Saturday, March 19, 2011

Liner Bremen - Dressed for War

As a departure from my normal action figure posts I thought I would offer up this 1:2400 ship model project I just completed. It is the German passenger liner Bremen, which was built in 1929 and camouflaged during World War II. The model is part of the Seabattle line produced by the company Viking Forge. Bremen was a holder of the Blue Riband for fastest Atlantic crossing, going westbound at 27.83 knots and eastbound at 27.91 knots, both records established in 1929. Although she later lost these records (westbound in 1930 to her sister ship Europa and eastbound in 1935 to the French liner Normandie) she was still considered one of the great ocean greyhounds. There is an interesting story about this ship upon the outbreak of war in September 1939. She had been en route New York upon the commencement of hostilities but continued west and dropped off her passengers. The British wanted the U.S. to hold the liner in port until they could get a cruiser in place to capture or sink the big ship. However, when Bremen finally departed New York on 1 September she managed to outrun the British cruiser and headed north, arriving in Murmansk, Russia on 6 September, the crew having painted her gray en route. At this time the Germans and Soviets had signed a non-aggression pact so they were friendly and Bremen received safe haven in Murmansk. By 10 December 1939 it was time to go home and the Bremen slipped out of Murmansk and headed south along the Norwegian coast, eluding British cruisers and a submarine that were searching for her, arriving in Bremerhaven, Germany on 13 December. When the Germans were gearing up for Operation Sealion in 1940, the planned invasion of Britain, both the Bremen and her sister Europa were painted in camouflage as they were intended to ferry troops for the invasion. After Sealion was cancelled and Hitler turned his attentions toward Russia the two great liners languished in German ports until a disgruntled crewman set fires aboard the Bremen and she became a total loss. Europa survived the war and was even commissioned into the U.S. Navy for repatriation service at the end of the war, eventually being ceded to France, who renamed her Liberte', under which name she operated until 1961. The contractor who did the camouflage work was instructed to use dark gray, olive green, white, black and blue paint in the camouflage pattern, which I have endeavored to replicate. Camouflage of this type was not intended to render the ship invisible, but merely to break up it's lines and make it more difficult to be clearly identified.
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