When it comes to releasing photo-etched frets for model warship kits, there are basically two ways to go. By far the most common approach is to design a fret tailored to a particular kit. The bedrock of product lineup of all the major photo-etch companies is made up of frets designed to fit a particular kit. The second approach is that of production of a fret designed around equipment of a particular navy. It is a more ambitious approach, as the design encompasses far more fittings and features than that designed for a specific ship. However, just as this poses a challenge to the designer, it creates the greatest value to the modeler interested in more than one particular ship, flexibility.
Gold Medal Models has probably been the greatest proponent of this second approach, as GMM has a long history of producing fine photo-etched frets for groups of models. The GMM Soviet Warship fret, currently being reworked, as been a staple for any modeler building a 1:700 model of a modern Russian warship. In the same vein GMM has produced frets for merchant ships or multi-ship frets for types of warships, such as Japanese battleships or carriers.
Later in January 2004 Gold Medal Models will release a photo-etch fret for British Warship Fittings of World War Two, set #700-06. This fret is designed to provide coverage for all of the plastic kits and some resin kits in 1:700 scale of the surface ships of the Royal Navy, other than the carriers that have their own GMM fret, set #700-16. GMM is using .003-inch stainless steel for this fret and there are more than enough parts to equip at least three different models. This fret is designed to replace an existing GMM fret, that of the King George V/Prince of Wales 1:700 fittings set. It is rather like replacing a fine string quartet with a full orchestra. The new fret includes so much more, that in physical size and parts scope, it dwarfs the earlier version. Below is a photograph of the new and old frets. As you can see the quantity of railing provided in both frets is about the same but when it comes to other ship’s fittings, the new British Warships Fittings of WW2 provides 4 to 5 times more parts than the earlier set.
OK, enough of this preamble, lets get down to brass tacks, or in this case, stainless steel ones. What goodies are in this forthcoming fret for all budding Sommervilles and Fraziers in 1:700? Probably a more appropriate question would be what is not in it. To start with, we’ll look at the ship specific parts.
Stack Caps – GMM provides specifically designed stack caps/clinker screens for the Hood, Repulse Class, King George V Class, County Class heavy cruisers, Nelson Class, Warspite, Town Class light cruisers (Belfast), and O Class destroyers.
Cranes and Catapults – On any WW2 Royal Navy warship model some of my favorite photo-etched parts are the cranes and catapults. The reason is simple, the photo-etched parts look so much better than clunky solid resin or plastic pieces. There is no way plastic can come close to photo-etch in replicating these features. Put on your hard hat! Don your welder’s goggles! Tell your spouse that you will see her in 2005! There is more than enough beautifully done Royal Navy catapults and cranes included by GMM in this fret to keep your shipyard humming for the next year. The cranes are broken into different styles, as more than one class would mount the same style of crane. Style A is only the KGV Class. Style B includes Rodney, Repulse and Belfast. Style C is HMS Hood, which will be mentioned in more detail. These cranes involve multiple pieces. There is the crane jib or arm, the crane base, and crane rigging, with each style of crane having its own unique parts.
The catapults are equally tasty. Tamiya will wonder about the surge in sales for their 1:700 HMS Rodney. All the Tamiya brass will have to do is look at the Gold Medal Models catapult for the Rodney included in this fret to understand the new enthusiasm that modelers have developed for this old war-horse. With this GMM photo-etched catapult resting on the superfiring B Turret and the GMM photo-etched crane for Rodney on the main deck to the port side of the tower bridge, the Tamiya HMS Rodney is sure to be a very popular kit again.
A crane and catapult for HMS Hood? Mighty Ood carried a seaplane? Hood did not have one in 1941, when she was lost but from 1929 to 1932 Hood did have a crane and catapult at her fantail. Given the continuing love for this Pride of the British Empire and the largest warship of her time, how many modelers will be interested in building her at her zenith with her crane, catapult and spotter biplane, before modern battleship construction began to put a tarnish on her reputation as the most powerful warship in existence? My guess… is a lot. With this fret Gold Medal Models gives you wonderfully detailed pieces for her crane jib, crane base, crane rigging, catapult as well as throwing in a specifically designed turntable base for Hood.
Since Loren Perry was lavishing so much attention on the aircraft handling hardware for these ships he did not stop there. GMM also includes tailored photo-etch fittings for their seaplanes. Whether it is for the venerable and almost universal Walrus or more exotic Fairey floatplane, GMM gives you details such as struts and propellers, as well as providing a couple of propellers for a Betty or Nell IJN medium bomber for the Prince of Wales.
Man the Yards – Cranes and catapults may occupy the majority of the ship specific fittings on this fret but there are plenty of other super-detailed parts on this fret to stoke the fires of any self-respecting tar. The different ships had their own yard structures and GMM has covered it. Hood, Nelson, Rodney, King George V, all are treated to specific yards for their designs. There is also specific rigging for the boat cranes. Additionally, GMM provides a plentiful supply of oars for the ship’s boats sufficient for any Royal Admiral’s Squadron Regatta. There is even boat davit rigging.
The Modern Threat – All of the parts mentioned are fine and good for the Big Gun Club but what of those that are worried about the threat of aerial, submarine or mine attack? Gold Medal Models comes to your rescue as well. Take a look at the external degaussing cable for the King George V, which includes the name plate. With your KGV sporting that defensive apparatus, those German and Italian mines won’t have a chance of stopping your Close Action with the enemy to give them the pounding that they deserve. With their safety railing around their pom-poms, your anti-aircraft gunners can confidently swat down those annoying buzzing insects of the Luftwaffe, Regia Marina or Imperial Japanese Naval Aviation. U-Boats? No problem, as your Onslow and other O Class destroyers can be fitted with the high-speed, low-drag photo-etched depth charge racks provided on this fret.
You’ll see the threat approaching in plenty of time with the sensor arrays provided by GMM in this fret. You’ll feel like you are playing lotto as you select your Royal Navy radar designations. Whether it is the 277, 279, 282, 285, 286, 291, or simple DF, Gold Medal Models provides the parts to locate and engage the enemy threat.
Railing & Ladders – Of course you need to protect your crew from being washed overboard and to help you do this GMM provides 24 runs of railing in a total of five styles, including curved bow railing. That is just for the major ships. Destroyers get another four runs of curved bow railing, added to the 24 runs already mentioned. There is even a little something thrown in for you, the Admiral. With your crew taken care of, you’ll have time to take the airs on your sternwalk, if your flagship is so equipped, as GMM provides three runs of the unique criss-cross British sternwalk railing. Also GMM provides 32 inclined ladders in four different lengths as well as plenty of vertical ladder.