Several ships were flying, instead of their customary one White Ensign, three or four ensigns from various parts of the rigging....In about ten minutes the air
seemed to be thick with white ensigns, large and small, silk and bunting, hoisted wherever halyards could be found.
” Observation from a Midshipman in the
foretop of
HMS Neptune on May 31, 1916. (Castles of Steel, 2003 by Raymond K. Massie at page 626.

HMS Dreadnought was a revolutionary design, but not for the reasons most people assume. Her all big gun main armament was evolutionary, not revolutionary.
Prior to
Dreadnought, battleship secondary guns had been increasing in size with each new design. This made it very difficult to distinguish the splash of a big gun
shell from that of  secondary armament, a crucial factor in an era of visual range-finding. Adding impetus to the all big gun trend was the Battle of Tsushima during
the Russo-Japanese War. Effective firing started far in excess of what was then thought to be effective battle range. And the effects of a single 12" shell hit were
observed to be far more devastating than numerous secondary caliber strikes. These developments focused attention on the importance of big gun armament. The
Royal Navy was not the first navy to gain authorization of an all big gun battleship. The
1905-1906 Jane’s Fighting Ships states in the Progress of Construction
section, "
To the United States belongs the credit of being the first nation to sanction that battleship with a uniform armament of big guns which ever since
Colonel Cuniberti’s article on ‘The Ideal Battleship,’ in the 1903 ‘Fighting Ships’ has hovered on the horizon of the building programmes of most naval
" The trend to the all big gun battleship was already present and its appearance inevitable.
The real impact of HMS Dreadnought was her propulsion system. Until Dreadnought, major warships of all nations used the triple expansion reciprocating steam
engine. It had a limited top end so that the maximum speed for a battleship was around 18 knots. At this speed the huge rods and pistons of the engine caused
tremendous vibration throughout the ship. The vibration greatly interfered with accurate spotting from the optical rangefinders then in use. Additionally reciprocating
machinery broke down with increased frequency when run near its limits. A high-speed run of any duration was likely to result in the ship sitting in harbor for days
or making repairs to damaged parts. The Royal Navy, in an inspired leap of faith, adopted the Parsons turbine for
Dreadnought, used only in small ships prior to
this time. The turbine was an overwhelming success. Its advantages over reciprocating machinery were enormous. The top speed at 21 knots was at least three
knots higher than that of previous first class battleships, maintenance time was greatly reduced, and the lack of the vibration allowed for accurate range finding at
much greater ranges.
Dreadnought burst on the world stage, seemingly out of nowhere. She was laid down on October 2, 1905, launched February 10, 1906 and
commissioned September 1, 1906. Eleven months from her keel laying to commissioning, a record never since broken by any other big ship. The speed of
construction was a deliberate attempt by the Royal Navy to demonstrate its construction and design capabilities to would-be naval powers. The building materials
were pre-stocked at the building site, multiple work-shifts labored around the clock, and the First Lord of the Admiralty, the legendary Jacky Fisher, saw to it that
nothing interfered with
Dreadnought’s construction. In the meantime the Royal Navy did not wait for the Dreadnought’s trials to draft further designs. While
Dreadnought was rushing through her construction the question of the design of the battleships for the 1906 Program came up. Originally there were four
battleships scheduled for this year but certain politicians were afraid that four battleships might upset the neighbors and give the citizens of other countries a
negative view of Great Britain and chopped one of the battleships out of the program. It was realized that other navies would follow the example but was hoped that
by reducing construction from four to three, other countries would now copy the
Dreadnought concept as quickly. Why other navies would wish to continue
building inferior ships just because there was a reduction of one ship in the building program is logic which eludes me.         

The original intention was to greatly expand the
Dreadnought design to greatly increase the armor scheme, increase speed, and yet keep the armament scheme.
Others, more cautious, thought this is too great of a leap forward and a more cautious approach was adopted. Instead of designing a new super-
Dreadnought, let’s
just improve on the original with an improved-
Dreadnought.  As 1905 turned into 1906 the design was being finalized. It was anticipated that there would be
modifications made to the design based upon the trials of
Dreadnought.  Phillip Watts, the DNC, worked in another 700-tons of displacement over that of
Dreadnought. With this the armor scheme could be much improved. The machinery plant remained the same and with improvements in the turbines there was very
little fall off in speed in spite of the additional 700-tons.  One big difference between the ships of the 1906 program, named the
Bellerophon Class, and the
Dreadnought was with the secondary guns. Admiral Fisher didn’t want to waste displacement on secondary guns so Dreadnought had only light QF guns to fend
off torpedo attacks. Extensive RN tests revealed that the light QF guns installed on
Dreadnought were completely ineffectual against even medium displacement
torpedo boats, much less a destroyer. In spite of a much higher rate of fire the QF guns lacked penetrating power and explosive force. The 4-inch gun on the other
hand could stop a destroyer dead in its tracks. Accordingly, over Jackie Fisher’s objections, the design board designated that sixteen 4-Inch/45 Mk III guns be
carried as secondary armament. Since the greatest threat of torpedo attack was at night, the
Bellerophon design incorporated a rudimentary control system that tied
in the 4-Inch guns, searchlights and directors into an integrated system.
Armor improvements also focused on the torpedo threat. Evaluating combat results from the Russo-Japanese War the Bellerophon added continuous armored
longitudinal bulkheads for the first time on a British battleship.  The purpose was to provide an inner security zone by localizing damage from a torpedo to the
spaces on the exterior of the ship, outboard from the longitudinal bulkhead. With heavier secondary armament, the addition of a mainmast and the inclusion of the
internal armor bulkheads, even with another 700 displacement, something had to give, which a slight thinning of the external armor. With a maximum thickness of
ten-inches, the main armor belt was actually thinner than the eleven-inch belt of
Dreadnought. The dimensions of the Bellerophon Class were almost identical with
Dreadnought, as was the turret layout. The ship was 490-feet long, 82-feet 6-inches in width (6-inches more than Dreadnought) and had a draught of 27-feet (6-
inches more than
Dreadnought). The greatest change in appearance over Dreadnought was the addition of a full mainmast forward of the second funnel. By
moving the fore mast ahead of the first funnel a major problem of the
Dreadnought was corrected. The fore mast on Dreadnought was aft of the funnel and as a
consequence the foretop, which was the battle station of the gunnery officer, was virtually inhabitable due to the high temperature exhaust fumes and gases.
However, the positioning of the mainmast created its own problems on
Bellerophon. The two masts were very closely spaced with the main mast being located
almost amidships. The exhaust fumes of the first funnel interfered with operational effectiveness of the main top position.  The same 12-inch/45 gun model was
used, as it also was with the
Invincible battle cruiser class, but of course the secondary armament was much improved with sixteen 4-inch QF compared to
Dreadnought’s twenty four 12pdr QF. While the Dreadnought had five submerged 18-inch torpedo tubes (1 bow and four beam), the Bellerophon Class dropped
two of the beam tubes.

Bellerophon was laid down at Portsmouth Dock Yard December 3, 1906 two months after Dreadnought was completed. Temeraire followed at Devonport Dock
Yard January 1, 1907 and
Superb at the Armstrong yard at Elswick on February 6.  With all three the yards were very quick in getting the ships ready for launch
with launchings in 1907. The Admiralty was very busy in 1907. Not only were the three ships of the
Bellerophon Class being launched but also the next battleship
design was worked up in the middle of the year. The Admiralty had the jitters about the battleship construction in Germany. Not only that but even the laying down
of the
USS Michigan and USS South Carolina worried them, even though the United States was not considered a likely foe. To ensure that the fleet would
maintain a significant lead in battleships, the plan called for the building of four battleships to the new design. This would supply eight homogeneous battleships, the
Bellerophons with Dreadnought and the four new ships. The design for the new class was quickly prepared by a simple reworking of the Bellerophon
design.  However, funds were only allocated for three ships. This new design (sort of) would be called the
St. Vincent Class.
The St. Vincent design was slightly larger than that of the Bellerophon with the addition of ten feet in length and an increase in the beam of 1-foot 6-inches. The
displacement increased by 650-tons. Two additional 4-inch guns were carried because of the greater length. On August 13, 1907 the names were selected of
, Collingwood and Vanguard. The fourth ship was to be named Foudroyant but the plan to build that ship was cancelled. A bid by Vickers was accepted and
that company drew up the plans. The greatest change was to use the Mk XI 12-inch/50 instead of the previous Mk X 12-inch/45 gun. The new gun did have a longer
range but the higher velocity made the guns less accurate than the previous model and wore out the barrel linings much faster. There were other minor changes and
speed was increased by 1/4-knot. In 1908, during construction it was suggested to mount 13.5-inch guns on the ships but this idea was vetoed by First Sea Lord,
Jackie Fisher, who thought it would take too long to develop the ordnance.
St. Vincent was laid down at Portsmouth Dockyard on December 30, 1907, Collingwood
at the Devonport Dockyard on February 3, 1908 and
Vanguard at Vickers on April 2, 1908. St. Vincent completed in May 1909 and the other two in spring 1910.

The 1908 Estimates provided for a single battleship, designated K2 since the name
Foudroyant had been discarded. The design for this ship was based on an enlarged
St. Vincent but DNC Philip Watts made a radical departure from the previous dreadnought battleships. In 1907 the USN Delaware Class and Brazilian Minas Geraes
called for ten gun broadsides of their 12-inch guns. The Royal Navy needed to stay current with the latest foreign designs. In the new Watts’ design the fourth turret
was superimposed over the last turret at the stern. The superimposed turret was placed aft instead of forward because a forward placement would have significantly
the seakeeping quality of the ship and end on fire was never contemplated. Flying boat decks linked the forward superstructure with forward funnel with the
superstructure around the aft funnel and a second flying boat deck linked the aft funnel superstructure to the rear superstructure. In theory the beam 12-inch guns
could fire through the openings created, underneath the flying boat decks, to provide a ten gun salvo. In reality it would require almost perfect conditions to allow this,
otherwise the fire of the beam turrets would cause extensive blast damage to the superstructure, not to mention the deck. The superimposed turret could not fire
directly aft because British turret design placed the turret cupolas of the gun and turret commanders at the forward edge of the turret crown and firing directly astern
of the fourth turret would concuss the occupants of the cupolas of the fifth turret. Length, beam and displacement again increased by 10-feet in length, 1-foot in beam
and another 650-tons in displacement. The aft tripod was moved aft to a aft superstructure instead of being located forward of the aft funnel as in the
St. Vincent.
Admiral Fisher made sure that there was total secrecy over the construction of this new battleship and made the press made some spectacular errors in guessing about
the ship’s characteristics. Some of them were that the ship would carry 13.5-inch guns, would not have funnels because it would use gas powered engines, that
although rumored to have a superimposed turret aft that could not be possible because the Royal Navy had never concentrated fire aft and in any event the
superimposed turret could not fire directly aft. At least they got the last statement correct. The new ship was to be named
HMS Neptune.
Neptune was laid down January 19, 1909 at the Portsmouth Dockyard. She was launched on September 30, 1909 and completed in January 1911. Displacement was
19,680-tons standard and 23,123-tons full load. Dimensions were 546-feet overall (541-feet 1.5-inches at waterline and 510-feet 1-inch between perpendicular
bulkheads), beam of 85-feet 1/2-inch, and draught of 24-feet forward, 28.5-feet aft. Armament consisted of ten Mk XI 12-inch/50 main guns, twelve Mk VII 4-inch
secondary guns, one 12pdr, four 3pdr saluting guns, five Maxim machine guns and three 18-inch torpedo tubes. Unlike the previous classes, no secondary guns were
placed on turret crowns. The armor scheme had a belt of from 10-inches to 8-inches, end bulkheads of 7-inches to 2.5-inches, barbettes from 10-inches to 5-inches,
turrets from 11-inches to 8-inches, conning tower from 11-inches to 8-inches, and two armored decks with a maximum thickness of 1.75-inches for the main deck
and 3-inches for the lower armored deck. The power plant had 18 Yarrow boilers supplying steam for four Parsons turbines for the four shafts. They developed
25,000shp for a maximum speed of 21-knots. Each boiler also had three oiler sprayers to increase the boiling power of each.
Neptune was also the first British
battleship to be completed with a main gun fire director and armor to the funnel uptakes.                

Trials for
HMS Neptune started on September 7 and ended on November 9, 1910. After commissioning trials for the fire director were carried out in the
Mediterranean, which concluded on March 11, 1910. On March 25
Neptune became flagship of the Home Fleet and replaced Dreadnought as the flagship of the 1st
Division of the battle line. On June 24 she was at the Coronation Review of King George V, followed by exercises off England and Ireland with the Home and Atlantic
Fleets and then in the North Sea with the Atlantic Fleet in July. In a short refit running into 1912 the forward control was rebuilt with a narrow forward face and a
single white band painted on each funnel.  In 1912 there were Royal and Parliamentary Reviews. On June 22
Neptune ceased to be the flagship of the 1st Battle
Squadron. At the end of 1912 and into January 1913 the navigation platform was extended forward and the forward funnel heightened to free the bridge of smoke. On
January 28, 1913 she was recommisioned as flagship of the Home Fleet, which lasted until March 10, 1914 when
Iron Duke replaced her. During this time the
locations of the searchlights were changed, the upper 4-inch gun positions amidships was plated in and the forward 4-inch guns were given splinter shields.
went back to be a member of the 1st Battle Squadron in July and was with the fleet at Spithead for a Fleet Review followed by seven days of exercises, as 1st Lord of
the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, kept the fleet together and at sea due to the worsening condition in Europe and following the assassination of the Arch Duke of
Austria by a Serbian separatist. The fleet with
Neptune left for Scapa Flow on July 29, 1914 and after the war began, the funnel bands were painted over. Neptune
started a refit on December 11, 1914. This refit lasted into 1915, during which the upper amidships 4-inch gun positions were plated in, searchlight positions changed,
a 3-inch AA gun added, topgallants and mainmast topmast removed, forward flying boat deck removed and a camouflage scheme consisting of a dark gray panel added
amidships on the hull. At the end of 1915 the anti-torpedo nets and booms were removed and the camouflage painted over.        
On March 10, 1915 the Neptune was operating with her squadron in Pentland Firth, off of Scapa Flow, when the U-29 moved in to attack her. The U-Boat was under
the command of Otto Wedigen, who early in the war had sunk the cruisers,
Aboukir, Hogue, Cressy, and Hawke. The torpedo missed Neptune and as Weddigen
maneuvered for another attack, he failed to see
Neptune’s squadron mate, HMS Dreadnought, approaching from behind the U-29. The Dreadnought rammed the U-
and the submarine sank with her entire crew. On April 22, 1916 the Grand Fleet sortied towards the Skagerrak and ran into heavy fog. In the night the Neptune was
rammed by a neutral merchant vessel,
SS Needvaal. The Neptune sustained superficial damage and returned to Scapa Flow with the rest of the Fleet on April 24. In
another sortie towards the Skagerrak on May 31, 1916 the Battle of Jutland occurred. The
Neptune was the third battleship of the 5th Division 1st Battle Squadron,
Colossus and Collingwood ahead and St. Vincent behind. When the battlecruisers of Admiral Hipper made their “Death Ride” towards the Grand Fleet, at 7:40pm
Neptune fired at SMS Derfflinger and SMS Moltke from 6.7 miles (11,000m) and reported hits. Shortly after the “Death Ride” had concluded, Scheer ordered a
massed destroyer torpedo attack on the Grand Fleet. Only fourteen destroyers were in a position to respond. Even so, torpedoes crisscrossed the Grand Fleet’s path.
One torpedo was coming towards the
Neptune from directly astern. “Following exactly in our course, but going faster than our fastest speed... (kept) coming closer
and closer....We could do nothing but wait and wait, mouths open....Nothing happened.
” (Castles of Steel, 2003 by Raymond K. Massie at page 630) In the
Neptune’s after action report it stated that either the torpedo was deflected by Neptune’s wash or had run out of fuel. In addition to this torpedo, Neptune avoided two
more. The next day, as the Grand Fleet approached Horn’s Reef, the zeppelin
L-11 appeared to provide reconnaissance of the British fleet. The Neptune, irritated by
the German airship, raised one gun from X turret to maximum elevation and fired a single 12-inch shell at
L-11. As the midshipman in the Neptune’s foretop observed,
the airship “
lifted its nose disdainfully to the morning breeze and disappeared to the southwest.” (Castles of Steel, 2003, by Raymond K. Massie, at page 653)

After Jutland 50-tons of armor was added and
Neptune was transferred to the 4th Battle Squadron. By April 1917 the center and lower group of 4-inch guns were
removed. Also in that year the forward control top was enlarged and the aft control top removed. Deflection scales were painted on A and Y turrets. Three coffee box
searchlight towers were added on the aft funnel in a staggered arrangement and a cap was added to the top of the forward funnel. In 1918 a high angle range finder
was added to the foretop, the fore topmast and derrick stumps abaft the rear funnel were removed and an aircraft flying off platform was added to the crown of A
turret. On April 12, 1918 the
Neptune, along with the rest of the Grand Fleet, transferred to Rosyth. Neptune was present with the rest of the fleet on November 21,
1918, when the High Seas Fleet steamed to Scapa Flow to surrender. In 1919 the cap on the forward funnel was removed. On February 1, 1919 she was placed in
reserve at Rosyth and became the tender for
HMS Hercules. At the end of her career, Neptune was the tender for the New Zealand until October 1921, even though
she was placed on the disposal list that March. In September 1922
HMS Neptune was sold for scrap to Hughes, Bolckow & Co. On September 22, 1922 she was
towed from Rosyth to Blyth for breaking up.        
Combrig HMS Neptune in 1:700 Scale - Last fall Combrig added three new British Battleships to their magnificent selection of battleships of the Grand Fleet,
Neptune, Colossus and Hercules. This review of the Combrig Neptune the latest detail of castings and improvement of brass photo-etch and instructions in their
models of Grand Fleet battleships.
Combrig kits are getting better with every release. I first compared the profile view of the Neptune hull with the profile drawing of
the ship found in R. A. Burt’s
British Battleships of World War One. Not only did I notice that the hull details on the casting match the Burt drawing, but also that
the hull casting included details that the drawing missed. As an example each side of the ship’s hull had three vertical strakes, as shown by photographs in the book of
both port and starboard sides. The Burt profile drawing is of the starboard side and omits the most aft strake, although the photographs of the ship show that this strake
was present. However, the
Combrig hull has the strake present. Combrig detail on the hull is even finer than past Combrig battleship kits. An example of this is the
increased detail on the armored slabs on the side of the hull protecting the wing turrets. The Burt profile and photographs show short thin horizontal projections from
top and bottom of each side of this armored rectangle. The hull casting has these projections present. The hull detail starts at the bow with fine horseshoe anchor
hawse, two on the starboard side and one on the port. If you have the Burt reference, compare the porthole locations of the profile drawing in the book with the
portholes locations on the photographs of the
Combrig hull casting. They match. The demarcation line between the lower armored hull at the bow and stern between
the armored lower hull with its belt armor and the unarmored upper hull is very fine and has just the right touch. Other hull side detail includes a series of square
window shutters mixed in the line of portholes and locater holes for the antitorpedo net booms.

Deck detail is plentiful. Deck planking lines are very fine but still lack butt end detail. The multiple coal scuttles are clearly delineated. About the only discrepancy on
deck detail that I could find between the plan view in Burt’s book and the
Combrig resin casting was the shape of the deck anchor hawse. The hawse on the kit are
more pointed than shown in the drawing. The location and shape of the deck fittings are otherwise spot on. A the forecastle are the three anchor hawse with anchor
chain run plates running back to the raised platforms for the windlass locater holes and chain locker entrance fittings. Other detail in front of the breakwater are open
chocks and single bollards at deck edge, deck access coamings with door detail, closed chocks and some small mushroom ventilators. There are also locater holes for
some larger mushroom ventilators. The breakwater has integral gussets. Other detail on the aft forecastle between the breakwater and outline of the forward
superstructure are three deck access coamings, raised fittings on the forward face of A barbette and locater holes for two medium size mushroom ventilators and two
smaller ventilators. The bulkheads of the forecastle and main deck have detailed doors and more square windows. Amidships detail has the numerous coal scuttles, deck
edge twin bollard and open chock fittings, the two wing barbettes and three deck access coamings. There are also locater holes for side boat davits, six medium size
mushroom ventilators, and three smaller ventilators. Wells are placed for placing the aft funnel superstructure and aft superstructure. Starting with positions abeam of X
turret the detail continues. This includes six more detailed deck access coamings, Y barbette, a small twin bollard centerline and more twin bollards and open chocks at
deck edge. Locater holes are present for large mushroom ventilators, windlass, medium and small mushroom ventilators and four smaller ventilators clustered around Y
The smaller resin parts are in the standard Combrig format,a thin casting sheet for thin items and platforms, and runners for the bulk of the parts. There are eleven
one-piece parts on casting plugs; five main gun turrets, two funnels and one funnel base, and three superstructure parts. The majority of these parts require a simple
clean up at their bases, but you will need to sand the bottom plugs on the turrets so that they will sit flush with the barbette tops. As you can see from the
photographs of the model with the major parts dry fitted, the turrets are too high without sanding a good part of the bottom plugs. The three superstructure parts are
very lovely. The forward superstructure fits on the outline on the hull deck. It has the conning tower integral in the casting and a well for the forward funnel
base/apron. Bulkhead detail includes detailed shutters for secondary gun positions, doors and portholes. A fine vision slit runs around the rim of the conning tower.
Lastly there are locater holes for the tripod legs, four open 4-inch guns and a small derrick. The two-story middle superstructure has a well for the aft funnel. The
bulkhead detail has portholes, openings for secondary guns and davit brackets. Deck detail includes four deck coamings, a ventilator and locater holes for two open 4-
inch guns and short derricks. The largest of the superstructure parts is the aft superstructure, because of the presence of X barbette. Bulkhead detail consists of
secondary gun openings and portholes. Deck detail has coamings, with locater holes for the aft tripod and open 4-inch guns. All of the superstructure parts have
nicely done fine splinter bulkheads at the crowns.

All five main gun turrets are identical. Their detail includes the correct overlapping crown armored plates, horseshoe gun openings with locater holes for the barrels,
sharply defined side plates and crown crest and three turret/gun commanders’ cupolas. The last three one-piece parts on plugs are the two funnels and forward
funnel base. The forward base is simply the base apron with locater oval for the funnel. The forward funnel is the thinner of the two and has a nice funnel top/apron.
The aft funnel has the base and top aprons for detail. The tops of the funnel s have some depth but could be deeper. However, when you attach the grates and realize
that the funnel interiors will be painted black, they will be fine. There are ten parts on the small resin sheet. Six of these are for decks and platforms. The largest of
these is the bridge deck resting above the forward superstructure. For detail it has eight coamings and ready ammunition lockers, openings for the forward funnel
and tripod legs, an outline for the charthouse and locater holes for binocular pedestals, navigation fittings and a semaphore. The charthouse part fits behind the center
leg of the tripod and has square windows on the sides. The forward and side faces of the navigation position is covered by another platform, which has a raised
binnacle platform with holes for the tripod legs and binnacle. A small third forward platform fits on the tripod legs just under the top starfish. Another platform on the
forward superstructure fits around the conning tower. The aft tripod gets a platform for four binocular pedestals and a platform under the mainmast starfish. Both
control tops are one-piece with nice angular crown detail and vision openings. The last part is a small cupola for a brass tower binnacle position amidships.
There are 21 runners with the bulk of the smaller resin parts. Three of these runners have all or a partial parts of the armaments. Of course one has the 12-inch gun
barrels. There was no warp and the muzzles have a slight indentation. Another runner has open mount 4-inch secondary guns. Each mount has a detailed block and
barrel piece and a separate mount. The third runner has the 4-inch gun barrels, which fit in enclosed positions such as in locater holes in the closed shutters or in other
positions in the superstructure parts. This runner also has two different sizes of mushroom ventilators, navigation equipment such as binnacles, and other very small
parts. One runner has eight two-piece binocular mounts with the binoculars separate from their pedestals. The larger of these runner parts are on a runner. These
include large and medium sized mushroom ventilators, torpedo control positions for the foretop, aft conning tower, a couple of lockers for the flying boat platforms,
and base lockers for the aft superstructure.

Three runners have anchor equipment and gear. Two of these have windlasses, four on one runner and another runner with one windlass. Three detailed anchors are
on another runner. One long runner has cable reel fittings, deck winches, boat chocks, and raised lockers. The aft tripod boat boom is the only part on a runner. Eight
side boat davits are on a runner. One runner has numerous very small straight ventilators that go in locater holes around the barbettes and a few other spaces on the
main deck and forecastle. Nine runners have the ship’s boats. Three are steam launches with cabins and separate funnels. The cabins and decks have significant detail.
This detail includes integral ventilators, deck coal scuttles, steering cupola, square cabin windows, bench thwarts and deck access hatches. There are two large and
one medium sized launches. The open boats are on the other six runners. Included are a large whaler, four transom stern medium size boats, two medium size pointed
stern boats, one transom stern boat with oars on the thwarts, and two dinghies. The open boats have bottom planking and very good thwart detail.
A large brass photo-etch fret is included. In the past Combrig 1:700 scale kits that included photo-etch did not have the bulk of the ship’s railing on the fret. The
photo-etch fret of the
Combrig Neptune has all of the deck railing. The railing has a bottom scupper, as opposed to open end stanchions. I much prefer the bottom
scupper approach to the open end stanchion approach. There are eight long runs of three bar rail and one run of one bar railing. In conjunction with inclusion of the
railing is a change that
Combrig made to the open platforms. In the past Combrig had these parts with solid bulkheads that looked like splinter shielding but in reality
represented railing covered with canvas dodgers. With the railing now included, you can attach the railing and if you want canvas dodgers, you can use white glue to
attach strips of tissue paper to the railings. The highlight of the fret are the two flying boat decks. Except for a few resin items, the parts for these glorious decks are
intricate brass parts with 17 brass parts for the forward deck and 12 for the aft deck. As part of the assembly parts have inclined ladders, boat cradles, catwalks and
weight saving open voids. The navigation bridge face and sides are one photo-etch piece with open windows and creases at the angles. Starfish platform and support
gussets for both tripods are on the fret. Also on the fret are three pre-curved runs of the anchor chain, lattice support for the binnacle platform, navigation deck
supports, small deck streaming anchors, various sized inclined ladders with safety railing and trainable treads and some platform support gussets. I really like the
changes that
Combrig has made to the photo-etch supplied with their Neptune kit.

Instructions with the
Neptune kit have also improved. They are eleven pages long and at first appear in the standard Combrig format. However, that is somewhat
deceptive in that these assembly drawings are larger and much easier to follow. Page one is still the standard starboard profile and plan. It is still necessary to refer to
these for help with the attachment of some parts and for the rigging. The profile will also help with the anti-torpedo net booms on the hull sides. The hull has the
locater points for the booms but they will have to be cut from plastic or brass rod. The first page also has the standard ship’s specifications and short history, both in
English. Page two has a resin parts laydown. Page three has the brass parts laydown and more importantly a template of the various items that will need to be cut
from plastic or brass rods. These include not only the net booms but also tripod legs, steam pipes, staffs, topmasts, yards, and other booms. Each has the length but
not width. Use the template drawing for the with of the rods, which is especially important for the tripod legs. Each template part has its own Roman numeral, which
is reflected in the instructions. Page four starts the hull assembly with net boom and deck ventilator attachment. Page five (assembly step 4)  should have been page
six (assembly step 5) as it shows before and after views of what is found on page six step 5). Page six (assembly step 5) continues with cable reel, deck winches,
windlass, anchor, deck lockers, accommodation ladders, some more hull detail, and boat davit attachment. Small davits are included for the open 4-inch guns,
binocular pedestals and main gun turrets assemblies. Page seven (step 6) has three progressive drawings of assembling the aft superstructure and mainmast. Page
eight (step 7) has assembly of the flying boat decks. Page nine (step 8) has two drawings for assemblying the aft funnel and amidships superstructure and three
sequential drawings for the forward superstructure and forward tripod. Page ten (step 9) shows final assembly of the modules and attachment of ship’s boats to the
flying boat decks. Page eleven (step 10) concludes with a drawing of the completed model.
The Combrig HMS Neptune in 1:700 scale is a very fine kit to build the Royal Navy’s first foray beyond the original layout of HMS Dreadnought, with the
introduction of a superfiring 12-inch gun turret aft and the inclusion of glorious flying boat decks.
Steve Backer