HMS Penelope

1:96 scale - Light Cruiser of the British Navy

Brian Franklin

At the Function Evening on Wednesday 5th June Brian Franklin gave a talk on HMS Penelope, a Light Cruiser of the British Navy that saw much action when stationed in Malta, and which provided the prototype for a working and floating model that he built in 1977. The model has an overall length of some five feet three inches and is impressive in its own right. Brian used plans of the prototype published in a model magazine to give him a 1:96 scale, and fashioned the hull from  tinplate salvaged from empty 900g (2 lbs) jam tins laid over a former to the dimensions required that he carved from a piece of wood. He fitted 6 volt electric motors into the completed hull, thus providing the required weight distribution for the finished vessel, with its superstructure constructed from plasticard, to float at the correct trim.

Arising from a chance meeting with an artist who ha made a painting of the ship for someone whose brother had served on the vessel, Brian was put in touch with the administrators of the Maltese War Museum who showed an interest in obtaining the model for display. Brian set about refurbishing his model, which required some repairs and modifications as one would expect, and eventually it was packaged and despatched by air freight to Malta, followed by Brian in person, where a handing over ceremony took place.

Sadly, HMS Penelope herself as sunk by enemy U-boat action off the Italian coast at Anzio in 1944 with the loss of over 400 men, although at least 200 were saved. Prior to this action, she had participated successfully in disrupting enemy convoys in the Mediterranean arena, and providing artillery cover for the Allied troops landing on Sicily, and as they worked their way up the Italian coast to Anzio and that fateful action.