The J Class introduced a much stronger armament, displacement and size to the fleet destroyer of the Royal Navy. From the Acasta laid down August 13, 1928, as first of the A Class to Icarus and Ilex as last of the I Class laid down on March 16, 1936, the standard British Destroyer was around 1,350 tons to 1,400 tons standard, 323 feet (98.4) to 329 feet oa (100.28m) and carried four 4.7-Inch and eight 21-Inch torpedo tubes. Leaders of course were larger but carried the same armament. Quintuple torpedo tubes were tried on the Glowworm and adopted by the subsequent I Class. They all looked about the same until Hero and Hereward introduced a new bridge form adopted by the I Class and subsequent designs. In the summer of 1936 the Royal Navy saw the start of a new, very large design, the Tribal Class. At 1,854 tons standard, 377 feet oa (114.9m), and armed with eight 4.7-inch guns, they were an attempt to build a destroyer comparable to the large foreign designs, especially those of the Imperial Japanese Navy. However, with only four 21-inch torpedo tubes, they had only half of the torpedo salvo of the other post World War One designs.

The next design was an attempt to give the British Fleet Destroyer strong gun power and a strong torpedo salvo on a hull smaller and less expensive than the Tribals. The result was the J Class. On August 26, 1937 Jervis the first of the J Class was laid down. Flotilla size dropped from nine to eight, so only eight of the class were laid down. Although not as large as the Tribals, the J Class marked a significant jump in size for the British destroyer and became the pattern for all subsequent pre-war Royal Navy designs. Displacing 1,690 tons with a length of 356 ½ feet oa (108.6m), the J Class had the size necessary for stronger armament than the other classes of fleet destroyer. Because of difficulties with manufacturing enough twin 4.7-inch mounts for all of the Tribals, it was initially suggested to mount four 4.7-inch singles with provisions for substituting twin mounts when they became available. Since the initial design gave no advantages over previous, smaller designs, by 1936 the design had been reworked to include three twin mountings along with two quintuple 21-inch torpedo mounts. The J Class also introduced a single trunked stack to create more deck and accommodation space. The aft twin 4.7-inch mount was trained forward and could not fire in a 20 degree arc directly astern. The design was so successful that the K Class and N Class were basically the same. By 1941 survivors of the class continued to receive more AA armament, which included landing the aft torpedo mount for a 4-inch HA DP gun. 


Plan & Profile
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The J Class started the war as the 5th Flotilla based upon the Humber. They were initially unlucky in their encounters with German destroyers. While on patrol on December 7, 1939 Jersey and Juno were surprised by the German destroyers Lody and Geise. Jersey was badly damaged by a torpedo. In April 1940 they were involved in the Norwegian campaign, minus Jersey which would be under repair until September of that year. They then moved to the channel, where their mission was to intercept German destroyers making mine laying sorties. In November 1940 German destroyers again came out ahead, when two torpedoes struck Javelin. She was out of action for a year. In June 1940 with Italy’s entrance into the war, Jervis, Janus and Juno were sent to the Mediterranean, followed by Jersey, Jaguar and Javelin.

Six of the eight members of the J Class were lost in the war with only Jervis and Javelin surviving. After the bulk of the class reached the Mediterranean, losses came in the following two years. Jersey was the first to go, lost to a mine off of Malta on May 4, 1941, blocking the entrance to the Grand Harbour. Juno followed on May 20, 1941, as she was sunk in an air attack in the Crete operation. Jackal, fatally damaged by German bombers on March 11, 1942, was finished off by Jervis the next day. Jaguar was sunk by U-652 on March 26, 1942. Janus was lost to an aerial torpedo attack off of Anzio on January 23, 1944. Jupiter was the only member of the class sent to the Pacific. She was ordered to Ceylon to join the escort of Repulse and Prince of Wales. She survived the attack in December, which sank the two capital ships and became part of the ABDA force in the Java Sea. On January 17, 1942, Jupiter sank the Japanese submarine I-160 off of Krakatoa in the Dutch East Indies but her luck ran out the following month. She participated in the Battle of Java Sea but on February 27, 1942, struck a mine and sank the next day. Other special events that occurred to members of the class include the Jervis being damaged at Alexandria by Italian human torpedoes, the Janus being severely damaged by French destroyers off of Lebanon, and again the Jervis being damaged in attack involving remote control glider bombs. Jervis and Javelin were part of the naval support for the Invasion of Normandy. 


Quarter Views
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HMS Janus was laid down September 29, 1937, launched November 10, 1938 and commissioned on August 5, 1939. She was originally stationed at Plymouth but on October 8, 1939 was ordered to Rosyth. In the early months of the war she was engaged in patrol and convoy work. On February 27, 1940 she escorted the damaged tanker British Governor to safety. Later she escorted sistership Jackal after Jackal had collided with the Swedish steamer SS Storfoss. On March 19, 1940 immediately before the Norwegian campaign, Jervis collided with another Swedish steamer, the SS Tor. Janus escorted Jervis back to Newcastle and became the flotilla leader. In April Janus was part of the fleet screen for the Norwegian campaign. On April 30 Janus rescued survivors from Bittern and the next day embarked 130 soldiers and some ordnance, which were landed at Mosjoen the next day.

On May 17, 1940 Janus as flagship of the 7th Flotilla under Captain Mack, left for the Mediterranean. She reached Alexandria on the 24th. Captain Mack transferred his flag to the Nubian. When Italy declared war on June 11, 1940 Janus was part of the escort for Warspite, Malaya and Eagle on an offensive sweep. In July she was part of the screen for Royal Sovereign and Malaya as force "C". She was at the Battle of Punta Stilo on July 9, 1940 with Malaya but the battleship was too slow to catch up with the Italian fleet. The next two months saw Janus escorting convoys from Alexandria to Malta, from Malta to Gibraltar and back. On September 16th she was part of a force bombarding Italian troops on the Libyan coast near Sollum. The next months were a series of fleet escort and convoy escort missions. On December 13 Janus escorted the torpedoed cruiser Coventry to Alexandria, which was reached on the 14th. On December 22nd Janus had the distasteful duty of sinking the crippled destroyer Hyperion. One torpedo from Janus broke Hyperion in half. 


Hull Halves
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In January Janus was ordered to standby the cruiser Southampton, which was dead in the water from two bomb hits. Southampton had to be scuttled. On January 18 she escorted the torpedoed Clan Cumming to safety. Janus was part of a force used for offensive operations in the Aegean in February 1941. Janus was a the Battle of Cape Matapan and with Jervis, when the later torpedoed and sank the Italian heavy cruiser Zara.

On April 15 Janus was with the Jervis, Mohawk and Nubian. The force intercepted a German/Italian convoy bound for Libya. Gunfire from Janus badly damaged the Italian destroyer Baleno, destroying her bridge and making her unmanageable. Baleno was beached as a total wreck. Janus then turned her attentions to the merchant ships of the convoy. She torpedoed the freighter Sabaudia, which was loaded with ammunition. The freighter disintegrated in a spectacular explosion. Janus with the other British destroyers, also heavily damaged the Italian destroyer Lampo. She too beached herself but was later recovered by the Italians. With the exception of the Lampo, the entire convoy was destroyed but Mohawk was lost. 


Hull Details
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In May 1941 Janus was escorting the fleet West of Crete to prevent the Italian fleet from reinforcing axis efforts against the island. Janus, who was now part of a destroyer force screening Crete, encountered 25 small ships with German troops and equipment on May 21, escorted by the Italian old destroyer Lupo. Janus mistook Lupo for Kimberly and the Italian ship fired torpedoes at Janus, all of which missed. Janus turned on her searchlight, silenced Lupo and went after the troop carriers. One schooner was set afire, another blown up with the second round from A gun and a third rammed and sunk. As other destroyers and British cruisers joined the attack, the convoy was massacred with only Lupo and three troop carriers escaping. At the end of May Janus was involved in an operation against Vichy French Syria. Italian and German aid for Iraqi operations against Britain had been funneled through Syria. Even though the Iraqi opposition had collapsed on May 31, it was decided to invade Syria in June to remove it as a future threat. On June 9, 1941 Janus with Jackal and Hotspur encountered the French destroyers Guepard and Valmy. Janus tackled the two without waiting for support. The French opened fire at 17,000 yards and Janus responded at 15,000 yards. At 10,000 yards Janus was rapidly hit by five rounds. Everyone on the bridge, other than the captain, was killed and both boilers were put out of action. Janus lost steering and power. Fortunately for Janus, French accuracy deteriorated after this. Jackal came up and the French ships retired in a running gun battle. Janus had to be towed but a fire broke out, which burned for a day. Janus was towed to Haifa, where the fire was eventually extinguished. Janus was out of action until March 1942. The Admiralty was critical of the actions of Janus in going in without support but noted that the French long-range gunnery was significantly superior to the norm in Royal Navy destroyers. They considered it a well-earned French victory. The Syrian campaign ended on July 12, when the French asked for an armistice. French forces had performed very well but they were overwhelmed. 


Smaller Resin Parts
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After being repaired in South Africa Janus returned to Alexandria on April 19, 1942. The very next day while escorting a merchant ship, she was attacked by Italian torpedo bombers but they missed. On June 4 an acoustic mine exploded in the wake of Janus and she was in for repairs for another 3 ½ weeks. In July she was still experiencing problems from the shock of the mine explosion, so she was sent in for more repairs that would keep her out of action until the following October.

In November 1942 Janus was sent back to Britain for a refit. She arrived on January 1943 and was in dock for six months. In her refit she doubled her depth charge guns to four, received extra stern racks and received a lattice mast. At the end of July her refit was complete but she stayed in home waters to test the 293X radar at Scampa Flow in August and September. The 293X needed more development so she was refitted with Type 276 and Type 285. On December 10 she made steam for Gibraltar and a return to the Mediterranean. On December 29, 1943 Janus departed Alexandria to take part in actions around southern Italy. Janus was based at Brindisi and with Jervis made anti-shipping patrols and bombardment missions. On January 8, they sank three schooners and damaged two trains. In a bombardment of Civita Nova they encountered shore battery fire. Janus put an end to this by torpedoing a pier. On January 22 she was sent to take part in the Anzio landings. With Jervis she was to guard the invasion fleet anchorage. The next day a German torpedo bomber launched an attack against Jervis. Jervis avoided the torpedo but it ran past towards Janus. The torpedo struck Janus and detonated number two and also possibly number one magazines. The bow was blown off of Janus and she sank in eight minutes. There were 94 survivors, which was a large number considering that there was a magazine explosion. After Jervis had also received heavy damage, she picked up the survivors from Janus and made for Naples at seven knots. Janus was the sixth and last of the J Class losses during the war. (History from Destroyers of World War Two by M.J.Whitley and The Kelley’s, British J, K, and N Class Destroyers of World War II by Christopher Langtree. The Kelley’s is a superb reference. The ship’s history of the Janus is an extract from this volume. The history of each one of the 24 J, K and N Class British destroyers is covered in minute detail in this invaluable reference work from Chatham Press.


Smaller Resin Parts & Decals
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Janus0366stack.JPG (46587 bytes) Janus0368stack.JPG (58958 bytes) Janus0369boats.JPG (63439 bytes) Janus0356decals.JPG (66189 bytes)

Resin Casting
Flawless! The White Ensign Models 1:350 scale HMS Janus comes with a two piece hull, separated at the waterline. This is a benefit to the modeler who wishes to portray the model in waterline form. The lower hull does not have to be removed and your ready to go on your project. What about the full hull modeler? Split hull models can be chancy for those that wish to build a model with full hull. Different shrinkage rates for upper and lower hull pieces can result in some degree of mismatch between the two halves. However, with the WEM HMS Janus this is not a concern. WEM exercises a very high level of quality control, which was evident as the upper and lower hulls fit flawlessly. There was a slight gap at the stern between the upper and lower halves but that was easily closed with a little pressure. There absolutely no defects, voids or breakage in the hull castings and almost no clean up involved. The two hull halves do not fit seamlessly as there will be a minute bit of filling and light sanding needed to achieve a perfectly seamless fit. I have never seen a two piece hull kit that did not require this step and most require far more work than the WEM Janus to get the final smooth finish.

For the best description of the detail cast into the hull, all I have to say is, look at the photographs. It really does confer a sense of pleasure to simply hold the upper hull casting in your hands and simply admire it. It may sound a trifle odd but it is true. The upper hull casting is so nicely done that you are compelled to admire its craftsmanship. From the perfectly formed capstans at the bow to the delicate waffle pattern of the baffles of the splash guard on number two mount to the various lockers amidships, there is plenty of detail to admire and appreciate on this model. The lower hull is done very nicely as well but frankly, it is hard to get too excited by bilge keels and shaft housings, even when they are executed perfectly, as they are with this kit. 


Parts Dry Fitted, Plan & Profile
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Janus0394dplan.JPG (50386 bytes) Janus0395dbowplan.JPG (58624 bytes) Janus0396dmidplan.JPG (60338 bytes) Janus0397daftplan.JPG (56046 bytes)

With the 01 deck forward and lockers and searchlight platform to the aft being cast integral to the hull, there are only15 smaller resin parts. WEM did not stint with these. The steam pipes on the forward face of the funnel are some best detailing of that common feature that I have yet seen from any manufacturer. Steam pipes you say, big deal. However, that is precisely the point. White Ensign Models cares about the detail of all of the parts, from high visibility armament fittings to common workaday fittings such as steam pipes. Wait! What’s that? There is a tiny resin splash on the side of the bridge face! Good! I have something to complain about, it is not a perfect kit after all. It doesn’t matter that it can be smoothed with five seconds with a sanding pad, my copy of the WEM Janus kit has a defect. It sounds silly but that illustrates the lengths that you have to go, to find any defect with this kit. That one, very small resin splash, was the only thing that I could find wrong with the resin parts of this kit. Christopher Langtree, the author of The Kelly's, British J, K and N Class Destroyers of World War II did note that the kit did have two small omissions; the platform between the mast tripod legs is not included, which was a feature on all the J,K,Ns except the leaders and the depressor paravane which sat on top of the depth charge rack is also omitted. The one included between the winches is the spare. Mr. Langtree went on to mention that the kit is, "the best model of a JKN ever".

White Metal Parts
Quite a few of the smaller parts are executed in white metal. With multimedia kits you can often find a drop off in the detail between resin parts and those of white metal. Resin parts seem to be crisper. I really can’t say there is any decrease in detail between the resin and white metal parts on the Janus. The resin platform amidships has one carley float cast integral to that platform. It is very highly detailed and executed with crisp, fine lines. However, when I attempted to contrast the detail of the eight white metal carley floats with that one resin version, I could discern no difference in the extraordinary level of detail. The white metal parts were on par with their resin twin. Since white metal is malleable and resin is not, long white metal pieces such as the foremast or gun barrels will need some minor fiddling to get them perfectly strait. I really like the white metal propellers. Propellers are another common item that doesn’t get a second thought but the blades are so thin that resin propellers are very susceptible to breakage. White Ensign has managed to make the blades thin in white metal but also sturdy. Again, that is not a high profile item but as with the other fittings, resin and metal, in this kit, it is illustrative of the engineering that goes into all of the parts of this WEM kit. Incidentally, the white metal quad pom-pom is only the basic frame, all of the bells and whistles for this uniquely British piece of ordnance are supplied in the brass photo-etched fret. 


White Metal Parts
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Janus0373props.JPG (96463 bytes) Janus0374rods.JPG (99184 bytes) Janus0375paravanes.JPG (93584 bytes) Janus0376crow.JPG (50601 bytes)

Brass Photo-Etched Fret
Glorious! Again, look at the photographs. The three dimensional relief etching just jumps out. Probably the first thing that you notice is the spider web design of the large circular base plate. It is a shame that you won’t get to use it on the 1940 Janus. This base plate is for a 4-inch HA gun that was shipped in place of the aft torpedo mount in ships of the J, K and N Classes, starting in 1941. Clearly this fret is designed for more models than just the 1940 Janus. Peter Hall was clearly contemplating and scheming for future releases in the class, by the inclusion of not only the 4-inch base plate but other items that were shipped in the class after 1940, such as the lattice mast that replaced the tripod during mid-war refits and twin Oerlikon gun positions. Probably the most telling collective piece of evidence, illustrating Peter’s nefarious scheme to have you build every version of this destroyer class is the inclusion of every nameplate (two for each ship) of the destroyers of the J, K, and N Classes, plus the Dutch Van Galen & Tjerk Hiddes and the Polish Piorun. All of these are done as superb relief etching. 


Brass Photo-Etch
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Janus0383names.JPG (106299 bytes) Janus0384railing.JPG (122054 bytes) Janus0385anchors.JPG (132657 bytes)

Now that you are warned of Peter’s plot to conquer the world with J,K,N Royal Navy destroyer kits, you can steel yourself for the onslaught to come. In the meantime your 1940 Janus can be decked out in the beautifully done relief parts for the pom-pom mount, quad Vickers .50 cal quad machine guns, mattress bridge padding, boat davits and support structures. Anchors, yardarms, stack cap, radars, multi-piece accommodation ladders and fittings & mast detail in a bewildering array and detail are also included on this very comprehensive fret. WEM has taken the extra step in the ship’s railing. As usual with WEM it comes in a number of prototype forms. Bow railing is curved to match the sheer forward and six pieces, including the curved bow pieces, include the solid base/bulkheads that were located flanking gun positions. About the only complaint that can be made concerning any brass part is that you have to cut the inclined ladders to the correct length and that is a pretty feeble complaint. 


Brass Photo-Etch
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Janus0389oerlikons.JPG (120945 bytes) Janus0388yagi.JPG (103329 bytes) Janus0389vickers.JPG (105939 bytes)

Instructions
White Ensign Models remains the once and future king of clear and comprehensive instructions. The instructions for the Janus comprise seven pages of logically presented, highly professional and clearly, comprehensively illustrated steps to bring the Janus from a collection of parts to a museum quality model. Page one is a short history with specifications listing. Page two provides photo and textual descriptions of every resin and white metal part, along with guidelines for working with brass photo-etch parts. Page three includes a photograph of the photo-etched fret, with the parts numbered and keyed to a textual description of every part. Page four has drawings and text for major parts location, Quad Vickers MG assembly and Quad Pom-pom assembly. Page five includes 4.7-inch gun mount assembly, depth charge throwers, boat with davit assembly and bridge wing fittings. Page six has stern rack assembly, paravane gear assembly, foremast tripod construction, funnel fittings, anchor assembly, accommodation ladder assembly and lower hull fittings. 


Box & Instructions
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As has been true with their other kits, WEM includes a beautifully printed full color plan and profile of the Janus as she appeared in the Mediterranean with the 14th flotilla, sporting one of the most striking camouflage disruptive schemes of any Royal Navy destroyer. The only caution that I would give, is to follow the textual descriptions of the locations for the railing found on page three as the assembly drawings do not show where specific types of railing are placed, other than what can be seen on the color plan and profile. However, the textual description is clear as to what type goes where. In other words, take your time, read the text as well as looking at the drawings and you will not misstep. 


Parts Dry Fitted, Quarter Views & Detail
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Janus0404dsbria.JPG (74251 bytes) Janus0406dsmid.JPG (69238 bytes) Janus0407dsbrif.JPG (76002 bytes)

Verdict
The HMS Janus in her 1940 fit, appears to be the first wave of an all out assault by White Ensign Models of the Royal Navy destroyers of the J, K and N Classes. The originals were rich in naval history, Royal Navy tradition and were very handsome designs. The White Ensign Models of HMS Janus fully lives up to the handsome design of the originals. Providing the highest quality, excellently detailed resin, white metal and brass parts with the comprehensive instructions from WEM, the modeler is ensured of a striking and very detailed final model. Regardless of nationality, upon seeing the White Ensign Models HMS Janus, the modeler will be tempted to break into Hearts of Oak.

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