Many merchant ships have served in the military at one time or another. Conversions to military use have ranged from the simple task of repainting a ship to the complete rebuilding of the ship, as is perhaps most notable in conversions to aircraft carriers. But for those who would like something less complicated, here are four relatively simple conversions that can be done from merchant ship models into naval ship models:

Schwerin: This railroad ferry from the interwar era, served as a minelayer in the Kriegsmarine in World War II. Converting the Mercator model (M 520) was simple. The boats forward of the bridge structure were removed, and the deck filed and sanded smooth. Small wings were added to the bridge and a railing and two small guns added atop that. Abaft the second funnel, a small platform was placed and another small gun added there. New masts were added. Drawings in volume 3 of Erich Groner’s Die Deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815-1945 gives you the information needed to do this one.

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Aramis: Photographs in the Messageries Maritimes internet web site make this conversion possible. This French liner served as an armed merchant cruiser in the Far East from late 1939 until after the armistice in 1940. Conversion of the CM model (CM 170) required re-siting of the boats located on the quarterdeck to just forward of the mainmast, so that AA guns could be placed there. In addition, 5.5" mounts were constructed from plastic and sited fore and aft, a searchlight platform was added to the foremast, and gun directors added. Photos of before and after allow one to see the differences from the original model.

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Westralia: This liner was converted to an armed merchant cruiser early in World War II. Converting the Albatros model (AL 178) involved minor changes, the most significant being removal of two life boats abaft the bridge. Then 6" guns were placed fore and aft and the model repainted.

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Doctor Lykes: This sea barge ship and two sisters were purchased by the U.S. from the Lykes Lines for use as Sealift ships and are part of the Ready Reserve Force. The ship in U.S. service was renamed Cape May. Converting the Sextant model (SX 165) requires nothing more than a paint job. This can be time consuming however, because there is a wealth of detail on the decks and if you want something more than basic gray, you’ll need to spend a fair amount of time and careful effort at it.

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Cape May
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