askold2a.jpg (36754 bytes)

Russian Protected Cruiser
Two 1:700 Scale Kits of the
Russian Protected Cruiser
Rob Mackie

Constructed at the Kiel (Germany) naval shipyard and commissioned in 1902, the Russian protected cruiser Askold's five long, slender funnels gave him (Russian ships were considered "male") an unmistakable outline. This was of more than passing importance at a time when funnels were equated with power. Indeed there are stories of warship captains rigging dummy funnels prior to visiting distant ports, the better to impress the locals. But the Askold wasn't built just for show. Her slender lines gave her a speed in excess of 23 knots, impressive for the time, and she had an eventful career, seeing action in both the Russo-Japanese and First World War. Falk Pletscher, who built the WSW Askold master pattern, has a thoroughly researched article in Plastic Ship Modeler #20 (Dan Jones' drawing of Askold graces the cover) that I highly recommend.

Vital Statistics
WEM Askold.jpg (21412 bytes)
Launched: 15 March 1900 Commissioned: 25 January 1902
Length: 437' oa   Beam: 49' 2"   Draft: 20' 4"
Displacement: 5,905 tons
Armament: twelve 6"/45), twelve 11 pounder; two 1 pdr pom-pom
fourteen 3.4" (14x1)

Torpedo Tubes: six  15" tubes (two submerged)
Performance: 23.8 knots
Complement: 576 officers and ratings

It is a measure of how far ship modeling has come these past few years that we now have not one, but two 1:700 scale kits of this distinctive, if somewhat obscure, warship. I am told this was purely coincidental. Falk Pletscher has a long-time interest in Askold that led to his building the master pattern. At about the same time White Ensign Models expanded their range beyond Royal Navy subjects and understandably chose this eye-catching protected cruiser. 

Let me say at the outset that both kits are excellent, but differ greatly in approach. There are minor interpretive differences in these 1:700 scale waterline models, but both appear accurate and highly detailed. I am not an authority on this ship and do not have access to comprehensive plans, so I cannot say which is the most accurate. In my opinion, the accuracy differences between these models, if any, are so minor as to be inconsequential.

It is the approach of these two producers that sets them apart. WSW kits eschew photo etched brass. Everything is resin cast. WSW's resin casting is among the best to be found in 1:700 scale and they apparently take great pride in their ability to execute sharp, highly complex castings. WEM's approach relies heavily on the extensive use of etched brass, and their Askold is no exception. Etched brass enables a producer to render remarkably fine, sharp detail. The downside is that for some modelers - and I am one of them - too much fiddly 1:700 scale etched brass detracts greatly from modeling enjoyment. Brass lacks the "workability" of resin, plastic and wood. But I recognize its merits, and for deck railing, lattice and cage masts there is no realistic alternative to etched brass.

WEM askold.jpg (22855 bytes)

The hull castings of both kits are impressively detailed. The WEM version has more forecastle and quarterdeck clutter. WSW's hull has a sharper, more finely detailed ram bow. The biggest difference, however is the unique manner in which WSW treats the deck. It is a separate piece that snaps into the upper hull casting. Detail is most impressive, especially the way in which the vent platforms stand proud of the deck. Casting the deck as a separate piece opens up the lower gun decks. The more hard core among you could super detail this area, though in 1:700 scale this may be a lot of effort for little effect. 

Side by Side Comparison
Askold Bow Comparison.jpg (13622 bytes)
Bow Profile
Askold bridge con comparison.jpg (36911 bytes)
Navigation Bridge
Askold fwd plan view comparison.jpg (29875 bytes)
Forecastle Plan View
Askold guns comparison.jpg (46968 bytes)
Askold launches comparison.jpg (26630 bytes)
Ships Boats
Askold midship plan view comparison.jpg (39222 bytes)
Midship Plan View
Askold quarterdeck plan view.jpg (24587 bytes)
Quarterdeck Plan View
Askold Stacks comparison.jpg (28764 bytes)
Askold stern comparison.jpg (25531 bytes)
Stern Profile

The torpedo net shelves on the WEM Askold are etched brass parts. WSW's are resin, cast integral with the hull. This saves a lot of work, though if you want the ultimate in scale treatment, WEM's are preferable. Their etched brass shelves even have tiny support braces. This is one area where I much prefer the WSW approach. WEM's marginally finer detail is not worth the extra effort to affix these tiny brass shelves. But a younger modeler with better eyes than mine and more time on his hands may think otherwise.

I much prefer WSW's small resin parts. Boats, funnels, guns and navigation bridge are sharper and finer than WEM's. But WEM's boat cradles, davits and many other small fittings are fine etched brass, sharper than WSW's resin versions but more fiddly and difficult to work. Other noteworthy differences are the deck planking, too heavy and out of scale on WSW's forecastle, just right on WEM's. And the WSW kit does not include railing. I'm not a big enthusiast of etched brass, but railing is a nice touch in 1:700 scale and the WSW Askold would benefit from its addition.

WEM's instructions are excellent. They include exploded views, color plan/profile drawing and detailed etched brass instructions. WSW's instructions, though adequate, are not nearly as comprehensive as WEM's. WEM unquestionably has the edge in this area, no small matter when modeling a ship where few references are available.

The Verdict
If you want the ultimate in detail and have the time and patience to tackle lots of tiny etched brass, the White Ensign Askold is the better choice. WEM kits are not designed for ease of assembly and Askold is no exception. Much of the etched brass detail should have been included in the hull casting. That said, the WEM version is a superb kit, complete in every respect.

If, like me, you have neither the time nor the inclination to struggle with tiny etched brass parts, go with the WSW version. It will go together much faster, and even without etched brass will result in a highly detailed and pleasing model. But at least add brass deck railing, a small additional expense that will greatly enhance this excellent kit.

I've included photos of Askold buildups by three accomplished modelers. Either kit will will build into a great model, so if you are considering an Askold, choose the one that bests fits your building style. The White Ensign version is significantly more expensive than WSW's. However, it includes extensive etched brass, so the price difference is not as large as it appears. Either way, you won't go wrong. This is indeed a great time to be a ship modeler.

WSW 1:700 Russian Cruiser Askold

WSW Askold 01.jpg (23145 bytes)

WSW Askold 02.jpg (14503 bytes) WSW Askold 03.jpg (16428 bytes) WSW Askold 04.jpg (15241 bytes)
WSW Askold 05.jpg (13058 bytes) WSW Askold 06.jpg (28427 bytes) WSW Askold 07.jpg (25665 bytes) WSW Askold 08.jpg (32739 bytes)
WSW Askold 09.jpg (21650 bytes) WSW Askold 10.jpg (32050 bytes) WSW Askold 11.jpg (17008 bytes) WSW Askold 12.jpg (20444 bytes)
WSW Askold 13.jpg (39328 bytes) WSW Askold 14.jpg (80347 bytes) WSW Askold 15.jpg (74900 bytes) WSW Askold 16.jpg (82010 bytes)


White Ensign Models 1:700 Askold

WEM Askold 01.jpg (26031 bytes)

WEM Askold 02.jpg (15416 bytes) WEM Askold 03.jpg (16627 bytes) WEM Askold 04.jpg (16001 bytes)
WEM Askold 05.jpg (34320 bytes) WEM Askold 06.jpg (25017 bytes) WEM Askold PE.jpg (58032 bytes) WEM Askold Color Guide.jpg (64578 bytes)
WEM Askold Exploded view.jpg (67844 bytes) WEM Askold inst 1.jpg (125791 bytes) WEM Askold inst 2.jpg (132566 bytes) WEM Askold inst and PE 3.jpg (81705 bytes)
WEM Askold inst and PE 4.jpg (60314 bytes) WEM Askold inst PE masts 5.jpg (61325 bytes) WEM Askold Plan Profile.jpg (39720 bytes)

  Home copper.jpg (2701 bytes)