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HMS Manchester, Type 42
Revell - 1/700

By: Mike Dunn

The Royal Navy have 12 Type 42 destroyers, also known as the Sheffield class, these being in three batches. HMS Manchester, and her sisters HMS Gloucester, Edinburgh and York, were completed between 1983 and 1985. This kit can build any of these four sister ships. The main difference between these Batch 3 ships and the previous Batch 1 and 2 of the class is that the Batch 3 vessels are 7 metres longer, displace an additional 1115 tons, are slightly faster and have a slightly lower weapons fit, in addition to a slight increase in crew. Scheduled to be replaced by the long-awaited Type 45 destroyers, they will remain in service until at least 2007. The name ship of the class, HMS Sheffield, was lost in the Falklands war, as was her sister ship HMS Coventry. Interestingly, it must be noted that Sheffield was NOT destroyed by the Exocet missiles that hit her; while damaged, they were salvagable (the Exocet failed to detonate, although there was a resultant fire). Instead, her loss should be attributed to the water in her from the fire-fighting, and being towed to South Georgia during a storm; she slowly took more water on-board, flooded and capsized. For more information on the myth of surface ship vulnerability, I advise you to read The Navy League of Australia magazine The Navy, Vol 62 No 4.

SuperstructureSo, on opening the box, what is there? You get the usual decal sheet, the instructions, and a sealed bag, with three sprues (each in their own sealed bags). Detailing is acceptable on each sprue, and the level of flash is minimal. As this is the third vessel to be made from this set of moulds, there are a number of parts that aren't used. Sprue A has the least of these, with only a couple to be added to your spares box. On here is the under-hull and upper hull/deck (no need to cut down if you want to make her water-line), and the majority of the superstructure parts. Also on here are various smaller items (eg davits, antennae). Sprue B is about 50% unused, and consists of the majority of the remaining smaller items, from ship's boats to armaments, from Lynx copter to radars. Sprue C has another hull (to add to spares), under-hull detailing, and the plinth. A name-plate is provided - but you'd better provide your own if not making Manchester - they have moulded her name on.

Looking at the decals, you get a nice crisp set, with the name and penants of each of the ships, as well as the warning circles, Plimsoll lines, White Ensign and a couple of other detailing decals. The surrounding field is maybe a little large, but this is my only complaint here.

Moving to the instructions, the usual landscape format has been replaced with a portrait format. I immediately took a dislike to this layout, as it prevents you easily having the instructions right in front of the model, as you fold it open upwards. The title page is a finished picture, with a paragraph on Manchester;s history. Page 2-4 are the usual multi-lingual warnings of everything from gluing your fingers together to nuclear strikes. Page 5 is the usual symbol explanations & paint list. Page 6 gets more interesting, showing what parts to ignore on the sprues, as well as 3 diagrams on weapon assemblies. Page 7 details the Lynx helicopter as well as four more assemblies on masts and funnels. Page 8 has four assemblies on the superstructure, with page 9 having two more, and one on deck fitments. Page 10 details the stern and under-hull, with page 11 putting the two hull assemblies together and mounting onto the stand. The last page, 12, has the painting and decal guide.

So - apart from the instructions, I like this kit. It's cleanly moulded; the decals are OK; the instructions are clear (I just wish they weren't in portrait format). As it stands, it makes a decent little model. Add on the White Ensign Models photo-etch detailing set (a review of which is found here), and you will have a wonderful example of a Decal sheetmodern Royal Navy destroyer.

Before we finish - I mentioned that this is one of three kits around. Let's have a quick look at the others (if there is interest, I will review them properly; please email me if you would like that).

HMS Sheffield can be built as herself, as Coventry or as "Argentina". The sprues are almost identical to Manchester, with about 20% not being used for any of the three versions; Sheffield's name is moulded onto the name plate. The instructions are on 8 sides, and while more brief are comprehensive and clear. The decals aren't as good, but are adequate.

HMS Exeter can be made as either Exeter or Southampton. The sprues are identical to Sheffield (Revell didn't bother changing the name plate at all). The instructions cover 13 pages, with the first 5 being the usual multi-lingual ones. The remainder have 6 on assembly (with the differences between Exeter & Southampton being clearly shown) and 2 on painting & decalling the relevant varient. The decals themselves are an improvement on Sheffield, but not as good as Manchester.

One interesting, and puzzling, point: as you would expect, not all items on the sprues are used due to differences between the individual ships. Why, then, do each of these kits and variants not use a lot of the same extra pieces?