HMS Montrose Type 23 Frigate
The British Royal Navy has a long and proud tradition of Frigates in its history, dating back to the 1740’s. Smaller than a ship of the line, they were the workhorse of the British Royal Navy during the age of sail, combining a long range and the ability to operate independently, and performing a wide variety of missions more economically than the larger ships of the line.
In the modern British Royal Navy, the Frigate performs many of the same missions. Primarily designed as an anti-submarine warfare ship, they also perform convoy escort and independent patrols, hunting pirates and protecting sea lanes for merchantmen.
The first Frigate of the Type 23 class was commissioned in 1989, with 16 ships having been built and 13 still remaining in service. The ships are mostly named for British Dukes, earning the class the name “Duke” class. They mount a variety of weapons systems, including a 32-cell Sea Wolf vertical launch system for anti-air actions, two quadruple Harpoon launchers for anti-ship actions, two twin 12.75” torpedo tubes for anti-submarine actions, a 4.5” Mk 8 gun, two 30mm DS30M automated guns, and several mini and general purpose guns for close-in defense. A Lynx or Merlin helicopter capable of carrying 4 Sea Skua anti-ship missiles or 4 anti-submarine torpedoes also adds to the punch provided, and can be housed and maintained in the ship’s enclosed hangar space.
The sturdy cardboard box comes loaded with over 400 parts – 1 tree of clear plastic, 11 trees of light gray plastic, 1 small photo etch fret, a one-piece lower hull, a main deck, and a small decal sheet. The trees and parts are in individual easy-open bags. Extra fragile parts have extra foam wrapping to prevent breakage, a nice touch. The parts are cleanly molded with very little flash and very good detail overall. The parts’ sprue attachments are pretty thick, and there are several little knockout marks that will need to be filled and cleaned up in addition to the fine mold seam lines along the longer parts. There are MANY parts that are very small and delicate and difficult to handle. There is a 16-page, 15-step instruction booklet and a one-sided color painting/marking guide sheet. Color callouts are for Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya, and Humbrol.
Construction starts with the lower hull. The sonar dome and the bow fit is average and will require filling and sanding. The fins along the hull bottom have no positive attachment point and will require some fiddling to get the proper angle and alignment. The propeller shaft V-supports do not mate squarely with the hull and require sanding to fit square.
The deck is installed next. Fit was good, but for some reason the aft inch or so of the main deck was a separate piece, causing a nasty seam across the deck that needs much filling and sanding. My personal preference would have been to build the towed array compartment into the lower aft hull and cover it with a one-piece deck that ran the entire length of the ship. Once the deck is installed, all the various small deck fittings and structures are added. Some have positive attach points and some have just very slight location marks that are hard to see at times.
The next two steps (5&6) build many of the small superstructure parts with several photo etch detail pieces being folded and attached. The photo etch in this kit is some of the most delicate and soft I’ve ever used. Just handling it with tweezers would warp and bend the parts. Much care and time is needed here to prevent major headaches and frustration. Working with the photo etch was by far the hardest part of this build for me. I used Gator Grip Acrylic Hobby Glue to attach the photo etch, and once it set up that part was on there for good. I was able to straighten many of the parts that I had mangled while folding and attaching them without fear of losing them because that glue holds strong.
The next seven steps (7-13) build up the large superstructures. Assembly is straightforward and fit is generally very good, with only a few fit issues popping up that are quickly fixed with a knife or sanding stick. There are bunches of tiny parts and I spent many hours combing through the carpet searching for one tiny part after another. Some never got found.
Step 14 builds the helicopter. It is molded in clear plastic. You have the option of spread or folded main rotor blades. The small clear parts were difficult to handle and locate properly to each other and, if dropped, nearly impossible to find. I got lucky several times.
Step 15 builds the stand and has the final assembly of the hull and superstructures. I chose to paint the hull and superstructures separately and then assemble them into the final product. The superstructures are a TIGHT fit to the deck molded outlines. They literally snapped into place and it required some force to make it happen. Use caution!!!
The stand is not a good fit to the hull. It allows the ship to rock over to one side or the other if the ship is centered on the stand. I ended up moving the ship forward enough to get the fins to rest on the stand, giving the ship a more stable stance.
I used Tamiya and Polly scale acrylic paints – Tamiya XF-9 Hull Red with some XF-7 Flat Red mixed in for the lower hull, Tamiya XF-53 Neutral Gray for the decks. I used Polly Scale 505396 Light blue for the upper hull and superstructures. The helicopter was painted XF-19 Sky Grey with flat black rotor and blades.
The decals handled very well and settled down nicely into puddles of Future. They do not need to soak long in the water at all, sliding off the paper easily. They handled the poking and prodding into place just wonderfully. Once dry, the model was coated overall with Future, followed by a slight pin wash to make the superstructure details stand out a bit more. Testors Dullcoat provided the flat finish.
I had a difficult time with this build. The photo etch was very difficult to handle without damaging it. There were scores of tiny parts that had to be attached to not very clearly marked locations. This was a big challenge for me, and I learned a great deal about building ships in 1/350th scale. But I am pleased with the way it looks completed, and will most definitely take another crack at a Trumpeter 1/350 kit in the near future.
Thanks to Stevens International and IPMS/USA for the review kit.