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Building a 1/700 Destroyer Escort

by
Jim Gordon


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Jim built his DE using the Skywave USS Cannon kit, one of four DE kits by Skywave.  There are two ships per kit.


 

 

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Click to see the sprue

 

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Click for a review of  Squadron's Destroyer Escorts In Action

 

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Tom's Modelworks etched brass fret
#713 1/700 Destroyer Escort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Click the pallet for more information about USN colours and camo.

 

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Starboard forward quartering view

 

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Port aft

 

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Overhead view

 

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Port Side Forward

Click thumbnail image to view full size photo

History
For German submarines it was "The Happy Times".  From  July 1940 through December 1941 U-boats ruled the Atlantic.  The converted trawlers and corvettes used to protect Trans-Atlantic convoys were stretched to their limits.  26 allied ships were being sunk for every U-Boat in late 1940.  A more effective convey escort was needed-and fast.  Destroyer Escorts were the result. They had good sub-hunting capabilities and could be constructed quickly at a third the cost of a fleet destroyer.  Armed with depth charges,  three 3" dual purpose guns, 40 and 20mm machine cannons and  effective radar, these ships held much promise.

By the end of 1943, 409 DE's had been launched, with 78 flying the British flag.  There were various classes of the type, with differences in powerplant, bridgeworks, and armament.  The DE's were very effective sub hunters and radar pickets, and even went up against IJN battleships in the Battle of Samar.  These ships had a pugnacious quality that makes them very attractive modeling subjects.

Basic Construction
This Skywave kit is a simple yet highly detailed model.  It would make an easy subject for a newcomer to 1/700 scale.  Nice touches such as molded-in hatches, life rings, pipes, and stowage boxes add life.  Look at the parts sprue.  Note that the ship consists of only the hull and a half dozen deckhouse/bridge parts, the remainder being guns and accessories, not all of which are needed. 

The first thing to do is glue the waterline bottom to the hull, and sand the surfaces flush.  TIP:  if you plan to float your finished model in an "ocean", you do not need to get a perfectly smooth mating of the waterline bottom- you can use your ocean material to cover any flaws.   This saves time.  The assembly of the bridge is very easy as is the after deckhouse.  Here, a problem emerges with the fit of the deckhouse roof to the sides- it is not perfect and will require careful sanding along the mating edges.  Next you should decide which variant you are building because the armament varied considerably, as well as  deck fittings and gun tubs. Reference to good photos makes this part less of a chore.  Or you can add guns per the kit instructions if you lack references, and the model will still be basically right. 

Photos of actual DE's will reveal much detail not represented in the kit- some is too small to bother with, some too difficult to mold.  Decide how dense you wish to make your escort.  Photoetched brass railings are a worthwhile addition I used Tom's Modelworks generic US ship railings fret.  Use draftsman's dividers to calculate the  lengths of railing needed, then cut the railing from the brass sheet, clean and apply to the model with white glue.  TIP:   after the railings are mounted on the model, and the glue is cured, take a fine tipped rat tail file and gently press down on the upper rail between each stanchion.   This will bow the upper rail, giving the railings a candid and pleasing appearance

Detailing
At this point I added many tiny bits of plastic to replicate the density of a real ship.   These little bits add much to the finished look.  TIP! Drill out the funnel and make a funnel cap from fine wire.  This is an easy and convincing embellishment.  Use fine wire to support the life rafts as shown in the photos.  I added an upper mast radar array from a Tom's US Navy Radar fret, and an upper bridge array from brass mesh screen.  Kit 20mm guns were replaced by Tom's brass items, 8 guns and shields in all.  TIP!   These ships featured floater net baskets at various locations around the ship.   I made these baskets from 3 stanchion lengths of railing, curved widthwise around a Dremel bit, and glued horizontally to the deck house and bridge.

Painting
DE's featured many different paint schemes, and one of my favorite is Measure 21, Navy blue all over.  This was used early war and returned to favor in 1945 to counter the Kamikaze threat.  It was a highly effective anti-aircraft scheme.  It is also a very easy to paint-just spray dark blue  overall.  I used Polly Scale Sea Blue acrylic mixed down with a medium blue, 1:1.  I then added white to this mix and sprayed mist coats to fade the blue.  I drybrushed shades of medium blue and blue violet all over to represent the color shift caused by sun exposure.  Lastly I applied brownish pastels to the hull sides to replicate rust. 

The Riddle featured an unusual medium grey painted funnel, and an upper mast painted white.  These were added by brush.  I made floater nets from tissue and painted them tan, then stuffed them in the baskets.  Color photos from this period show plenty of tan highlights, and I tried to duplicate this effect.  Also painted tan were the inside of the lifeboats, some rope on the deck, water barrels in the rafts, and, of course, officer's khakis on the bridge.  The rafts themselves I painted grey to break up the blue.  The 3" guns and 40mm Bofors were painted a dark grey for a subtle contrast.

Finishing Touches
I added rigging in the bridge area using stretched black sprue.  These ships did not appear to feature rigging lines running bow to stern.  I painted about 20 Tom's Modelworks 1:700 figures, mostly in blue with white T shirts, and a few officers in tan.   These figures add much to the model's authenticity.  I then hung a US flag decal from the Skywave set behind the funnel.

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The base is made from an old JoHan plastic display box and the water simulated with Celluclay.  I added balsa wood to the plastic bottom to add balance to the display.  There is a nice, lightly smoked acrylic top that protects the model from dust and worse. Lastly, I added the ship's name and number using press lettering applied to the balsa wood front, and another US flag lest there be any question as to the ship's nationality. 

In conclusion, this is a fine kit that will build up quickly into a convincing replica of an interesting and important fighting ship. 

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