HMT? HMT Stormking, for what does HMT stand? His Majesty's Tug Stormking is a new Loose Cannon kit in 1:700 scale. Well, all things considered, it is better to have His Majesty's Tug, than to have Tug His Majesty, which is a social faux pas in most circles. The fleet tug was an essential auxiliary during World War II. Larger than the standard harbor tug, the ocean going vessels had their prime mission to bring crippled ships safely to port. Before the war their primary mission was to tow targets for gunnery practice but all of that changed once the firing started. They were reclassified as Rescue Tugs to describe their new mission. They were unsung in the execution of that mission but hundreds of warships and merchant ships lived to steam again thanks to their efforts. Loose Cannon has produced a 1:700 scale resin model of the Royal Navy Assurance Class Fleet Tug. There were 21 tugs in the class and they sported a variety of unique names such as Frisky, Jaunty, Saucy, Prosperous, Prudent and of course, Stormking. They trace their development back to a class of fleet tugs developed at the end of World War One.
The Saint Class were built in 1918-1919 and were 135.5-feet in length. They were coal fired and had a maximum speed of 12-knots. The resemblance between the two classes of single stack tugs is clear. Another design in the family tree entered service in the late 1930s. The Brigand class of five tugs were 165-feet in length and displaced 840 tons. They used triple expansion reciprocating engines to turn the two shafts to produce 3,000ihp with a maximum speed of 16 knots. The Assurance class which followed were smaller and less expensive units than the Brigand class. Accordingly, they could be built in greater numbers. The Assurance class fleet tugs were 156-feet 9-inches overall in length and displaced 700 tons. They were armed with one 3-inch guns and two 20mm Oerlikons. The reciprocating steam engine produced 1,250 ihp and gave the vessels a top speed of 13.5 knots. After the war the HMT Stormking was sold and became Tryphon in 1947 and Melanie Fair in 1958.
The Loose Cannon Stormking consists of a resin wafer and eleven resin runners. On the wafer is the hull, four carley floats and the bridge. The parts will of course have to be removed from the casting wafer but this is a simple process. You will need to smooth the parts where they were attached to the wafer. The hull casting is pretty comprehensive in the detail cast onto the part. Although this is a small model, a tremendous amount of detail is integral to the hull. The hull sides reflect a good amount of features. A solid bulkhead rises above the forecastle deck at the bow and serves as a splash guard against ocean rollers. There is a horizontal strake which extrudes outward separating this bulkhead from the hull proper. A very prominent and wide horizontal strake is found along eighty percent of the hull and wraps around the stern to the other side. Other hull detail includes anchor wells and two rows of portholes on the forward half of the tug, which has a raised forecastle.
The detail even gets better with the deck. At the now is a very large winch, which is certainly no surprise for an ocean going tug, although it was primarily used for the anchors. At the tip of the bow is a square locker and between the locker and winch are two circular anchor hawse. Twin bollard plates are found closely behind the termination of the solid bow splash guard. A very nice mushroom ventilator is found to the starboard of the low deckhouse, which serves as the base for the foremast. This deckhouse starts the short superstructure. Behind it the superstructure flares outwards to almost deck edge with only narrow walkways joining the forecastle to the rest of the deck. The main cabin is rather narrow with door and porthole detail but each wing, which goes to the deck edge is open backed with portholes on the front and side faces. Drilling these out will provide extra depth. The aft end of the forecastle as an assortment of deck detail. These consist of boat chocks, mushroom ventilators, lockers, mainmast locator hole and access hatches. The bridge piece has nicely detailed metal grid foot plates over a wooden deck for the Oerlikon fittings on each side. The sills for the bridge windows jut outwards, which appear oversize. This is probably the result of using brass vertical ladder as the window sills on the master. More lockers and circular fittings are found on top of the pilothouse.
Halfway down the length is a deck break where the lower quarterdeck starts. The quarterdeck has a low solid bulkhead along the edge all the way around the deck. A new batch of lockers is found just aft of this deck break. Dominating the central part of the ship is a large ridged deckhouse. It appears that the top of this structure has three coal scuttles on each side, so it appears than the Assurance class tugs were coal burners, as were there predecessors. Lockers are found to the starboard of this structure and mushroom ventilators to the port. Aft of this deckhouse is a raised platform extending to the stern, which has the prime working area for the tug. The main feature is a large circular windlass for deploying the towing cable. Forward of this fitting is a low structure, which appears to have wooden planking running widthwise. Aft of the windlass is another raised planked platform with the planking running lengthwise. On this platform are found two more winch fittings and a single twin bollard plate. Twin bollard plates are also found on each side of the quarterdeck close to deck edge. You can find a few casting resin flakes on the deck, which can be easily be removed with a hobby knife.
The eleven resin runners comprise the other ship's fittings. There are from one to four fittings on each runner. Some care should be exercised to remove the parts from the casting runner. Use a hobby knife to remove the part from the casting runner, so you won't damage these parts, as most are thin and delicate. The largest of these parts is the single stack, which has a prominent lip at the top and steam pipe. An open backed three inch gun with gun shield and gun platform are found on another runner. The gun has good detail. Another runner has two Oerlikons and a amidship fitting. Both the foremast and main mast are the sole pieces on their runners. With both of these parts you get really nice detail, which will give your masts greater detail than found in using bare rod for masts. Rod is used for supporting legs for the foremast and for yards. One runner has smaller fittings with anchors and another fitting. Two runners include davits, one with two davits, plus another with two davits and two cowl ventilators. The last two runners have metal hoops which run widthwise across the quarterdeck.
The instructions are solid, if unspectacular. The front page has a short class history, names of all the ships in the class, and profile drawing. The reverse has photographs and drawings of the smaller parts attachment. Since there are a limited number of smaller parts, there really is no problem with finding the attachment location for the smaller parts. Loose Cannon supplies the dimensions for the rods or stretched sprue to be used for foremast legs, yards and booms.
One of the major strengths of Loose Cannon Models is their consistency in producing the odd, the unusual, the overlooked. While other companies produce the sleek warships that are the "Beautiful People" of the oceans, Loose Cannon produces the blue collar working ships. They are overlooked, they are unsung, they are the very necessary "Joe Six-Packs" of the steam navies of the world. Loose Cannon has produced another quirky little auxiliary with their 1:700 HMT Stormking.