"The Unapproachable"


HMS Invincible (1914) - Scale 1:250, published by JSC Models, not currently available


In 1904, the Admiralty set up a committee, chaired by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John Fisher, to produce designs for two new warships. The first, for a battleship, resulted in the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought in 1906. The second was for an armoured cruiser, among whose specifications were that she should be capable of 25 knots and be armed only with 12" guns and anti-torpedo-craft guns. The resulting design, based on Fisher's earlier "HMS Unapproachable" concept, produced HMS Invincible and her two sisters, HMS Indomitable and HMS Inflexible, the first battlecruisers. The ships would be sufficiently powerful to overwhelm fast armoured cruisers and could also finish off damaged battleships. Their design was kept secret until the last moment with the result that Germany, then vying for supremacy with the Royal Navy, thought that the new ship would not be so heavily armed and responded with SMS Blücher whose serious lack of firepower would be her undoing at the battle of Dogger Bank in January 1915.
To an Edwardian public stunned by the appearance of HMS Dreadnought in 1906, the sight of the new HMS Invincible, which was 40' longer and 4 knots faster, must have been quite overwhelming. At 17,250 tons, she displaced slightly less than the Dreadnought's 17,900 tons but still represented one of the largest weapons ever built. However, the larger size and lower displacement pointed to a deficiency in armour which was to become tragically apparent.
Launched in April 1906, she was commissioned in March 1909. In August 1914, she took part in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, as a consequence of which the Kaiser restricted the operations of the German fleet. Following the disaster at Coronel on 1st. November 1914, HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible were dispatched to the South Atlantic to avenge the defeat. Encountering the German squadron under Graf von Spee at the Falkland Islands, the British gave chase in which the superior speed of the battlecruisers was a decisive factor. The German flagship, SMS Scharnhorst, and her sister, SMS Gneisenau, were both sunk as were the cruisers Leipzig and Nürnberg.
On return to home waters, HMS Invincible became flagship of the 2nd. Battlecruiser Squadron and subsequently transferred to the 3rd. Battlecruiser Squadron, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral Hood. At 1834 hrs on 31st. May 1916 at Jutland, she was hit in Q turret, when the magazine blew up and she sunk in two halves. Out of a crew of 1,031, two officers and three men survived.
The battlecruisers enjoyed a high reputation with the general public, being known as the "Greyhounds of the Sea", but perhaps Churchill's phrase, "eggshells armed with sledgehammers", is closer to reality. Of the 13 battlecruisers which were built for the Royal Navy, three blew up at Jutland and a further one, HMS Hood, went the same way in 1941. By comparison, of the 46 British dreadnoughts built, five were sunk, none by gunfire.

The Model.


The JSC kit is designed on computer and comprises 14 sheets of A4 card. The printed detail on the kit is excellent.
Over the years, JSC have been quite ready to experiment with hull construction and this kit is no exception. The basis of the hull is a prismatic spar which extends for most of the length of the waterline and on which the hull frames are threaded. Next are applied the hull sides which are glued to the frames, after which the deck was laid on. I had some difficulty here as the sides seemed to be too long. So, I did the wrong thing and cut them back a bit. This had the effect of making the ship look lopsided and I had to replace the pieces which I had removed with strips cut from the spare printed card provided. I also found that the deck seemed to overlap the sides quite considerably and I cured this by easing the sides off the frames and reglueing to the deck edges. On reflection, I would have preferred the more usual construction order of decking before sides to the one adopted by JSC. Once the hull was completed, the hawse pipes, main armament barbettes and deck house were built. A printing error became apparent here as the barbette for P-turret is printed on the hull side in line with that for Q-turret on the opposite side, whereas these two turrets are offset. The first six of the 4" guns were then built and fitted to the main superstructure, plastic tube and rod serving for the barrels.. Further work on the superstructure ensued, after which the forward two funnels were assembled and located on deck, thereby giving the model some character.
The forward superstructure was then completed right up to the rangefinder platform atop the tripod mast. This was fairly straightforward although I found the positioning of support brackets, parts 125 & 126, was unclear and I left these until I was ready to attach the flag platform, parts 138/9, which made things easier. The level of printed detail is impressive with even an open map on the map table! In similar fashion, the after citadel was constructed and the deck was then finished off with such furniture as ventilators, breakwater and skylights.
It was now time to construct the four main armament turrets. While the construction and positioning of the gun barrels was conventional, building the turret was somewhat less straightforward. The turret is all constructed from one piece of card and the turret floor with guns affixed is placed inside. At the first attempt, I made the turret top completely and then had difficulty in fitting in the turret interior. The trick, I found, was to make only the front part of the turret top, so that the floor could be slid inside after which the back part of the turret can be closed up.
The model is then finished off with anchors, torpedo netting shelves and boats. Some of the latter can be suspended from the davits with small pulleys to enhance the ropes. Although elaborate rigging is indicated on the diagrams, I just applied sufficient to look decent and provide halyards for the flags.
I have spent about five months working on the model and I would estimate that it has taken me about 150-200 hours to build. Despite the problems I have described above, I found it an enjoyable kit to make and am pleased with the end result. To sum up, don't be inflexible, strive indomitably and your model will be Invincible!

 

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