Thursday, 30 May 2013

Henry VIII's Flagship The Mary Rose Finally Reveals Her Secrets

The Mary Rose is a Tudor ship, built in 1510 for the newly crowned King Henry VIII.
It was in service for 34 years, sank in 1545. Rediscovered in 1971.
Raised in 1982. Now in the final stages of conservation,
She now takes her place in a stunning and unique museum.

The £35m purpose-built museum for Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose will officially open in Portsmouth 31st May 2013.

The 16th Century hull will once again be on display at the Historic Dockyard museum - yards from where the Tudor warship was built 500 years ago, and the new museum finally reunites the Mary Rose with many thousands of the 19,000 artefacts found with it.
The ship was discovered in 1971 and raised from the seabed of the Solent in 1982.
The new museum will be fully open to the public from Friday, but tickets do have to be pre-booked.

Forensic science experts, more used to working with murder victims, have recreated amazing likenesses of some of the crew using skulls found with the wreck, which will give visitors the chance to come face-to-face with the cook, carpenter, archer, and even the ship's dog 'Hatch' . Some of the areas of the ship such as the surgeon's cabin and the gun deck, where they lived and worked, have also been recreated with dimly lit interiors and groaning sounds of the sea outside all combining to give visitors a sense of being on board the 16th Century vessel.

The crew's quarters are all visible, while rows of cannons line the main deck, pointing out of the open gunports ready to be fired at enemy ships. It is a Tudor time capsule - dubbed "Britain's Pompeii" by historian David Starkey - and its custodians cannot wait to show it off. Every artefact on show is an original piece found with the wreck. Some of the cannons were still sticking out of the gunports when it was discovered in 1971

Up to 500 men and boys died when the ship sank and the new museum has been dedicated to them. A day of events to mark the opening, started with the laying of a wreath at the spot where it sank. The Mary Rose Bell was then taken by Naval escort from the wreck site and into the museum. A giant Tudor flag will cover the museum until it is lowered to a fanfare by the band of the Royal Marines. The day-long event will mark the symbolic journey of the ship's bell as the last artefact to be placed into the new Mary Rose museum ahead of its public opening. 
Since it was brought up, the hull has been constantly sprayed with water and wax chemicals, but the jets were turned off last month. For the next four years it will be kept in a "hot box" chamber to be dried out, but visitors to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will be able to view it through windows. After that the hull will be on full view in the museum, in which a mirror image of the decks has been created to give people a feeling of what life was like on the ship.

The Mary Rose saw 34 years of service before she sank while leading an attack on a French invasion fleet in 1545. King Henry VIII watched from Southsea Castle as it disappeared, killing all but 35 of the crew. Most of them drowned, trapped underneath netting designed to prevent the enemy from boarding.

The bulk of the £35m funding for the museum and conservation project came from a £23m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, with remaining cash raised through various charitable trusts, fundraising and sponsors.

To coincide with the opening of this prestigious museum, Hobbies are pleased to offer the stunning Caldercroft 1:80 scale Marie Rose Model KitThis impressive model kit features quality wood and metal components, along with full size plans and comprehensive manual which will delight and challenge both professional and enthusiastic beginner modellers. 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Flypast for Norwich by Britain's only Female Spitfire Pilot

There's an exciting 'first' happening in Norwich on Saturday 29th June, 2013.

Appearing at 'Sparks in the Park,' at Poringland Memorial Playfield, Norwich, Norfolk. NR14 7RF. Britain's only female Spitfire pilot is flying her 1944 restored ML407 Spitfire over Poringland, Norwich

'Sparks in the Park,' is the family fun event featuring live music, children's entertainment, classic cars, funfair rides, food & drink, and a grand finale firework display at 10.30pm. The event will be opened at 2.30pm by ITV weather reporter Amanda Houston. Music from Scratch the Cat; The Nigel King Band; Dale Bullimore ( Michael Buble Tribute ); Emma Crowther & Just Jazz. The Spitfire display will be between 3 - 3.30pm dependant on weather and flight paths. Pay on the gate. Tickets are £5 per adult, children under 15 are free.

"The Spitfire embodies Britain at its very best. When this country was on its knees, it came to the forefront," says Carolyn Grace, owner and pilot of the 1944 Grace Spitfire.

Carolyn Grace is currently the only female spitfire pilot in the country. She has been flying displays for 21 years and is known for her acrobatic loops and rolls as she presents every possible angle of the Spitfire to her spectators. Carolyn took on the expert tuition required to be a Spitfire pilot in memory of her husband Nick, who tragically died in a car accident in 1988 after spending three years restoring the aircraft. In 1990 she gained solo certification, and in 1991 her display permit. Since then the Grace Spitfire has been a regular on the display circuit, and can even be hired for private fly pasts.

The Grace Spitfire is thought to be just one of two 2-seater Spitfires that are airworthy in the UK. It was built in 1944 and was involved in 176 operations during World War II in the service of New Zealand, Belgian, Polish, Norwegian and Free French RAF squadrons. It was the first Allied plane to shoot down an enemy aircraft above the Normandy beaches on D-Day by Pilot Johnnie Houlton, of the 485 New Zealand Squadron. Of the 20,000 Spitfires built for World War II, there are only 28 still flying in the UK. One sold for nearly £2 million not long ago.

The Spitfire was not built with energy efficiency in mind: it has three fuel tanks - one at the front, two in the wings - which between them hold 160 gallons, giving the aircraft a range of approximately 650 miles.
At full pelt, the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines gobble 120 gallons of fuel per hour. That's an incredible £1000 worth of fuel!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Does Robert Stephensons' Rocket deserve its celebrity status ?

 Robert Stephenson's Rocket marks one of the key advances in railway technology. It also confirmed Stephenson as one of the premier engineers of his age and as a major engineering contractor for the emerging railway network, both in Britain and abroad. It wasn’t the first or the most important steam locomotive, but Stephenson’s Rocket has become an undisputed engineering classic.

The canary yellow Rocket steam locomotive is an unusual icon of engineering in that it wasn’t anything particularly new. It was, however, the first time that several new technologies were brought together as the blue print of what steam locomotives would be like for the next 150 years. The locomotive was built to compete in the Rainhill Trials, held by the new Liverpool & Manchester Railway, to choose between competing designs. The performance of Rocket showed it to be the most successful of the contestants. It also convinced the railway company that the alternative possibility of using stationary steam engines to haul carriages by cables was not worth pursuing.

As with many innovations not everyone was ready for the Rocket. Thundering along at previously unimaginable speeds (up to 35mph), early steam locomotives were a frightening prospect for their Georgian passengers. Before the opening of the first major railway line, the Liverpool & Manchester in 1830, there were fears it would be impossible to breathe while travelling at such a velocity.

Leading actress of the day, Fanny Kemble wrote: "You can’t imagine how strange it seemed to be, journeying on thus without any visible cause of progress other than the magical machine, with its flying white breath and rhythmical, unvarying pace."

By the early 1800s the means of powering the railway had still not been decided. Some favoured haulage by fixed engines and ropes while others advocated the ‘locomotive.’ George Stephenson, Liverpool & Manchester’s Engineer of the Line wanted locomotive power, but he met with staunch opposition. Following a report by consulting engineers Walker and Rastrick, a prize of £500 was offered for the successful construction of a locomotive engine. The winner would weigh no more than 6t and had to travel along a track for 60 miles (97km).

Stephenson immediately understood the significance of the competition trial at Rainhill and he set about designing Rocket. There were five entries, shortly reduced to three. Rocket behaved well, outperforming Novelty and Sans Pareil (which blew red hot cinders out of its chimney). Rocket won a clear victory, but the impact was more serious than merely bagging the prize money. In October 1829, Rocket set a new benchmark for reliability, establishing the viability of the steam locomotive.

It is not wholly clear who designed Rocket. George Stephenson had designed several locomotives, but none as complex as Rocket. When Rocket was being built at the Forth Banks Works, George was overseeing the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. His son Robert was managing director of Robert Stephenson and Company. Although receiving advice from his father, much of the credit for Rocket is given to Robert.

What gave Rocket the edge over previous designs was its multi-tubular boiler that improved heat transfer from the firebox gases into the boiler water. This was coupled with the setting of the cylinders outside the boiler at an angle of 45° (later modified to almost horizontal). These basic design principles carried through to the last steam locomotives built in Britain during the 1960s.
Public relations disaster

The Liverpool and Manchester railway opened in October 1830 with a gala event attended by the most prestigious celebrities including the Duke of Wellington. At one stage there were eight trains on the double-track line – an accident waiting to happen and MP for Liverpool William Huskisson was run down and killed by Rocket. Despite this PR disaster, the event was considered a great success and the engineering achievement of Stephenson propelled him further towards fame and fortune.
Facts and figures

By the early Victorian era passenger numbers had soared. In 1854 alone, 92 million journeys were made in England and Wales on a network stretching 6,000 miles. Train travel had caught the public imagination and the rapid expansion of the railways had an effect on every aspect of Victorian society. This effect was to be long lasting, as in 2002 George Stephenson made the BBC list of the top 100 greatest Britons. Today Stephenson’s rail gauge (of 4 ft 8½in, or 1,435mm) is the world’s standard gauge for rail tracks.

The Rocket, more than any other locomotive from the age of the railway, is arguably the technical turning point of the 19th century. This is when civilization lurched from its carbon-neutral agricultural identity to the carbon-hungry industrial world of today.
Hobbies are currently selling the brand new Occre wood & metal model kit, a beautiful 1/24th scale representation of the most famous locomotive of them all. You build it from top quality pre-cut wood and metal parts and accessories to create a fantastic model that will be the focus of attention wherever displayed.

This is a model that's destined to become a classic, and is already a favourite with Hobbies Club Members, and customers to the Hobbies shop in Raveningham Norfolk.

Friday, 24 May 2013

On This Day in 1941 the Bismarck Sunk the HMS Hood

On This Day in 1941 the Bismarck Sunk the HMS Hood

HMS Hood

The HMS Hood was one of four Admiral class battle cruisers ordered in mid-1916, HMS Hood was the largest of the her class and the largest warship in the world when launched in 1918.  After the battle of Jutland the design of Hood was modified.  However, as she still had limitations work on her sister ship was halted in 1917, leaving Hood as Britain’s last completed purpose-built battle cruiser.  She was named after the 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood.

She was launched on 22 August 1918 by the widow of Rear Admiral Sir Horace Hood, a great-great-grandson of Admiral Samuel Hood. Sir Horace Hood had been killed while commanding the 3rd Battle cruiser Squadron at the Battle of Jutland.

Construction of Hood began at the John Brown & Company shipyards in ClydebankScotland, on 1st September 1916. Following the loss of three British battle cruisers at the Battle of Jutland. 5,000 tons of extra armour and bracing were added to Hood's design.

In order to make room in John Brown's shipyard for merchant construction, Hood sailed for Rosyth to complete her fitting-out on 9 January 1920. After sea trials, she was commissioned on 15 May 1920, under Captain Wilfred Tompkinson. She had cost £6,025,000 to build. " approximately £179 million today".

With her conspicuous twin funnels and lean profile, The Hood was widely regarded one of the finest-looking warships ever built. She was also the largest warship afloat when she was commissioned in 1920 and retained that distinction for the next 20 years. Her size and powerful armament earned her the nickname of "Mighty Hood" and she came to symbolize the might of the British Empire itself.

Although the Royal Navy always designated Hood as a battle cruiser, Some writers have classified her as a fast battleship, since Hood appeared to have improvements over the fast Queen Elizabeth-class battleships. On paper, Hood retained the same armament and level of protection, while being significantly faster.

She was the pride of the Royal Navy on sailing to intercept the Bismarck in May 1941.  After making contact with the German battleship, she, with HMS Prince of Wales, opened fire.  The Bismarck returned fire and with the fifth salvo hit the Hood a fatal blow and she sunk within two minutes. Only three crew from her total of 1,500 survived

HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Prince of Wales was a King George V-class battleship of the Royal Navy, built at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, England.

She was involved in several key actions of the Second World War, including the battle of Denmark Strait against the Bismarck, operations escorting convoys in the Mediterranean, and her final action and sinking in the Pacific in 1941.

Battle Ship Bismarck

The Bismarck was a famous German battleship in World War II. Construction of the ship commenced in 1936, and it went into service in August 1940.

It had a full-load displacement of 50,000 tons, and was the largest battleship in the world at that time.

Bismarck was a symbol of Nazi Germany's new Navy, well armed and heavily armoured, known as "the unsinkable sea fortress", but it was sunk on its first combat mission.

In its first engagement of the war, in the Denmark Strait, the Bismark sank the Battle Cruiser HMS Hood, the pride of the British fleet and Crippled the HMS Price of Wales forcing it to withdraw. 

Following that battle the Bismarck was pursued for more than two days by ships and aircraft of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Eventually, on the evening of 26 May, her steering gear was crippled by a torpedo bomber attack, and on the following morning she was brought to battle and sunk.

At Hobbies we stock a variety of plastic model kits allowing you to replicate your favourite battleships of WW2 in fantastic a range of popular scales 1/200th and 1/350th. plus we stock all the necessary paints, glues and tools to build these kits or even turn into a radio control model.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

A Hobbies customer lets us show off his wonderful Wooden Models

When Hobbies customer, John Hickman wanted to make something a bit special for his grandchildren, he browsed his trusty Hobbies Handbook, settling on the plans for building a realistic wooden Model Traction Engine. A real symbol of a bygone era, and suitable for children aged 5 years and over.

The resulting models impressed us enough to ask for some photographs that we feel sure will inspire readers to have a go themselves at this or one of the many plans and fittings on offer: vehicles such as a Toy Jeep, Land Rover, Trucks and a Toy Train Set are all robust, working toys that can be made by the enthusiastic beginner or professional hobbyist.

Thank you to Mr Hickman for these photos of his impressive models which his grandchildren are bound to be delighted with. 

We want to encourage readers to send in photographs of their own completed models.
Was it harder than you expected? Do you have any tips for someone else making the same model?
Send a brief outline of how you completed the model to


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

How to create an incredible model car display

How to Make an Impressive Model Car Display with a Difference. 

Here we show you how to create authentic corrosion on a 1949 Ford, but the products and techniques can easily be used on any of the model kits. Cars such as our Revell VW Samba Bus or Tamiya VW Beetle would look equally good.

For this example we used Deluxe Materials Scenic Rust Kit, which creates real rust effects on all paintable surfaces. 


1. Painted model ready for rust. When completed, the '49 Ford was painted in burgundy and left to dry. It was then sprayed with hairspray and some grey paint added. This was left to dry for several minutes. The paintwork was then distressed with a cut down stiff brush to create the effect of old, chipped paint. This was a good base for the Scenic Rust treatment.

2. Scenic Rust Powder was mixed with the Scenic Rust Binder following the clear instructions on the box.

3. This was painted on all the areas where we wanted the heaviest rust.


4. Shows the dried rust / binder mix on rear of the vehicle. Be careful to try and get a realistic balance at this stage if you don't want to end up with a completely rusted out vehicle.

5. Scenic Rust Developer was then painted onto all the areas that were treated with the rust powder / binder mix. this was then left overnight to fully react and develop rust.

6. The '49 Ford Rust Close Ups. These photos show close ups of the rust effect after one day. As you can see you really do see the true effects of this rust. That's all there is to the scenic rusting and the creation of a very realistic looking rusty vehicle.

Now you too can produce vehicles that look incredibly life-like. 

Use your imagination and try the techniques with World War II model tanks, planes or cars.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Amazing water effects in your miniature model scenes

Creating Water for your Miniature Models

Using Deluxe Materials product 'Making Waves' which is a clear setting , water-based resin that holds its shape, even on verticle surfaces; and the product 'Solid Water' which simulates crystal clear still water, which sets solid, stays clear and durable for many years, it is possible to create waves, ripples, waterfalls and moving water effects in your models and landscapes.

Some examples which are shown here: 
  • A tap running in a kitchen sink so that the water is starting to overflow
  • A lion's head fountain
  • A garden water pump
  • A garden waterfall feature
  • A puddle on a windy day 

The creative possibilities are endless by using the following basic techniques with Making Waves; a product which can be coloured with water-based paints, or combined with Solid Water for deeper water. 

  Vertical flow of water
1. Draw in the Making Waves into a Pin Point syringe and attach the Pin Point needle

2. Making Waves can now make a vertical thread of water, for a fountain, a tap or a drip. Work downwards by gently pressing down on the plunger. Keep your touch light to prevent breaks and allow Making Waves to fall naturally. 

making waves flowing water effects  
3. This is the first thread from the lion's mouth which must be left to dry before applying further threads for texture and strength. (TIP: Keep the tip of the needle clean and dampen frequently in water)

4. Here we've already added a few further threads on top and around the first thread to give the effect of flowing water. You will see how it has all dried clear  (Tip: patch over any unwanted breaks with another thread of Making Waves)

Solid Water realistic model water effects
5. The trough is now being filled with Crystal clear Solid Water. Ensure it is measured accurately and mixed fully. Cover and allow 2 days to set. Here we are applying it inside the base of the Making Waves stream to give the very realistic effect of fast water bursting through stiller water.

Making Waves waterfall
6. Tumbling water on a garden waterfall: Use a comb to create uniform deep ripples over a base of Making Waves

Making Waves raindrops
7. Create raindrops by syringing small threads of Making Waves up from the surface of the Solid Water puddle. 

Use your imagination for creating running water, fountains, puddles and so much more. Making Waves makes it so easy.

These products can be purchased online or at the Hobbies Shop in Raveningham, Norfolk

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Doctor Who & Star Wars fans join the Dark Side

The Force called in to Stars Wars Convention
Visitors to a Norwich Science Fiction & Film Fair would have been astonished to witness Police breaking up a bitter exchange between visiting Doctor Who fans and Star Wars enthusiasts, some in full character costume. 

Officers were called at around 2.30pm last Sunday when members of the Norwich Sci-Fi Club were refused entry at a fair co-hosted by Norwich Star Wars Club at the University of East Anglia. Police confirmed that they had been called to reports of a man being assaulted at the convention, and arrived to find a dispute between two groups which had been sparked by the arrival at the event of Jim Poole, treasurer of Norwich Sci Fi Club. He was asked to leave the convention as he approached Doctor Who actor Graham Cole for an autograph, leading to a stand-off which was only calmed by the police and university security. 

A spokesman added: “After lengthy investigation, talking to witnesses and reviewing good CCTV footage, it was confirmed that there was no assault. The two rival groups were spoken to and advised to keep out of each other’s way.”

Both sides said there had been a long-running rivalry between the two groups and the events they organise, but hoped they could resolve their differences and share their love of sci-fi in future.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Making History come to Life with Hobbies - Leonardo Da Vinci Part 1

Leonardo da Vinci's aerial screw is arguably one of his greatest designs. Working similarly to a modern helicopter, this flying machine looks a lot like a giant whirling pinwheel. 

In his notebook Da Vinci wrote next to his sketches the following description: "If this instrument made with a screw be well made – that is to say, made of linen of which the pores are stopped up with starch and be turned swiftly, the said screw will make its spiral in the air and it will rise high." 

Also known as the "Helical Air Screw" or simply the "airscrew", the device was designed to compress air to obtain flight – similar to today’s helicopters. 

Da Vinci’s helicopter measured more than 15 feet in diameter and was made from reed, linen and wire. It was to be powered by four men standing on a central platform turning cranks to rotate the shaft. With enough rotation, Da Vinci believed the invention would lift off the ground. 

Unfortunately, due to weight constrictions, modern scientists do not believe da Vinci’s invention would have been able to take flight. However, his theory for "compressing" the air to obtain lift was substantially similiar to that for today’s helicopters.

This wooden model kit made by Revell allows hobbyists and students the opportunity to build a 1/48th scale replica of Da Vinci's inspired design.