1/72 HMCS Sackville
Conversion from the Matchbox Flower Class Corvette

By John Beaulieu


I was first approached with this project back in early 2005, when Chief Petty Officer Lake, the divisional chief for CFB Esquimalt's seamanship school, asked if I would be willing to build a flower class corvette for the school. He had seen the work I had done on a previous model (HMCS Regina) and was hoping that I would do something similar on an old Matchbox-issue corvette he had lying around.

Beware of kits that have been ‘lying around’! Having been started some fifteen years ago, the boat now required extensive disassembly and there was a crack running down starboard side across the midship seam. Due to the long-term storage of the kit, several items were missing and or damaged. These included the mast, most of the handrails, stanchions, the bilge keels, most of the secondary armament and stowage cabinets. With so much of the kit badly assembled, damaged or missing, I decided to convert it to represent the short fosc’le HMCS Sackville (circa 1942). My first step would be to backdate the hull.

Backdating the hull entailed removing approximately five inches of deck off of midship and the hull, laying a new deck, building a new superstructure (house, wheelhouse and bridge), construction of a new deck below the gun deck and the squaring off of the stern. Also, I had to build a mine sweeping winch and two steam davits.

A new mast needed to be built to replace the missing kit part. This was done in brass and included the SW1C antenna. At this time a small loop antenna was built out of brass for the roof of the chartroom.

The engine room casing needed to be shortened, the rear bandstand was relocated to aft of the engine room skylight, and the bandstand’s sidewalls were removed and re-skinned and the ‘spider web’ tread was applied to the floor of the bandstand. A new ammo locker was built. The engine room skylight was removed and a new, accurate skylight was built and installed in its place.

The stern of the boat was squared off, the heavy, inaccurate keel was removed and new bilge keels (Plastruct ‘L’ beams) were attached. Two 5/16 nuts were glued to the bottom of the hull (mounting hard points.) Resin blocks were cast around the bolts for security. The portholes were cleared out, the plastic behind them thinned and mirrors were epoxied in place. People who walk past the hull will catch flickers of movement from the portholes, giving the illusion that the ship is manned and ready. The hull was filled with expanding foam to provide structural integrity.

The new foredeck was installed and the new superstructure was glued in place. The bridge wings and fosc’le were skinned with wood and sealed. The bridge wings and wheelhouse catwalk stanchions were built and had simulated canvas installed. The 4” gun platform had it’s tread applied. The gun shield’s sidewalls were removed and thinner, more accurate ones were glued in place. A blast bag was moulded from Miliput and installed on the gun.

All the ventilators were thinned and access panels were installed on the large ventilators. The funnel cap, which was heavily damaged, was repaired and new access ways were built and installed on the funnel casing.

The ship’s whaler were stripped of the inaccurate stock interior, ribbing was installed, new benches and rudders made and rope details were added.

The minesweeping winch was built, based on drawing found in the book, Anatomy of The Ship: HMCS Agassiz. The anchor windlass was renovated based on photos of the replacement winch onboard HMCS Sackville.

The portholes were filled with clear resin, masked over and the hull primed. Flat off white was applied as a base coat. The Western Approaches camouflage scheme was masked on the hull and then the two primary colours were applied. The lower Hull was then painted flat black. Rust streaking, grime and exposure were simulated on the hull.

The gun platform, bridge, minesweeping winch and the other fittings were distressed and attached to the hull. Wire stanchions, the funnel and the mast were installed and rigged.

In the end, this project took well over a year to build, mostly due to work related interruptions. Once an appropriate display case is built, the HMCS Sackville will be proudly exhibited in the main entrance of the seamanship school, providing a reminder to future sailors as to where we came from.