H.M.S. Hood Today - Scale Models & Miniatures of Hood
Review of Andrzej Halinski/Kartonowy Arsenal's 1/200 Scale Card Hood
by Steve Hirschbach
Updated 07-May-2014

Special thanks to Steve Hirschbach of Dorval, Quebec, Canada, for writing the following review of the ORIGINAL version of this card kit. Please note however, that this kit has since been updated with most of the recent configuration "finds" and as such will be more accurate. If anyone builds the updated version, please let us know.

Chainbar divider

Arsenal's 1:200 scale card model of H.M.S. Hood is best compared to downhill skiing on an expert trail; if you're good it is an exhilarating, challenging and rewarding activity. If you are more of a novice it will be slow, frustrating and discouraging.

The Kit
The first thing to be aware of is that you won't be starting in a hurry (at least, if you live in North America, you won't). I ordered my kit from Scheuer & Strüver in Hamburg. Order processing and shipping advisories were very good - they were temporarily out of stock and e-mailed me immediately to let me know when I could expect shipment. Nonetheless, once they had shipped, I waited almost seven weeks for the thing to arrive! I queried them after six weeks had elapsed and they assured me that up to ten weeks was the norm! The postmark on the package confirmed their send date and I have no idea why anything should take so long but be forewarned.

If - like me - your experience is more with plastic and resin kits, then paper models take some adjustment in thought patterns, procedures and expectations. The subtleties inherent in three-dimensional media simply cannot be accurately reproduced with paper and card so some compromise in standards is inevitable. The elegant flare of bows or the swell over an anti-torpedo bulge is never as believable in card as it would be with resin or plastic.

The kit itself arrives as a large format (16¼ by 11½ inches) book. Just perusing the 18 large pages with their more than 1200 individual parts to be identified, cut out, folded and glued into place gives one pause; the pages seem to go on and on and on and very few of the pieces are instantly recognizable for what they will eventually be. This is not a criticism, some very clever design and construction methods are used and even after I was half finished I was constantly amazed at how some complex structures could be built up from pieces that individually did not bear any resemblance to the final sub-assemblies. The level of printed detail is high and -in most cases - the level of accuracy appears to be good. The kit builds Hood as she was in her May, 1941 incarnation, so if building her in earlier versions is your desire, this is not going to be the kit of choice.

Construction
The major problem with this kit is immediately encountered and stays with you throughout the build process; instructions are sparse and only supplied in Polish. This is the first and major reason why previous card modeling experience is almost mandatory. Without some level of previous exposure to the intricacies and methods of card modeling, this kit will provide no joy whatsoever. To be fair, the kit sellers do caution that this is for advanced builders only. Some of the assemblies can be figured out relatively painlessly - the construction of the hull for example, requires little decipherment and aside from some of the more arcane details is relatively straightforward. Instructions are also erratic in their coverage. Some assemblies, (see Figure 1) are well illustrated whereas with some other you are strictly on your own.

Hood card model instructions extract
Figure 1. Hood Card Model Instructions extract

Constructing the massive and complex forward superstructure is a typical example of the latter case. The sole assembly diagram illustrates less than half of the pieces involved - one must make educated guesses as to the placement of the rest. Some good references are a must. I purchased the Monografie Morskie edition on the Hood at the same time as the Arsenal kit and it has an outstanding for'd superstructure diagram that gave me enough information to complete the assembly. To attempt this kit without references of any kind, however, would be a futile exercise. The illustration of the bridge area under construction (Figure 2) shows both sides of this equation. Since you are building up each deck level much as the original ship was constructed, you get a very good feel for construction and the general 'feel' of the ship. On the other hand, look at this towering structure in it's incomplete stage of building and imagine the delight encountered as you build with rather rudimentary instructions!

Card model bridge structure under construction
Figure 2. Bridge structure under construction

Two other areas of shortcoming (in my opinion) deserve mention. First, many of the smaller tubular structures (small caliber gun barrels, yardarms, etc.) are not supplied. The instructions reference these by roman numerals - presumably denoting some type of standard diameter rod to use. I used a variety of materials from fine wire to barbecue skewers and got decent results but you'll need to be creative. Second, although it's clearly mentioned in the Polish instructions, several pieces are meant to be glued to varying thicknesses of card stock. Some of these make sense; for example, the sweeping expanse of the decks and - quite obviously - the longitudinal and transverse frames that make up the structural skeleton of the ship. Others seem nothing more than bizarre; the masts which must be tightly rolled for example, are indicated as candidates for reinforcement via card stock. They can be barely be rolled tight enough as it is! I reinforced mine by thrusting a plastic drinking straw down the hollow interior of each tripod mast leg. Worked like a charm.

Finally, the construction processes while generally adequate, do vary wildly in a few areas. For example, a simple yet ingenious combination of two parts yields the prominent life rafts which are scattered over the various decks and housings. It is a neat little design which convincingly portrays the three-D nature of the rafts. At the other end of the scale, the tripod legs of the foremast must fit through several levels of deck. All decks affected are clearly marked with the required holes - except the most visible deck which inexplicably lacks such markings!

The numerous fine details of Hood are generally done quite nicely. For example, the intricately detailed pom-pom guns are made up of no less than twelve different pieces. Cutting, folding and gluing these together yields a convincing representation of these anti-aircraft weapons (see Figure 3). As mentioned previously, the gun barrels must be scratch built; I used some fine gauge electrical wire.

pom-pom guns
Figure 3. Pom-pom guns; component parts and completed assembly.

The same verdict hold true for the 4 inch DP guns. Seven pieces come together to build each of these weapons. The barrels are supplied with the kit, to be rolled tightly into cylinders. I could not get anything that looked remotely convincing and elected to go with round toothpicks cut to length instead.

4 inch guns
Figure 4. 4 inch DP guns; component parts and completed assembly.

Having completed your Hood, however your troubles are not over. This is one big vessel - mine measures 52½ inches long and 11¾ inches from keel to the top of the mainmast. Your average coffee table will handily support something this size but finding space to suitably display such a large project will pose some challenges - particularly to apartment dwellers!

Summary

Construction aside, the kit is pretty good on detail accuracy - but not perfect. The small superstructure just aft of the mainmast does captures the overall look very well but is missing a couple of platforms according to my references. The rangefinder assemblies atop the main turrets appear flatter than they should - this may be an unavoidable effect of modeling in paper however.

There are minor inconsistencies in realism; for example the structures beneath the shelter deck correspond nicely to those on resin kits in terms of detail and their inclusion of many details impossible or difficult to see once the shelter deck is actually in place. On the other hand, the splinter shields surrounding many of the secondary weapons are printed only on one side, leaving the clearly visible interior surfaces stark white as shown in Figure 5.

Boat deck under construction
Figure 5. Boat deck under construction, note gun shield interiors

The kit vendors recommend that the card modeler for Hood be at Level 5 (which is the highest level of experience and capability). I'd realistically say that I am about a 2.5 and my Hood shows the differences to be expected. Any level less than that and it's going to be a frustrating nightmare. Experience aside, however, the paucity of instructions means that good references are vital.

The question then becomes, is it worth it?

In a word, yes, unless you are a first time card modeler in which case I cannot in all conscience recommend the kit.

It does make an impressively large and suitably detailed model. If nothing else, as a huge and detailed reference it's worth the small cost. If you have experience, time and patience, I have no doubt that it can be turned into something very spectacular indeed. It won't be easy and it won't be as much fun as plastic or resin (in my opinion) but it does make a formidable conversation piece!