts as I posted in another thread.


HobbyGuy27 Jan 2012 11:50 a.m. PST

Awesome review, really detailed and very helpful. Would love to see your expert advice on other classes of WW1 ships by these major MFG's.

warren bruhn29 Jan 2012 10:22 p.m. PST

afilter, I have looked at your additions of masts. Some of the C-in-C ships that I bought from another collector had metal masts. I was using these ships and got tired of poking my fingers, so I pulled some of the masts out. I agree that a lot of ship models look better with masts, but if I ever put masts on them I'll use something flexible like bristles from a brush or broom.

podette, I'll be adding threads about armored cruisers and battleships. But first I want to add some concluding thoughts about light cruisers:

I had a chance to compare some well painted GHQ and Panzerschiffe light cruisers yesterday. Painting these two very different styles requires different techniques. The high level of detail on the GHQ really calls for some black wash and a little bit of highlighting to make the details pop. But this gives the ship a little bit of a dirty look. This looks really great when peering at the model from about 6 inches away. But when on the table 2 feet to 6 feet away this can make the model a bit more difficult to identify. At a distance, the extra detail makes the light cruisers less distinct.

The Panzershiffe models really seem to require a different painting technique. Because there are broad planes of flat surface without details it is important to be able to paint very smoothly and be able to precisely follow the lines at the edge of hull and deck and superstructure. Washes are not useful because of the lack of detail to enhance (although C-in-C boats could be glued on to Panzerschiffe).

On my C-in-C light cruisers I tried to use water to thin my accrylic paints, as I do with soldier models. This was a mistake, because I couldn't get a smooth coat that way. The tip I got from the better painter was to use flow extender instead of water to thin the paint. His Panzershiffe look remarkably good. Of course, there's not much to look at from 6 inches away that you can't see from 2 feet away, but the model is easy to recognize from a distance.

warren bruhn31 Jan 2012 6:13 p.m. PST

I'm not a good modeller, but there are probably some here. I'm not sure if anybody has tried filing off guns on a Panzerschiffe resin model. Somebody recommended that I do that under water to reduce dangerous dust. I'm no good with greenstuff for putting on different details, such as guns, but probably somebody here on TMP is. The Panzershiffe models may be particularly suitable for modification, because they are cheap, and seem to have a bit of space on deck to work with. If one gets messed up, it's only $3.00 USD for a replacement.

warren bruhn09 Aug 2015 2:23 p.m. PST

Update re light cruisers after 3.5 years:

1. GHQ continues to add a few light cruisers, notably German Konigsberg & Stuttgart, British Caroline & Calliope/Cambrian, and Austro-Hungarian Novara. The last 3 named models are listed currently at $11.95 USD USD, pretty substantial price for a light cruiser model. As usual, they do look good (image of Novara):


2. WTJ is plunging into the light cruiser game. Because of the need to produce models from the pre-dreadnought era, along with dreadnoughts and destroyers, the light cruiser offerings are not extensive yet. However, the ability with 3d printing to quickly model variations in armament and masts means that the naval wargamer will be able to obtain variations of light cruisers over the course of the Great War. An example is this variation of the British Birmingham type with a tripod mast (Lowestoft 1916):

That availability of variations is going to be very important for light cruiser classes that were upgunned during the war from 4" or 4.1" to 5.9" or 6" guns, as with the early British "c" class cruisers and several German classes. So, look out for future releases from WTJ!

warren bruhn09 Aug 2015 3:28 p.m. PST

Hmm, forget to mention that Panzerschiffe added light cruiser models of The German Brummer, Konigsburg, Stuttgart, and Dresden classes (wrongly listing Nurnburg as a Konigsburg type, we know it belongs with Stuttgart & Stettin). There's no images on the website. I bought them anyway. As usual, these won't satisfy the fine detail model collectors, but are perfectly fine for wargaming.


Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2015 10:12 a.m. PST

I needed a few Bremens and Gazelles for 1914 North Sea and later Baltic campaigns, so I bought the Panzerschiffe models. Like other Panzerschiffes, they are oversized and a bit "stout" looking, so they look odd next to my C-in-C German light cruisers. WTJ has these in 1/3000, but not (yet) in the Rapid Prototype line, so I can't order them in 1/2400 plastic.

Warren – how do the VF Nymphe models compare in size to the Panzerschiffes? Do you have any photos?

- Ix

warren bruhn13 Aug 2015 11:43 a.m. PST

Yellow Admiral,

The Vilking Forge German Nympe (in the pre-dreadnought section) is slightly smaller, mostly in terms of lower freeboard, but roughly as broad as the Panzerschiffe model of the same class. It looks suitably old fashioned, with a long protruding ram bow.

The VF Nymphe has guns that are mere suggestions, unlike the taller gun shields and guns of the Panzerschiffe. There is a raised platform forward on the VF Nymphe, which I think is meant to represent the area behind the forward bulwark.

The VF Nymphe has taller funnels, with no rake to them, which look more like the earlier ships of the class. I've got a couple of them, which I'm going to use as earlier cruisers in the class, while using 3 Panzerschiffe models to represent the 3 latest cruisers in the class, because the Panzerschiffe model looks more like those later class members.

The VF models that I bought seemed to be cast in a very brittle pewter. One of the Nymphe funnels was bent. As I slowly and carefully straightened it I heard an alarming cracking noise. Fortunately the funnel didn't break. Hopefully VF is using a softer alloy now, but be careful with these models.

The Panzerschiffe model looks basically like the Bremen class model, but with two funnels instead of three.

Sorry I don't have any photos yet. I need to buy a good digital camera and start taking and posting pics.

I'd suggest replacing the small C-in-C cruiser models with WTJ as you have the time and money. Since my little C-in-C cruiser models are nicely painted and based, I'm planning to sell mine at the Enfilade convention in Olympia, Washington, USA some spring. Really looking forward to more cruisers from WTJ.

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