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Bottled Ship Builder

HMS Glatton, 1918, 1/1500

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Greetings. I’d like to share my latest model, HMS Glatton as she appeared in the final hours of the war. The model is completely scratch built to 1/1500 scale or 125’ to 1”. The model is made from boxwood,  brass, and the sea base is carved and painted wood. Paint is from ScaleColors of course. If you’d like to see more of my ships models they’re all on my website www.josephlavender.com

I started this model a little before finishing Duilio, so total build time was about a month. 

Glatton, 5,746 tons displacement and her sister ship Gorgon were originally built for Norway but they were requisitioned at the beginning of the First World War. Due to higher priority construction, Glatton wasn’t commissioned until August 1918. Her 9.2” guns could range out to an astonishing 39,000 yards or a little over 22 miles. While the Royal Navy classified her as a monitor, she was more appropriately classified as a coastal defense battleship intended for shore bombardment. 

On September 16, 1918 while anchored in Dover, Glatton suffered a low-order explosion in one of her 6” magazines. The survivors were able to flood the forward 9.2” magazine, preventing it from exploding too. However they were cut off by fire from the aft magazine. The situation was very dire as a ship loaded with ammunition was anchored extremely close to Glatton. Had either of the large caliber magazines touched off, it’s likely the ammunition ship would have gone up too taking most of Dover with it. Glatton’s Captain ordered a pair of destroyers to torpedo Glatton and sink her before she exploded. This was accomplished and the wreck is currently under the Dover car ferry terminal.

By disassembling Glatton’s sister ship during the subsequent investigation, the cause of the accident was found. While under construction, the shipyard, Armstrong Whitworth Elswick, left off critical rivets in the steel plate between the boiler rooms and the 6” magazines. Additionally the magazines should have been insulated with cork, but it was found that while some cork was on place, there was a mass of newspaper used as a substitute in places. Heat from cinders piled against this steel plate was pushed through the rivet holes, likely igniting the newspaper stuffed between the plate and the magazine causing the explosion. This shoddy workmanship cost the lives of 79 men who mostly died of horrifying burns, and injured another 124. Not to mention what could have happened had a main magazine exploded.



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