To have two club members find out by chance that they are building the same model kit and then work to complete them at the same time, must be unusual. That was the case for Paul and Dean building their models of a Flower-class corvette. The ships were known as such because those built for the Royal Navy were named after flowers. The Royal Canadian Navy chose to name them after Canadian towns.


         Paul built his model of the HMCS La Malbaie as a tribute to his father-in-law, Lieutenant-Commander Charles Edmonds (Chuck), who served on her from 1941 until 1944 out of Halifax and St. John’s.
          The La Malbaie measured 205 ft in length and 33 ft in beam. She was crewed initially by 45 seamen but this rose to 90 as more equipment and jobs were added during the war. She was successful in protecting many merchant marine vessels as they delivered goods and supplies to Great Britain from North America.
          In 2005 Chuck passed away and his sons and daughters, as a thank you to Paul for his participation in his care, provided him the funds to purchase the kit. The original kit was made by Matchbox in 1979 and included over 1200 parts. Paul bought one, previously owned but not opened, from a gentleman in Halifax. He started in on the build putting the hull together and adding a radio-controlled motor along with electronic speed controller, rudder, servo and receiver.
          Paul then ran into big issues with painting the model. At 1/72 scale things are really small and paint applied with a brush can only be described as globs. He didn’t like it at all so put the kit aside for three or four years while he studied painting. He looked into airbrushing and asked all and sundry about how it all works. He bought an airbrush and taught himself to use it (eventually) and got the kit off the shelf once again. In the meantime, Matchbox sold their plastic kit division to Revell and Revell reissued the kit in a Platinum version that came with photo-etched parts, wooden parts and brass pieces too. He managed to get this kit from one of the members of a neighbouring model boat club when he found the thought of building it daunting. That gave Paul spare parts for the ones he messed up, extra figures to staff the deck and then all that beautiful wood, and the finely crafted photo-etched parts.
          Another two winters and the model was complete. Then he realized that most damage to model boats is caused by moving the boat from one place to another so he built a storage box complete with the camouflage paint.

Club meetings this quarter will be on Tuesdays at 7:30pm on 10th December, 14th January, 11th February and 10th March.

Member's models - Flower class corvettes by Paul and Dean.

Canada had two navies in the Second World War. First, of course, was the Royal Canadian Navy, the big navy, the “real” navy, the “pusser” navy. It was, as its corps of public relations officers endlessly reiterated, a very big deal indeed. Thousands upon thousands of uniformed men and women filled teeming offices and training establishments, vast and ever-growing complexes of brick and concrete, representing the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars. Its organization, embracing dozens of commands, hundreds of departments, and thousands of experts and specialists, ranging from physicists to dietitians, from jurists to journalists, was a triumph of administrative genius which represented one of the nation’s major wartime accomplishments.

The little handful of professional naval officers - all that the nation possessed and the only Canadians trained over long peacetime years to fight a war at sea - were bustled ashore into offices. Their places afloat were taken by a handful of former merchant seamen, now officers of the Royal Canadian Reserve, and by young men in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, many of whom were culled from offices ashore, and most of whom had never been to sea before. It was a situation worthy of Gilbert and Sullivan: trained seamen were put in offices ashore and trained office managers were sent to sea. As a result, Canada’s professional naval officers were to play an ever-diminishing role in the Battle of the Atlantic.
 
Canada’s second navy was a much different force: a bunch of amateur sailors, recruited from every walk of civilian life, manning ships deemed too small for command by professional naval officers. The ships - Algerines, corvettes, frigates, Bangors - were as cheap as they could be built, and their officers and men were involved, not with admirals and captains, but with characters like Two-Gun Ryan, Harry the Horse, Death Ray, Foghorn Davis, and The Mad Spaniard. It was an amateur, improvised, cut-rate navy, but its purpose and accomplishment were clear: it fought, and won, the Battle of the Atlantic. This was the corvette navy, the little navy, Canada’s other navy, manned by amateurs like me.

This curious situation had been brought about by a miscalculation of the role the corvettes could play in the naval war. Originally they had been regarded as a stop-gap and, as such, unworthy as commands for Canada’s few, and precious, trained naval officers. Apart from those allowed afloat in the RCN’s handful of pre-war destroyers, permanent-force officers were hoarded ashore against the time when the new super-ships would appear to fight the glorious Armageddon against Germany's powerful surface fleet. Meanwhile, the little jerry-built corvettes were filled up with reservists and packed off to do what they could in the squalid brawls with U-boats around the herds of merchantmen. While waiting ashore, RCN officers accumulated experience in positions of responsibility, and the promotions that went with them; a few years ashore could do more for a fellow than a lifetime afloat.

But a funny thing happened to the regular navy while it waited for the Big Ships that were to fight the Big Battle. For as the years wore on, it became clear that the little battle, the U-boat thing, was in fact the Big Battle after all, and the little ships that were fighting it were all that were going to matter. From the very beginning, the men of the little navy were left largely on their own. A bewildered RCNR lieutenant, only a month or two away from his second mate’s berth in some merchant ship, his two interwoven curly stripes of gold lace still bright on each cuff, was dumped off at a shipbuilding yard to take over his new corvette command, with three or four officers as green to the navy as himself and sixty or seventy young men fresh from the prairies or city pavements who had never seen the sea before. If the new captain was lucky, one of his officers might have some practical experience of pilotage or navigation, if not too seasick to care. If his chief engineer had worked in a locomotive roundhouse and knew a little about steam engines, the captain felt himself to be fortunate indeed.

Footnote:

HMCS La Malbaie was built by Midland Industries in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, commissioned on 28 April 1942, and paid off on 28 June 1945.

HMCS Brantford was built by Midland Shipyards in Midland, Ontario, commissioned on 15th May 1942 and paid off on 17th August 1945. She was converted in 1950 into the whale catcher, Olympic Arrow.

Recent events - "Light up the night", September 26th .

Nautical lore - Flower class corvettes, an extract from "The Corvette Navy" by James B. Lamb.

Confederation Marine Modellers

          Dean found his model kit while browsing in a model store and was immediately attracted to it, especially since he had a couple of friends who had served in them.
          He started building it and planned to have it as a static model, for which the kit was intended. Before he'd gone very far he joined the club and was influenced to turn it into a radio-controlled sailing model. Dean says he found the kit to be an easy build although some of the parts were not a good fit and needed some rework. Help was always available in the club when he had a question. The only things he added were metal stanchions to replace the plastic ones that were supplied with the kit.
          Painting of the big parts, including the hull, was done with an airbrush, and the small parts by hand. He went on line to get the paint scheme for the vessel that the model finally represented, HMCS Brantford.
          The 7.2V NiMH battery, motor and ESC were all purchased from Skycraft. Before the superstructure was fitted Dean made up a battery compartment to ensure the battery could not move. Lead shot was used for ballast. The radio is a pistol-grip Spektrum DX3 but Dean plans to change to a stick-type Spektrum DX6.
           The model sails well and looks good on the water.