The Type 42 Destroyer has been the mainstay of the destroyer force of the Royal Navy for the last generation. The first series of the Sheffield Class known as Type 42 Batch 1 were laid down in the early 1970ís and came into service in the last half of that decade. There were six of the Batch 1 destroyers; Sheffield, Coventry, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and Cardiff. The second series or Batch2 were laid down in the late 1970s, with the lead ship, HMS Exeter, coming into service September 19, 1980. The Batch 2 subclass consists of Exeter, Southampton, Nottingham and Liverpool. The Batch 2 destroyers had the same dimensions as the earlier Batch 1 ships but had different radar, improved tactical suite and less rounded sterns. A third series, Batch 3 or Stretched 42s, were lengthened versions of the class and are also known as the Manchester Class. The four members of this class are Manchester, Gloucester, Edinburgh and York. They are 16 meters longer and 320 tons heavier than the ships of the two preceding series.
The Type 42 ships were heavily involved in the Falklands crisis of 1982. The lead ship, HMS Sheffield, was lost to an Argentine Exocet strike on May 4, 1982, although she did not founder due to battle damage until May 10. A second member of the class, HMS Coventry was lost to bomb damage on May 25. Combat experience proved that the Batch 1 ships had limited sensor capability, limited self-defense capability and inadequate damage control. When Sheffield was lost, Exeter was reassigned from duties in the West Indies and sent south to the Falklands. Her new radar and other equipment proved far more efficient than that found on the Batch 1 destroyers. Accordingly, the surviving Batch 1 ships were refitted with the more modern equipment. It has been over twenty years since that conflict and yet the refitted and modernized Type 42s are still the destroyer mainstay of the Royal Navy today. (History from Combat Fleets of the World 1998-1999, Janes Fighting Ships 1982-1983, and instructions for the White Ensign Models kit for HMS Exeter) (A perfect source for unclassified information on the Type 42s is John Currie, a contributor to SteelNavy, who has served aboard HMS Exeter for the past five years and has many more years of service in other members of the class.)
Why 1:600 scale for HMS Exeter? At one time the leading plastic manufacturers produced warship kits in various scales. Indeed they were all over the map, with the chosen scale quite often dependent on the nationality of the manufacturer. In the United States with Revell, Renwall, Aurora, Monogram, Lindburg, Pyro and Hawk, the kits were most commonly "Box Scale". The size and scale of the kit was designed to fit into standardized size boxes. In other words, no common scale was normally used. In Great Britain, however, the leading company, Airfix, used 1:600 scale as their standard for warship kits. A secondary producer, Frog, preferred 1:500 scale for its much smaller line. On the continent the French company, Heller, introduced its standard scale, 1:400. In Japan a number of scales were used, 1:200, 1:400, 1:450, 1:500, all depending upon the manufacturer. However, in the late 1960s, early 1970s, the four leading Japanese companies established a standard, waterline scale, 1:700 and started producing multitudes of kits in this standard scale. Subsequently, 1:350 scale was chosen for the standard scale for the larger models, led by Tamiya. Since this event 1:700 has never lost its lead as being the most common scale. However, with very few exceptions the models are in waterline version only.
By choosing 1:600 scale for the HMS Exeter, White Ensign Models has done a couple of things. For one WEM has followed in the footsteps of Airfix, the pioneering British company. Secondly and for the modeler, most importantly, the jump from 1:700 to 1:600 allows for much more detail in a kit, plus the option of waterline or full hull. The result is a product that speaks for itself. The WEM HMS Exeter, Type 42 Destroyer, is a superb model! It is large enough to pack in detail and yet small enough to be attractively priced for a resin model.
The WEM HMS Exeter is a true multi-media kit. There are only five resin pieces, which are the largest parts to the model. In addition to the almost perfect fit between the upper and lower hulls, I was immediately struck by the fact that the WEM resin parts were flawless. The parts are not "nearly flawless", not "close to flawless" but indeed they are absolutely flawless. With zero breakage, zero casting flaws and an absolute lack of any void, pinhole or otherwise anywhere on the castings, the HMS Exeter is at the pinnacle of casting quality.
The resin parts fit effortlessly together. As can be seen in the photographs, I dry-fitted the larger parts together. The fit was not totally perfect but came very close. The stack housing fit perfectly but I had to make a small adjustment to the bottom locator peg of the mainmast to achieve a smooth fit. A small degree of sanding on the mainmast and aft flight deck appear to be the only steps required to get a perfect fit.
Additionally there is almost no clean up involved with these resin parts. The only thing required would be a quick clean up along the casting seams and removal of the miniscule amount of flash/extra resin on some of the smaller fittings cast integral to the mainmast and stack housing.
White Metal Parts
The parts themselves have a nice degree of detail cast into them. The Mk 8 4.5-Inch gun, Seadart missile mount, 1022 radar housing, 20mm BMARC guns, boats, foremast, 996 radar, Lynx helicopter, and triple torpedo tubes are all cast beautifully. Of the white metal parts, probably the propellers need the most clean up, but even with these, it is minimal.
The White Ensign Models 1:600 scale model of HMS Exeter, Type 42 modern British destroyer is a remarkable kit on many levels. Whether, the parts are resin, white metal or brass, they are as close to perfection as any other kit that I have seen. With the quality of the parts and inclusiveness of the instructions, a faithful and highly detailed model will be the result of the building experience.