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.