White Ensign Models HMS Ajax
Set PE 617: Photo-etched metal fittings
for the Airfix 1/600 scale kit

by Simon Wolff

The venerable Airfix kit of the HMS Ajax is thirty-six years old, because of its age it is sadly lacking in good detail. Thankfully the good people at WEM have chosen to produce a photo-etched set to help rectify this kit's limited detail. What you have to work with is a single fret containing thirty-eight differing parts and a three-page instruction sheet.

The most distinguishing photo-etch features of this set are the Crane Jib, Aircraft Catapult Assembly and the (two and three Bar) Guardrails. I say three most distinguishing as these will be the most prominent items showing on your finished model. As such the parts show an excellent, like a spider's web, level of finesse. With the catapult is an Aircraft Launch Trolley for the floatplane, a beautiful little fret, so you can still mount the kits rudimentary Fairey Seafox. This in turn comes with photo-etched parts, wing struts, propeller and struts for the floats. Although the instructions clearly indicate the kit requires some considerable work to incorporate the photo etched details.

Now this leaves a whole host of goodies to still incorporate on your Ajax eg Gunnery Directors, Bridge Rangefinders, Anchors, Ensign, .5" Quad Machine guns and much - much more! The variety of other parts is quite remarkable. I especially like the idea of photo-etched Sponson Supports as the kit ones are quite horrendously crude, so even these minor parts will greatly enhance the Ajax. The Whaler and Cutter Thwarts (plus Boat Cradles) are a wonderful idea, again providing added detail to the rather bland Airfix kit offerings.

Looking at some of the other parts in this set you get Anchor Cables, Anchors, Sundry Hatches, Ensign Jackstaff and a Funnel Cap Grill. The funnel also has extra detail in the form of Upper Funnel Siren Platforms and Searchlight Platform Crossbraces for kit searchlight platforms. For the kit masts there are two incredibly fine riggings, which will reduce the work for those looking to rig this ship (help I am running out of superlatives for this review).

Instruction Sheet: looking through this three-page sheet it generally seems quite clear to follow. You are given a list of parts, A breakdown of assembly with individual instructions and illustrations showing location of parts for things like the Catapult, Rigging, Funnel, Gunnery Director, Vertical & Inclined Ladders etc. There are fourteen sub assembly instructions shown for these. They also explain that (under Additional Instructions) Further research may be necessary to establish the correct location of these railings if it is desired. Textual instructions only are provided for the Anchors, Hatches and staffs, Whaler Rudder and Oars so be prepared for some additional study.

The instruction sheet for the WEM set provides a wonderful learning opportunity, if like me your nautical parts knowledge is primitive, as here the many parts are clearly named. Take for example Whaler and Cutter Thwarts, Sponson Supports, HACS Director etc. Thwarts, who would have thought.

This is a very, very fine set, the level of detail is exquisite and I look forward to building this when time comes (which should be soon). Noting that in this case I am converting the Ajax into the modified Leander Cruiser HMAS Sydney.

White Ensign Models web site has photos of an Airfix HMS Ajax kit finished with this set and quite spectacular it looks too. Not having built this set yet I can not say how well it goes together, however look for a build article in the future on the conversion of the Airfix Ajax to the HMAS Sydney, will be able to tell you more then.

Thanks to Caroline Carter of WEM for providing this set for review, bleeding marvellous! Oh yes Rule Britannia!

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