1/350 MGB 75
BRITISH POWER BOAT CO.
“HOW I DID IT"
75 BRITISH POWER BOAT CO.
Ensign Models 1:350 scale. NS – 013
I need to point out from the outset, that I am
by no means an ‘expert’ in WW2 ship modelling, or indeed
modelling in general. This article being the first of it’s kind
from me will be quite extensive however, future articles will not be
so comprehensive as I will not need to repeat my procedures.
particular type of Gunboat was built by the British Power Boat Company
in 1942, entering service with the 8th MGB Flotilla at HMS Beehive (Felixstowe)
in July. The vessel was 71 feet 6 inches in length, displacing 45 tons
and powered by three supercharged Packard engines giving a maximum speed
of 40 knots. It carried 2,600 gallons of fuel giving it a range of 1,000
nautical miles at 12 knots reducing to 760nm at 30k. Armament consisted
of a Vickers 2pdr (40mm) automatic Pom-Pom on the foredeck, a twin powered
20mm Oerlikon gun aft of the wheelhouse and two twin .303” Lewis
machine guns towards the stern. The crew consisted of 2 Officers, 2 Petty
Officers and 6 Ratings. Most of these craft came under the command of
One such man was to become a ‘legend’ in the Light Coastal
Forces operating in the ‘Channel’ and the North Sea. That
man was Lt Cdr Robert Hichens. It has been said that ‘Hich’ was
a big brother of every man serving in Coastal forces, the man of experience
and proved capacity, the champion of their cause and a born leader. I
believe it was his flotilla which was the first to be equipped with these
new, purpose built gunboats.
his rather short career ‘Hich’ was awarded some eight decorations,
six of them gained during an eventfull 1942, as he lead “bewildering
all out attacks” on the enemy, their size or firepower being of
no consequence. His last award, (an MiD awarded posthumously for an action
on the night before his death) coming on 22 June 1943. His bravery awards
include the DSO twice, the DSC three times and three times he was Mentioned
‘Hich’ himself wrote – “I think one of the
most lovely sights I have ever seen is a gunboat unit at speed in moonlight,
with the white pluming wakes, the cascading bow waves, the thick black
outlines of the guns darkly silhouetted, the figures of the gunners
motionless at their positions as though carved out of black rock, all
against the beautifull setting of the moon-path on the water”.
heroic life came to a tragic end on the night of 13th April 1943 when
he was killed by the final burst of enemy gunfire after a minor engagement.
He left behind a rich legacy – the fruits of his energy in the
development of the boats and the fruits of his experience in the way
they should be handled and fought.
learn more about ‘Hich’, may I suggest you have a look at
the following two books:
Little Ships” written by Gordon Holman, chapter
5, pages 62-75.
Fought Them in Gunboats” written by ‘Hich’ himself.
His eldest son, Antony is commencing research work with the view to
writing his father’s autobiography.
I think I can safely say that ‘Hich’ died doing what
he loved doing best, racing towards the enemy at high speed with all
guns blazing !! He wasn’t reckless, he first weighed up the odds
with a cold, calculating courage then he ATTACKED !!!!
don’t have any information regarding the exact configuration of ‘Hich’s’ MGB,
but I would like to, nevertheless dedicate my model to the memory of:
Lt Cdr Robert Peverell Hichens
DSO and bar, DSC and 2 bars RNVR.
“A Man among Men and a brilliant, dashing
further information has come to light. Antony Hichens very kindly put
me in touch with Tom Ladner who was the young RCNVR officer who commissioned
MGB 75 back in 1942. I wrote to Tom in April this year (2006) and he
replied in May. I also had the very great privilege to actually speak
to him as well which for me was an enormous thrill. In Tom’s letter
dated May 24 he told me of a particular action that he was involved
in and I quote –
75 operated primarily on the east and south coasts of England. MGB
75 was actually the first of it’s class ‘commissioned’.
The senior officer of the flotilla was LT CDR Robert Hichens who was
the first RNVR flotilla commander. He studied plans of attack employing
gunboats and torpedo boats and he evolved the tactic of having the
gunboats on the shore side of enemy convoys to draw fire and
thus enable the torpedo boats to attack from the seaward side. It was
not always successful for the gunboats that received opening fire.
It was this type of action that occurred off the French coast when
MGB 75 was hit as well as the senior boat which was commandeered by
George Duncan,, a Canadian, who was killed in the action. MGB 75 was
badly damaged and suffered a large number of casualties. I headed close
to a navigation buoy and stopped. As the enemy vessels went passed
me I hid behind the buoy, which in the failing light gave me some shelter.
Eventually I realised I was by myself on the French coast and that
I would have to move as soon as possible if I was to reach the English
coast before daylight. In any event I did get back to Felixstowe unescorted.
MGB 75 was so badly beaten up by gunfire that it was paid off and re-commissioned
much later under another number that I cannot recall. My life after
that was heavily involved with MGB 663 (a Fairmile D)”.
Ladner returned to his homeland, Canada where he became a notable QC.
I received the sad news from Len Reynolds, current CFVA President
that Thomas Ellis Ladner, QC, DSC and bar and 5 MiD’s passed away
on the 23rd June 2006 aged 89.
wrote in the most recent CFVA newsletter –
Ladner, a very distinguished and long serving officer in coastal forces,
died in his native Vancouver on June 23, aged 89. He, and many other
Canadians came over to the UK in 1940, served on the east coast, and
in early 1942 was CO of MGB 75, one of Robert Hichens’ “Band
of Brothers” in the famous 8th MGB Flotilla in the new 71’ 6” boats.
He fought many actions before his boat was severely damaged and paid
next command was MGB 663 which gained a tremendous reputation as an
always available and efficient boat in the 20th and 56th Flotillas,
the latter with all Canadian COs. They served in the ‘Med’,
were at the Sicily, Salerno and Elba invasions and took part in countless
actions on the west coast of Italy, in the Adriatic and in the Yugoslav
islands. Despite 663’s record for gunnery in action, he was always
proud that she never suffered a casualty until a week after he left
her, when 663 was mined and sunk off Venice.
was a fine man, had a very distinguished legal career in Canada and
kept closely in touch with coastal forces friends and attended reunions
on his frequent visits to the UK.”
would like to suggest, as with any model kit read through the instructions
and familiarise yourself with the parts and diagrams. As I have very
little reference material I will rely on the manufacturers information
to be reasonably correct and reliable. I trust that the good people who
have produced this model have done some research and consulted some plans
and/or other reference material. Having said that, if any reader believes
I am grossly incorrect in any way then please don’t hesitate in
letting me know. I assure you I will not be offended, I will readily
accept constructive criticism, especially if I’ve made a glaring
mistake. One thing I have discovered is that you should NOT colour
match the colours used on the painting guide as the colours shown are
merely depicting where a particular colour
should be applied and are NOT in any way depicting the correct shade
is no right or wrong way to go about building this model, I’m certain
each and every one of you will have your very own sequence of assembling
model boat kits. I am merely going to explain “How
I Did It”.
taking some shots of the kits’ parts, I washed the parts in the ‘usual’ way – the
resin parts in warm soapy water and the brass etch fret in what we call
here in OZ -- “White King”, using an old soft toothbrush
in both cases. I have a little hint for those of you who
use good ‘ol Super Glue. When not using
the glue, store it in the ‘fridge in a small glass jar (so it stands
upright). This prevents the glue left in the nozzle from going off (hard).
chose to assemble the model in the following sequence, for no particular
reason other than I considered it to be the most simplest sequence (for
me) starting with the smaller ‘out of the way’ parts. I also
wanted to take photo’s of firstly the parts laid out, then the
assembled model before painting and finally the completed (and painted)
model, including crew figures!
commencing work on this model I decided to make an ‘Airfix’ style
stand for my creation to rest on and to display the ‘under hull’ parts.
The assembly sequence then proceeded as follows -- Deck Hatches, ‘Kedge’ Anchor,
Ladders, and Liferings.
this stage I decided to add a Steering (Ships?) Wheel, I chose to use
one from WEM PE 736 useing the second smallest wheel. I cut a 2cm length
of 10 thou rod styrene and glued the end to the wheel to facilitate painting.
I then painted the wheel Humbrol 110 Brown and when dry, trimmed the
styrene down to about .5mm in length and glued it in position so that
the coxswain stands to the left of the ‘skipper’.
The next parts I added were the Bridge Windscreen, Radio Antenna, Holman
Projector, Aft Stanchions, Twin Lewis Guns, The 2pdr Gun – glueing
each piece (base, training mechanism and the gun itself) to the boat
in turn, Regarding the Gun I chose to separate the two halves and add
a piece of 20 thou styrene in between, trimming to shape. I replaced
the barrel with 20 thou rod styrene and then glued the brass ‘flash
supressor’ to the end.
The twin 20mm Gun – likewise, I glued each piece in turn to the
boat –the resin part no. 3, the Powered Mount then the Sight Mechanism – The
instructions for WEM’s MGB 660 indicate the Sight Mechanism sits against the vertical triangular shape on the resin part with the front
edges of both flush with each otherand finally the Twin 20mm Barrels – I
glued the base of the guns centrally side to side and towards the rear
of the resin mounting.
As my model will have gun crews ‘closed up at Action Stations’ I
added the gun Ammunition Drums using very small lengths of 20 thou rod
styrene and glued each drum to the right hand side of each gun breach.
The next part to add above deck was the ‘Carley’ Rubber Boat.
Now I turned my attention to under the Hull – the Propeller Shafts,
glueing the centre one on first, the three Propellers, giving each blade
a tiny twist, the easiest way to explain which way is to look at another
model. I looked at the props from my 72nd scale Airfix MTB kit. Then
followed the three Rudders, again glueing the centre one on first.
Now to the final details above deck, the Mast Halves, the upper and
lower Radar pieces. I chose to add ‘some’ rigging
using the Instruction Colour Guide as a guide.
I already have a good supply of ‘Humbrol’ paints (they are
readily available in most toy shops) I chose to use the following paint
Sea Grey B15………….156
Nav light…………..38 (You could use #2, but
I considered #38 to be slightly brighter and more readily seen)
resin crew figures are produced by L’Arsenal in france and I chose
to paint the them using the following (again Humbrol) colours:
I chose not to try and paint shoes/boots and I also
chose not to try and make British style ‘tin hats’.When adding
crew figures to my model I found I had to modify a couple of them to
allow them to fit into their respective positions. The Pom-Pom Gunner
has had his right arm cut off and his legs shortened, he is now also ‘wounded’ with
another crew member assisting him. The 20mm Gunner has had his right
arm and both legs cut off !!
I mentioned the lack of decals to John Snyder not long after
purchasing my first ‘Narrow Seas’ kit. His very valid explanation
was because all the boats in the range have different sizes and styles
of numbers it is not feasible cost wise to produce hull/pennant numbers
for each kit. I managed to find suitable numbers from my decal ‘spares’ box.
was my first experience with a kit of this kind, being resin with a number
of quite small (in some cases very tiny) brass etch parts. I am very
pleased with the result and I certainly look forward to completing more
of these White Ensign Models’ kits.
very fine kit is available from a number of outlets, the old saying goes “check
your local hobby retailer first”. I purchased mine direct
from WEM and I cannot fault their EXCELLENT SERVICE, my order arriving
just six working days after me placing it !!!!
prices being GBP 11.75 for the UK and Europe, GBP 10.00 for overseas
customers which equates to approximately $18.40 (US), $24.20 (Aust)
and for my Kiwi friends $25.90 (NZD). Please keep in mind these conversions
are approximates only depending on exchange rates at the time of purchase.
this point I would like to acknowledge the assistance given by John Lambert,
co-author of the excellent ‘Allied Coastal Forces’ books.
Vol 3 dealing with the British Power Boat designs is not still some way
off being printed. He very kindly provided some information regarding
crew positions for the 2 pdr and twin 20mm guns, Thanks John “Aye”.
have to say, researching the exploits of these very gallant ‘little
ships’ has lead me on a most amazing journey all
over the world. I have spoken to some of the extremely brave and courageous
men, many of them ‘hostilities only’ volunteers
who risked their lives every time they went out to, not only battle the
enemy but the sea itself.
Breton Fishermans Prayer’:
“Oh God, be good to me.
Thy sea is so wide
And my ship is so small”.
If you would like to contact Roger about his article
his email is: firstname.lastname@example.org