Building a 1/700 Destroyer Escort
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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.
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.
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
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.
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.