By now you have seen the components for the re-release of the Airfix HMS Repulse under the name of Frog. (Click for review of the Frog/Airfix Repulse) The first question is Ö. does the Repulse interest you enough for you to purchase the kit. If so then there is another questionÖ.do you want to dramatically improve the finished model through the use of the White Ensign Models brass photo-etch fret designed specifically for the Airfix Repulse.

White Ensign Models brass photo-etch fret WEM PE 620 was produced in 1999 in order to provide detailed brass fittings for the Airfix Repulse. It is designed to accomplish two missions. First, it provides replacement parts for some of the plastic parts provided in the kit. Second, it provides a great number of highly detailed supplemental parts to take the Airfix Repulse to a level of detail not possible for the kit as provided in the box. Should you consider acquiring WEM PE 620? The answer to that question depends upon the purpose of your build of the Repulse.

Who Can Use This Fret?
If your wish is to provide a bathtub toy to join your yellow ducky, donít buy this fret. You certainly wonít need the detail, as it will just be knocked off during your bath tub adventures. To the contrary having brass parts on your bathing device may constitute a threat to your well being as loose brass parts could impact you in odd and obscure places. If your sole reason in building the Repulse is to re-enact her loss in the local pond with five cherry bombs replicating the torpedo hits, donít buy this fret. It will only become so much flying shrapnel. If you are buying this kit for your son or daughterís first model warship to build, donít buy it, as they probably wonít have the necessary skills.

However, if you are building the kit for competition, youíll need the fret. If you are building the kit with the intent of producing the best possible model, to replicate in miniature as reasonably as possible the HMS Repulse, then youíll need this fret. Or if you want to just have an enjoyable build and have as the end result a striking model, then you could very well use this fret.


Replacement Parts
6Rep5158fret.JPG (142373 bytes) 6Rep5159pom.JPG (99369 bytes) 6Rep5160oerlikon.JPG (88422 bytes) 6Rep5168crane.JPG (109727 bytes)
6Rep5161sllenses.JPG (89149 bytes) 6Rep5166star.JPG (98125 bytes) 6Rep5164boat cradles.JPG (103963 bytes) 6Rep5169inclad.JPG (110632 bytes)

Replacement Parts
A good number of the parts in WEM PE 620 are designed to replace specific plastic parts in the kit. The Airfix Repulse may be one of the best kits in the Airfix range but it is still 40 years old. The fact that this kit had open lattice plastic parts for the crane arm was significantly in advance of plastic kit designs. However, plastic parts no matter how well designed and produced is not a medium that can adequately replicate certain types of warship equipment. Open steel-work such as found in cranes, most catapults, cage masts, different types of gantries or small platforms will always be too thick and clunky as injected plastic parts. Brass or stainless steel photo-etch is the medium that is best to capture the delicate spider web like appearance in scale.


Additional Detail
6Rep5172degauss.JPG (71131 bytes) 6Rep5173degauss.JPG (97773 bytes) 6Rep5162caps.JPG (115396 bytes) 6Rep5171doors.JPG (73508 bytes)
6Rep5165cradles.JPG (95992 bytes) 6Rep5170walrus.JPG (104614 bytes) 6Rep5163rig.JPG (92109 bytes) 6Rep5315triplat.JPG (82441 bytes)

The plastic crane arms are indeed open but the bracing is far too thick and the plastic crane bases are solid. With the photo-etch fret cranes the arms and bases are each one piece that is folded to create the four-sided part. With the brass parts you really get a striking piece. Armament replacement is one of the key benefits of this fret. This benefit is in the replacement of the light AA pieces as the brass parts are so much better. The Repulse carried three eight-barreled pom-poms. The Airfix kit provides two parts for each pom-pom. They lack detail and donít quite capture the right look. With the WEM pom-poms the part count goes to eleven for each mount. Parts are relief etched and really pump up these little beauties. There is an even bigger jump in quality with the quad Vickers machine-guns. The WEM quad mounts are small gems, each of which has seven parts. The plastic Oerlikons arenít too bad. The barrel is a little thick but the real deficiency is the gun shield, which is far too narrow. You may wish to use the WEM 20mm guns entirely or as an alternate, use the conical plastic bases with brass gun and shielding.


Generic Fittings
6Rep5174rail.JPG (107268 bytes) 6Rep5175rail.JPG (80190 bytes) 6Rep5177rail.JPG (81066 bytes) 6Rep5179lad.JPG (94727 bytes)

The mainmast starfish is a major extravaganza with the WEM brass. Twelve brass parts replace the one plastic part with open starfish arms and crisp triangular supports underneath. There is also eight additional support parts for the control top on the forward tripod. Where the main deck breaks to the quarterdeck, the Repulse carries a distinctive twin inclined ladder on each side running from the quarterdeck to a platform attached to the main deck. With the bendable foot-treads the White Ensign Models replacements are light years ahead of the solid ladders that are part of the main deck of the Airfix kit. On top of the hangar there are two large latticework large boat support frames. They are solid on the kit piece but WEM gives you the correct open frame parts. All you have to do is remove the solid frame with a hobby knife, sand the deck smooth and add the brace pieces. It will clearly make a big difference in the finished kit.


Instructions
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6Rep5183Inst2b.JPG (149075 bytes) 6Rep5184Inst2c.JPG (76758 bytes) 6Rep5185Inst3.JPG (59289 bytes) 6Rep5186Inst3a.JPG (79491 bytes)
6Rep5187Inst3b.JPG (97954 bytes) 6Rep5188Inst3c.JPG (76389 bytes) 6Rep5189Inst4.JPG (66167 bytes) 6Rep5190Inst4a.JPG (82919 bytes)

Additional Parts
Although there are plenty of fine replacement parts on this fret, there are even more supplemental parts to provide detail where none exists in the kit. The Repulse carried an external degaussing cable. This double cable is very prominent on the ship and there is no hint of it on the hull in the kit. One nice aspect of the plastic kit is that the stacks come in two halves, so there is no need to hollow-out a solid stack. There are no stack caps or grates in the kit but WEM provides them. Of course there many other smaller brass parts included: Doors, hangar overhang supports, accommodation ladders, two sets of detail parts for the Walrus although only one is included in the kit, tripod leg platforms, multitudes of boat cradles, aircraft cradle, boat davits, paravane davits, small bridge rangefinders, main mast topmast and yard with foot ropes and rigging, and even search light lese frames.


Parts Comparison
6Rep5303Cpom.JPG (95222 bytes) 6Rep5305Cquad.JPG (119315 bytes) 6Rep5312Coerlik.JPG (108418 bytes) 6Rep5308Ccrane.JPG (138151 bytes)
6Rep5314Ctwinil.JPG (102506 bytes) 6Rep5313Crack.JPG (99024 bytes) 6Rep5316Ccap.JPG (97333 bytes) 6Rep5317Cdegauss.JPG (79347 bytes)

Generic Parts
WEM provides a large amount of the common or generic ship fittings. For instance the fret has ten runs of railing, each of which is seven-inches. This amounts in 1:600 scale to 3,500 feet of railing. There is more vertical ladder than you will ever need. Usage of the anchor chain and inclined ladders requires a little more work because you have to remove the plastic anchor chain and aztec steps. Inclined ladders have to be cut to the correct length.

Verdict
If you intend to seriously model HMS Repulse with the Frog/Airfix 1:600 scale kit, this fret ranks as a mandatory acquisition. Measuring 7 1/8-Inches by 4 Ĺ-Inches it has everything you need to deck out one of the last battlecruisers. With the judicial mix of parts to replace the less detail or overly thick plastic parts, along with a great number of new parts to enhance and amplify the detail and accuracy of the kit, WEM PE 620 has everything the modeler needs for this Airfix classic.

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