By the end of World War One, the Royal Navy led the world in destroyer development. The post war A through I class destroyers were basically derivatives of the WWI V&W class. With few exceptions, the A through I destroyers had two funnels, carried four 4" or 4.7" guns and had a standard displacement from 1,350 to 1,450 tons. By 1934 it had become obvious to the Admiralty that foreign destroyer designs generally exceeded British designs in size and offensive power. The standard design of the IJN, starting with the Fubuki class begun in 1926, was very powerful, with five or six 5" guns and nine 24" torpedoes. The French, Italian and United States navies were all in the process of building larger, more capable destroyers. The Admiralty could also see that the Kriegsmarine had started laying down large destroyers of 2,200 tons by October 1934.
There are a number of good references available for the Tribal Class. The "Bible" is British Destroyers by Edgar March. It's 542 pages on all of the classes of British destroyers from the original A Class of the 1892 program through the Daring Class of the 1944 program. It's filled with pull out plans and profiles but has long been out of print. If you can find a copy, it will cost over $100. Warship in Profile #2 is on HMS Cossack but also has very good coverage on others of the class. It can be found from time to time in the $10 to $20 price range. Profile Morskie: Tribal #16 is still in print and is very good for the 16 pages of plans in a number of different scales. Be careful with the color schemes on the front inside cover. Eskimo's is clearly wrong. Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia by M.J. Whitley has a good overview of the class with coverage on their service records. Still in print, it is an excellent overall source but doesn't have useable plans or the detail of the other three. One other reference that I have not seen is The Tribal Class by Peter Hodges. Published by Almark, it is out of print. Last month I saw a copy for sale on abebooks for around $40.
The Admiralty therefore decided to build their own "super destroyer", "The Hood of the destroyers", HMS Hood being considered the most powerful warship in the world in 1934. The primary requirement was a heavy main gun battery with a strong AA fit for fleet defense. The original design contemplated ten 4.7-inch guns in five mounts. However, it was decided to substitute a quad pom-pom for one of the 4.7" mounts.
The Royal Navy laid down sixteen Tribal Class destroyers in 1936. Starting in 1940 Canada also laid down an additional eight Tribals and Australia laid down three starting in 1939. The Tribals were at the forefront in the Atlantic and Mediterranean naval conflicts. Twelve out of the sixteen RN Tribals were sunk. All of the Canadian and Australian Tribals survived the war. They are all gone now except for the HMCS Haida, museum ship in Toronto, Canada.
HMS Nubian spent almost her entire war career in the Mediterranean. She was present in the action off Calabria (July 1940), Crete (August-September 1940), the raid on Taranto (November 1940), Cape Matapan (April 1941), various interceptions of Italian convoys and escort of British convoys, and at the Salerno landings (September 1943). By mid 1944 she was back in home waters and in 1945 was sent to the Indian Ocean to operate off Malaya. HMS Eskimo had her bow blown off by a German destroyer at the second Battle of Narvik (April 1940). After repairs she served in Arctic waters in 1941 and 1942 on Russian convoy duty. In August 1942 she participated in Operation Pedestal before returning to the Arctic for escort of PQ18 and QP14 convoys in September. Eskimo was also at the Salerno landings as well as Normandy. Eskimo finished her career in the Indian Ocean along with Nubian and Tartar.
IRON SHIPWRIGHT’S TRIBAL
The IRON SHIPWRIGHT 1:350 scale model is cast as a one-piece full hull. All parts are resin, except for brass rods used for the propeller shafts and tripod(s), and the brass fret. The IS Tribal contains optional parts that give the modeler great flexibility. It is stated to be a 1942 fit but appears to more accurately portray the an early war Tribal. The kit shows the ship with a tripod mainmast and most of the class had landed their mainmast by 1942 in order to reduce topweight. However, with the kit's optional parts, it is easy to model a later fit. Initially the class mounted quad .50 inch Vickers machine-guns, one mount on each beam on a platform between the funnels. Oerlikon 20 mm guns replaced the Vickers mounts. The kit gives you both the Vickers mounts and the 20mm Oerlikons. As the war progressed, the 4.7" X- position gun was replaced with a twin 4" Mk XIX mount. As with the AA fit, IS provides both 4.7 inch and 4 inch mounts. The IS kit has holes drilled in the deck for placement of the funnel stays, a very nice touch. All the parts were very well done. There are a few minor points that I would make as far as accuracy. The kit shows the bridge with two portholes on the starboard as well as the port side. From study of photos of the ships of the class, it appears that Tribals had two portholes on the port side of the bridge but only one on the starboard face. The aft porthole on the starboard can be filled to correct this. The searchlight platform on the aft superstructure is square in the kit but in photos it appears to be rectangular with a rounded aft end. The shell ejection duct for the quad pom-pom is a little bit too large and needs to be reduced in size. Lastly the Quad Vickers mounts appear too small and don’t adequately portray the weapon. I hope IS redesigns that piece for future RN releases.
The photos of Eskimo and Nubian show that the kit can build into models of significantly different appearance. The most obvious difference is that Eskimo is built full hull and Nubian waterline. I built the Eskimo from the box with minor modifications. David Lilly built the Nubian along different lines. David prefers waterline models, so when he ordered the kit from IS, he asked Ted Paris to cast it waterline. That’s basically a special order and involves pouring less resin into the one piece full hull mold than normal. I talked to Ted about how he measures the resin in this situation. He has to make an estimate as to the right amount. There is no guarantee that it will be exactly on the mark. Ted’s casting for David was right on the mark, perfect. Normally there is a bit more resin poured in the mold to be safe so the ship appears to ride high and requires sanding to bring back down to a normal waterline.
The only changes made to Eskimo were a brass rod for the fore funnel starboard steam pipe, additional detail on the quad pom-pom, the addition of funnel stays, filling the aft porthole on the starboard side of the bridge, and building her with a stump pole mainmast, instead of a tripod. She is painted in the striking two color Western Approaches camouflage scheme, used on her Arctic runs. I was using Model-Expo model shipyard paints but I could not get them to spray, so I resorted to hand painting Eskimo. Eskimo has the 4" mount in X position and 20 mm Oerlikons.
David also built Nubian with the pole mainmast but more significantly he raised the aft funnel by fabricating an evergreen plastic base. He also substituted a photo-etched brass quad Vickers and quad pom-pom mounts for the kit versions. Nubian has all four 4.7 inch gun mounts. He used model race car rub off decals for the pennant numbers on the sides. I like that approach much better than the appliqué decals that I used on Eskimo. Nubian was painted in her Mediterranean camouflage scheme (Alexandria Type), as shown at page 49 in Alan Raven’s Camouflage Volume One: Royal Navy 1939-1941 published by Warship Perspectives. Polly Scale paints were used and were matched to the paint chips of the Snyder and Short Royal Navy Chip Set #1. He used rounded Carley floats rather than the squared off ones found in the kit.
The IRON SHIPWRIGHT Tribal Class destroyer is a nicely executed kit. Although it's one of their older releases, it still looks fresh and up to current standards. The kit's best feature is its many options. This gives the modeler flexibility in choosing a year/fit to portray. The builder can model a Tribal class destroyer in any fit from pre-war up to late war, just prior to the fitting of a lattice foremast to surviving ships. Anyone who likes the unique design and rich history of this tough combatant will enjoy building the Iron Shipwright Tribal class destroyer.