Revell-Germany 1/72 Flower Class Corvette: HMCS Snowberry / USS Saucy
Back in 1978 I came across the first issue of a new magazine devoted to the ship modeller, in this premiere issue of Scale Ship Modeler there was a large scale scratchbuilt model of a Flower Class Corvette, and I was hooked. Over the next few years they ran other articles on these intriguing little ships and in some of them the basis was, amazingly, a 1/72 injected kit by Matchbox. Sadly I was never able to find one of these kits, and the memory faded away until Revell-Germany announced that they were re-releasing the ex-Matchbox Flower. Perhaps I could get one after all.
At the time of writing this review I have had the kit for about two months, and in fact have built many of the subassemblies ... I intend to write a full article when I eventually complete it, but for now a more detailed inbox than usual will help the potential builder.
The kit arrived in a very sturdy mailing carton provided by Revell (or so the logos all over it attest), opening this up revealed another box containing the kit itself. When I pulled the kit box out of the mailing box many of the kit stanchions disappeared into the carpet. Despite being in sealed bags, and in another box, they had found their way out. The only other fault was that many of the handrails for the ladders were broken. The rest of the parts were in good.
According to other reviews on the kit I have seen, the parts amount to between 600-1000. There are four hull sections, two decks and nine sprues. Add to this various items like line, chain, decals and signal flags . . a lot no matter how you count them
The kit provides a stand among the clear plastic parts. I recommend building this first and then affixing it to some semi-permanent surface to ease moving and assembly - I purchased a 36" pine shelf to serve this purpose.
The hull is broken down into four sections. These are designed to interlock along the plating lines amidships. The detail on these, as on all the kit parts, are exaggerated, with the hull plating being very overdone. To join my sections I spent a few days cleaning up the mating surfaces to be sure of the best possible join. I then glued each section in turn. One day the bow segments, the next the stern and the third I joined them together using inexpensive butterfly paper clamps from the stationary store to hold them in place. When I joined the two halves together I also used a screw clamp to hold the tops together to prevent the halves from sagging. The hull is further strengthened by six athwartship braces. These seemed flimsy to me, so I strengthened them by gluing section from sprue D to them.
The decks are given in three sections: bow, midships and stern. The bow section goes as far back as the breakwater, the main deck from there to the focsle break, and the stern, well it covers the aft section. I don't know if it was intentional, but these are perfect for allowing interior access for a radio controlled model (which mine will be). Sadly the decks are covered in a totally spurious moulded on planking over their entire surface corvettes had mostly metal decks with some wooden planked areas at the bow and stern.
The superstructure consists of the engine room casing (big section on the stern deck), funnel/vent platform, galley and bridge/wheelhouse. The first three all go together easily as per instructions, the bridge requires some care as my sample suffered from a warped platform which boiling water only partially eliminated.
To continue on about the upper bridge. Solid rails are provided with the rails themselves moulded on the interior side, however the exterior is completely flat and not representing the fabric of the original. Other bridge details are pelorus, binnacle, voice pipes, signal lamps, 20mm Oerlikons, ready use lockers and flag lockers at the rear. Again, all of these are overdone and can stand accurizing or replacement. In my case I originally built the bridge OOB. . and then decided I had to do it better, so I am now rebuilding many of the details myself.
At the rear of the bridge can be found the type 271 radar. This is given with two styles of lantern to choose from the round one or the octagon. The latter is lacking every other upright brace and the clear plastic for the windows are too small to fit against it - I replaced these with individual panes. The radar itself is in two parts and is visible through the glass.
The kit provides all of the various weapons carried on a corvette, from 4" gun down to a .303" Lee Enfield. That is about all that can be said in their favour as the Lee Enfield is by far the best of them all.
Starting with the 4" gun, you are given a choice of two styles of gunshield, both quite thick and with view ports moulded shut. The gun itself has just the barrel, cylinder on top and two very out of scale supports. This goes on a solid platform that then attaches to the bottom of the gunshield. The completed gun goes on the fore gun platform. This has two rings moulded around the outer edges in which ready-use shells are to be placed. Otherwise the platform is very bare, to improve the appearance of this platform I added .010 x .020 strips in a typical none-slip pattern seen in photographs.
On the bridge wings are two, single 20mm Oerlikon cannons, or rather what I assume are supposed to be Oerlikons. I saw no easy way to improve these, therefore they are best discarded and spares robbed from the Airfix Air-Sea Rescue Launch substituted in their place. Another detail lacking are the platforms with various height levels for the gunner to stand on. In their place the guns are mounted direct to the deck.
In the bandstand on the engine room casing is the 2pdr anti-aircraft gun. As provided you are given a square sectioned gun with a round barrel and something projecting out of the top - perhaps a Bofors was in mind. Despite its rather barren appearance it can be made into something half decent with a little work. Remove the top piece, add platforms for the gunners, diagonal supports, training and elevating wheels, reshape the vertical supports, add an ammo bin and finally replacing the gunshield will improve it immensely.
The bandstand can also benefit from rework. The splinter shield is too thick and also slopes inwards, remove this and replace with sheet styrene (and add another foot tread pattern if desired).
Aft of the bandstand are two twin Lewis machine guns - the same standard applies to them as to the rest of the guns. Perhaps a WW1 spares box will help here, as well as new splinter shields.
The depthcharge racks are a prominent part of the kit and as with the rest are overly thick. Either use them as is or replace them is all I can offer here. ... I used them. The DC mortars are basic, but acceptable. The depth charges themselves are moulded in two halves, and as there are lots and lots of them it takes awhile to get the seams fixed. Other than that there are no problems in the DC section.
The final weapon is the hedgehog launcher on the bow. This is a very basic representation with just a box, 24 bombs and a shield provided. The real thing has lots of extras to it, and these can either be added to the kit launcher as representational, or else the kit launcher tossed aside while keeping the bombs and a new one scratchbuilt. I'm doing the latter.
One thing that is readily apparent on a corvette are the prominent vents around the funnel and engine room casing. These have a very thick section to them and can stand considerable thinning down. If this is done they start to look very acceptable. Some of the smaller vents can be drilled out as well.
Scattered all over the ship are various boxes for ready use ammunition, food stuffs, etc. In almost all cases these are in three pieces and care should be taken to ensure they line up correctly. The interior of the bottoms also need to be cleaned out a tad to allow them to sit properly in their allotted spaces on deck.
Two 16' dingys are supplied and when built are nice, but can use more details added to them.
There are four Carley floats. Care must be taken in aligning the halves so that the ropes line up properly.
The rest of the kit parts are more or less in the same boat (HA), basic representations that are somewhat overly thick. However with a little work they can be made quite acceptable. In fact I originally planned to just build this OOB, but realistically I decided I don't know when I would have the time to do another, so I removed all my previous work and am redoing most of the details.
A nice touch are 15 crewmen in various poses. These will liven up the ship when added.
There are very comprehensive instructions that include 178 steps within its 48 pages. There are drawings of all steps as well as the patterns carried by the two options provided for in this release - Snowberry and Saucy - HMS Bluebell is lacking in the instructions and decals, but the parts to build her are still included.
Decals are provided for Snowberry and Saucy in the form of pennant numbers, nameplates, draft markings, and in Snowberry's case - gunshield artwork. However this last is based on the old Ensign Flower Class volume and was done without a clear photo of the actual design. In more recent years this has come to light, and I have produced an illustration of it (seen at right), which I plan to market as an ALPs decal. perhaps with other gunshield artwork as further releases.
Despite the thick and simplified details this is THE kit for anyone interested in a Flower Class corvette. I can honestly say I am having more fun buildng this model than I have had on almost any other kit to date. If built OOB it will look impressive just because of the amount of stuff on it. However a little work will really improve on it. But for those who really want to go to town on the kit, the ultimate Flower needs the GLS detail kits. If one uses all of these kits, by the time you are done all that is left of the original is the hull, funnel and some vents !!!!!!! For anyone contemplating upgrading the Revell Flower, Kerry Jang does a comparison between the GLS and Sirmar detail sets elsewhere in this issue
My kit was purchased from Roll Models.