When World War One broke out, the Royal Navy found itself short of destroyers. As the war progressed and the U-Boat threat became obvious, large quantities of destroyers and other smaller combatants were built as the construction of capital ships was greatly curtailed. In September 1914, the Admiralty placed orders for 20 destroyers. Sixteen were of an Admiralty design similar to the pre-war M Class and four "Specials" from Yarrow (Moon, Morning Star, Mounsey, Musketeer). The 16 Admiralty Design destroyers were classified as M Class Emergency War Program, First Order, Admiralty Design. HMS Mary Rose was one of the 16 ships in this order. As the war progressed 72 more destroyers and 6 Flotilla Leaders were built to a similar design in five more orders.
LAUNCHED: October 8, 1915; SUNK: October 17, 1917 by SMS Brummer and SMS Bremse
DIMENSIONS: Length- 273 ft, 4 in (oa); Width- 26 ft 8 in; Draught- 9 Ĺ ft;
DISPLACEMENT: 1,025 tons (std), 1,250 tons (fl); COMPLEMENT: 80
ARMAMENT: three 4"/45 cal QF guns, Mk. IV; four 21" torpedo tubes 2x2; two 2 pdr QF guns
MACHINERY: 3 shaft Brown-Curtis geared turbines; three Yarrow boilers; 25,940 shp; 34 knots
SISTERSHIPS: (M Class Emergency War Program, First Order, Admiralty Design)- (name/builder) Mons, Marne (John Brown); Mystic, Maenad (Denny Brothers); Manners, Mandate (Fairfield); Magic, Moresby (J. S. White); Marmion, Martial, Mary Rose, Menace (Swan Hunter); Michael, Milbrook, Minion, Munster (Thornycroft) These ships had slight variations among themselves in dimensions, displacement, machinery, and horsepower based upon the yards building them.
Although the initial common design was common to all ships of the class, in practice the individual yards had great flexibility in making minor modifications to the design. As a result the ships as completed differed slightly in dimensions, horsepower, speed and displacement. Pre-war destroyers had made use of a high degree of galvanizing, which allowed the use of small scantlings that withstood high stress. The sheer volume of the new wartime orders raised significant problems and delays in using the galvanizing process for the new ships. As a consequence, the Admiralty dispensed with galvanizing on these ships, except for the very thinnest plating and areas exposed to bilge water. The Controller accepted the reduction of the quality of construction and stated that these destroyers were only for the present war. This decrease in construction quality greatly reduced the longevity of these ships. The high stress placed on the frames and machinery due to war operations and the greatly reduced protection from the ever-present threat of corrosion, insured that this class was very short lived. In some cases the ľ inch inner bottoms had developed holes through corrosion, after only three years. The survivors of the class were assured a quick end at the scrap-yard after the war.
HMS Mary Rose did not survive the war to meet this ignominious fate. Launched October 8, 1915, HMS Mary Rose joined the Grand Fleet in 1916 and took part in the Battle of Jutland. In October 1917 Mary Rose, along with HMS Strongbow, were assigned to escort a convoy to Scandinavia. At dawn of October 17, 1917, the convoy was spotted and attacked by two Imperial German light cruisers/ minelayers, SMS Brummer and SMS Bremse. In keeping with the highest traditions of the Royal Navy and the destroyer force in particular, both escorting destroyers charged their greatly superior opponents in an attempt to allow the convoy to escape. Strongbow was hit and disabled by the first salvo from the cruisers and sank three hours later. Mary Rose continued to press in against the two cruisers in an attempt to torpedo them. The odds were hopeless and the German gunnery too accurate. Before she could reach torpedo-firing range, she was sunk by the German cruisers. With no further opposition, the cruisers massacred the convoy, sinking nine of the twelve merchant ships. (History of the class and the Mary Rose is from the WEM instructions and British Destroyer 1892-1953, by Edgar March.)
Destroyers, 1892-1953, by Edgar J. March.
This is the alpha and omega of references on British Destroyers. The
title is 539 pages long with 175 photographs and 100 detailed plans. The
volume is large, printed on high quality glossy paper, and has extremely
high production standards. The book is organized into 63 chapters. Every
class of destroyer has a chapter devoted to it, with the exception of
the "B", "C", and "D" classes of
1894-1901, which are grouped into one chapter. HMS Mary Rose
is contained in Chapter 22, "Emergency War Programme "M"
Class and Flotilla Leaders". The almost all of the plans are two to
four page pull-out plans that show the plan, profile and quite often
sections and individual decks. Although a plan for Mary Rose
is not present; a two page profile and plan, with separate plans for the
forecastle and bridge of Mandate, a sistership, is
included in the chapter on the Emergency War Program M Class. Published
by Seeley Service & Co., Ltd, this volume has long been out of
print. The volume still can be found, from time to time, through
abebooks.com and other large used book vendors. However, it is
significantly rarer than Oscar Parkesí companion volume on British
Battleships. Because of this rarity, be prepared to pay a significant
sum to acquire this magnificent work.
British Destroyers in World War One, Warships Illustrated No 7 by R.A. Burt. This work of 64 pages gives a photographic tour of the British destroyers of World War One. There are one to three photographs per page with explanatory captions for each photo. Obviously, the strength of this title is the 121 photographs that it contains of the ships of this period. In this regard, it has significantly greater coverage than the March volume. Out of print but it can be found quite often on www.abebooks.com at affordable prices.
The quality of the resin casting of the White Ensign Models HMS Mary Rose is excellent. One of the first things I noticed upon examining the hull was an extra step that WEM took to make this kit stand out from the crowd. The Mary Rose has two very fine bilge keels. The most common practice among producers of full hull resin ships is to have bilge keels cast as part of the hull. Quite often the bilge keels produced in this manner require minor repairs. With my copy of this WEM kit, the fine bilge keels were not cast with the hull but attached after casting. These attachments were expertly done. I was curious to find out if each WEM Mary Rose was shipped in this manner, so I e-mailed them for an answer. Dave Carter graciously responded to my inquiry. Most of the kits are sent out with bilge keels cast in place. However, in some cases the cast bilge keels do not meet WEMís high quality control standards and are replaced by hand to insure that the purchaser receives the best possible product. Also the bottom of the hull has been smoothed by WEM, prior to shipment. There was no trace of any resin pour plugs or sprue. I have never seen a kit by any manufacturer that was prepared after casting to this extent. This singular action is illustrative of the care that WEM has put into this fine reproduction. The hull only required very minor sanding along the cutwater. The only defects were a minute amount of excess resin next to a fitting on the fantail and a very small pinhole void on a structure amidships.
A high level of detail is cast integral to the hull. It has all been carried through in an exceedingly handsome fashion. The deck has the textured non-skid surface duplicated beautifully. WEM even provided fittings and detail to areas that would not normally be seen in the finished model. There are five small support braces on each side of the amidships four-inch mount. These structures are hidden after the gun bandstand/platform is attached. In the kit the after portion of the forecastle is cast separately. There is a well on the main deck that is covered by this deck. However, WEM chose to model and cast the doors and fittings located in this well, even though the forecastle deck hides them. I find this thoroughness extraordinary. The instructions mention that this was done to provide extra detail for those modelers whose club judges possess an endoscope.
Since this is a WWI destroyer, there is far less superstructure than her much larger WWII descendants. The major resin superstructure pieces are the bridge, three funnels and armament. There are quite a few small resin fittings that go with the kit as well. With few exceptions, they were perfectly cast and of a very fine design. The model comes with three shipís boats and two Carley floats, each part unique in size and design from the others. Another small but very telling point which reflected upon WEMís desire to provide the most accurate kit possible, is the design of the binnacles. There are two in the kit, one for each steering position (one in the bridge, and a second, emergency position on the quarterdeck). A binnacle contains a shipís compass and is positioned immediately in front of the shipís wheel. The steersman must be able to observe the shipís heading. To do this the faceplate must be angled toward the steersmanís position. The Mary Rose binnacleís had this feature. They had a discernable faceplate, angled to face the shipís wheel. The kit even came with an engine room telegraph for the emergency steering position.
I do have a few minor quibbles with the small resin pieces. The top of the second funnel was slightly lopsided. A five-second light sanding cured this. The cowl vents have flat faces. I drilled out the air intakes for these vents. I was one cable reel short. My kit came with five beautifully cast cable reels. The problem was that the shipís plan showed the presence of six reels. Their locations are two under the 20 foot boat, one under the whaler, two amidships and one in the stern to the port and aft of the aft torpedo mount. Fortunately I had the GMM 1:350 cable reel fret and used one of those for this aft reel. There was only one problem with the resin parts fit. I had to move the large cowl vent to allow placement of the aft torpedo mount. Originally I placed the part where indicated in the instructions but this prevented the torpedo mount from being placed in a centerline position. I offset the cowl slightly to starboard of its original position.
The resin bridge comes with closed (i.e. solid resin) windows. The windows are clearly placed and significantly thinner than the surrounding framework. As I have mentioned in some of my other reviews, I prefer see-through bridge windows. It took a little time but it was easy to cut out the resin windows. I used a hand drill to drill a hole in the center of each window and then with a hobby knife enlarged the hole and squared it to the shape of the frame. The greatest care should be exercised in squaring the corners. The PE comes with a brass face plate for the bridge windows, so if you donít want to take this extra step, youíll still have a noticeable illusion of depth to the windows, which by itself, puts it on a different plane than is commonly found. I used Micro Kristal Klear to add glass to the open widow frames. You have to scratch build the galley chimney using the template provided in the instructions. The instructions tell you to use the .02 brass rod provided in the kit. It is far easier to scratch build this piece with .02 plastic rod. I also used plastic rod for the steering wheel posts instead of brass rod. The plastic rod is obviously far easier to cut and shape than brass. Given the ability of WEM to cast very detailed and delicate parts, I don't know why WEM didnít provide a cast resin chimney. When you attach the bridge to the deck, double-check your alignment to insure that the notch at the rear of the bridge, for the foremast, are properly aligned with hole for the foremast base on the main deck.
WEM has a kit design philosophy that is significantly different from all other resin ship manufacturers. In each kit that WEM has produced, the photo-etched fret has always provided a very large amount of the intricate fittings for the kit. With the WEM Mary Rose, the PE is the heart and soul of the model. Given the minimum superstructure and long deck runs of the prototype, the PE parts are crucial in providing the minute detail of this kit. The Mary Rose PE lives up to the high WEM standards for photo-etch. The detail packed into this fret is amazing.
Illustrative of the WEM philosophy are the eight engine room hatches and four-boiler room vent doors. Most manufacturers would cast this detail as part of the hull, if they provided them at all. WEM gives you individual hatches and doors for these parts. It takes time to glue them on and align them but the result is the ultimate in detail. You have to use strong glasses to see the detail but the individual bolts and latches a clearly present on each of these small parts. The Mary Rose also provides optional PE parts to replace some cast in resin. The bridge facing has splinter mattresses cast in place. The PE comes with a panel of splinter mattresses done in relief. The instructions mention that if you prefer the detail of the PE part, all you have to do is glue the PE on top of the resin. I did prefer the detail of the PE panel to that of the resin. It glued the PE part right on top of the resin, no muss and no fuss. The bridge deck comes with a solid square chart table cast as part of the deck and bulkhead. Again, the kit comes with an optional PE part, a brass table top with individual legs. I removed the resin part with a hobby knife and used the PE chart table. It might have been better if WEM had the resin chart table as a separate part, so you wouldnít have to remove it with a knife and risk damaging the bridge. However, it turned out to be a minor operation and was concluded with no complications.
Given the amount of brass fittings, I did feel some trepidation about getting all those parts on without damage. As it turned out, I only had a problem with one part, the inclined ladder. WEM gives you a run of inclined ladder. You have to cut each of the four inclined ladders found on Mary Rose from this run to the length required. I had no problem cutting the ladder to the correct lengths or in bending the handrails 90 degrees from the treadway. However, each time that I tried to bend the individual treads to the correct angle, I wound up with a ball of twisted brass. Each time that this happened, I exercised even more restraint and caution in my next attempt and the part would collapse again. Four attempts four crumpled ladders. I finally used some spare inclined ladders that I had left over from another kit. Every other brass part, including railing, cut out cleanly from the fret and went on smoothly without a hitch. Normally I attach all of the parts to a kit, other than props, shafts and rudder, before I paint the model. However, because of the color of the deck of the Mary Rose, corticene with rectangular patches of steel in dark gray, it would be much easier to paint the deck without the railings being in place. When I painted the hull, I also sprayed the railings while they were still attached to the fret. It worked very well, after painting the deck; the railings went on easily and only needed the smallest amount of touchup.
As with the resin parts, the PE appeared to lack one small part. The fret has four stowage racks but the plan in the instructions shows the presence of five. Two are under the center gun bandstand, two under the aft torpedo mount and the fifth, missing rack, is to the starboard of the last hatch awning frame (part 30). The fret gives you anchor chain but I substituted 42 links per inch brass chain that I had purchased from Modelexpo. In my opinion flat PE chain doesnít adequately reflect the three dimensional appearance of the anchor chain. One other minor problem with the PE is the design of the stack caps. The caps are convex and the PE parts are flat. To get the convex appearance you have to press the PE part over a pencil eraser or other small round object. The problem is that two shapes with the same diameter, one flat and the other convex/concave, have different surface areas. The convex/concave shape will always have a greater surface area than the flat shape. When you press the flat shape over the round mold, unless the flat face stretches to accommodate the greater surface area (the brass parts obviously donít stretch) or unless the diameter of the part is pre-cut and designed to allow the convex shape with a proper resulting diameter, the result is normally an unsatisfactory convex shape and/or warp of the part. During this process, I managed to lose one of my funnel caps that went flying into the void, never to be seen again. If I had it over, I would have left the stack caps flat.
The Mary Rose also comes with brass rods of two different sizes for masts, yardarms and propeller shafts. The 1/32 inch brass rod provided in the kit is too short to provide the proper lengths for all three vertical portions of the masts. Fortunately I had spare rod of the correct diameter.
Icould write page after page describing the detail of these brass parts. The parts on this fret are uniformly superb. Because of the importance and sheer beauty of the brass parts, donít shy away from attaching as much brass as possible in assembling this kit. The instructions tell you to install only those parts you feel comfortable in attaching. This kit is one in which it is well worth stretching your envelope in working with and attaching the photo-etch. The result is truly remarkable and very, very satisfying.
If you have not built a WEM kit before, when you build one you will find the best instructions in the industry. WEM instructions are significantly superior to the instructions of any other manufacturer, from those found in high volume plastic kits to those found in the low volume resin kits. The instructions for the WEM Mary Rose did not deviate from the above statement. The assembly is covered by numerous drawings and by a very detailed and clear text. If anything, itís too detailed. With most kits, I jump around and attach parts in the order that suits me. With Mary Rose I followed the instructions paragraph by paragraph. There is good reason to do so. Some of the brass detail has to be attached before some of the resin parts; otherwise you wonít be able to get them into place. There are a few places where you might want to assemble the parts in a slightly different sequence. One of the first things that you need to decide is whether you will use the brass torpedo mount base-plates. If so, it is far easier to sand off the cast resin base-plates before attaching any parts to the hull. By the time that I reached the paragraph that mentioned this option, I had too much detail already attached. I decided that the possibly of damaging already installed parts outweighed the slight increase in detail of the brass plates. You may want to install the downtown pump (a very fine PE assembly) in step 24, before attaching the amidships Carley rack in step 14. The rack slightly restricts access to the area for the pump. You may want to install the bridge awning frame (part 7, step 22) before attaching the bridge semaphore (part 10 step 22). The semaphore can be a nuisance in installation of the awning frame. The last parts that I attached were the propellers, shafts and shaft support struts. In fact the instructions mention that you may want to skip that step until later in the assembly.
In spite of their excellence, the instructions are not perfect. They state that the middle propeller shaft should be 13mm in length. At 13mm the middle shaft assembly and propeller will foul the forward edge of the rudder. I found that 10mm worked. The instructions donít show the placement of the wheel on the bridge in step 21. It goes on the rectangular base-plate. The instructions donít show the location for the emergency steering position aft. The position is just forward of the aft hatch awning frame (part 30). Itís easily identifiable by the same rectangular base-plate found on the bridge. The binnacle and engine room telegraph, found at this position, are placed just in front of the wheel.
The instructions also come with a very fine, detailed drawing of the plan and profile. This drawing shows the detail of the placement of most of the brass parts. As a bonus WEM gives an outstanding full color plan and profile color guide. It is complete in every sense of the word and excels in quality to the same degree, as the instructions do in general. If it wasnít creased from being folded, it would be worthy of framing.
This is a kit that demands to be built. It is uncompromising in quality, providing the highest quality resin parts, brass parts and instructions. The model goes together cleanly, with no mismatches, gaps or any other type of glitch. With the exception of the inclined ladders, no part presented any significant problem in assembly and attachment. WHITE ENSIGN MODELS states that this kit is for the modeler with intermediate to advanced skills. I agree with that statement but not because of any inherent difficulty in assembling this kit. Because of the amount and importance of the brass parts found in Mary Rose, you should have had some experience in building a kit with photo-etch. This should not be your first kit working with a PE. However, you donít have to build too many kits before you will have acquired sufficient skills to do justice to this creation, as there is nothing intrinsically difficult in working with the fret found in this model.
If you have any interest in the warships of World War One, if you have any interest in destroyers of any time period or if you have any interest in an exceptionally well designed and produced model kit, the WHITE ENSIGN MODELSí Mary Rose is the kit for you.