I have been and gone and done it. As I type this blog post there are no less six sets of the Airfix Sink the Bismarck! 1/1200th scale waterline model collections winging their way to my front door!
I am so pleased about this for lots of reasons. To begin with I spent many, many happy hours chopping and changing these models around when they first appeared way back in the late 70s/early 80s; primarily for use as ships of the Turkish WW1 navy that took part in the South East Asia campaign run by Eric Knowles and hot on the heels of the legendary Madasahatta affair. It is a lovely scale to work with and even gaming is not that difficult if you are not too picky about scales etc. For the aforementioned WW1 campaign we were fighting fleet sized actions using Fletcher Pratt's rules on a large dining table so it is possible. Fortunately my WW2 aspirations are fairly modest so it will be rare to see more than half a dozen models a side at any one time on the tabletop!
Why 6 sets? Well, aside from the usual ships I have a number of plans for the others and as a source of nautical spares the set is absolutely bang on the money. On the subject of money I have paid £13.97 a set for mine and so it works out at roughly £2 a model which is really good value - in fact, if memory serves me correctly that is actually cheaper than when they first appeared.
The plans I have are, as you might expect, many and varied but without anything concrete as yet. I have plans to augment the plastics with some Revell kits - KGVs and Scharnhorsts - and will obviously need to add a few metal models in due course but the great thing is that I will not need a lot of them. As it stands at the present time I will need of course Hood and The Ark Royal, a pair of the 'hangered' County class cruisers (why, oh why did Airfix not have the hanger as an optional piece!?) and perhaps half a dozen of the Tribal class. A pair of Bismarcks and perhaps three of the Prinz Eugens will suffice for the German contingent. That leaves the as yet undecided fate of the rest of the collection to be considered.
I am tempted to tackle a couple of Renown class battlecruisers using the Hood as the basis for the conversion. They are slightly smaller than the Hood both in the length and the beam but a lot of the superstructure and fittings could be easily tweaked. The huge number of twin 15" turrets I will have spare could be used for some QE and R class scratch builds - if the general shape is about right then the fixtures and fittings and a sympathetic paint job can achieve minor miracles.
Bob Cordery very kindly gave me a couple of ideas for German aircraft carriers - the Graf Zeppelin based on a Hood hull and the Seydlitz based on a Prinz Eugen. Something to ponder along the 'what if' lines - as is the use of some spare Bismarck 15" gun turrets to refit the Scharnhorst and her sister with.
I would like to try and see how I could get a German destroyer out of a Tribal class as well. Back in the old days the Tribals were regularly chopped up and used for various cruiser types so a destroyer should be straightforward shouldn't it?
There is a huge amount of potential with this set and given the low price it is available for it means that carving it up is not quite so wince inducing!
In summary I can think of absolutely no practical reason why I have chosen to do this other than because I can and that is reason enough or, as Oscar Wilde once said: "I can resist anything except temptation!" He must have been a wargamer!