Standards – the word has many meanings. One defines a set of qualities or characteristics against which like entities are measured. Another could be a common practice in an organization or industry. Both would have application in today’s industry of model warship production.

Half a century ago plastic warship models were produced in an array of scales. No single scale was used by the US industry leader, Revell. Some may consider that there was no standard scale but there was. It was called box scale. The size of each model had to be able to fit in the standard size box that was used by Revell. In the UK it was different. There Airfix was the dominant producer of warship kits and Airfix selected 1:600 as the standard scale for their kits. Frog was a distant second and selected 1:500 scale. Interestingly, in the US Aurora is also said to have selected 1:600 as their scale for their line of warship kits, although scale was not mentioned on the box. However, if this was so, it was not for their complete line as the Aurora Atlantis was a significantly larger kit than the Aurora Graf Spee. In Japan there was a mix of scales until the late 1960s. At that point a consortium of four Japanese companies, Tamiya, Hasegawa, Aoshima and Fujimi, selected 1:700 as the standard scale for medium size, waterline warship models. The amount of warship models that the four produced in this standard scale through the 1970s basically caused this to become the world’s standard scale. For a larger size model, 1:350 scale was chosen as the standard, because it was simply twice the length, width and height of the smaller 1:700 version. Those are still the two main scales that are with us today.

However, before the Japanese converted the world of ship modelers to their chosen scales, there was another firm that staked their claim on the standard for larger warship kits. That of course was the French firm of Heller, which chose 1:400 scale. In the early 1960s I saw my first warship model from Heller and it left an indelible impression. My friend David acquired a Heller kit. I can’t remember which kit it was but it was an 1:400 battleship. It was large. It was beautiful. It was the first kit that I ever saw that had railing. Heller’s 1:400 scale became the European scale and is still used as the constant scale for new Heller releases as well as being adopted by other European firms, such as Tauro of Italy and Mirage of Poland.

The first large-scale model of the King George V, World War Two British battleship, was the 1:400 scale model produced by Heller. It was not the first KGV kit to be produced. Of course Airfix had an 1:600 version. Aurora had their version, although it seemed smaller than the Airfix kit and even Revell came up with one in some off-scale, probably still determined by the size of the box. Later of course Tamiya would produce 1:700 and then 1:350 scale versions of the battleship.

The Heller King George V is still around. Somewhat smaller and less expensive than the Tamiya 1:350 version, the Heller kit is still popular among modelers. Although when released, the Heller kit set a standard for a high quality, high detail large model, the standards of plastic warship design have markedly increased in the intervening decades. What was extremely high detail 35 years ago is not so now. However, there is a simple cure for the modeler to bring the Heller King George V up to the warship model standards of the 21st century. That cure is White Ensign Models WEM #4005.

Fret A - Equipment Fittings
KGV0362fret1.JPG (157139 bytes) KGV0364pompoms.JPG (146890 bytes) KGV0363pom.JPG (136434 bytes)
KGV0366quadpom.JPG (139397 bytes) KGV0382quad.JPG (95063 bytes) KGV0375TOer.JPG (115590 bytes)
KGV0376SOer.JPG (146107 bytes) KGV0434walrus.JPG (100359 bytes) KGV0373Yagi.JPG (156259 bytes) KGV0377yagi282.JPG (145856 bytes)

White Ensign Models has released a brass photo-etched set in 1:400 scale, designed specifically for the Heller King George V model. This two fret set, WEM #4005, has all the parts a modeler needs to fit the KGV to the latest standard. This set goes beyond simply outfitting the King George V. There parts in this set designed specifically for other members of the class. King George V and Prince of Wales are the two units most modeled for obvious reasons. Both were involved in hunting the Bismarck. KGV served the longest and the loss of the Prince of Wales creates more interest in them than the other three ships in the class. The third member of the class, Duke of York, received some attention in that Matchbox had a 1:700 scale model of her. But what of poor Anson and Howe, arguably the two most overlooked modern battleships of World War Two? With this photo-etched set, White Ensign Models has ensured that the drought is over for the last two members of the class. Using WEM #4005 with the Heller model of the King George V, a modeler can replicate any of the five members of the class with a few additional changes for the late war fits. The major change that still must be done is the removal of the amidships catapult, as the late war fits for the ships had landed their catapults.

The new photo-etched set comes with two frets in two different gages of brass. Fret A is the larger of the two had has the fine brass parts for the detailed radar, AA gun fittings, railings and other equipment and fittings. Fret B is of a thicker gage and contains the substantial structure parts such as the cranes, platforms, starfish, pom-pom bases and armored shields, boat thwarts & chocks, ventilation louvers and external degaussing cable. Many of the parts on both frets appeared only on one or two ships in the class.

Warship Equipment Fittings – Fret A
The large fret A has the thinner fittings. The fret is dominated by AA fittings, radar fittings and railing, however, there is plenty of room for many other details. Relief etching is abundant throughout both frets with the pom-pom fittings of fret A being covered with bas-relief etching. Each of the six eight-barreled pom-poms is comprised of 15 brass parts. The ammunition boxes are designed to fold to provide a true three-dimensional appearance. Given the minute size of some of the parts to these assemblies, care certainly needs to be used with each assembly but the results will be outstanding. Six eight barreled pom-pom mounts are fine through 1943 but it appears that eight mounts are needed for some of the 1944 and 1945 fits.

Fret A - Equipment Fittings
KGV0435yagi.JPG (114156 bytes) KGV0431type279.JPG (124672 bytes) KGV0378ant.JPG (118584 bytes)
KGV0371foretop.JPG (124167 bytes) KGV0436siren.JPG (113925 bytes) KGV0429rig.JPG (100475 bytes)
KGV0368oars.JPG (124576 bytes) KGV0379rail.JPG (117648 bytes) KGV0381rail.JPG (112274 bytes)

Originally KGV and Prince of Wales were fitted with UP rocket mounts. After this ordnance proved to be spectacularly unsuccessful, they were landed and quad pom-pom mounts were added. Prince of Wales had a quad pom-pom mount on B and Y turrets at the time of her loss. If anything, the WEM quad pom-pom mounts are even more detailed with relief etching than the eight-barreled versions. With fewer parts, the quad pom-poms will be easier to assemble but still hold their own in fine detail. There is one problem with the quad pom-pom mounts, there are not enough of them. The fret provides the parts for two mounts. That is fine for most fits of ships of the class but not all. In their instructions WEM provides nine plans for the ships at different stages of their WW2 careers. There are enough quad pom-poms for seven of these plans. Plans included are KGV in late 1941 with one quad on Y turret; Prince of Wales in late 1941 with two quad mounts found on B and Y turrets; Duke of York in mid-1943 with no quad mounts; Anson in June 1943 with no quad mounts; Howe in mid-1943 with no quad mounts; KGV in July 1944 with no quad pom-poms; Howe mid-1944 with no quad pom-poms; Anson in March 1945 and Duke of York mid-1945 with four quad pom-poms, two abreast of B turret and two aft of Y turret. For the two 1945 versions two additional quad mounts are needed.

The 20mm Oerlikons are well represented. With ten twin guns and sixty single mounts, the WEM fret provides enough light AA pieces for any fit from 1941 through 1945. Each of the single Oerlikon mounts is assembled from two parts; base & gun with traversing wheel and shield. The twin guns are two piece consisting of the guns and sighting mechanism. However, the gun mount must be fabricated from plastic card. WEM provides the shape in the instructions but the modeler must scratch-build the base.

With all of the RN numbered radar sets and electronic gear found on the WEM fret, the modeler has a good chance to win the lotto. Types 277, 279, 281, 282, 284, 285 radars plus Types 85/86, 91 TBS antennae and FH3 HF/DF and RH 2 DF are included. The yagi in two sizes, Type 282 small yagi and Type 285 large yagi, are especially notable. The detail and fineness of their parts is another area that will require care and patience of the modeler but yet again, the end result will reach a new standard of detail and accuracy.

Fret B - Heavy Fittings
KGV0349fret2.JPG (159142 bytes) KGV0425degauss2.JPG (119759 bytes) KGV0358name2.JPG (90725 bytes)
KGV0350name2.JPG (98345 bytes) KGV0355DOYplat2.JPG (136042 bytes) KGV0351cranes2.JPG (119280 bytes)
KGV0428cranedet2.JPG (113723 bytes) KGV0420cranedet2.JPG (98633 bytes) KGV0354star2.JPG (124457 bytes) KGV0423forestar2.JPG (112267 bytes)

Parts on this fret that are unique to one or two members of the class are the headache antenna array. There is one piece for the KGV and Duke of York and a piece of a different design for Anson and Howe. Early FH3 HF/DF antenna are provided for the KGV and Prince of Wales. These last two of the class have quite a few fittings unique to them on this fret. These unique fittings for Anson and Howe include main mast antennae, IFF antennae, and mainmast IFF antennae. Some of the different parts vary depending upon the year of the fit with different designs for early war and late war fits.

WEM provides a multitude of other parts common to all of the class. With twelve runs of railing in three styles, three runs each of anchor chain and vertical ladder, plus an assortment of different length inclined ladders, all of the generic parts are covered. Stack gratings, Walrus fittings, a nice siren platform for the forward funnel, boat oars, boat rudders, an assortment of pulleys and rigging for the cranes also go into the mix of 95 parts designs included on this fret.

Fret B - Heavy Fittings
KGV0424mainstar2.JPG (116674 bytes) KGV0356pompom2.JPG (121794 bytes) KGV0360quad2.JPG (105784 bytes)
KGV0352boat2.JPG (127202 bytes) KGV0353chocks2.JPG (116943 bytes) KGV0422DOYplat2.JPG (104184 bytes)
KGV0427boat2.JPG (119192 bytes) KGV0359brack2.JPG (105807 bytes) KGV0421boiler2.JPG (120036 bytes) KGV0426door2.JPG (122204 bytes)

Warship Structural Parts – Fret B
Fret B consists of the heavier, thicker superstructure parts and platforms. These parts of heavy gage brass will not be left behind by the thinner brass pieces from A fret. First of all WEM provides the complete external degaussing cable found only on King George V. The name plates at the stern are significant points of interest in the eight pieces that are part of this assembly. Another standout item is a very large platform with heavy bracing that was found on the forward face of the aft stack of Duke of York. Looking at these pieces alone with the relief-etched underside bracing and ribbed splinter shielding will make you want to build the ship as she appeared in facing the Scharnhorst on December 31, 1943. Only the Duke of York was fitted with this large platform. The boat/aircraft cranes are also relief-etched, as is almost every part of B fret. You can actually count the raised rivet heads in the assembly. For the armored shields for the eight-barreled pom-pom mounts the rivet locations are recessed and yet WEM provided those recesses on each part.

The starfish for the fore top has 13 parts and provides the intricate detail that plastic parts can not remotely come close to duplicating. There are two types of starfish for the main top. A seven-part assembly is provided for the early war fits and a different eleven part assembly for the late war fits. Ship’s boats also get a makeover with three styles of boat thwarts. For many of these parts, to truly appreciate their detail you need to see them under magnification. Unless you have the eyes of an eagle, you’ll miss such microscopic detail as individual brackets for the boat benches. Without a magnifying glass you may not see them but they are there.

WEM Fittings & Ensign 1
With this set White Ensign Models does set a very high standard of detail for 1:400 or any other large scale photo-etched set. To best exhibit this standard, all that is necessary is to compare the WEM brass parts with photographs of the actual ship’s fittings. Fortunately there is another standard available that has the photographs necessary for a comparison. King George V Class Battleships: Ensign 1 by Alan Raven has long been out of print. As the first volume in the Ensign series it set the bar in the detailed examination of a specific class of warships. Although the following volumes in the series, as well as the subsequent Man O’War series, were even more detailed in their treatment of their subjects, Ensign 1 is still the single best source for structural details and differences among the five ships of the class. It has been and remains the standard. The following photographs compare the WEM parts with photographs showing that same detail from the actual battleships.

WEM & Ensign 1
KGV0437degaussP.JPG (160603 bytes) KGV0438degaussP.JPG (179062 bytes) KGV0390degaussP.JPG (186895 bytes) KGV0443DOYpP.JPG (111894 bytes)
KGV0391craneP.JPG (166314 bytes) KGV0393craneP.JPG (136562 bytes) KGV0439forestarP.JPG (100994 bytes) KGV0394starfishP.JPG (155913 bytes)
KGV0400yagi285P.JPG (121452 bytes) KGV0441yagi282P.JPG (111928 bytes) KGV0440walrusP.JPG (133015 bytes) KGV0397railP.JPG (142416 bytes)

It is a WEM product. Need I say more? WEM provides ten pages of instructions for this set. Page one has a photograph of Fret B with each part being numbered and described in text as well as providing general instructions. Page two provides the same treatment to the large Fret A of equipment fittings. Pages 3 through 5 each have three plans of ships in the class designating the types of AA mounts and showing their locations. Page 3 has KGV in late 1941, Prince of Wales in late 1941 and Duke of York in mid-1943. Page 4 (not shown in photographs) has Anson in June 1943, Howe in mid-1943 and KGV in July 1944. Page 5 (not shown in photographs) has Howe in mid-1944, Anson in March 1945 and Duke of York in mid-1945. The next five pages have the typical modular format found in photo-etch sets from WEM. In all there are 29 modules shown in these five pages. Page 10 also features specific instructions for replacing some parts molded on the Heller kit with brass replacements found in the WEM frets.

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KGV0407inst4a.JPG (110002 bytes) KGV0408inst4b.JPG (106574 bytes) KGV0409inst5.JPG (55576 bytes) KGV0410inst5a.JPG (68310 bytes)
KGV0411inst5b.JPG (91976 bytes) KGV0412inst6.JPG (58564 bytes) KGV0413inst6a.JPG (109531 bytes) KGV0414inst6b.JPG (106054 bytes)
KGV0415inst7.JPG (59564 bytes) KGV0416inst7a.JPG (106805 bytes) KGV0417inst7b.JPG (110234 bytes) KGV0418inst8.JPG (71201 bytes) KGV0419inst8a.JPG (117550 bytes)

White Ensign Models continues to release exceptional products at a dizzying pace. This product WEM #4005 is an essential item necessary to bring the Heller King George V kit up to the detail standards of the 21st century. Although other work may be required depending upon the ship and year of fit selected, the ability to model any of the five ships of the class, with specific parts for those ships, is a very strong selling point for this set. Of course the superb quality and detail of the brass parts in this set is still the strongest selling point for WEM #4005.

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