At Last, The Good Stuff–The Spanish Armored Cruisers

The three Vizcaya class armored cruisers: Maria Terese, Vizcaya, and Almirante Oquendo.

I have, good-natured person that I am, been very consistent about building all my Spanish ship models, without regard to quality or quantity, without concern for modernity or obsolescence. Whether they had iron armor or no armor, modern rifled guns or antique muzzle loaders I’ve built em. I’ve carefully constructed masts. Gave ’em a nice black hull (with dry-brushing!!!), white superstructure, buff stacks and masts. I’ve got 23 painted Spanish ships, that are mostly trash. Tiny unprotected cruisers that would be threatened by a herd of feeding manatees.

However, the Spanish are saved, sort of.

All my long-awaited ship orders have arrived, and among them the Spanish armored cruisers that so affected American war-planning during the Spanish American War. Wartimes Journal sent me the three Vizcaya class cruisers (Vizcaya, Maria Teresa, and Almirante Oquendo), Cataluna, and Cristobal Colon. The latter was offered with or without main armament, as it appeared and was sunk during the Battle of Santiago Bay. I was charitable and ordered it with ten-inch guns. They are very nice minis.

Cataluna has full gun turrets and white upper hull. The Cataluna was a decent ship but was not completed early enough to take part in the Spanish American War along with her sisters Princesa de Asturias and Cardinal Cisneros

The Wartime Journal DLP printed plastic ships are very cool, but they have many mold marks that have to be removed. With a sharp knife. This creates several problems. The first is I have to actually locate all the mold marks, preferably before priming. Then I actually have to remove them. I almost always replace an X-acto blade when I sit down to do this work with my precision (not) cuts. Some bits I mistake for detail are actually mold marks and I discover this when I’ve painted my third color. It’s okay, I just leave ’em for consistency on all the models.

Close up of Vizcaya

In any case, Spanish armored cruisers were a lot of fun to build. They are big ships with big masts. I used .032″ brass rod for the masts, and .020″ rod for yards. Tiny .006″ wire for gaffs. I tried some of the WTJ medium fighting tops. I liked them a lot. Very easy to use. If I had to do it again I might have ordered the assortment of fighting tops, but I would have been short of appropriate sizes. In any case, the pre-made product is worth your time and money.

Cristobal Colon is the Johnny Cash of Spanish cruisers–all in black. Also the smallest of the lot.

The three Vizcayas and Cataluna each have two masts, Cristobal Colon has one. I did have to use my pin vise to enlarge the pre-drilled holes for the larger masts. Not a big deal. I assembled each ship’s masts separately meaning I got each ships masts to look the same, whether that was right or wrong, but they might not look the same from ship to ship.

From there it was just on to paint, which varies slightly from ship to ship. The Vizcayas and Cataluna have buff main battery hoods, while Cristobal Colon is just pretty much black. The Vizcayas also have that cute thin white stripe that has eliminated several years of good vision from my future.

Most importantly they’re done and join the Spanish fleet. They are the spine of the Spanish navy. They’re pretty big and fast. They have a sparse main battery of really big guns with a fine secondary armament. Some good armor too on the belts and barbettes, but the turrets aren’t really armored, just steel hoods. Even so, they match up pretty well against American cruisers such as New York or Brooklyn. They could run away from the American battleships until, of course, they couldn’t.

The armored cruisers fill out the Spanish nicely. I still have ships to paint and I am making one last order each to WTJ and Shapeways. From the former I’ll have one copy each of the remaining shore batteries. I’ll have one more Cataluna, the gunboat El Cano, a generic Spanish destroyer and the American armed merchant cruiser Harvard. Brown Water Navy has added more stuff I can’t seem to live without. All Spanish, beginning with the armed merchant cruiser Rapido, the destroyer Destructor, and the Fernando El Catolico gunboat

I think that will end my ship purchases for the time being.

Yeah, right.

2 comments on “At Last, The Good Stuff–The Spanish Armored Cruisers

  1. Pete S/ SP says:

    Those look great- really like them.



  2. Doug says:

    They look really sharp. I like this period. I’d consider using Compass Games’ Dawn of Empire to set up scenarios.

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