The Royal Navy anti-submarine frigate HMS Plymouth saw action throughout the recent Falklands conflict and became the first HM ship to enter Port Stanley since the occupation.
Its Wasp helicopter took part in the first direct action against Argentine forces. Later heading for a watery grave as a missile target, HMS Plymouth was saved by the Warship Preservation Trust in 1988 and the Rothesay-class frigate now forms part of the Historic Warships fleet at Birkenhead, the country's finest display of fighting ships. Its on-board Wasp helicopter has now been refurbished and protected against the harsh marine environment, with a high performance paint system donated by HMG Paints of Manchester.
The painting was carried out by two Warship Preservation Trust ex-naval volunteers, Mike Roberts (pictured), a former Pilot's Mate in the Fleet Air Arm, and Ian Taylor, a Chief Petty Officer who served on the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean. HMG's technical department designed a surface coating system, using a polyurethane topcoat, and a method of application to make the volunteers' task easier. Such was the quality and authenticity of finish, that a professional warship restorer has already shown interest in the same HMG paint, having visited the collection.
The frigate's anti-submarine Wasp helicopter, not the original but an aircraft of similar vintage and specification, had not weathered well at Birkenhead Docks, with its paintwork peeling off and its Alclad corrosion-resistant aluminium body showing signs of pitting. Having been put in touch by the North West Aerospace Alliance, HMG offered to help and was supplied with a small bodywork panel, for colour matching and paint specifying.
Although HMS Plymouth was refitted in 1969 with a flight deck and a hangar to house the Wasp helicopter, there was not enough room in the latter to allow spray painting. So amateur restorers Mike and Ian requested a topcoat that could be easily brush applied and forgiving enough to yield an even, high gloss finish with non-professional application.
HMG's K-Type Fleet Polyurethane (named after bus and coach fleets, not naval ships) was ideal for the job. A tough and durable polyurethane enamel for high quality vehicle and industrial finishing of all types, it gives excellent brushability due to its long wet edge time. A specially formulated blend of polyurethane and chain-stopped alkyd resins, it offers outstanding gloss retention, anti-abrasion properties, surface adhesion, durability and chemical resistance. HMG supplied 35 litres of K Type topcoat in colour-matched blue/grey, as well as blue, red and white for the roundels and lettering. It also provided degreaser for thoroughly cleansing the substrate prior to sanding and BDX grey primer, for building up an even undercoat before flatting and overcoating.
Despite their lack of professional experience, Mike and Ian achieved an excellent finish, which should impress visitors to the Historic Warship fleet and protect the Wasp helicopter for many years to come.
"HMG's paint was easy to use and very forgiving," says Mike, "and it dried out well in the sunny weather. We think the finished result looks very good and it's great to have preserved this little bit of naval history."
For information about the Historic Warships collection, ring 0151 650 1573 or visit the website at www.historicwarships.org
Further enquiries to:
Telephone 0161 205 7631
Telephone 0161 205 7631