Several years prior to the outbreak of World War I, the Royal Navy commissioned a new class of battleships to replace the agining Iron Duke class. These new battleships were faster, better armored and hosted superior firepower than its predecessors and were a formidable match of the best battleships of the day. Armed with eight 15 inch guns mounted in pairs, the design had two turrets forward and two aft. The first in class was the HMS Queen Elizabeth followed by Warspite, Valiant, Barham, Malaya, and Agincourt.
HMS Warspite was laid down in October 1912, launched in November 1913, and commissioned in March 1915. Being one of the Royal Navy’s best capital ships, you might expect the ship’s non-combat record to be uneventful, but reading through her service history, she might have been easily called HMS Career Killer. In her first months of service, Warspite ran aground in 1915 before colliding with her sister ship HMS Barham later in the year.
In the Battle of Jutland, Warspite took 15 hits by heavy caliber guns and was severely damaged. Her steerage was jammed during a maneuver and her captain opted to maintain speed with the jammed rudder resulting in the Warspite sailing in circles. These maneuvers took Warspite out of the line and distracted the Germans from finishing off other damaged Royal Navy targets. After two complete circles, steering was restored and Warspite continued to fight until being ordered off the line. Warspite put 259 15 inch rounds into the German lines before she was forced to withdraw.
After Waspite was repaired from its action at Jutland, she resumed her career-limiting activities with collisions with another sister ship, HMS Valiant and later a destroyer. After the war, Warspite served in the Atlantic Fleet with much of that time in the Mediterranean and finally becoming the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet. She returned to the Atlantic Fleet by 1930 and became caught-up in the famous Royal Navy Mutiny at Invergordon. In 1934, Warspite began a major overhaul in which she received improved engines, an aircraft hangar, improved firepower and armor.
When World War II broke out in Europe, Warspite was back with the Home Fleet and took part in many actions that damaged or destroyed a number of German combatants. While in the Mediterranean in 1940, Warspite gained bragging rights with the longest gunnery hit on a moving target by a moving shooter at 26,000 yards (over 12.8 nautical miles). Warspite destroyed several other German and Italian ships before departing for Bremerton Washington (the Colonies) in 1941 to replace her main guns. After her servicing in the US, Warspite served in the Indian Ocean before returning to the Mediterranean in 1943. In mid-September of 1943, Warspite was attacked by German bombers and was struck three times by the Fritz-X guided bomb. One struck near her funnel and the damage blew through the bottom of the hull. With the help of some US Navy tugboats, Warspite was taken to Gibraltar for repairs that would get her back to England.
While the extensive damage wasn’t completely repaired, Warspite was back at sea providing naval gunfire support for the D-Day landings. Despite suffering damage from a magnetic mine (and some quick repairs), Warspite continued to provide naval gunfire support before returning to port in early 1945, her mission completed.
Academy has released its first installment in the 1/350th scale Queen Elizabeth-class battleships, the HMS Warspite. As you can see in the images, this kit is nicely laid out and isn’t over-engineered. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees plus one display base and one small fret of photo-etched parts. This kit is rated for basic-skills modelers as this kit can be build completely from the plastic parts. The photo-etched parts are optional replacements for the plastic cranes which would be less frustrating to use for the experienced modeler.
The hull comes in left and right halves and while the instructions don’t mention this, there are cut lines molded into the inside of the hull halves for waterline display. There are three bulkheads that go into the hull to reinforce the hull shape whether you display full hull or try the waterline approach.
The kit appears to be configured for a variety of options but this release focuses on the HMS Warspite as she was configured during World War II with the addition of the dual aircraft hangars, two service cranes, and two embarked Supermarine Walrus aircraft.
The kit provides a nice array of gun emplacements, fire directors, and antenna masts, but it is also refreshing to see the kit laid out where it isn’t overly complicated to assemble. While the basic kit doesn’t deal with railings, it is set up to easily accept them once one or more aftermarket companies release their super-detail photo-etch sets for this kit.
The display stand is very nicely done as well to provide a solid base for your finished build.
Another interesting bit about this kit – if this were a one-subject release, all of the parts would be used in the construction of this model. In fact, there are 80 parts that are not used in this build which hints at other members of the Queen Elizabeth-class coming in our future as well as configurations that reflect WWI-era fittings (perhaps).
The decal sheet provides a selection of Union Jacks and White Ensigns as well as roundels for the Walrus aircraft.
This is a nice looking model that has nice detailing without being over-engineered/over-complicated. The kit will be a simple build for basic modelers but still provide some fun for the AMS modeler with the included photo-etched cranes and being laid out to accept aftermarket photo-etch railings and other details without having to remove molded railings and other challenges.