Constructed at the Kiel (Germany) naval shipyard and
commissioned in 1902, the Russian protected cruiser Askold's five
long, slender funnels gave him (Russian ships were considered "male") an
unmistakable outline. This was of more than passing importance at a time when funnels were
equated with power. Indeed there are stories of warship captains rigging dummy funnels
prior to visiting distant ports, the better to impress the locals. But the Askold wasn't built just for show. Her slender lines gave
her a speed in excess of 23 knots, impressive for the time, and she had an eventful
career, seeing action in both the Russo-Japanese and First World War. Falk Pletscher, who
built the WSW Askold master pattern, has a
thoroughly researched article in Plastic Ship Modeler #20 (Dan Jones' drawing of
Askold graces the cover) that I highly recommend.
Launched: 15 March 1900 Commissioned: 25 January
Length: 437' oa Beam: 49' 2"
Draft: 20' 4"
Displacement: 5,905 tons
Armament: twelve 6"/45), twelve 11 pounder; two 1 pdr pom-pom
fourteen 3.4" (14x1)
Torpedo Tubes: six 15" tubes (two submerged)
Performance: 23.8 knots maximum
Complement: 576 officers and ratings
It is a measure of how far ship modeling has come these past few years
that we now have not one, but two 1:700 scale kits of this distinctive, if somewhat
obscure, warship. I am told this was purely coincidental. Falk Pletscher has a long-time
interest in Askold that led to his building the master pattern. At about the same time White Ensign Models expanded their range beyond
Royal Navy subjects and understandably chose this eye-catching protected cruiser.
Let me say at the outset that both kits are excellent, but differ greatly
in approach. There are minor interpretive differences in these 1:700 scale waterline
models, but both appear accurate and highly detailed. I am not an authority on this ship
and do not have access to comprehensive plans, so I cannot say which is the most accurate.
In my opinion, the accuracy differences between these models, if any, are so minor as to
It is the approach of these two producers that sets them apart. WSW kits eschew photo etched brass. Everything is
resin cast. WSW's resin casting is among the best to be found in 1:700 scale and they
apparently take great pride in their ability to execute sharp, highly complex castings. WEM's approach relies heavily on the extensive use of
etched brass, and their Askold is no exception. Etched brass enables a producer to render
remarkably fine, sharp detail. The downside is that for some modelers - and I am one of
them - too much fiddly 1:700 scale etched brass detracts greatly from modeling enjoyment.
Brass lacks the "workability" of resin, plastic and wood. But I recognize its
merits, and for deck railing, lattice and cage masts there is no realistic alternative to
The hull castings of both kits are impressively detailed. The WEM version
has more forecastle and quarterdeck clutter. WSW's hull has a sharper, more finely
detailed ram bow. The biggest difference, however is the unique manner in which WSW treats
the deck. It is a separate piece that snaps into the upper hull casting. Detail is most
impressive, especially the way in which the vent platforms stand proud of the deck.
Casting the deck as a separate piece opens up the lower gun decks. The more hard core
among you could super detail this area, though in 1:700 scale this may be a lot of effort
for little effect.
|Side by Side
Forecastle Plan View
Midship Plan View
Quarterdeck Plan View
The torpedo net shelves on the WEM Askold are etched brass parts. WSW's
are resin, cast integral with the hull. This saves a lot of work, though if you want the
ultimate in scale treatment, WEM's are preferable. Their etched brass shelves even have
tiny support braces. This is one area where I much prefer the WSW approach.
marginally finer detail is not worth the extra effort to affix these tiny brass shelves.
But a younger modeler with better eyes than mine and more time on his hands may think
I much prefer WSW's small resin parts. Boats, funnels, guns and navigation
bridge are sharper and finer than WEM's. But WEM's boat cradles, davits and many other
small fittings are fine etched brass, sharper than WSW's resin versions but more fiddly
and difficult to work. Other noteworthy differences are the deck planking, too heavy and
out of scale on WSW's forecastle, just right on WEM's. And the WSW kit does not include
railing. I'm not a big enthusiast of etched brass, but railing is a nice touch in 1:700
scale and the WSW Askold would benefit from its addition.
WEM's instructions are excellent. They include exploded views, color
plan/profile drawing and detailed etched brass instructions. WSW's instructions, though
adequate, are not nearly as comprehensive as WEM's. WEM unquestionably has the edge in
this area, no small matter when modeling a ship where few references are available.
If you want the ultimate in detail and have the time and patience to tackle lots of tiny
etched brass, the White Ensign Askold is the better choice. WEM kits are not designed for
ease of assembly and Askold is no exception. Much of the etched brass detail should have
been included in the hull casting. That said, the WEM version is a superb kit, complete in
If, like me, you have neither the time nor the inclination to struggle
with tiny etched brass parts, go with the WSW version. It will go together much faster,
and even without etched brass will result in a highly detailed and pleasing model. But at least add brass deck railing, a small additional expense that will greatly
enhance this excellent kit.
I've included photos of Askold buildups by three accomplished modelers.
Either kit will will build into a great model, so if you are considering an Askold, choose
the one that bests fits your building style. The White Ensign version is significantly
more expensive than WSW's. However, it includes extensive etched brass, so the price
difference is not as large as it appears. Either way, you won't go wrong. This is indeed a
great time to be a ship modeler.