H.G. Watkins - BB43 USS Tennessee

Discussion in 'Ship & Watercraft Models' started by eibwarrior, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. eibwarrior

    eibwarrior Member

    Well, I'm "over the top" on Vittorio Veneto so I was itching to start another build to run concurrent with her. I found this little jewel along with USS West Virginia and USS Oklahoma on Ebay. This was a part of a modelers' collection that went up for liquidation.

    The model is trademark stamped by "H.G. Watkins" dated 1977. The model came on 11" x 17" sheets of thin paper, not cardstock and had been printed in all black and white. The design was compelling for such an old model. I scanned the original black and whites into tiff files and then took them to microsoft paint for color and some clean-up work. The decks didn't have any board lines in them, so I added those for better realism. The finished product turned out very well after several hours of coloring and editing.

    Here's some photos of the parts sheets and instructions. I printed the parts to 110 pound cardstock.

    Let the fun begin!



  2. Amazyah

    Amazyah Senior Member

    Wow, that looks like it will be a fun one to build.

    I like how all the parts are laid out nice and neat and lined up.
    This should make cutting out parts a little easier and quicker.
    Looks like a very professional kit.

    I'll enjoy watching you build her.

  3. Fishcarver

    Fishcarver Active Member

    That really is a fine looking kit. Bravo on the re-work! I too will watch your build with interest!

    Bravo also on the work to date on the Vittorio Veneto.

    Regards from Canada!

  4. eibwarrior

    eibwarrior Member

    Thanks Russell & Jim,

    Yeah, whoever laid this model out didn't have any concerns for space. It was all about organization. I like that. Keeps one from searching for those small tidbits that seemed to get scattered in the "nested" layouts.

    I was very surprised at the quality of the layout and the construction of these parts. Seems pretty advanced for it's time. I've done several google searches for HG Watkins to see if there are any other models available, and I'm coming up empty. Seems to be a rather obscure name for some reason. If there were other ships available from this designer, I'd love to have them.

    I scaled this thing out this morning and it seems to be an "odd ball" scale. By length it's coming out something like 1 / 372. I should be able to use some of my beloved photoetch detail in 1 /350 and it not look too "off scale".
  5. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    That's a great job of re-working this model. I have seen some of these kits and if I recall correctly they are basically printed on paper without any coloration from the print, but colored paper is used in some instances to impart, for instance, a grey coloration to the battleship sides, etc. The deck and other such areas are not colored, leaving one to wonder how it was colored by the modeler before computer graphic programs...I suppose colored pencils or other opaque finishes might be tried, I just don't know.

    I recently attempted a much easier re-color of an old Maly Modelarz merchant ship. I scanned the pages and used Photoshop Elements to recolor the parts...those familiar with the earlier MM kits will know what I mean when I say the color of the paper (and grain) imparted a bit too rustic a look to the original model, with a good deal of uneveness in the original color dyes used. My recolor is certainly far from perfect, and I probably would do a few things a little different next time (such as take the time to remove some items that I could have cut/pasted/added as a separate part assembly, like the anchors in the bow) but it seems to have come out alright. I reduced the original (which was 1/400 scale, best as I can figure) to 1/600 scale, so there's the added benefit that my mistakes are thankfully diminished in the process.:wink:

    Short story, you did a fantastic and involved job of re-coloring her, given what you had to start with. I hear you about the scale, there doesn't seem to be any standard scaling used in the models designed by W.G. Watkins, I thought they were all around 1/300 scale, not sure, but his designs are really outstanding, if you can take the impression of someone who has seen his work but not yet built one...guess you'll tell us how that part measures up, huh?:grin:

    I'm looking forward to seeing more on this build as you go along...as well as on your other build, the Vittorio Veneto.

    Thanks for starting another interesting ship model build thread, with great photos!


    BTW, the W.G. Watkins model I saw, and may still have, is of the U.S.S. Texas. My stuff is packed up right now, got to move my office in the next week or so and that is where I keep a lot of my model kits, so I can't tell you for sure which one it was and if I still have it.
  6. eibwarrior

    eibwarrior Member

    Thanks Jim. Yeah, I don't want to even think about how much time I have invested in this model already before I even put the scissors to paper. :roll: Thankfully it came out well though. The monotony of sketching and copying/pasting lines in the deck almost drove me insane. But it was well worth the effort.

    Yeah, I think the idea then was to use colored pencils to shade the model during construction to give a realistic appearance. I like color pencils and all, but not that much. :) Give me a mouse any day.

    I'll keep you posted on the constructability of the model. From what I can see it looks very much like JSC type construction, but even better designed.

  7. sdk2knbk

    sdk2knbk Guest

    H.G. Watkins models

    I've seen a number of Watkins models on eBay. It looks like the range was pretty extensive. The only one I've managed to win so far was the USS Houston, with a listed scale of 1/350. I did start building it, and it was going pretty well before I was distracted from it and the ship joined my "Unphinished Phleet". Sure would be nice if someone could find out what happened to the line and have it reprinted. The only place I've ever seen mention of Watkins models (besides a built Houston, here; http://www.modelshipgallery.com/gallery/ca/ca-30/350-ph/ca-index.html) before was in an old (1979) issue of Scale Ship Modeler. The article shows several models, including the HMS Nelson, a British destroyer, Independance class carrier, USS North Carolina, and USS San Francisco. Watkins said in the article that they were mainly intended for wargaming and were easliy modified. Unfortunately, the only contact address at the end of the article was a P.O. box in Paramount, California.

    The recolor of the Tenessee prints does look great, I'm looking forward to seeing it come together. Meantime, here's a shot of my Houston's keel and bulkheads I took a while back.

    Scott K.

    Attached Files:

  8. eibwarrior

    eibwarrior Member

    Wow, that's great Scott. The Houston is a great subject. Looks like you're off to a good start. Once you get back into it full-bore you need to post a build-thread up here so we can watch your progress.

    Thanks for the info on Watkins models. That's much more than I knew before. I guess I'll keep a sharp eye on ebay for future models. I'd love to get a US cruiser in my stash. :-D
  9. eibwarrior

    eibwarrior Member

    Well, here's a start on the substructure. I found the 110 pound card a little "floppy" so I added balsa struts to add some rigidity. Turned out nice. Should make it very rigid once the skins are added. Looks a little like a log cabin instead of ship though. 8)

    So far so good. The fit-up seems very accurate and I'll know more once I start the hull skins tomorrow.

    Thanks for looking in.


  10. barry

    barry Active Member


    Hi Elb

    Looks an interesting biuild. Do you think it has enough formers to hold the deck straight ?


  11. Darwin

    Darwin Member

    I managed a successful redraw and enlargement (to 1:250) of the Watkins USS Helena. The text of the build string still exists, but the photos were "lost" during one of our outages due to site being hacked. I posted a few of the pics from the string in the members gallery (par usual, managed to duplicate one of the postings). From my experience, I would suggest adding in a few additional bulkheads, especially if you enlarge. Does anyone know who currently holds the copyright for these kits, or have they passed into the public domain?
  12. eibwarrior

    eibwarrior Member


    You know I had the same thought after posting these pictures. I added a row down the center and that should do it. On both the stern and bow I plan to glue some balsa struts to the under side of the decks there to add some extra support.


    Thanks for the heads-up. I'll go check those photos out on the Helena... That's a great subject. Good question about the copyright. Boy if that turned into the public domain, we could do one heck of a HG Watkins model swap in here. I have half of battleship row from Pearl.
  13. sdk2knbk

    sdk2knbk Guest

    It did seem like a great start to me too. It didn't look quite as good after the decks were added and I discovered I had the colors (deck gray vs natural wood) wrong, and One colored piece disappeared on me so I substituted a white deck piece and tried to use a colored pencil. Yuck! The model is done up to the forward turret and forward superstructure, but I really need to replace all of the deck surfaces. (Another task that's on hold until I can get some more ink.)
    I took some pix of the magazine article I mentioned with my old camera, and pdf'd them. I also tried to include the small pix I saved of other model sheets from eBay, but the file absolutely refuses to upload with any of those pictures included! I don't know why, it was only 800k. I originally thought it was a problem of my old junk comp I was using earlier today at my in-law's, but I had the same problem on my good machine at home.

    Glad to see your BB already taking shape. Are those all of the provided formers in the first picture? Given the number that the Houston has, I expected a lot more.


    Attached Files:

  14. Darwin

    Darwin Member

    Scott, thanks for sharing the pdf of the magazine article. The ship on the top of page 2 is the USS Blue. I put a few pics in the gallery of my build of it. Must be late....I can't seem to get things together on the gallery postings.
  15. eibwarrior

    eibwarrior Member


    Thanks for posting that mag article. Looks like HG Watkins did the entire US Fleet from WWII including some UK stuff too. I'll have my eyes open to the internet for any of these jewels that may surface.

    Yeah, there was a lack of formers for this design for some reason. No way was the spacing going to support the deck properly. That's ok though, I keep a good amount of balsa on had for just such an occasion. :twisted:

    I like the way this model is shaping up. I think it's going to look very good.
  16. sdk2knbk

    sdk2knbk Guest

    eib and Darwin, glad you liked the article, just wish my camera was good enough to make it legible. Darwin, your USS Blue looks great! Wish I could make rigging look that good. I put the only other picture I had of my Houston in my gallery, and added one more I took tonight of her present state. Can't say mine looks all that hot, but the Watkins kits do seem to build up nice when they're done right. I'm looking forward to the next Tenessee shots.

  17. eibwarrior

    eibwarrior Member

    Hull plating finished!

    Finished up the hull plating this week. Fit up was fairly good. Run into the usual problems at the stern and bow with length. The JSC models seem to be more accurate in this respect. So a little handi-crafting was necessary on both ends to make it complete.

    Getting ready to start the decking, starting with the stern. I've cut that section out and it looks like it will be a good fit for the ship. I'll add some balsa struts at the very tip of the stern to give the deck extra rigidity.

    Thanks for looking in.



  18. sdk2knbk

    sdk2knbk Guest

    Looks promising. I've always liked the clipper bow on that class. I sti;; can't believe that's all the formers that were provided. Do the instructions say to build the superstructure onto the main deck first, then attach to the hull? I know it suggests doing that in the SSM article. Maybe he thought that assembly would be rigid enough to make up for the missing formers.

    Scott K.
  19. Darwin

    Darwin Member

    Instructions? Watkins kits don need no freakin instructions. If the BBs are anything like the cruisers, etc., a few basic diagrams are provided, but most of the details are left to the builder to figure out. The only saving grace is that the parts do seem to be numbered in the sequence they are assembled. With my Watkins (and JSC as well) kits, I completely ignore the kit-supplied framework and design my own. I also found I needed to do at least a couple of redraws of the hull side pieces until things fit right. My approach has been to start from the assumption the deck is the only thing in the kit with the correct dimensions, and then tailor everything else of the hull to mate up properly with the deck. I create a keel piece using the existing formers and baseplate dimensions for initial layout, then do multiple iterations of dimension stackups until things start to come into agreement. The process is kind of hard to put into words, but any pre-CAD mechanical engineers out there will totally understand the process.
  20. eibwarrior

    eibwarrior Member

    "I still can't believe that's all the formers that were provided. Do the instructions say to build the superstructure onto the main deck first, then attach to the hull?"

    Yeah, I was surprised too. That's it. That's all the formers designed. The balsa has really helped to form things up more rigid and better supported.

    The instructions advise to build the hull plating before the deck. Now that I'm into the deck, I think this is a mistake. I've attached the after deck and it went very well. I'm sizing up the forward deck and it's not even close. :cry: I'm going to have to do some significant measuring and go back to the electronic drawing board, edit, and reprint. The forward deck is shamelessly way off. So, I've hit the first major hurdle that's going to slow this model down for a while.

    "Instructions? Watkins kits don need no freakin instructions. If the BBs are anything like the cruisers, etc., a few basic diagrams are provided, but most of the details are left to the builder to figure out."

    Amen! Yeah, one page of some basic diagrams which don't show half of everything and then trust to experience and luck. :wink:

Share This Page