Life is full of choices. You come to a fork in the road. Which path do you choose. What if the choice you made didn’t work out. It is natural to wonder what would
have happened if you had taken the other path. The same is true in the construction of warships. There was always a delicate balance in apportioning the warship
capabilities among the three categories of gun power, armor and speed. To beef up one meant sacrifices in the other. At the start of the 20th Century the Royal Navy
had a fork in their battleship development program and they had the rare ability to see what awaited down each path.

In 1891 the Royal Navy controller, Vice Admiral John (Jackie) Fisher asked William White, Director of Naval Construction (DNC), to prepare a new 1st class
battkeship design based on the
Royal Sovereign Class of 1889 but using a new model protected 12-inch gun instead of open 13.5-inch guns protected only by a
barbette. The new design was to also use the Harvey process of hardened face steel armor. The new design, which was the
Majestic Class, was the most balanced
battleship design of its time and set the world standard of a harmonious, balanced design. For the Royal Navy battleship design was fixed for the next decade. The key
features were four 12-inch guns placed in twin gun turrets (actually armored gun houses on a barbette defensive system) one fore ad one aft on centerline and 6-inch
guns mounted in casemates for secondary guns. The
Majestic Class of the 1893 Estimates was followed by the Canopus Class of the 1896 Estimates, Formidable
Class
of the 1897 Estimates, Bulwark Class of the 1898 Estimates, Duncan Class of the 1899 Estimates, and Queen Class of the 1900 Estimates, all of which
followed the pattern set by White’s design for the
Majestic. In 1899 the Admiralty learned of a new American design that would have the standard four 12-inch main
guns and twelve 6-inch guns but would also mount an intermediate caliber of eight 8-inch guns. This became the
Virginia Class and had a strong influence on the next
British battleship design.
As Sir William White started outlining this new design for the 1901 Estimates, he had to consider other requirements that would impact it. When White became ill,
his assistant J. H. Narbeth, took over the design process, until White returned and concurred in Narbeth’s design decisions. Admiral Fisher had always championed
British battleships that were faster than those of other navies. White was restricted in size and costs for a new design. The speed factor was addressed by
increasing the power of the machinery but not by much. Most of the Admiralty thought an increase to 18.5-knots was sufficient but of course Jacky Fisher wanted
a faster speed. To match the
Virginia’s 8-inch intermediate caliber, initial preference was for twin gun 7.5-inch guns mounted in four turrets and twelve 6-inch
guns mounted in casemates. Captain William May, commander of the gunnery school, wanted to drop all 6-inch guns because their shells couldn’t penetrate
casemate armor and have fourteen 7.5-inch guns. This however, was too big a step for the Admiralty. White and Narbeth noted that weight of a turret with a single
9.2-inch gun was about the same as the turret for twin 7.5-inch guns and that the 9.2-inch shell was far more powerful than the 7.5-inch shell. The new design also
increased armor with 7-inches of armor plate from the main deck to the upper deck. This new design with the 9.2 single gun turrets replacing the twin gun 7.5-inch
turrets was approved in April 1901 with three ships for the 1902-1903 programme (1901 Estimates) with two repeats of this design for the 1903-1904 programme
(1902 Estimates). This was the
King Edward VII Class of battleships.

White retired as the Director of Naval Construction (DNC) on January 31, 1902 with the
King Edward VII as his last design. The incoming DNC was Phillip Watts,
who had worked for Vickers, as had White before he became DNC. As the
King Edward VII had not yet be laid down, Watts had the right to cancel it, if he so
desired. Watts had complete trust in the White/Narbeth design and has no hesitation in approving the
King Edward VII. Watts admired the close cooperation
between White and Narbeth and wanted Narbeth to cooperate as closely with him in upcoming designs. Watts and Narbeth immediately began work on a new
design, eliminating the 6-inch guns of the
King Edward VII design but with twelve 9.2-inch guns. However, the new design would have to wait. Admiral Lord
Charles Beresford, Fisher’s prime foe, launched diatribes against the fact that only two ships were in the 1902 Estimates. The partial impact came with the 1903
Estimates when the politicians decided that three more
King Edward VII ships would be built to keep high employment at the construction yards. The King Edward
VII
ships were somewhat of a disappointment in that it was discovered that mounting three calibers of guns (excluding the QF guns) had inherent disadvantages,
especially for the 6-inch gun fire. Well Watts and Narbeth had an answer to that with the design they had already started the previous year.
There were a number of sketch designs prepared by Watts and Narbeth between July 1902 and November 1903. In 1903 Narbeth had a design for a uniform
armament of twelve 12-inch guns (Design A) or twelve 10-inch guns (Design B), arranged as the subsequent
SMS Nassau. Other designs had four 12-inch guns
and from eight to twelve 9.2-inch guns. Watts worked with a restriction that beam could not exceed 79-feet 6-inches because of dockyard width. In late 1903 and
early 1904 there were a number of meetings on a new design and in the February 6, 1904 meeting Watts presented a design which he really liked for a battleship
with a uniform armament of sixteen 10-inch guns (Watts liked all 10-inch but Narbeth liked all 12-inch) but this was too large of a warship for the Admiralty. The
concept of an all big gun battleship was far too radical for the majority of the Admiralty at the time. In a meeting on February 10, 1904 the decision has made to
work up detailed plans for design G5, which had been submitted in the batch of designs of November 13, 1903. This design had four 12-inch guns mounted
traditionally in twin gun turrets on centerline fore and aft and ten 9.2-inch guns mounted in three wing per side with twin gun turrets fore and aft and single gun
turrets between the twin gun turrets. The G5 design called for a length of 405-feet (pp), beam of 79-feet 6-inches, draught of 27-feet, 16,500-tons displacement
and with a machinery plant developing 16,500shp for a top speed of 18-knots. The final plans were completed on August 1, 1904 and matched the G5 design
except that they were five feet longer (410-feet (pp). In January 1905, before these battleships were laid down, the scenery had dramatically changed at the
Admiralty as Jackie Fisher had become First Sea Lord. Fisher was adamant about an all big gun battleship and consideration was made to convert the 1904 ships to
all big guns. However, plans and preparations were too far advanced and the
Lord Nelson and Agamemnon were laid down in May 1905.

HMS Agamemnon was laid down at the Beardmore Yard on May 15, 1903 and HMS Lord Nelson was laid down at the Palmer Yard on May 18, 1905. Lord
Nelson
was launched on September 4, 1906 and completed in October 1908, well after HMS Dreadnought, which was built in record speed. Displacement was
15,358-tons at load, 17,820-tons deep and 18,910-tons at extra deep. Her length was 443-feet 6-inches overall (oa), 435-feet at waterline (wl) and 410-feet between
perpendicular bulkheads (pp). Beam was 79-feet 6-inches and draught 25-feet (light), 27-feet normal and 30-feet extra deep. Armament was four 12-inch/45 Mk X,
ten 9.20inch Mk XI, 24 12pdr QF guns, two 3pdr and five 18-inch submerged torpedo tubes. The main armor belt was 12-inches thick with an upper strake of
8-inches. The barette armor for the main guns was 12-inches tapering to 3-inches on the rear face, while the main gun turrets had 13.5-inch to 12-inch armor.
Secondary turret armor was 7-inches to 3-inches with barbette armor at 8-inches and glacis armor at 6-inches. Conning tower armor was 12-inches and armored
decks of 1.3-inches for the main deck, 4-inches on the slopes of the middle deck 2-inches on the crown. For the power plant she had two sets of 4-cylinder
inverted triple expansion engines with steam provided by 15 Babcock & Wilcox boilers. Designed horse power was 16,750shp for a maximum speed of 18-knots,
however on trials
Lord Nelson developed 17,445ihp for a speed of 18.7-knots, slightly faster than the Agamemnon on her trials.
The design was half a knot slower than the preceding King Edward VII Class but vastly more powerful and almost as powerful as HMS Dreadnought at a range of
10,000-yards or less. All of the 9.2-inch gun turrets were on the upper deck and could be worked in any weather. The class was cramped due to size restrictions but
they were so successful that in 1908 it was suggested that two more be built to complete a four ship tactical group. In further comparison to the
King Edward VII
Class
they were much drier, more comfortable and much more resistant to roll. Differences that distinguished Lord Nelson from Agamemnon were wings to the
navigation bridge, which had a small chart house underneath; no steam pipe aft of the forward funnel (
Agamemnon had a steam pipe at this location). Upon
completion the
Lord Nelson became the flagship of the Nore Division of the Home Fleet on January 5, 1909 and kept this position until August 1914, except for a brief
attachment in September 1913 to the 4th Battle Squadron.

Prior to World War One, the
Lord Nelson went through a few minor changes. In 1909 range indicators were added to each control top and the 3 pdr guns were
reduced to two.
Lord Nelson had one white band painted on each funnel (painted out in 1914), while Agamemnon had no bands painted on her funnels. Between
1910 and 1911 a range finder was added to the crown of the forward main gun turret. The ship’s searchlight was moved from the fore mast and placed on the flying
bridge. In 1912
Lord Nelson had her forward control top enlarged and fitted with a range finder and the search light on the flying bridge was removed.  In 1913 all 3-
pdr Qf guns were removed and a small range finder was added to the bridge. Four searchlights on the flying deck were moved were moved to two platforms on the
main mast tripod., two search lights were moved from the aft superstructure and placed on each side of the forward funnel and the two search lights from the
forward superstructure were moved to a platform on a high platform in front of the aft funnel.
At the start of the war, on August 7 the Lord Nelson was the flagship of the Channel Fleet as well of the 2nd Battle Squadron and covered the convoys crossing the
English Channel carrying the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.). In February 1915
Lord Nelson, as well as Agamemnon were selected for operations off the
Dardanelles. In late 1914 through early 1915 the range finders on the forward turret and bridge were removed from
Lord Nelson. Two 12-pdr guns were removed
from the aft superstructure and anti-aircraft guns added, one at the end of the quarterdeck and one on the forecastle in front of the forward main gun turret.
Lord
Nelson
also had the main mast searchlight platform enlarged, chart house removed as well as the main mast top mast and small spotting position added on the
forward topmast.

Lord Nelson left Portland on February 18 and arrived at the Mudros on February 26, 1915. She spent the balance of February and early March in bombardment
mission supporting early Commonwealth landings. For the operations in the Dardanelles the
Lord Nelson had her turrets, superstructure and funnels painted light
gray and a false bow wave added. On March 7
Lord Nelson was hit seven times from large shells and some from light field guns. She sustained superficial damage
but one hit was below the waterline and two coal bunkers flooded. Around this time the anti-torpedo net shelf was moved upwards to the upper deck to ease
deployment of the nets. The other predreadnought battleships had their net shelves lower so as not to interfere with the 6-inch gun positions.
A concentrated attack on the forts protecting the narrows of the strait occurred on March 18. Lord Nelson briefly engaged the battlecruiser, Goeben, off Gaba Tepe
with no damage to either ship and bombarded field guns. On May 12,, 912 the
Lord Nelson became the flagship of the Dardanelles Squadron as the HMS Queen
Elizabeth
was recalled to Britain. On June 20 she bombarded the docks and shipping at Gallipoli with the help of spotting from kite balloons. In November 1915
Lord Nelson became the flagship for Lord Kitchener in addition to being the squadron flagship. Following the evacuation of Gallipoli in January 1916, the
Dardanelles Squadron was broken up and the ships reassigned to other duties.
Lord Nelson because flagship of the Eastern Mediterranean Squadron at Mudros,
whose mission was to keep an eye on the Dardanelles and protect against sorties from the German battlecruiser,
Goeben, and light cruiser, Breslau. The funnels
were raised in 1917. When
Goeben and Breslau did sortie into the Aegean on January 20, 1918, Lord Nelson missed intercepting them, although Breslau was sunk
by mines. In October 1918 there was a refit in Malta.
Lord Nelson did steam to Constantinople in November after the Armistice and in April 1919 carried the
Imperial Russian Grand Dukes Nicholas and Peter from a Russian Black Sea port to Genoa, Italy.

In May 1919
Lord Nelson returned to Great Britain and was paid off and placed in reserve at Sheerness. She was sold for scrap on June 4,1920 to the Stanlee
Company of Dover. This company resold the ship to the Slough Trading Company on November 8, 1921, which had the
Lord Nelson towed to Germany for
breaking up in January 1922. The
Lord Nelson kept her torpedo net system in place for the entire war. The Grand Fleet capitol ships had there torpedo net systems
removed prior to Jutland but
Lord Nelson kept hers for her service in the Aegean and was not removed until late in 1918.
HobbyBoss HMS Lord Nelson in 1:350 Scale - When I saw that Free Time Hobbies had the HobbyBoss HMS Lord Nelson in 1:350 scale for $59.99, I couldn’t
resist snapping up the kit. I couldn’t help but feel that HobbyBoss was acquiring
Combrig kits and engineering them for release as plastic kits. First the Danton and
now the
Lord Nelson. These are not exactly big name topics. I really wanted to see how close the HobbyBoss kit was to the Combrig kit of the same class. I have
to say that the HobbyBoss
Lord Nelson is a good kit with some advantages over the Combrig kit and some disadvantages. The hull is one piece, split along the
centerline. It is full hull and will be difficult to modify to a waterline format. There is no indentation on the inside of the hull showing where the waterline is located.
You’ll have to use the Mk 1 eyeball to attempt to ink in the waterline before cutting off the lower hull. The
Combrig kit is definitely better for the waterline format, as
it is available in waterline format and even the full hull kit divides the hull with an above waterline piece and a below waterline lower hull. The HobbyBoss kit has hull
side panel lines arrayed in rows with alternating rows of lower plates and higher plates. Other than the armor belt, I have never seen hull plates that were higher and
lower than each other. I thought that they were all flush with each other. I have seen in real life the
USS Texas, laid down less than a decade after the Lord Nelson
and the hull plates were flush, however the
Texas has gone multiple modernizations. This however, is not grossly over-scale compared to the plate lines on the
Trumpeter
Texas and New York in 1:350 scale. Once painted. I think the raised rows of plates will be acceptable. Bilge keels are molded on the hull and acceptably
thin. Bow anchor hawse are open so that the top of the anchors can go inside. I like the port holes of the HobbyBoss kit, which have eyebrows (rigoles). There is a
slight bulge on the hull underneath each of the single 9.2-inch wing turrets but the plan of the ship in B
ritish Battleships 1889-1904 by R. A. Burt shows this bulge
was present. Other features of the hull are locater holes for the torpedo net booms and sternwalk door. The
Combrig kit did not come with torpedo net shelves or
net booms and the HobbyBoss kit has both with the net shelves in brass photo-etch.

The ship was flush deck so the HobbyBoss deck runs from cutwater to the end of the quarterdeck. The deck is very nice with delicate wooden planking with butt
end detail. The deck anchor hawse fittings are nicely done with openings for the anchor chain. For the various deck fittings, such as windlass plates, skylights, deck
access coamings, the detail on the
Combrig deck edges out that of the HobbyBoss kit. For instance the bollard heads on the Combrig kit have a flare outwards
whereas the HobbyBoss bollards are straight posts. The barbettes look good and the main gun turret barbettes do have the odd triangular shape on each side of the
barbettes. There is a one piece superstructure/flying deck piece. The detail on the faces of the superstructure is especially good with openings for forward 12 pdr
gun positions, hinged shutters, climbing rungs and base lockers. The flying deck has openings for inclined ladders and raised locater outlines for the funnels and other
superstructure. Additionally there are locater holes for the 12-pdr QF guns and other deck fittings. The hull sides, the main deck and the superstructure/flying deck
part constitute sprues A, b, and C.
Sprue D has the flying deck bulkheads with plate line detail, various superstructure blocks; underwater gear such as rudder, propellers with the blades at different
angles, propeller shafts and shaft supports; masts, yards and booms (not covered in the
Combrig kit); search light positions and some smaller deck fittings. There
is good detail on all of these parts. Sprue E has the funnels, funnel caps, aft superstructure deck with holes for the tripod legs, whaler, steam launch, two smaller
boats and balsa raft. The steam launch has an open cockpit in the deck piece and molded in funnel. However, there are no coal scuttles and the funnel opening is
solid and no planking detail in the whaler as found in the
Combrig kit. The balsa raft does have platform detail. Sprue F is fairly small with a boat skid flying deck
and three interior supports for the hull. G sprue is also fairly small. This sprue has the name plate, forward funnel base, bridge overhead, flying upper navigation
deck and bridge deck. The bridge deck rests on top of the forward superstructure and has openings for inclined ladders, locater holes for searchlights and QF guns
and raised outlines for deck houses.

There are two J sprues, which have the gun turrets and guns. In the title photograph I list the kit as the 1915 fit but I am wrong. This is the 1908 fit as built. The
turrets have base plates for 3-pdr guns, one per turret. The ship was completed with these small QF guns on each turret but they were removed prior to World
War One. However, you can fill the locater hole and leave them off if you wish to build the 1915 fit. The turrets look very nice with centerline cupola and access
hatch at the rear of their crowns, raised anti-skid lines and gun commander elongated cupolas on the forward crown, The side turret angles seem to match the
photographs and profile of the ship. The gun barrels, both 12-inch and 9.2-inch, have open muzzles. Other parts on these sprues and two-piece control tops,
windlasses, cable reels, deck winches, open chocks, boat davits, anchors, tripod legs, range finders, brackets, some small yards and other smaller fittings. There
are also two K sprues. These sprues have nice one-piece 12-pdr guns (K10), one-piece 3-pdr guns (K16), six open boats and a stem launch per sprue, search
lights, mushroom ventilators, jack and flag staff supports, life buoys, flying deck support pillars, steam pipes, and the torpedo net booms.
The HobbyBoss Lord Nelson comes with four frets of brass photo-etch, some of which is relief-etched. Fret A has relief-etched 12-pdr superstructure doors and
crane/boom pulleys. Other parts are the funnel grates, boat chocks, starfish gussets, vertical ladder, inclined ladders with trainable treads, boat’s rudders and ship’s
wheel. Fret B has relief-etched sternwalk overhead, sternwalk railing and some small platforms with railing. Other parts include the sternwalk with bottom supports,
short and long vertical ladders, long inclined ladders with trainable treads, life buoy racks, navigation deck wings and fittings in front of the front face of the main gun
turrets. Fret Chas various lengths of deck railing and the torpedo net shelves. The net shelf parts have an open grate design and have bottom supports. Fret D is
smallest. It has the bridge bulkheads with open windows, bridge supports, platform supports and railing and inclined ladder. There is also a packet of anchor chain.
The decal sheet has six flags, a White Ensign, Vice Admiral’s flag and Rear Admiral’flag both straight and waving. A color plate of both profiles and a plan shows
painting instructions with colors listed for Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humrol paint color numbers. For those modelers building the
Combrig kit,
the HobbyBoss
Lord Nelson is well worth its low price just for the brass photo-etch, especially the net shelves, net booms, mast and yards.

There are 24 pages of instructions. Page 1 introduction. Pages 2 & 3 parts laydown. Page 4 hull assembly. Page 5 deck attachment. Page 6 running gear and
sternwalk attachment. Page 7 main deck  fittings and deck houses. Page 8 flying deck fittings and attachment. Page 9 more flying deck fittings. Page 10 12-pdr, deck
winches and deck houses for the flying deck. Page 11 superstructure decks and flying boat deck. Page 12 funnels, conning tower and chart house attachment. Page
13 boat skid and boat attachment. Page 14 more boat attachment. Page 15 main mast assembly. Page 16 main mast attachment. Page 17 fore mast assembly. Page 18
fore mast attachment and bridge assembly. Page 19 mast platforms and superstructure platform fittings. Page 20 superstructure railings and ladders. Page 21 side
boat and anchors attachment. Page 22 net shelves and booms attachment and life buoy racks and accommodation ladders. Page 23 turret assembly and attachment.
Page 24 deck railing attachment.
The HobyBoss HMS Lord Nelson in 1:350 scale is a very nice kit, one of the best yet from HobbyBoss. Priced very low for what you get, this Lord Nelson is
excellent from the box for a full hull build.
Steve Backer
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