Your opportunity to own a replica 15-inch Tommpion
Updated 4-10-2021

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A TRIUMPH OF TOMPIONS
by Rob White, Honorary Vice-President HMSHA


'A' and 'B' turrets



A few years back I was contacted by a movie producer and film props designer and maker called Andy Poulastides. He told me he was working on a very interesting and important project: to make a feature film called Catapult, a full-length drama based on the tragic attack on the French fleet in Mers-el-Kebir - an operation by Force H, for which Hood was the unwilling flagship, under the command of Admiral James Somerville (grandfather of my former colleague at the BBC and ITN, Julia Somerville.) I gave him what help I could - notably, putting him in touch with our veterans.

The idea was to approach this sad moment in our history and that of France, as 'Europe's Pearl Harbour', and to recreate the story through two protagonists: a Captain in the Marine Nationale, and his friend Captain Cedric Holland, Force H's chief negotiator on that sad day in 1940. A great idea, yet to be realized; but it is the norm that such major film projects are very long in the making.

In preparation Andy recorded several long interviews both with our veterans (all of whom have since crossed the bar, sadly) and French survivors and descendants of those who were there on 3rd July 1940. For a modest sum, Andy has kindly made these unique and historic recordings available to us for all uses in perpetuity, and they will appear in the second film I will be making for us this year, on 'Operation Catapult'. Extracts with Keith Evans, Lloyd Adams and Alec Kellaway can already be seen in our current 80th Anniversary film, 'HMS Hood - Mighty Then, Mighty Now'.

But then Andy excelled himself. Off his own bat, he came forward with another great idea: to recreate in brass the 15-inch ceremonial tompions that would have protected Hood's 15-inch guns throughout her lifetime. These will be offered first to Hood Association members.

The price is not insignificant - though well justified by the stunning result, and a proportion of the sale profit will go to HMSHA. Marketing will then be world-wide, with a production run to stop at 51 - Hood's pennant number. Each tompion will be numbered, and presented with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by our President, along with an explanatory historical document.

Andy had no real Hood tompion to work from. So he had to work out what a Hood 15-inch tompion would look like in three dimensions - 3D - from two dimensional - 2D -images. He then developed these finely, and fed them into a 3D computer programme to "print" a version in resin, from which a mould was then struck - building up the artefact by injecting resin powder (rather than ink, as with a conventional document printer) layer by layer, until the full three-dimensional object was achieved. Many hours were spent in finishing and preparing this resin "master" , for it to be used in turn to make a silicone mould. Then, using that mould, the 15" brass tompion was created, in a process called "cold-casting." More work followed, as Andy and his team hand-finished each tompion, adding paint to the background surface, and a giving it a thorough polish to get the brass gleaming. Just as many a Hood would have had to do, to prepare for "Admiral's Inspection".

If you find all this a bit uncanny and alchemical, you’re not alone! But it's very real, and the technology is well advanced, and wizards like Andy are making increasing use of it. We may soon see the day when many a business will hold no space-consuming stocks at all. Orders of a product, from engineering components to electronics, will be printed on demand, using powdered plastics and metals which build up into the form dictated by computer, melted and shaped layer by layer. Andy’s website is well worth a visit: www.admiraltystores.com

Below this article are pictures of some of the stages of the process Andy went through to produce his full-size 15" Hood tompion. The entire design and production process has taken over 4 months, and each tompion takes over 20 hours to cast and finish. Andy and his team finish each by hand and each one is unique.

What is remarkable is the refinement of detail that Andy has produced - and talking to him, it's evident that he relishes the challenge. But more deeply, that he is driven by the prospect of helping our Association with his wonderful recreations: to remind the world anew of the power and majesty of HMS Hood, the most admired warship of her day - not just in her homeland, but across the world that she knew.

So Andy is producing icons for an icon. A triumph of tompions. And we can only be as grateful as we are amazed at what he is creating for us!

The 15" HMS Hood replica brass tompions will be available exclusively, on being ordered, first to members of the Association, before being made available to the wider world - strictly limited to 51 units. Each will cost £850, with 20% of the money raised going to support the work of HMSHA. Please visit www.admiraltystores.com if you wish to order one, or email me at [email protected] (07771 837423). It's an investment you won't regret.



Gallery of images showing the production stages
in the manufacture of the tompions.