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
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-unches
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
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
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
3pdr 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.
also had the main mast searchlight platform enlarged, charthouse 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
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 their 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.
Combrig HMS Lord Nelson in 1:700 Scale - The Combrig 1:700 scale HMS Lord Nelson is like a miniature version of their 1:350 scale model. Since the ship did
not have casemate guns on the sides of the hull, the hull sides are very smooth with a slight tumblehome. For side detail you get the rows of portholes and well done
anchor hawse. At the top of the hull amidship is the outboard extended deck for the single 9.2-inch turrets and torpedo net and at the stern a slot for the stern-walk.
There are no locater holes for the net booms but the drawing in the instructions shows the boom locations. The kit does come with the booms, so use patience and
the included drawing to attach them to their proper locations.

Deck detail is nice and uncluttered. Fine deck planking without butt-ends is present. The forecastle has very nice horse collar anchor hawse, two deck edge open
chocks, three windlass base plates with three chain locker fittings and two fitting locater holes for mushroom ventilators. Both main gun barbettes are if an
interesting design with triangular extensions on the side. Surrounding A turret barbette are locater holes for mushroom ventilators. Three access coamings are offset
on the starboard side. There are also two small deck plates forward of the turret location. The instructions sow cable reel attachment aft of the turret but there are no
attachment outlines for them. Their location is at the base of the superstructure so attach the superstructure before attaching the cable reels. Amidship is dominated
by the six 9.2-inch turret barbettes. My only regret is the absence of a locater outline for the superstructure. Use white glue or some other slow drying glue for
attachment of the superstructure that would allow for adjustments in location the superstructure with correct side, fore and aft positioning. This is not too hard given
the 1:700 scale plan drawing in the instructions. There are two open chock and two twin bollard fittings between A barbette and the forward 9.2-inch turret
barbettes. Starting here as well are finely done coal scuttles on each side. Other features amidship are two small coamings and a large skylight. Deck detail around B
barbette includes numerous coal scuttles, a couple of locater holes for mushroom ventilators, and a small coaming offset to starboard. At deck edge are two more
open chocks and two more twin bollards. All of the bollard fittings has tops flared outwards. The quarterdeck has more coal scuttles, locater holes for two
mushroom ventilators and the aft windlass and seven coaming structures comprised of single and double hatch deck access coamings and a skylight. At the very
stern are two more deck edge open chocks.        
As usual, the smaller Combrig resin parts come in three forms, large parts cast singly on plugs, thin parts cast on a sheet and most smaller parts cast on runners.
The single resin sheet has the most important parts of the superstructure with the forward and aft superstructure parts, the two funnel base houses, and the boat
deck that rests atop the superstructure pieces. I recommend attaching these five parts together before attaching this as a subassembly to the deck of the hull part.
This would facilitate proper placement because of the lack of outlines on the hull deck for the five superstructure pieces. The smaller superstructure block is
forward and is easily identified because of the beautifully detailed shutter doors for superstructure QF positions. Both superstructure parts have lockers at their base.
There is one part that will be underneath the boat deck that cannot be attached to this subassembly and must be attached directly to the hull deck. This piece is a
large coaming with machinery space ventilator doors on the top. Since it can be placed by reference of the skylight and two aft 9.2-inch gun barbettes, it would
probably be best to attach this to the deck before attaching the superstructure subassembly. Two other larger superstructure parts are on the sheet, the fore and aft
navigation decks, which rest atop the boat deck piece. The forward deck has cabins with square windows, detailed conning tower base and openings for inclined
ladders. The parts have solid deck edge bulkheads but it appears that the bulkheads represent canvas dodgers covering open stanchions. The forward deck has
wooden planking but the aft deck is metal. The aft deck has locater holes for searchlights and QF guns.

The boat deck is the largest of the parts on the sheet. The forward edge has an upper level of the superstructure with QF doors with hinge detail. At the rear of this
deck is an aft chart house. Along each side are seven locater holes for QF guns. Other locater holes are for mast legs. There are also four locater depressions for
deck winch machinery, two small coamings between the funnels, and a locater outline for a low deckhouse between the funnels. Combrig did miss on placing a
locater outline for a second low coaming aft of the funnels. You’ll need to remove the resin film and open up the spaces for the funnels and four inclined ladder
positions. Other parts on the sheet are the conning tower, four raised searchlight platforms, mast control tops and overheads, top bridge navigation platform, mast
searchlight platforms, and sternwalk.
Ten parts are on individual plugs, the two funnels and eight turrets. You only have to remove the funnel plugs, as the turret plugs fit inside the barbettes, although
some light sanding of their bottoms may be necessary for the turret to sit flush with the barbette. Te turrets come in three sizes, the 12-inch main gun turrets, the
twin 9.2-inch gun turrets, and the amidship single 9.2-inch gun turrets. On the crowns of the main gun turrets are three vision cupolas forward and a director
position at the aft crown. The gun barrel openings have locater holes to ensure firm attachment of the barrels to the turrets. The four twin 9.2-inch gun turrets
resemble miniature 12-inch gun turrets with three vision cupolas on the forward crown. The two amidship single 9.2-inch gun turrets have single cupolas offset but
of each turret is offset on different sides of the crown. With the barrel faced forward, the cupola of each turret would be outboard.  All of the 9.2-inch turrets have
longitudinal raised lines on the turret crowns, which although fewer in number than the actual ship, are still very good at representing this feature. The two funnel
castings are of different sizes with the smaller funnel forward. Both have top and bottom aprons.

There are 22 runners of smaller parts with the kit. One large block runner has six main deck edge bulkheads. One runner has signal lamps, cable reels, boat davits,
binocular fittings and low deckhouses. The 12-inch guns and 9.2-inch guns share a runner with two odd columns that attach to the aft superstructure. The gun
muzzles are not hollow. The QF guns are on two runners of different lengths. Each QF gun has two parts, the base pedestal and the barrel/breach block. Eight
detailed deck winches are on a runner. Eight searchlights are on a runner. There are four windlasses on a runner, three of one pattern for the forward anchors and a
different pattern for the aft windlass. One long runner has mushroom ventilators, small cable reels, and some more QF guns. Three detailed anchors are on a
Combrig provides two runners of torpedo net booms. Boat chocks are on a runner. Ten runners have the ships’ boats. Three of these are steam launches in
two patterns. Each launch is very well detailed with square cabin windows, deck J-cowl ventilators, deck hatches, skylight, cockpit detail and separate funnels. For
the oared boats there is one large whaler, four transom stern and two pointed stern medium size boats and two dinghies. Lastly there are two balsa rafts on one
runner. Each oared boat has bottom plank and thwart detail. Mast and yards are not included and need to be cut from plastic rod in accordance to the template
provided in the instructions.
A medium size brass photo-etch fret is included in the kit. By far the largest part is the flying boat skid that attaches above the boat deck. The boat chocks attach to
the boat skid with the ships’ boats in the chocks. Other prominent brass parts are the open back navigation structure with open windows and stern walk intricate
railing with stanchions and awning. Of course brass funnel cap grates are on the fret. Of the many other brass parts included on the fret are: three runs of anchor
chain; eight boat chocks; platform support frames; boat boom gear, turret guard railing; starfish supports; reel frames; inclined ladder and vertical ladder. Deck and
superstructure railing is not included, so you’ll need some 3rd party railing.

The instructions are of the older
Combrig format. They come on three pages of paper, of which two are back-printed. Page one has the standard 1:700 scale profile
and plan, which is very important for final placement of various parts, especially the net booms. It also provides a rigging illustration.  The ship’s history is in Russian
but the ship’s specifications are in English. Page two has a laydown of the resin parts in the kit. Page three has a template of the brass photo-etch fret, the mast and
yards template with diameter and length of each part needed, and four subassembly drawings. These subassemblies are for the QF guns and one drawing each on the
three different turret patterns. Page four starts the assembly covering lower superstructure, oat deck and flying boat skid assembly. Page five has final assembly with
masts, upper superstructure, searchlight platforms and deck fittings.
The Combrig 1:700 scale HMS Lord Nelson is a very nice kit of this unique ship. Although not perfect, the multi-media kit provides almost everything needed to
replicate in miniature this historic battleship.
Steve Backer