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Project Notes

#640 HMS Sheffield in Troubled Waters

Reproducing a famous photograph of the fire-fighting efforts aboard the HMS Sheffield after is was hit by an Exocet on 4 May 1982.



A old Dragon kit of the HMS Sheffield in 1:700 landed in my lap just in time for the Falklands 40th Anniversary group build organised by Peter Chiang of Hobby Bounties. The group build entries were displayed - along with much more - a the brilliant Kits for Kids event held at ITE on 2022-06-18.

The kit I have is from around 1996 I think. The decals died long ago, but the molding and detail is actually very good and stands the test of time. Modern re-boxings are still available with some extras like PE for fittings including the big ass radar. I used some generic 1:700 left-over PE for railings etc, but that radar would have been a nice addition.


About the HMS Sheffield

The Type 42 or Sheffield class, was a class of fourteen guided missile destroyers that served in the Royal Navy.

HMS Sheffield (D80) was commissioned on 16 February 1975.

She was part of the Task Force 317 sent to the Falkland Islands during the Falklands War. She was struck and heavily damaged by an Exocet air-launched anti-ship missile from an Argentine Super Étendard aircraft on 4 May 1982 and foundered while under tow on 10 May 1982.

The loss of the Sheffield was one of the notable shocks for the British task force. Historigraph covers this in an excellent documentary “Exocet Attack on HMS Sheffield”:


Diorama Inspiration

There is a famous press photo of the HMS Sheffield taken within hours of the strike. It was reprinted in the Guardian article: Revealed: catalogue of failings that sank Falklands warship HMS Sheffield.

This became the inspiration for the build - aim to reproduce the photo reasonably accurately. The fact I’ve only seem this in B&W meant that certain artistic license was required especially when it came to sea and smoke colouring.


Paint Scheme

To the extent I kept track of this…

Feature Color Recommended Paint Used
fittings etc Silver H8  
propeller Gold H9  
lower hull Flat Black H12  
ship’s boats Wood Brown H37  
deck dark grey H82  
life rafts grey H325  
upper hull Grey Blue H337 70.989 Sky Grey + smidgen 70.992 Neutral Grey
superstructure     70.973 Light Sea Grey
various details     70.992 Neutral Grey, 70.993 White Grey

Construction Log

It is an old kit but pretty well detailed for all that! I got this as a club “pass around” and I think everything is here, although decals were DOA.


Roughing out a base from high-density foam


Basic ship build complete. I added railings prior to painting so that all the CA sins get hidden. Possible in this case because there’s no complicated masking or deck paint scheme required.


Test fit on the base.


Building up the base with foil, tissue and mod podge.


Before the seascape painting begins…


Primed the base in black then applied a first series of paint layers:

  • 70.899 Dark Prussian Blue - pick out the darker areas
  • 70.992 Neutral Grey - contrast
  • 70.870 Medium Sea Grey - contrast #2


Then a layer of mod podge gloss (this will be the pattern for a few layers : paint then mod podge gloss to build up some depth):


sponge 70.907 Pale Grey Blue


spray heavily thinned highlights:

  • 70.868 Dark Seagreen
  • 70.973 Light Sea Grey


deeper shadows 70.899 Dark Prussian Blue + dab of black



The photo depicts a Sea King coming in to land and I presume help with the crew evacuation. I used one from the Trumpeter 03438 1:700 Sea King kit.



The crew are gather on deck in preparation to being evacuated on the attending frigates Arrow and Yarmouth. I used I-don’t-know-how-many from the excellent ION Model 1:700 3D-printed Royal Navy Chilling on deck. They got painted over a few evenings!


Parts Coming Together

All the basics are now ready for assembling the diorama…


Diorama Construction

On the base. Note the Sheffield has grown some aerials (stretch sprue) and some rigging. Water hoses are hanging over the side - used by a fire-fighting crew operating from a small ship’s boat to attack the fire from seaboard-side.


With some effects building up:

  • smoke (cotton wool - small tufts sprayed with Mr Hobby flat matt topcoat for stiffness and adhesion)
  • heli rotor wash
  • fire-fighters in a ship’s boat directing their hoses on the damage


Approaching the end:




Build Complete





At the Kits for Kids Exhibition

Taken by a friend with a much better camera;-)







Credits and References

Project Source on GitHub Project Gallery Return to the LEAP Catalog

This page is a web-friendly rendering of my project notes shared in the LEAP GitHub repository.

LEAP is just my personal collection of projects. Two main themes have emerged in recent years, sometimes combined:

  • electronics - usually involving an Arduino or other microprocessor in one way or another. Some are full-blown projects, while many are trivial breadboard experiments, intended to learn and explore something interesting
  • scale modelling - I caught the bug after deciding to build a Harrier during covid to demonstrate an electronic jet engine simulation. Let the fun begin..
To be honest, I haven't quite figured out if these two interests belong in the same GitHub repo or not. But for now - they are all here!

Projects are often inspired by things found wild on the net, or ideas from the many great electronics and scale modelling podcasts and YouTube channels. Feel free to borrow liberally, and if you spot any issues do let me know (or send a PR!). See the individual projects for credits where due.