Arleigh Burke & Oliver Hazard Perry

Upgrades by Terry Holtham

As noted in the article introducing my conversions, while I was waiting for the cargo ship models to arrive I decided as an experiment to strip down a pair of Tri-ang’s modern US Navy models, namely an Arleigh Burke and an Oliver Hazard Perry, to see how they looked “bare” and whether a repainting of same would turn out OK.

The pair of ships were studied first and then all the plastic masts, and the loose forward radar on the Arleigh Burke, were removed and the two models were subjected to a bath in paint stripper (I used Blackfriars Paint & Vernish Remover but I suspect Nitromoors would be as good) the foil dish is courtesy of the local Chinese takeaway. The paint came off very easily as can be seen in the photo below which was taken within minutes of the start of the process.

After leaving them for about an hour I used an old toothbrush to push the majority of the paint off the hulls then placed both in cold running water which finished off the process. I then wiped them well and placed them on paper kitchen towels to dry off. Once dry I used another old toothbrush to remove any small pockets of paint and traces of paint remover and then brushed them quite vigorously with a copper wire brush (the type used for suede shoes) until the metal was quite shiny.

The next step was to give both a good priming coat overall with Humbrol 128 (US Compass Grey) which I brushed on with a Size 1 brush. The paint has been well used and although originally a satin finish it actually dries with a matt appearance.

Once the first coat was completely dry, I usually leave it for 24 hours or certainly overnight, I then applied a good coat of Humbrol 125 (US Gull Grey) to the main deck surfaces again using a Size 1 brush which I find allows me to get the paint on without too many brush marks which will occur with a smaller brush. Once dry a second thinner coat of Humbrol 125 was applied to give an overall smooth finish. While it is wise to cut in the dark grey it doesn't really matter if you go over as the Humbrol 128, although a lighter grey, does cover the Humbrol 125 very well.

With the main deck areas finished the superstructure decks were next in line again painted in Humbrol 125. As this coating needs to be cut in accurately I used a small fine Size 30 brush to apply the paint - this was probably the hardest part of the painting process.

When I was happy with the superstructure, sometimes a second coat or part coat is required, the hull sides were given a good full coat of Humbrol 128 taking care to cut in the deck edge. As with most of my metal modern USN models the hull required a further coat of Humbrol 128 on the hull but brushed on thinly. It is then best to allow the model to dry and harden off well before touching it again.

Next I painted the funnels and waterline, including the underside of the hull, using Humbrol 33 (Matt Black) then placed the model on several cocktail sticks and left it to dry. As the Humbrol 33 has a tendency to smudge in sweaty hands, before I did anything else, I gave the HULL only a coat of Humbrol Satin Cote varnish.

The waterline was masked off with Scotch 3M satin finish giftwrap tape which I have found works perfectly on the satin finish of the Humbrol paint. I use a piece of tape that is about 50mm longer than the hull (so I have something to hold in my fingers) which is cut into three strips with a sharp modelling knife - a seperate piece of tape is used for transom sterns. It's not necessary to get a straight cut, better not to even, as the two outside strips will have one perfect straight edge and the centre strip is discarded. To protect the paint I place the model on a strip of toilet paper while applying the tape and once happy with the alignment use the ends of a pair tweezers to smooth down the contact edge. The tape is left on for many hours, until the paint is really dry, then carefully peeled off to leave a lovely waterline.

When the paint was completely dry I applied the hull numbers using Hawk Graphics decals, which to date have been excellent, applying another light coat of varnish to the hull ONLY once the decals were dry. I then added the flight deck decals, using spare Mountford decals from an Arleigh Burke kit, finishing with a coat of ACRYLIC varnish - don't use Humbrol Satin Coat on Mountford decals as it will eat it them up! Humbrol satin finish paint gives quite a shiny surface so no preparation was needed before applying the decals.

The last step was the masts which were painted with two coats of Humbrol 128 and affixed to the models with very small amounts of Evostick contact adhesive. I re-fitted the original masts to the Oliver Hazard Perry model but the original Arleigh Burke mast is a bit "chunky" to my mind and I replaced it with a metal one from a Mountford model which comes in two parts and required some minor filing with a needle file before assembly.

Finally it was time sit back and admire the work - the result, in my opinion, is a very decent looking model for a fraction of the price compared with those from other manufacturers.

Paints Colour Description
Humbrol 128 "US Compass Grey" (Satin) "Haze Grey" Hull / Vertical Surfaces / Cranes / Masts etc
Humbrol 125 "US Gull Grey" (Satin) Dark Grey Deck Surfaces
Humbrol 33 Black (Matt) Black Waterline / Boot Topping, Funnel Cap, Highlights
Humbrol 22 White (Gloss) White CIWS "Dome"
Humbrol Satin Cote Varnish Overall finish
Pilot DR Ink Pen (Size 0.1 & 0.2) Black Ink Windows and other markings
Blackfriars Paint & Varnish Remover Paint stripper Nitromors or Polycell should work as well
(For comparative paint colours please have a look at the "Paints / Colours" page)

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Details of my Mariner Class Military Sealift Command conversions can be accessed from the "Resources" menu - "Upgrades & Conversions" sub-menu OR from the links below.

Introduction Arleigh Burke & OH Perry Cape 'B' Class Cape 'G' Class Cape 'J' Class Crane Ship