The Oberon class of conventionally powered submarines was a follow-up to the earlier Porpoise class with an almost identical appearance. New hull materials gave a deeper diving depth, and additional soundproofing was provided. These submarines were well designed and built and considered very quiet for their day. Many of the 27 boats in this class stayed in service with the Royal Navy as well as the Royal Australian, Royal Canadian, Brazilian and Chilean Navies past the year 2000. HMS Onyx was the only conventional submarine to see service in the Falkland's War of 1982, where she was used for special operations in and around the islands. In 1962, the Ministry of Defence announced that Royal Canadian Navy was to three buy Oberon class subs from the United Kingdom. The first of these was the HMCS Ojibwa obtained from the Royal Navy construction program. She was originally laid down as Onyx and the name was reused for the later Royal Navy sub mentioned above. The other two, Onondaga and Okanagan, were Canadian orders. There were some design changes made to meet the specific needs of the RCN, including installation of RCN communication equipment and increased air conditioning capacity to meet the wide climate extremes of Canadian operating areas. All three RCN subs underwent Submarine Operational Upgrade Program (SOUP) during the 1980s, with more modern sensors, fire control equipment and weapons fitted as a result. The only external difference was the larger sonar dome on the forward upper casing. The stern tubes were removed during this upgrade as well. The RCN later obtained two additional Oberon class subs: Olympus in 1989 to serve as a alongside training ship and Osiris in 1992 to be cannibalized for spare parts. In 1999 O-class boats were decommissioned with the Onondaga being acquired by the Province of Quebec as a museum piece.
The Resin Shipyard, a relative new-comer to resin ship model business, specializes in Royal Canadian Navy subjects. Founded and run by Darren Scannell and Fred Bustard, who are no strangers to the denizens of Steel Navy (though they have been called strange, but that is merely hearsay), they are hoping to fill a void with their kits. The Resin Shipyard kit of the HMCS Ojibwa represents a post-SOUP version, with the larger sonar dome. Any of the three operational boats in RCN service can be built with this kit, however to model the Onondaga and Okanagan you will need to fill in and sand over the round hatch on the port side of the sail as this was fitted only on the Ojibwa. The model is comprised of resin and photoetch parts. Brass rod for the prop shafts and a great decal sheet are also provided. The resin parts include the full hull, sail, rudder and hydroplanes, periscopes and antennas, shaft struts and propeller hubs. The casting of the resin parts is excellent with lots of detail. I had to remove the casting plug on the bottom of the hull and do a little filling and sanding to smooth the area out. I drilled two holes along the keel to fit some brass rod to mount on a display board. I also replaced the resin supports on the rudders and planes with brass rod for sturdiness. I drilled holes in the hull to accommodate the rod when I glued these into place. The photo-etch parts include the brass version of the periscopes and antennas, deck guard rails, sail grab rails, radar, propellers and lookout hatch covers. The inclusion of both resin and brass versions of the periscopes and antennas gives the modeler the choice of what they would rather use. I opted for the 3-dimensional resin versions, replacing the tops of the communications mast and periscopes with brass wire using the etched versions as a guide. The resin sail has holes in the sides which are supposed to line up with the ends of the grab rails. On my kit, they did not line up, probably do to the resin shrinking a bit. That made it very difficult to glue on the rails with out making a too much of a mess with the CA glue. I opted to fill these in and just use brass wire glued flush with the sail to give the appearance of these grab rails. I could have drilled new holes but I decided to take the easy way out.
The photo-etch props are finely done but while attempting to slide one of them onto the shaft of a resin hub, I ended up catapulting the prop into the vast void. After about 6 weeks I still havenít found it with all likelihood that it was consumed by the vacuum cleaner. I could have contacted Darren Scannell for a replacement, (the instructions do state that parts are replaced no questions asked) but since he knows me he would have done so with a heavy slathering of good natured ribbing. Instead of facing some of his dry Canadian wit, I decided to dig through my spares box and found some resin props that were the correct size. The five pages of instructions are well done with very good illustrations and a step-by-step assembly guide. The painting instructions couldnít be easier as these subs were an overall black above and below the waterline. I used Testors Model Master Aircraft Interior Black, which is really an almost black dark gray, to give it a more scale effect and to better show off some of the cast detail. As per the instructions I gave the model a coat of Testors clear semi-gloss lacquer. The decal sheet is really well done, with a variety of draft markings and pennant numbers, flags and maple leafs. However, with this kit, only the red Roman numeral draft markings are used. The other markings are to be used on pre-SOUP Oberon class and Victoria class submarines. A Victoria class kit, which replaced the RCN "O" boats, is planned as a future release. The draft markings went on with out a problem, reacting well to Microscale solvents.
This was a fun model, and despite a couple of minor hiccups for which I am partly to blame, it was very easy and straight forward to build. I am happy with the results and it makes a fine addition to my growing submarine fleet. I am deciding which Resin Shipyard kit to get next and I am eagerly awaiting the Victoria class kit whenever it does get released.