ESCORT                                                       ISSUE 116

‘THE SHINY SHEFF’

H.M.S. Sheffield at 1:700 scale

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This ship gained her nickname as a result of many of the ship’s fittings being made of stainless steel rather than the usual bronze.  This included the ship’s bell and ensured a long lasting, close relationship between the city and the cruiser.

H.M.S. Sheffield was a Town Class cruiser, her keel was laid down in January 1935 and she was launched in July 1936 and accepted into service in August 1937.  She was one of the second batch of this class and therefore received a number of improvements/additions, including a second dual purpose gunnery director aft of the mainmast.  In August 1938, Sheffield was fitted with Type 79Y air warning radar.

During World War II, she joined the famous Force H and was involved in the Battle of Cape Spartivento with the Italian Navy.  Her most famous wartime exploits were in connection with the convoy to Russia and included the Battle of the Barents Sea (December 1942) with the Admiral Hipper and the Battle of the North Cape (December 1943) with the Scharnhorst.

She survived until January 1967 when she was towed from Portsmouth to Rosyth and scrapped at Faslane.

There are currently two 1:700 scale resin kits available – one from L’Arsenal and one from Atlantic Models White Ensign Range.  These two producers have a number of differences in their approach, beginning with the instructions.

Those from L’Arsenal are purely diagrammatic – 29 steps.  Those from Atlantic are primarily textual with fewer diagrams for explanation and clarification.  There are also two dimensioned drawings for the mast.  L’Arsenal also include dimensions for the masts but just gives rod lengths annotating the relevant step.  Neither kits provide the rods.  Both approaches are quite clear and relatively easy to follow.  Although both boxes are labelled ‘1942’, the instructions state that the L’Arsenal model represents the ship as at the Battle of the Barents Sea in December 1942 and the Atlantic model as in May 1941.  The colour schemes support this, that from Atlantic being a dark grey hull with light grey superstructure whilst that from L’Arsenal being a relatively simple three colour camouflage scheme, as shown by Alan Raven in volume 2 of his series in the Warship Perspectives range.  Atlantic shows the colours on a very clear diagram whilst L’Arsenal show them much less clearly in photographs of a completed model.  When WEM first released this kit they included a drawing of a much more complicated four colour scheme representing the ship as in the winter of 1941/42 (see image, below left).

These two sets of colour details also show up some other differences with the kits – additional AA guns, radars and Carley floats on the later model from L’Arsenal.

Both kits include a sheet of etched material, although not all the parts on that from Atlantic are used as this sheet is the same as that supplied with their kit of Edinburgh.  (Note: the railings are supplied on a separate sheet)  Both sheets include ladders, railings, cranes, aircraft catapult and many other details.  The sheet from Atlantic also includes four barreled pom-poms as alternatives to the resin mouldings for those who prefer them (and have the ability to construct them!).

The resin parts are all well cast, those from L’Arsenal being cream in colour and those from Atlantic light grey.  The hulls show a distinct difference with the Atlantic moulding including much of the forward superstructure and the upper levels of the aft superstructure as well as smaller details such as the much more distinct anchor chains.  The breakwater on the Atlantic moulding is notable larger and there is more flash at the waterline.

These two mouldings clearly illustrate the difference in approach – the Atlantic model having fewer, more complicated mouldings whilst L’Arsenal uses more, relatively simple mouldings.  Not that the completed L’Arsenal kit is lacking in detail, the extra mouldings add all the detail required.  For many the L’Arsenal kit will be easier to paint, painting individual details before sticking them to the ship.  The L’Arsenal kit include brass barrels (from the Polish Master Model) for both the 4” and 6” guns.

Another noticeable difference is with the Walrus aircraft.  Atlantic supply two resin hulls with the lower wings, tail and tailplane moulded integrally and separate resin top wings whereas L’Arsenal only provide one body and use separate etched metal wings, tail and tailplane.  To produce an aircraft with folded wings, Atlantic suggest cutting the wings whereas the etched sheet includes alternative parts.  One point to note is that Atlantic states that the aircraft should be stored nose forward whereas L’Arsenal’s illustration shows it the opposite way round.

Both kits can be built into superb models so I think it’s just a case of paying your money and taking your choice.