If judged by the number of add-on accessories that are generated by the release of a model, the plastic warship kit of the year for 2004, if not for the last ten years is the Revell Germany 1:72 scale Type VIIC U-Boat. A lot of manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon and provided something to add another twist to this best seller. White Ensign Models has so far produced four accessory packs for the model. The first of course was the major brass photo-etched detail set (Click for Review) and then came a 37mm AA gun (Click for Review). Now comes two more items, a torpedo loading rig and a spare torpedo package.
These items have to be aimed straight at those that wish to build a diorama with the model. Although designed for the Revell model, the torpedo-loading rig can also be used to build a stand-alone diorama. Many modelers will have spare decking after acquiring either the wood or brass after-market decks from other vendors or by using the separate brass panels provided on the WEM fret in a framework.
WEM PE #7211 consists of two types of components, resin and brass photo-etch. In this regard it is sort of like a miniature kit. Designed by resident in-house WEM guru, Peter Hall, the set reflects all of the care and detail expected of this premier firm. As we all know Mad Pete is a man of many parts, a Man for All Seasons. However, unlike Sir Thomas Moore, Mad Peteís seasons are more varied. Consider his cowboy season. For some odd reason there are a limited number of cowboys in the United Kingdom. You are much more likely to encounter a gaggle of sheep than a herd of long horns. So when Texas Pete, as Peter is known when in his cowboy persona, goes to Ludlow and bellies up to the bar, he comes prepared.
For some reason the conversations in the Pubs of Ludlow can get rather heated, especially when it comes to Texas Pete. Perhaps itís his insistence upon wearing white and pink chaps, or his proclivity to call his verbal opponents sheep dippers but for whatever reason Texas Pete ensures that his trusty six-gun, which he has named Amanda, is loaded for bear for any eventuality. Of course they are just blanks but they do make an imposing sound when Texas Pete fires at the ceiling and yells Yeeeeeeeee-Haaaaaaaa, scaring matrons and frightening children.
Just as Texas Pete comes prepared for his bar encounters, Mad Pete has foreseen the modelerís need to have his boat ready and loaded for a patrol. First there are two resin torpedo bodies. Since the torpedo is basically a smooth-sided cylinder with a rounded front and tapered rear, there is limited opportunity for all sorts of detail and gee-gaws on the torpedo body and yet WEM has included every detail that was feasible. These are basically in the form in inscribed lines for the different segments of the torpedo body. The best detail is at the warhead with recessed rivet positions showing the attachment of the warhead to the torpedo body proper. Additionally, WEM has case the prominent detonator to the warhead. Very minor cleanup is needed to gently smooth seam lines and remove and smooth the remnant stub of a casting straw.
However, unlike a shipís model in which the resin parts are the most significant and are supplemented by brass parts, the resin torpedo parts in this set provide the canvas for Mad Peteís artistry in brass. It is the photo-etch brass loading rig and brass details for the resin torpedo bodies that provide the color, detail and drama for this set from WEM. As with other brass photo-etch designs from White Ensign Models, there is a prominent use of two textures of brass on this fret. WEM uses a combination of brushed satin surface to provide high contrast with polished brass surface next to it in many pieces. This is more aesthetic than anything else, since once the parts are painted, the difference in texture would not be noticeable. However, this is one of the traditional "Hallmarks" of quality from Peter Hall and WEM and it really provides a visual treat on the fret by emphasizing and bringing out detail. The contrasting textures also emphasize the relief etching used throughout the fret.
To best use this fret, it will be necessary to conduct some minor surgery on your Type VIIC U-Boat. The biggest single piece of brass on the fret comes in the form of a recessed torpedo loading deck with a separate torpedo loading tube protruding at the forward end. The loading tube itself will need to be rolled to shape. For this deck to be seen, which is absolutely required and highly recommended for full effect, youíll need to cut out a particular rectangle of the kitís deck or after-market deck that you are using. Of course you can mount the loading rig on the top deck without using the loading well and avoid cutting out a portion of your top deck but you would be sacrificing some of the most extraordinary detail of the fret. The loading deck with its free-flood holes on the side, loading tube, tube access hatch and hatch mechanism will provide huge interest and impact for any modeler using this set. With this set, donít be afraid of taking your model under the knife, as the finished product will be emphatically dramatic.
Rising out of the recessed well deck is the loading rig itself with loading cradle, safety harness and rig legs of the frame. When an artist composes his painting on a canvas, lines are used to focus or guide the eye to a certain point. In a way the loading rig serves the same purpose on this fret as the triangular loading rig naturally guides the eye to the well deck with the loading tube. As with the decking, relief-etched brass parts are used throughout the rig parts. Another series of brass parts provides all of the detail for the torpedoes. At the nose there is an arming spinner but most of the detail is at the rear. WEM provides two different sets of fins, G7a where the solid fins are mounted ahead of the propeller and G7e where the open fins are mounted further back, surrounding the propeller and of course you get two propellers for the two fish.
What if you need more than two torpedoes? If you want to portray your boat really taking on a load of fish, WEM has the answer for you with WEM PE #7212. You donít have to buy another complete loading rig set to get the extra torpedoes for this smaller set provides two additional torpedoes in the package. The resin torpedo bodies are the same as found in the loading set but instead of the large brass fret with well deck, loading tube, loading rig and torpedo details, this set provides a small fret that only has the brass torpedo detail. The brass details provided on this fret are exactly the same as the same parts on the larger fret.