ESCORT                                                       ISSUE 115

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H.M.S. AURORA

A review of the Flyhawk 1:700 scale kit

The four cruisers of the Arethusa Class were very similar to, but smaller than, the preceding Perth Class.  The most obvious difference was the omission of ‘X’ turret, reducing their main armament to just six 6” guns.  This omission permitted their length to be reduced by over 50 feet and their beam by 5 feet, hence reducing their displacement by in excess of 1,500t.  The AA armament when built was limited to four 4” mountings, single mountings in Arethusa and Galatea, twin mountings in Aurora and Penelope.  The single mountings in Arethusa and Galatea were changed to twins in September 1941 and December 1940, respectively.

Powered by four shafts, each connected to Parsons geared turbines powered by Admiralty three drum boilers, their maximum speed was in excess of 32 knots.

H.M.S. Aurora was built in Portsmouth Dockyard, being laid down in July 1935, launched in August 1936 and completed in November 1937.  Aurora survived the war and was sold to China in 1948, becoming known as Chung King.  Arethusa also survived the war, being broken up in 1950, but Galatea was sunk by three torpedoes fired by U557 in December 1941 and Penelope was sunk by two torpedoes fired by U410 in February 1944.

These ships were originally built with two polemasts which were later both changed to tripod masts to accommodate the ever increasing weight of various aerials, and their AA armament was increased by the addition of, firstly quadruple 2pdr pom-poms in 1940-41 and then a number of 20mm Oerlikon guns.  In mid-1945 Aurora was in the Mediterranean assisting with the work-up of ships intended for the British Pacific Fleet and in July of that year was taken in hand for a refit in Malta.  At the end of her refit, Aurora remained in the Mediterranean until sold to China.

Flyhawk have produced this model in two forms – HMS Aurora in 1945 and as later when in Chinese service.  The box contains a card with a repeat of the boxtop artwork on it, below which are two plastic boxes and a number of plastic bags containing the large number of parts in this kit.  The largest of the plastic boxes contains the finely moulded masts and the other the major parts of the superstructure and the 6” and 4” turrets.

The hull is split at the waterline and is supplied with a waterline plate with a recess for a metal weight, reminiscent of the Japanese ‘waterline’ series.  The shafts and propellers are also supplied so the model can be built full hull or waterline as desired.  The hull measures 220 by 22.5mm, almost spot on.  The maindeck is supplied in two lengths.

The sprues are thicker than usual, surprising considering the fineness of the parts, and so care is required when removing the parts from these sprues.  Each of the sprues are identified in the instructions.  One point of interest is that sprue ‘S’ contains three funnels of different heights.  The instructions call for S1 and S3 (the shortest and tallest) to be used and S2 discarded.  Presumably the funnel heights changed in Chinese service, hence requiring S2.

One feature of these kits is some small square sprues, 12 in this case, of 11 different types.  These contain the smaller items where duplicates are required in the kit or where common items that are relevant to models of other vessels are concerned.

There is also a sheet of etched brass containing railings, ladders, a crane jib, aerials and other details, and a small sheet of decals containing four white ensigns.  It is worth noting that the railings are produced in specific lengths to match the model and include the forecastle sheer and gaps where fairleads are fitted.  Instructions are provided in pictorial format on a single (large), double sided sheet.  These instructions will need to be followed very carefully to ensure none of the smaller parts are missed.  For those who prefer to build a model using their own method, regular reference to the instructions will be needed, again to ensure none of the smaller parts are omitted.  There is also a separate, smaller sheet of instructions with the etched brass which shows how to fold the material and precisely where the details fit.


A full colour diagram is included with the preferred paints coming from either Mr Hobby or Tamiya.  Aurora is represented in a colour scheme which was common to a number of ships in the British Pacific Fleet, grey (MS4A) overall with a blue panel (B20) on either side of the hull.  The decks are shown to be wood, with a dark grey forecastle.

A self-adhesive wooden deck is available from Wood Hunter, together with a painting mask.  The wooden deck is suppled together with a short length of brass anchor chain and a small etched brass sheet containing cable holder supports, although the instructions do not give any indication of where these should be fitted.

This is a very detailed kit which will result in a superb model.


H.M.S. AURORA

Nigel Denchfield builds the Flyhawk kit

This version of the Aurora is given as 1945, and checking against references it appears top be correct, with 3 twin Oerlikon and 2 single Oerlikon light AA.  However, this is after her refit that lasted June to October 1945, so the model represents a peacetime ship.  Notes suggest that the wooden decks may not have been repainted, but left with the old grey paint wearing of and wood showing through.  I have taken this a stage further, and finished the decks as wood, with a few areas of worn grey paint.

As is the case with all Flyhawk’s models now, the detail squeezed in is amazing, and so I painted everything before attempting to fit to the model.  Unfortunately, many of the sprue attachments are on surfaces that will be visible, so some precise brush work is still needed.  As usual I struggled with some of the etch, but having paid for it, I was going to attempt to use it.

The main structures come complete, although there are still many small parts to attach.  I found that I had to cross of each part in the instructions as I used it.

There is a lot of work to do on the aft side of the bridge.  Stupidly I did not fit the railings at this stage in this area.  The complexity of all the radar offices fitted is amazing.  All that extra weight on such small ship!










The compass platform is equally stacked with detail.  The lookout positions all have binoculars on pedestals, there are signalling lamps and sights.  Luckily you get more than you need, several of mine headed for the floor never to be seen again.








The shelter deck comes almost devoid of detail.  All the lockers and ventilators have to be added.  Then loads of them disappear when the crew shelters are fitted!

The ships boats are nicely detailed.