Dragon Models 1/700 British Type 42 Batch 3 Destroyer HMS Manchester
The Type 42
The story of the Type 42 destroyer is a long and political one. The reason for the class was two-fold, firstly, a much smaller and cheaper alternative to the massive Type 82 destroyer was needed and secondly, sufficient hulls were needed to replace the entire Royal Navy destroyer fleet, heading for block obsolescence in the late 1970's, or already well obsolete.
The role for the Type 42 destroyer was the area air defense of the Royal Navy carrier / landing fleet, with a secondary A/S role. This role was quite ably filled by the massive Type 82 HMS Bristol, but it was obviously clear that this ship was too expensive to be procured in sufficient numbers and to be crewed, and for its size was under armed and had many Achilles' heels such as the lack of a helicopter, a close range armament system, A/S torpedoes etc. ). What was needed was a much reduced 'economy' design without the bells and whistles of the Type 82 design, on the smallest possible hull, with maximum automation for the smallest possible crew, carrying the heaviest possible armament.
What a Type 42 hull needed to be able to carry was quite clear, the GWS 30 system - Sea Dart - was required as the primary weapon. Fortunately, a much smaller, lightweight and auto-loading design was available, and this twin railed unit was selected. To back this up, a single Mark 8 114mm automatic gun and a Lynx helicopter were to be carried, the latter with all A/S responsibilities. Also required were two Type 909 Sea Dart F/C radars, a Type 965 AKE-2 air search and a Type 992Q surface search radars. Later added to this were two single 20mm Oerlikon guns and two STWS Mk.2 torpedo launchers, the latter freeing the Lynx of all A/S responsibilities, and giving the ship a chance to attack close targets when the helicopter was out of range.
A very small hull of only 4,100 tons empty weight was selected, around half that of a Type 82. The only real change from the Type 82 was the losing of the Ikara A/S missile and the Limbo A/S mortar, and the addition aft hangar, flight deck and helicopter. To fit everything required into such a tiny hull, maximum use of system centralization, the minimum amount of system duplication, 'economy' living spaces and maximum system automation were incorporated.
Machinery is another area where space and weight can be saved. For the first time ever in an RN destroyer, entirely gas-turbine propulsion was incorporated; Rolls Royce Marine units - Tynes for cruising and Olympus for full speed ahead, which can be reached, albeit extremely noisily, in only 30 seconds. The only problem with Gas-turbine propulsion is the extreme noise it develops, and the Type 42 is not very capable of a long, slow stalk of a quiet submarine, the well silenced diesel electric Type 23 being far more able. Sheffield, lead ship, was originally fitted with unsightly exhaust cowls on her funnel to cure efflux problems, but these did not work, and the problems were later resolved by other means. As originally completed and launched, a lot of equipment was not carried, including the STWS Mark 2 torpedo tubes, the SCOT SATCOM system and domes, the ECM antennae below the Type 992Q radar at the masthead and the Corvus countermeasures launchers. Prior to its entry into service, the Type 1022 radar, the heart of the SeaDart system, was not included either, and the venerable Type 965 AKE-2 radar was fitted on the stump-foremast in the interim. Most of the final systems had been added by the early 1980's.
Type Batch 2 design was slightly improved in terms of electronics and internal arrangements, following on from experience with the six Batch 1 ships. The Batch 3 however is a much improved design, drawing from experiences of the first two batches, whose survivability and update potential is severely compromised by their lack of size.
Although it originally carried an identical weapons & sensor fit, the Batch 3 has a 16.1 meter extension in hull length, with around 15 meters added to the bows, which are also raised to improve the handling, the rest being added to the stern to increase the flight-deck size. The superstructure and propulsion package are identical. The extension to the bows allows for the main weapon systems; the SeaDart launcher and the Mark 8 gun, which were previously very closely mounted to be spaced much farther apart, to improve both fire arcs of these weapons, and decrease the chances of both systems being knocked out by a single hit from a missile or shell. Another improvement was the addition of a large amount of strengthening on the forward beam, adding about 2 feet to the beam. This comprises of 50 tons of strengthening, added in the form of a single beam at deck level, giving a distinctive ledge to the upper forward hull. All this extra space is well utilized, and many more extra or duplicate systems are incorporated, and the ships also have a much smaller crew due to much more automation and modern systems.
In the post-Falklands fall-out, it was clear that major changes needed to be made to the Type 42; namely, an improved close-in weapons fit was needed, and secondly, damage control needed to be greatly improved. A twin 30mm cannon, the GCM-A03 was added. Additionally, the 20mm Oerlikon guns were shifted to new platforms, and much improved GAM-B01 guns were fitted. Over the years, many other improvements were worked in, such as updated ECM, a new 3-D search radar (the Type 996) replaced the ancient Type 992 P/Q/R. First Mark 36 super-RBOC and later Sea Gnat counter-measures launchers replaced the Corvus launchers. Additionally, a new navigation radar, additional amidships superstructure, improved ADAWS integrated computing systems and updated SeaDart fire control and fusing systems.
In the Box:
This 1997 kit, from Dragon Models is labeled HMS Manchester but includes parts and markings for any of the Type 42 batch 3 ships. It is a dandy, with clean crisp moldings and no flash. The parts consist of three trees of hard gray styrene parts, and a decal sheets. The numerous small parts reveal detail that is state of the art. Each tree is individually bagged which goes a long way in protecting all those delicate parts.
One small tree labeled "B" includes parts for numerous weapon systems, boats, and antennae. This is obviously used with other kits. Time and again I had to get my high mags on to fully appreciate the detail in these tiny parts. You could equip a fleet with what Dragon gives you on this tree. Directions have you leave off most of these parts. Phalanx CIWS are included (and appear mounted on the cover art) but the directions leave them off. Hum... this calls for further research. The cover art is a beautiful photograph of Manchester by Jeremy Flack, by the way.
Tree C contains a Batch 1/2 hull, display base and propulsion and steering components. Skip the hull. The props, shafts and six (count em six) rudders are finely molded and to scale.
Tree A contains the Batch 3 model hull deck and all superstructure. The Main superstructure sides are a marvel of multilevel detail within detail. Automatic life raft sponsions are molded into the pieces. Man Where is my trusty dry brush! No wait, finish the article first.. Splinter shields are exceptionally thin. The solid mast structures are particularly impressive.
The kit instructions are printed in six languages. There are ample, well done drawings showing assembly. All parts are numbered in the instructions and on the sprue. Marking and painting diagrams are also include. Unique fittings for HMS Manchester and Gloucester are clearly indicated.
Decals for the kit include all deck warning striping, flight deck, flags and helicopter markings. They appear to be quite thin and well registered. The decals are all numbered.
I am quite impressed with this kit. I think average ship modelers would have a great time building up this nice kit right out of the box. Take care for a clean paint job. Add the White Ensign Modelsdetail set and this one would be a show stopper. I can't wait to start building now!
Our thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample.
"Modern Naval Combat" David and Chris Miller (Salamander Books Ltd. 1986)