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White Ensign Models 1/700 Resin Cruiser HMS Dido

 

By Bob Pearson

 

 

Introduction

The smallest, and among the most active, cruisers of the Second World War were the 16 ships of the Dido and Modified Dido Classes. These were roughly based on the Arethusa class hull, but rather than carry a 6" main armament, they would carry five of the new twin 5.25" dual-purpose turrets. These mounts were optimized for the anti-aircraft role and the Didos were to be used wherever protection from the air was required.

Five were on order by June 1937, followed by five more, and then with war appearing on the horizon a further six were authorized. The first of the class, Bonaventure, entered service in mid-1940 with the rest of the original group following by December 1940, the second group was in service by August 1942, while the final six were completed by January 1944 when the final ship, Diadem was completed.

Prior to the completion of Bonaventure, it became obvious that deliveries of the 5.25 turret would not be able to keep pace with demand – the King George V class battleships also used eight per ship. Therefore it was decided to eliminate one 5.25 turret in many of the first ten ships - in fact of the first four to complete, only Naiad had the full complement of five. Even this was not enough and two of the ships – Charybdis and Scylla – were fitted with eight 4.5" in four mountings. These two were known as the 'Toothless Terrors."

Operational experience showed these ships to be heavy in the bows, and it was decided to redesign the last group to a four turret arrangement. With the planned elimination of one bow turret it was possible to lower the bridge by one deck, this allowed the funnels to be shortened and straightened. This resulted in a lower overall silhouette. One ship of this last group, Argonaut, was too far advanced, therefore she completed to the same design as the earlier ships.

During the course of the war five were sunk, Bonaventure (31 March 1941), Hermione (16 June 1942), Naiad (11 November 1942), Charybdis (23 October 1943) and Spartan (29 January 1944).

The Kit

Originally released by White Ensign Models in 1996, the Dido has recently been remastered by Brian Fawcett – and it shows. Opening the box reveals two piles of bubblewrap; one contains the hull, the second, all the other pieces. All pieces are very well detailed. . the hull has finely engraved planking, portholes, chocks (none broken) and amidships armour. My hull was somewhat warped, but this was easily fixed with a treatment of boiling water. Be careful when holding the hull into the proper shape – my thumb crushed the amidships spray shields – CA fixed this.

The rest of the resin parts are dealt with in three small baggies, the first of which contains the superstructure pieces. There are five of these, and all I can say is the detail is better than most injection kits. The spray shields/coamings are very thin - the thinnest I have yet seen in a kit. Ladders, doors, cable reels. . . all are cleanly molded and a credit to WEM's new caster, MDC.

All parts require removal of the molding gates. The bridge has a small platform at the rear which was loose on my sample – CA fixed this. The only other fix to the kit was the rear superstructure was slightly crazed and needed a little filler.

The next packet contains the 5.25" turrets, boats, torpedo tubes and main director. Minor cleanup and they are ready for use.

The final baggie of resin has all the 'fiddly-bits'. The 5.25" gun barrels are nicely done, while the piece'd'resistance are the two quadruple pom-pom mounts. These are very nice and even have the muzzle flash protectors in place – no more fiddling with PE here.

Speaking of PE, the kit contains two frets of brass; one is a detail set designed for this kit by Tom Harrison of Tom's Modelworks. This has the gunnery radar, davits, 20mm guns (ten), mast platforms and supports. The second fret is the WEM RN rails and ladders set.

The final parts are two brass rods and one plastic one. These are used to construct the two tripod masts. Full plans for doing this are included.

Other documentation includes: a short history of HMS Dido, textual sequential instructions, exploded drawing of all parts, colour profile of HMS Dido after her 1942 refit. This profile shows her in an overall grey. However, Dido herself, and the other Didos, all wore various patterns at different times. Some of which can be seen in the Ensign volume on the Didos.

Conclusion

The Dido class are my favourite ships bar none, and I have longed for one for quite some time. I was a little disheartened to hear that they were unavailable some months back, but the good news is that WEM now has them back in stock. The even better news is these kits have been remastered and WEM has new casters which are able to capture the detail of the master. Brian Fawcett and MDC are to be congratulated on the quality of the detail incorporated. Checking over WEM's price list I see ten more Didos listed as forthcoming.

Highly recommended.




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