L'Arsenal 1/400 Modified Flower Class Corvette
By Bob Pearson
When it became clear that Europe was headed towards war, the Admiralty looked to a cheap, inexpensive ship design that could be mass-produced for escort work. Those designs already in service, although excellent, required far too long to construct. What was needed was something that could be built in numbers, by yards inexperienced in warship construction. The result was found in a whaler design by Smith & Sons, with modifications this became the classic WW2 escort - the Flower Class Corvette. Eventually 269 of these ships would be constructed by British and Canadian yards, with a further six in French yards, and they would be operated by most Allied navies ... and even the German Kriegsmarine which made use of four of the six they took over from the French.
No two Flowers were identical, but generally the early Flowers had a short fo'c'sle, mast in front of the bridge, 4" gun on the bow, 2pdr aft and carried various machine guns and (later) 20mm cannon. Their main weapon being the depth charge. The later Flowers had an extended fo'c'sle, mast behind the bridge and the same armament, with additional 20mm added when available.
The French company L'Arsenal produces two variants of the later Modified Flower Class, differing in bridge design, that reviewed here is the ultimate version. The kit consists of a resin single piece hull, 53 detail parts, three frets of photo-etch and a decal sheet providing markings for 11 ships (two RN, two RCN, six Free French, one USN).
The hull is nicely cast with minimal detail incorporated on it. This is not a problem as various fittings are provided in either resin or PE.
The detail parts are still attached to prominant mold gates, but they are easily removed, although care need be taken with the mast and gun barrels - I broke my mast and will replace it with metal rod. these parts include: type 271 radar housing, bridge, 4" bandstand, 2 pdr bandstand, depth charges and K-guns, propellor, rudder, rafts, boats. There is also a two part stand for displaying the completed model (L'Arsenal recommends affixing it to the hull prior to starting construction).
An interesting feature is in using PE for the open bridge level. This fits on top of the cast resin main structure and is folded to provide the wings and splinter shields. Other PE parts are provided for: Depth charge rails, gun shields (including the 4"), davits, carley float platforms, and other fiddly bits. There is also a fret of rails, however these are three-bar, whereas the Flowers used two-bar.
There are 11 pages of instructions in French (with a vagueEnglish translation) which show all the PE parts, bridge construction, an exploded view of all the resin parts as well as profiles showing the 11 options - Aconit, Roselys, Renoncule, Commandant Drogow, Lobelia, Commandant Detroyat, HMS Alisma, HMS Wallflower, HMCS Midland, HMCS Orillia and USS Saucy. Decals for all of these are provided in the form of pennant numbers and funnel bands.
One area I noticed that caused me problems was in the bridge construction. I had a hard time figuring out what and where PE part 1 went. After looking at photos of HMCS Sackville, it appears that there is a walkway alongside of the bridge under the wings .. this is not apparent in any of the published plans I have seen, but once you look for it, it is there.
For anyone wishing to build a medium sized Flower the L'Arsenal kit is recommended. Mine was acquired from Warshipbooks.com