British Light Cruisers. Leander, Amphion and Arethusa Classes

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Les Brown
Other Publication Information
64 Pages, 8.3 x 11.7 in, 120 color & b/w photos and plans
Product / Stock #
Shipcraft 31
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site

Thanks to Casemate Publishers & IPMS/USA for the review copy!

Casemate Publishers presents ShipCraft 31, British Light Cruisers Leander, Amphion and Arethusa Classes by Les Brown from Seaforth Publishing. This heavily illustrated paperback is the ultimate single resource for building accurate models of WW2 British Light Cruisers with twin turret 6in main armaments – the Leander, Amphion and Arethusa classes. Class history, appearances of each ship over time, available model kits, model accessories, many photographs, camouflage examples, line drawings and color plates of finished models make a superb reference for these busy warships with many possibilities for modelers.

Les Brown is a well-known and accomplished British warship afficionado and builder of beautiful models, with a long history of championing British warships. His latest book is ShipCraft31 from Seaforth Publishing, a line of books that focus on one type or class of warship, with an eye to helping modelers build kits to a high degree. This book is by modelers for modelers.

As usual, Seaforth Publishing has produced a book chock full of excellent quality photographs, color plates of first-class models of these ships, camouflage patterns and line drawings, as well as all the available kits and accessories of these ships from 1:2500 to 1:96 scale, including paper card models.

What You Get

68 pages (including all sides of the covers) of glossy pages with rather small print in two columns per page, loaded with B&W photos of ships, and color photos of kits, built models, and color camouflage patterns and detailed line drawings by George Richardson. There are 52 B&W photos (mostly of excellent quality and clarity), 39 color photos of kits and accessories, 59 color photos of finished models, 18 color camouflage plates, 13 B&W plans of overhead and starboard side profiles, three Tables and one map. The text covers design, construction, modifications, brief histories, outstanding single ship actions, operations, tactics and fits.

  • Contents include:
  • Design History
  • Wartime Actions and losses
  • Model Products
  • Modelmakers’ Showcase
  • Colour Schemes
  • Camouflage
  • Modifications
  • Plans
  • Selected References

Built under London Naval Conference constraints to replace obsolete WW1 light cruisers, 12 ships with 6in twin turrets were built from the early to mid 1930s in 3 classes – Leander (5), Amphion (3) and Arethusa (4). The Amphion class was actually an updated Leander design with dual machinery and two funnels compared to the Leanders’ single funnels. The Amphions were renamed and sent to the Australian Navy before WW2, and often called the Perth class. The Arethusa class was smaller, with three twin 6in turrets instead of four, in order to squeeze in an extra cruiser to meet the 1930 Washington Treaty tonnage limits.

These ships led very active service lives, with several famous ships and encounters, starting with Ajax and Achilles dueling with the Graf Spee. Aurora ended up in the Chinese navies (yes, plural), including Communist China.

But this book is all about building models, and gives the existing and out-of-production kits available in 1/1250-1/96 scales, along with accessories (aftermarket, photoetch) – up-to-date for 2022. You learn the pros and cons for each kit, vital information for deciding on which kit and accessories to acquire. A large number of pages are devoted to showing off finished models to whet your appetite to test your skills. There is enough information on appearances over time to be fairly accurate, and reference materials are listed on page 64. There are many appearance changes, battle damage, camouflage schemes and dioramas with these classes to keep one busy for a lifetime.


This book is a must-have for building any of the three twin 6inch turreted light cruisers built for the Royal Navy in WW2. Even if you do not build, this book is an excellent resource of how these ships looked and fascinating in its own right. Very highly recommended for WW2 naval afficionados, Royal Navy WW2 ship modelers and especially for builders of models of these three classes of light cruisers.

Thanks to IPMS/USA for the privilege of reviewing this superb reference for WW2 warship modelers!

Reviewer Bio

Luke R. Bucci, PhD

Luke built all kinds of models starting in the early '60s, but school, wife Naniece, and work (PhD Clinical Nutritionist) caused the usual absence from building. Picked up modeling to decompress from grad school, joined IPMSUSA in 1994 and focused on solely 1/700 warships (waterline!) and still do. I like to upgrade and kitbash the old kits and semi-accurize them, and even scratchbuild a few. Joined the Reviewer Corps to expand my horizon, especially the books nobody wants to review - have learned a lot that way. Shout out to Salt Lake and Reno IPMSUSA clubs - they're both fine, fun groups and better modelers than I, which is another way to learn. Other hobbies are: yes, dear; playing electric bass and playing with the canine kids.

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