Small Stuff!

Having painted a decent amount of 20mm scale tanks and vehicles this year, I’ve managed to avoid getting round to painting actual little people so far, although I have painted a ship!

Pictured above is the WW2 Italian destroyer Alfredo Oriani (named after an Italian writer) in 1:700th scale. This is a Shapeways 3D printed model so it comes in one piece and is approximately 6 inches long. The only additions I’ve made to the model are the 20mm anti-aircraft guns and masts, the latter cut from brass rod.

As with previous Italian coastal forces vessels I’ve painted, I got the colour scheme from what must be THE BOOK for this sort of thing (shown below).

This book has port and starboard colour views of virtually all (if not actually all) WW2 Italian warships from corvettes/escorts up to battleships, with multiple views where camouflage was known to have changed during the war. In theory, no two ships carried the same camouflage scheme and port and starboard patterns were different, so this book has a lot of ship profile views.

Oriani carried a typical light grey/dark grey two-tone camouflage scheme. I’d already marked out the dark grey areas with a Sharpie marker and painted the first coat on before I discovered that the marker ink had bled through the paint on two of the ships I painted last year, so I just added a second coat and am hoping that will be OK (the Italian destroyer Turbine that I painted last year was a 3D print and so far has been alright). As with previous ships, I didn’t bother with any shading, but added highlights to raised areas (such as deck edges).

There is a photograph of Oriani in the book that shows that she carried the red and white air identification stripes on both the fo’c’sle and quarterdeck, so I painted these in both areas. Italian destroyers usually carried a two-letter identification code on the forward hull sides and stern but, as with the earlier ships I painted, I decided to leave these off rather than make a mess of painting them freehand!

I like this model and the Oriani is a good choice of ship to have. There were four ships in the Oriani class and they were very similar to the preceding four-ship Maestrale class. The Oriani class was followed by the 17 ships of the Soldati class, these also looking very similar although they generally carried a heavier gun armament. Consequently, it’s relatively easy to make this model represent ships from all of these classes.

Italian destroyers are handsome ships, but they didn’t perform particularly well during the war. Only a handful carried radar and their anti-submarine and anti-aircraft weapons were inadequate. Although intended primarily for gun actions, their main armament was not particularly accurate (the close proximity of the the twin 120mm gun barrels to each other resulted in poor target dispersion) and their torpedoes suffered from having a short range and an operational doctrine that always required them to keep some torpedoes in reserve. Their service speeds were also significantly lower than the speeds they achieved in trials. The above notwithstanding, I don’t think the bravery and commitment of Italian destroyer crews could be faulted and these ships served throughout the war in increasingly difficult conditions.


  1. Great looking ship John, hope the two coats helps with the sharpie dilemma. Great history as always, and that book has to be worth it’s weight in gold, with all that knowledge contained within

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thanks Dave, glad you like it! πŸ™‚ The book is no doubt the definitive reference source! I got it at quite a reasonable price from Amazon and have used it so far to paint the camouflage schemes on four different ships, so well worth having it!

      Liked by 6 people

  2. Looking good. The 3D printing of ships is a great way to get a Navy together quickly.

    Fingers crossed the second coat of paint stops the bleed through, and I have to add, you have a very steady hand for those stripes, well done.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Anthony! πŸ™‚ There are certainly quite a few 3D printed ships around, although most are in smaller scales. I suppose the extra coat of paint is the easiest option to try first, so I’ll just keep my eye on it! I found the trick with the stripes was to paint one of the middle red stripes first and then work out both ways from that so that any slight variations in angle are less apparent.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Great post. They have come up looking really excellent. I purchased a lot of “Cruel seas” stuff when they first came out, but was so disappointed by the rules the project was shelved. I would like to say you have inspired me to dig them out again but I have so much on the go at the moment they will still be for “tomorrow”!!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks Dave! πŸ™‚ Glad you like them! I’ve always liked ships and maybe you’ll get the chance to get some of your own done! I used to use a couple of commercial rules but have now written my own simple ones and am getting ready to try them out – doing all of the ship record cards has taken me a while but I’ve now got them in digital format so that I can run the game from my Kindle Fire. Hopefully I’ll be trying them out in the not too distant future.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Lovely ships, John, and very cleanly painted – great job on the ID stripes.
    Never get it myself. They go to great lengths to make the ships difficult to spot and then go and paint bright red and white stripes on them – enemy aircraft could spot them miles away, and did!
    Just added that book to my wishlist, ready for when I (eventually) start on the Italian fleet, though at 1/3000 I won’t quite be paying the attention to detail that you have πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks Justin! πŸ™‚ As you’ll know, camouflage on ships at sea is primarily aimed at making their course, speed and identification difficult to determine – the Italians painted white patches on the ships sides at the bows and sterns to confuse their ships’s speeds, but ended up removing them because they made the ships more visible at night (and the Royal Navy trained for night actions).

      The air ID markings have a story too! Originally, the Italians covered the fo’c’sles and quartedecks in white lime to identify their own ships to friendly aircraft. Unfortunately, rough seas washed this off and resulted in Italian aircraft attacking Italian ships!

      I’ve seen the attention to detail you go to, so I look forward to seeing your Italian fleet sometime!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Excellent job painting the ship and I enjoyed reading about it as well. The details on this one look pretty small so I’m impressed by how well this turned out! πŸ™‚ Also, I like the mat you used for the pictures. It nearly fooled me that you had taken photos with real water!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Jeff! πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoyed it! The 3D prints don’t have quite as much detail as 1:700 plastic kits, but more than enough for a wargames model I think. The mat is a Deep Cut Studios one – I already had the 6′ x 4′ mat but thought I’d also get the 3′ x 3′ mat for my small wargames area next to my desk (on the basis that you can never have too many wargames mats)!

      Liked by 4 people

      • Deep Cut Studios really do a great job. I’m not surprised to learn that the mat is from them. I completely agree, the more wargaming mats the merrier. My fiancΓ©e is not quite as convinced however… πŸ˜€

        Liked by 4 people

  6. Great looking ship and very interesting to read the background on them. I noticed a few people commented β€œhandsome” ship. Aren’t ships usually given the female pronoun or am I recalling that incorrectly?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks Faust! πŸ™‚ It would appear that ships are increasingly referred to as “it” in these politically correct days! I still refer to them as “she” and consider that a sign of respect for both women and ships! “Beautiful” or “pretty” don’t seem appropriate to me for ships though, whereas “handsome” does!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Very interesting! I had no idea they had shifted gender pronouns. I wonder if that has also impacted Romance languages? I hadn’t even thought about that. Also interesting that β€œhandsome” is the preferred term for a number of people. The things you learn! All I can say is that I’m happy to keep learning!

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Nice little unit John, or should I say handsome! I recall my old mum referring to some of her female friends as “Oh but isn’t she a handsome woman” ,so I feel it may be one of those English words that are interchangeable , she also kept on referring to some of her male friends as gay company much to me and my sisters amusement!!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It is always nice to see you add to your various naval forces. That book looks very interesting. It is the sort of book my dad would have loved; it makes me think of the memory of him and smile.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Mark! πŸ™‚ I haven’t got the stats to hand, but the Italians started WW2 with something like 59 destroyers, only added five during the war and only had 10 left at the end of it! I’m hoping the marker issue has been dealt with, but I still have a British J Class destroyer to mark out the camouflage on!

      Liked by 1 person

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