HMS Hood! For twenty years the HMS Hood was the largest warship in the world and was the epitome of the Royal Navy. Originally designed as a battle cruiser, the she was redesigned after the Battle of Jutland to incorporate the latest lessons from that battle. In light of the loss of three British battle cruisers in the battle, the design added a far more extensive armor scheme and gained displacement and lost speed as a consequence. The Hood was still called a battle cruiser but in reality was a 1920 fast battleship, as the horizontal armor scheme was on par with the Queen Elizabeth class battleships. However, the weak point was the deck armor, which proved her undoing in May 1941 when she met the Bismarck.

Hood, along with almost every British battle cruiser, had dramatically good looks and had remained a favorite among ship modelers. Since the 1960s with the 1:600 Airfix Hood and 1:400 scale Lindburg Hood, the Mighty Ood has been a regular with ship modelers. Then, with the new millennium, White Ensign Models produced a 1:350 scale resin HMS Hood. This was the largest subject ever tackled by the British firm and at the time was the ne plus ultra kit available. However, in spite of the excellence of the WEM model, it had one draw back, price. Most modelers could not afford a resin model of this large model. About two years later, the Ukrainian firm of ICM announced that they would produce an injected plastic version of the Hood in 1:350 scale and instantly the sales of the WEM Hood disappeared. It didn't matter that ICM never produced the kit, just the announcement was enough to kill sales of WEM's outstanding model. For four years, modelers have been clamoring for an injected plastic Hood in the large scale and the 1:350 scale plastic kit assumed the role of the proverbial Flying Dutchman of injected plastic kits. Finally in the Spring of 2006 Trumpeter produced one. 

White Ensign Models had produced an incredibly advanced and extensive, multi-fret set of photo-etch brass for their 1:350 scale resin model, so it was natural to assume that they could quickly dust it off for release for the Trumpeter kit. However, this was not the case. The original photo-etch set was state of the art in 2000 but the art of photo-etch development has made significant advances since then. As one prominent example, the earlier set did not employ relief etching, which is now a standard feature on high-end photo-etch products. Yankee Trader and expatriate Californian, John Snyder, managed to temporarily acquire a preproduction copy of the Trumpeter kit and off it went to the wilds of northern England to the lair of the Mad One. Mad Pete was shackled to the dungeon wall until he completed a completely new two fret set of photo-etch, specifically designed to fit the Trumpeter kit. This is no rehash of a six-year-old set of brass but is new from the ground up. As usual, White Ensign Models has made the product state of the art, with all of the glorious relief-etching and detail for which they are justly renowned. 


A Fret
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Fret A
Fret A is the smaller of the two brass photo-etch frets included in this set. However, since it measures 7-inches by 5 Ĺ-inches, it certainly is not small. The stack grates first grab attention, as the bass replication of the iron-work is far finer and more realistic than what can be accomplished with injected plastic. There is certainly no need for using stretched sprue for the rig of the main boot crane. WEM includes the rigging, as well relief-etched block and tackle. They also provide stays for the forward director. Heavily detailed supplemental parts for Vickers quadruple .50 machine guns and 4-inch HA guns are included on this fret. The relief-etching on these parts provides incredible detail to super detail the plastic parts included in the Trumpeter kit. It cannot be overstated that these parts, as well as the additional 100s of parts included in this set greatly increase the detail and fineness of the Trumpeter model. As an example, take the detail found for the 4-inch HA/LA guns. Not only are the sides for each mount heavily relief-etched, but also some fittings on each side piece are bent at 90 degree angles to provide fine three dimensional detail. Each mount receives four separate gun layerís seat, loading light, and fuse setting fittings. The extra detail for the Vickers mounts is no less impressive. Each is provided with relief-etched sides for the mount, as well as the circular base plate with individual rivets, which anchored the ordnance to the deck.


A Fret
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One odd piece of ordnance developed for the Royal Navy has the U.P. rocket mount. These unguided rockets were a great idea for anti-aircraft defense, which didnít work as anticipated and were quickly replaced throughout the fleet. What is unappreciated until you look at the great detail included in the WEM fret to detail the U.P. mounts is the great detail included on these mounts. You may think that the rocket box was a smooth sided box but that is not so. The sides and top of the rocket boxes were actually a great number of holes in a plate. That detail as well as the twenty hole muzzle cap are found in this set, all courtesy of Mad Peteís insane determination to provide the utmost detail, even if it canít be seen with the naked eye. Also included for these mounts are canister base plate, front vision port and side access doors. Another set of outstanding relief-etched parts are the three hawse plate grills found on the forecastle. These are not just solid covers but are open square grills sunken into a raised frame. Other parts with significant relief-etching are 284 gunnery radar, hawser reels, bulkhead mounted cordage reels, deck mounted cordage reels, pulley blocks, pulley wheels and signal lamps.

Other parts, because of their nature have very light relief-etching. There are seven different type of vent grills. Although of different sizes, they all have the same cross grid grill pattern with a raised frame edge. The long accommodation ladders have relief-etched Hood name plates on the outer edge. This fret also has a great number of parts without relief etching. Many of these are inclined ladders with individual treads that are bent to be parallel with the deck. Twenty of these ladders, in four lengths, are of the standard design. However, the Hood also comes with specialized and unique inclined ladders. Some of these are quarterdeck ladders and fore deck ladders. Additionally there are long and short accommodation ladders. Other parts on Fret A include various handrails; davits; 279 radar parts; wireless house antennas; night life buoy parts; paravane parts; optical AA director; spotting top anemometer; leadsmanís platforms; searchlight lens grids; boat fittings; semaphores and 9í range finder. 


B Fret
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Fret B
This larger fret measures 11 Ĺ-inches by 7-inches. About half the fret is for railing but the other half does have some big ticket items. Chief among them are the mast tops. The starfish for these tops are quite intricate and WEM provides brass replacements for a more in scale appearance than those plastic parts found in the kit. The large foremast platform contain fifteen parts with the smaller main top starfish not far behind with thirteen parts. White Ensign Models provides a complete replacement for the aft 4-inch HA/LA gun. The replacement includes the deck with relief-etched planking and the splinter shield. One item that surely will attract attention is the circular disc with the coat of arms of HMS Hood. Although this beautiful piece of brass is not used on the model, there are still two possible uses for it. It can be attached to a long length of anchor chain and given to your wife as a pendant. This of course will give you a bonding experience and perhaps make her more understanding of your hobby. On the other hand, the coat of arms/crest will certainly add extra snap alongside a name plate on a display stand. Although the large circular coat of arms/crest is immediately apparent and is of limited actual use, consider the eight very small discs to the right of this part. Unless guns were in action, the barrels had tampions closing off the muzzles from water. In the Royal Navy the tampions would have the shipís crest or coat of arms embossed on the tampion. It is truly amazing and illustrative of the detail worked into this set that WEM provides tampions for the fifteen-inch guns of the Hood and that these small parts have relief-etched crests of the Hood. Another unusual option is the presence of two wood plank platforms for X turret. For a time, these platforms with their support brackets were found on X turret for a time. However, by 1941 they had been removed. 


B Fret
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In sheer quantity Fret B has a huge number of relief-etched doors and hatches. The quality is fabulous and almost every type of shape can be seen. Some are closed and some are open and can be adjusted in conjunction with the oval frame from wide open to just ajar. Each type of door has the fittings in relief. Even more intriguing are some deck hatches. For a closed hatch, you can simply affix the hatch to the deck but you can also attach the hatch in an open position. In this form the hatch is angled up from the deck but in addition there is an entrance frame with which you can add a canvas cover through paper or white glue. Two hatches even have separate round porthole covers, which can be attached in open or closed positions. Another type of hatch are small access hatches for the main gun turrets. These are found at the rear of the crown of the turret.

Other specific fittings include pom-pom detail; wire spreaders; shipís name letters; yardarms; davits; boat chocks; anchor chain screw stoppers; and boat details. Half of this fret is devoted to railing, vertical ladder and degaussing cable. The Hood had an external degaussing cable that was quite prominent. WEM provides all of the degaussing cable that youíll need. There are twelve long runs of cable, four quarterdeck dip lengths and eight angled lengths in three different styles. For railing, there is a wide variety of styles. Although the railing is not custom fitted and you have to cut them to shape, these are far from generic railing. The wide variety of styles will certainly give the Hood model a custom look. Some is three bar, some is two bar and there varieties of styles of each, including bow railing with solid panels. Also included are four lengths of vertical ladder and two lengths of anchor chain. 


B Fret
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Instructions
The instructions are in the usual impeccable WEM style. It is difficult to foresee anyone being confused with the text and drawing combination employed by WEM in their instructions. As I have said in almost every review of a White Ensign Models product, their instructions are the best in the business. They are nine pages in length. Page one has an outline of A Fret with every part numbered and a textual description of each numbered part. Page two has a numbered outline of Fret B. Page three has the textual description of the Fret B parts and assembly modules for turret access hatches, platforms on X turret and 4-Inch mount detailing. Page four continues the detailing of armament with modules on the quad Vickers, pom-poms, U.P. mounts, as well as the 279 radar and wireless house antennas. Page five contains modules for main gunnery radarí main director braces, nine-foot range finderí searchlight covers, boat fittings and boat cradles. Page six has starfish detail, aft 4-Inch gun platform replacement, accommodation ladders, aft AA directors and quarterdeck ladders. Page seven has modules on main crane rigging, small crane fittings, rigging blocks, reel assemblies, stack grills and door/hatch assembly. Page eight has modules on night life buoy racks, vent grills, railing/chain attachment. Lastly, the ninth page has spotting top detail, paravane details, admiralís windows, bow degaussing detail and aft degaussing detail. 


Instructions
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Verdict
This set is called "The Ultimate Set" by White Ensign Models. Is this hyperbole? That is hard to say. WEM has the first set of 1:350 scale photo-etch detail for the Trumpeter HMS Hood. However, whatever the future may bring, this WEM product packs incredible detail into almost every piece of brass included in this large set. Further WEM certainly brings a long and distinguished pedigree of superb production values and none more so than their history with photo-etch for a Hood in this scale. The Ultimate Set? Ė Donít bet against White Ensign Models

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