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HMS Chester (1916)
Birkenhead Class Light Cruiser

White Ensign Models
1:700 Scale Waterline Kit

Reviewed and Photographed by Alberto Rada

The HMS Chester is available from White Ensign Models for 38.25 (approx US $62.50). Worldwide shipping free.  Pacific Front Hobbies also carries the kit

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Excellent Imperial War Museum photo showing HMS Chester's Jutland battle damage

Length: 456 ft.
Beam:50 ft
Displ: 5,200 tons
Performance: 31,000 HP, 26.5 knots
Guns: 10 – 5.5", 1 – 3"
Torpedos: 2 –21 in.
Crew: 450–500

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HMS Chester etched brass

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Exploded view diagram from instructions

The light cruiser HMS Chester and her sister ship HMS Birkenhead formed a distinct group within the WW1 "Town" Class. These were generally regarded as the finest cruisers of the First World War, and Chester was arguably the best of the class. She was faster due to her being entirely oil fired, and she shipped the superior 5.5inch gun, a more rapid firing weapon than the 6inch armament carried by her sisters. Chester and Birkenhead, originally intended for the Greek Navy, were taken over by the Admiralty and launched at Birkenhead in 1915.

HMS Chester joined the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet and saw action at Jutland on 31st May 1916, where she was badly damaged. Among her numerous casualties was 16 year old Boy 1st Class John Cornwall. Mortally wounded, he continued to man his gun, and was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery.

The White Ensign Models kit displays Chester in her 1916 Jutland fit. The bubble-free hull casting is flawless, there being no cleanup required whatsoever. Although deck planking should not be visible in 1/700th scale, we modelers love a teakwood deck, and this kit rewards us with planking of great delicacy. Let me suggest that you paint the wood deck with an airbrush. Lacking that, apply thinned paint brushed on in multiple light coats. It would be a shame to mar the exquisite detail with a heavy handed paint job.

Speaking of deck detail, every bit and piece seems to have been cast into the hull. The density level exceeds that of some 1/350 models. Nevertheless, a number of resin pieces remain to be attached. They include the bridge, searchlight and AA platforms, searchlights, 5.5" guns, rafts, dinghies, 27’ whalers, 30’ gig, 30’ and 34’ cutters and the 35’ motor boat. And let’s not forget the main mast. Being very thin and resin cast, it was warped. Finally I had found something to criticize! But to my surprise White Ensign’s extensive and well-detailed instructions anticipated this problem and explained how to fabricate a replacement from the included brass rod. And the instructions also include an attractive colour plan/profile view painting guide, a portion of which is reproduced above. Good job!

Peter Hall’s very complete brass fret is delicate, but still sturdy enough to let you handle the tiny parts without bending them. Let me recommend a tool I find indispensable, the Xuron Micro Photo-etch Shear. It enables one to detach any part from the fret without bending or destroying it. And here’s what you will find on the brass fret: boat davits, jackstaff, semaphores, funnel caps, boat chocks, stowage rack, stovepipes, binnacle, bridge and searchlight platform support girders, vent pipes, 3 pdr AA guns, yards, rangefinder, anchors, lifebuoys, funnel siren platform, blast shields, searchlight platform braces, anchor chain, ladders, watertight doors and hatches, and of course deck railing. I hope that I am able to affix all this fine brass detail without losing my sanity.

This is an excellent kit of a beautiful and important World War I warship. It is complete and well engineered. I highly recommend it.  (See pics of the kit below)             

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Click  thumbnail for full size pics
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HMS Chester - Guns.JPG (26641 bytes) HMS Chester - Bridges.JPG (21358 bytes) HMS Chester -  Boats.JPG (29153 bytes)