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Scratchbuilding the Karlsruhe Köeln Class Light Cruiser

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Darkest Star Games Sponsoring Member of TMP writes:

That is a LOT of work! Looks good too.

Revision Log
4 September 2003page first published

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Thomas Riepe ( writes:

As I am collecting and gaming with 1/600 ship models like the ones by PT Dockyard or Skytrex and SDD, I wanted to have larger ships from cruisers onwards as well. These are difficult to come by. There are some models by Airfix or Revell, but only the most well-known ships (such as the Prinz Eugen, Bismark or Hood) are available.

So I thought about trying to scratchbuild one myself.

First I had to build a master model. As I am not very expirienced in carving wood, I thought about using paper as the material to work with. I had a look at paper ship models (such as those from Paper Shipwright) to help me in constructing my own ship.

As 1/600 is not a very common scale for ship models, I started drawing plans from pictures and smaller-scale plans of the Koeln class cruisers. Then I constructed the paper master model.

The master model (spray-painted black)

The smaller parts of the master model

Now I tried to make a silicone mold out of two-component silicone rubber, which has to be mixed on a 1:1 basis. To prevent the paper of the master sticking to the rubber, I spray-painted the master model (that's why it is black rather than white).

Mold for the hull

Mold for the smaller parts

When the silicone cured, I got the master out of the mold and started to make the first resin model. I am using a resin which has to be mixed 1:1 - this is the best mixing ratio.

I poured the resin into the mold and - after 2 hours, when the resin cured - I had the first resin model in my hands.

The resin model

Some smaller parts, such as the ships boats and the torpedo tubes, are made from white metal. The molds were made in two parts, and the models were dropcast.

Now there is only the assembly of the components. The gun barrels of the main armament and the AA armament were made from metal rod.

Ready for priming

What is mising is the Arado float plane and the aircraft cranes. These will follow shortly, out of white metal.

Primed and ready to paint

Now a short history of the Köeln class light cruisers

The class consisted of three ships: the Koeln, Koenigsberg and Karlsruhe. All three were built beginning in 1926, and made a number of peacetime voyages to countries such as England, France, the USA, Argentina, Japan, Australia, etc.

Primed and posing with Skytrex VP boat

During the Second World War, both the Koenigsberg and the Karlsruhe were lost during the Norwegian campaign (in 1940). Koenigsberg was lost due to torpedo hits of Bergen, and later bombing hits by the RAF. Karlsruhe was torpedoed by a British submarine and had to be abandoned. She was then sunk by the German torpedo boat Greif.

Primed and posing with Skytrex VP boat (close up)

Köeln survived until 9 january 1945, when she was sunk during a bombing raid on Wilhelmshaven.