1/96 scale plans Mr. Dennis studied included the original builder’s set by Harland and Wolff made in 1939 and the set produced by the Devonport dockyard to record the ship's 1956-1959 modernization.
Mr. Dennis conducted in-person research at the National Maritime Museum by appointment and was also in contact with noted historian and author Conrad Waters, as well as members of the Collections Information Team at the National Museums Northern Ireland: Ulster Folk Museum.
Mr. Dennis suspected that more and possibly better drawings of the ship, ideally fully dimensioned shipyard construction drawings, might be in the possession of National Museums Northern Ireland: Ulster Folk Museum. A search there by the curator on Mr. Dennis' behalf did not find the better drawings we hoped might still be in existence, unfortunately. But we are very grateful for the effort.
Mr. Dennis was the researcher who personally visited the ship and measured the real funnels on the ship. He also provided us with a detailed explanation and count of each funnel's riveting. The two funnels' rivet pattern is similar but not identical. He also provided detailed information on the funnels' doors. Our models capture this information.
Conrad Waters was able to confirm from his research and extensive references that Belfast's aft funnel was "renewed" in the 1950s, not replaced. His documentation tended to indicate that the funnels on Belfast today are the original funnels, not replacements. Prior to Mr. Waters' confirmation, there was some speculation that during the ship's repairs following a mine explosion that broke the ship's keel and nearly sank the ship, one or both funnels might have been replaced when they were removed to gain access to the boilers (which were also removed) to repair the keel and hull. It was not certain that the funnels put back on the ship following hull repairs were the original funnels. If they were replacements, they might be differently sized from the originals. Additionally, we wanted to know whether the funnels were replaced during her 1950s modernization with funnels of different size and detail. We're now reasonably certain the funnels on the ship today are the original funnels.
Michael Eisenstadt provided very helpful advice and invaluable coordination with other researchers, as well as shared high resolution photos he took while visiting the ship. His photos helped us understand and replicate the funnels' features for maximum model detail accuracy.
The Belfast funnel project was very much a long-term team effort.