WTJ Naval is the manufacturing and foundry branch of The War Times Journal. Their main goal is the creation of affordable wargaming miniatures that have clean, accurately scaled features. The current line of 1/3000 scale naval miniatures was kicked off with the release of a long sought selection of pre-dreadnought battleships and cruisers, which will eventually include both war time fleets of the Russo-Japanese and Spanish-American Wars, as well as many rarely depicted European capital ships of this important era. The vessels are 1/3000 in scale allowing players to put on games within a medium to small sized area. Large fleet actions on larger battle zones can also be used. For example, using the General Quarters Rules and replacing the inch measuring system in them with centimetres, the Battle of Tsushima can be fought on an area the size of a standard table tennis table.
Jim of WTJ sent me two vessels from the range as samples. Jim knows I like the Russian Japanese War of 1904-1905 so one of the vessels was the Japanese vessel Shikishima. The other was the USS Kearsarge. The Kearsarge was painted overall in the white and buff colour scheme the Americans were using at the time whilst the Shikishima was painted in the grey the Japanese Navy used in wartime. Both vessels are shown above and more detailed photos of them can be seen in the Gallery of Thomo’s Hole ( http://thomo.coldie.net). To both vessels I added a minimum of gilding, being a representation of the masts carried by the vessels. These were made from fine brass wire and add to the appearance of the vessels. To assist in this process, the WTJ vessels have guide “dimples” placed around where the mast enters the deck or superstructure of the vessel. On then to the models, starting with the Kearsarge.
The USS Kearsarge (BB5) was built by Newport News, being laid down on 30 June 1896, launched on 24 March 1898 and commissioned on 20 February 1900. Her eventual fate was to be sold in 1955. The Kearsarge displaced 11,540 tons measuring 375’4” overall by 72’3” by 23’ 6” (or 114.4m overall by 22.03m by 7.16m). She was armed with 4×13” guns in two turrets of two guns, 4×8” guns (also in two turrets of two guns, but these turrets were atop the 13” gun turrets), 14×5” guns, 20×6-pdrs, 8×1-pdrs and 4×18” torpedo tubes above the waterline. She carried a normal complement of 553 and had a speed of 16 knots. There was one sister ship, the USS Kentucky.
The Kearsarge (and Kentucky) were reported as being poor gun platforms – possibly because of the 8” guns atop the 13” guns and the fact that those guns were trained together as one unit. The Kearsarge was converted to a crane-ship in 1920, being renamed to Crane Ship No 1 in 1941.
The model itself measured 36.5mm at the waterline and was 7mm wide at its widest. This converts to 109.5m by 21m so the model perhaps is a little shorter than the original, although at 1/3000th scale, the vessel looks a good representation of the original. The fine detail on the model is excellent, certainly the best I have seen on any 1/3000th model with the deck planks visible, seats in the ships boats and so on. Really, the detail is excellent on this vessel and the casting itself is very clean with little or no flash to remove.
I cleaned up the little flash (almost non-existent) on the Kearsarge and attached it to a tongue depressor for painting (paddle-pop sticks could also be used for this purpose). Using a pin vice I drilled out for the masts in the appropriate position. I estimated the position by examining the side view of the Kearsarge presented in Conway’s (see the review of Conway’s elsewhere in the review section of Thomo’s Hole.). Brass wire was cut to a length that looked correct against the photographs of the vessel. The masts were then stuck to the vessel and when the glue was dry, the vessel was under-coated in Games Workshop’s Chaos Black.
When the undercoat was dry, the decks were dry brushed a couple of times with Coat d’Arms Desert Yellow (#517). The ship’s boats were also dry-brushed at the same time. The hull of the Kearsarge was then painted white and (Games Workshop Skull White). The upper works were then painted in Vallejo Flat Yellow (#953), rather than buff. The small size of the model and the black undercoat gives a suitable buff appearance to the paint when dry. Black tops were then added to the funnels, some touching-up was done and then the model was mounted on a sea base.
The dimensions of the Shikishima were 415’ (waterline) 438’ (overall) by 75’6” by 27’6” or in metric 126.5m (133.5) by 23m x 8.29m. Shikishima was armed with 4×12” guns in two turrets of two, 14×6” guns, 20×12-pdr quick firing, 6×3-pdrs, 6×2 1/2 –pdrs and 5×18” torpedo tubes. The model itself scales out to 126m by 22.5m.
The Shikishima had a sister ship, the Hatsuse. Both vessels were built under the 1896 Ten Year Naval Expansion Programme. They were built to a design of G. C. Macrow and were an improved version of the British HMS Majestic. Their armament was identical to the Fuji class of ships.
On completion, the Hatsuse represented the Emperor of Japan at Queen Victoria’s funeral. Both ships were present at the bombardment of Port Arthur on 9 February 1904 and through the subsequent blockade. The Hatsuse struck a Russian mine on 15 May 1904 and whilst under tow from the Mikasa, struck a second mine and sank. The Shikishima was present at both the Battle of the Yellow Sea and the Battle of Tsushima.
The Shikishima was classed as a coast defence ship in 1921 and then disarmed and immobilised under the Washington Treaty. In 1923 it was a training ship. It was finally scrapped in 1947.
I cleaned up the little flash on the vessel and attached it to a tongue depressor for painting. Using a pin vice I drilled out for the masts in the appropriate position. I estimated the position by examining the side view of the Shikishima presented in Conway’s . Brass wire was cut to a length that looked correct against the photographs of the vessel. The masts were then stuck to the vessel and when the glue was dry, the vessel was under-coated in Games Workshop’s Chaos Black.
When the undercoat was dry, the decks were dry brushed a couple of times with GW’s Bleached Bone (which makes a nice sun bleached deck colour). The ship’s boats were also dry-brushed at the same time. The hull was then painted with Vallejo’s 904 Dark Blue-Grey (#157). Black tops were then added to the top of the funnels, the ships boats were painted white, some touch-up was done and then the model was mounted on a sea base.
All in all, both models are truly excellent and I can recommend them to any naval gamer interested in this period. Note also that WTJ is producing Russian vessels and Spanish vessels from these times. If you check the link for purchasing the vessels, Jim explains how he does his masts there. I need to say that I use a vertical mast only – Jim adds cross-spars as well.