In the review of the Trumpeter 1:350 scale Sovremenny, it was stated, "Trumpeter provides a brass photo-etched fret in their 1:350 scale Sovremenny kit, just as they did in their 1:200 scale version. This clearly sets Trumpeter apart from most mass-production plastic model manufacturers. Although brass photo-etch parts can be found in some low production, high quality kits, primarily aircraft kits from specialty manufacturers, it is almost unheard of in the world of mass-production warship kits." (Click for review of the Trumpeter 1:350 Sovremenny) Since Trumpeter took the extra step in providing a brass photo-etch set in their kit, is there a need for special photo-etched sets from the major photo-etch manufacturers? For many modelers the answer is clearly yes. Although the photo-etch set provided by Trumpeter is clearly superior in duplicating delicate arrays such as radar sets, the delicacy of the supplied fret is still significantly lower than the quality of the major, specialized manufacturers. Additionally the Trumpeter fret only provides the bare necessities. While many modelers will be very happy with the fret provided by Trumpeter, many others will want even more detailed parts and many more parts than provided in the Trumpeter fret. Two of the major photo-etch manufacturers have gone about producing a photo-etch set for the Sovremenny and the first off the mark is that pride of the British Empire, White Ensign Models.
Following Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), the staff of White Ensign Models locked Peter Hall, the Mad Monk of Modeling, in a windowless room and fed him a diet of bubbles & squeak and warm British beer, with of course some necessary breaks, until he produced the requisite product, the finely detailed, double fret, brass photo-etched set, dedicated to super-detail the Trumpeter 1:350 scale Sovremenny. The bubbles & squeak regimen worked and in record time Mad Pete had concocted another masterpiece. Once done, John Snyder transported Mad Pete to Ludlow in John’s Miata for a feast of fish and chips.
Why should any modeler of the Sovremenny want to acquire White Ensign Models WEM PE 3560, 1:350 Sovremenny Class Destroyers photo-etched set? There are two simple and very clear reasons, quality and quantity. The Sovremenny set follows the WEM pattern set in other photo-etched sets designed for specific kits. It is a two fret deluxe set with each fret being in different gages of brass. Fret A contains all of the delicate items and is rendered in very fine, thin brass and Fret B contains the heavier, structural items such as the lattice masts. If you have noticed, Trumpeter has actually produced two 1:350 scale Sovremenny kits. One covers the initial design, Project 956, and the other covers the modified Project 956E, also called 956A, design of the later units. WEM PE 3560 provides detail parts for either kit.
Fret A – Light & Lively
Fret A has not only relief-etched parts but also is composed a great number of non-relief parts up to the high standard of WEM photo-etch. One of the prominent radar arrays is found here, the Top Steer, multiple array for the tower of the Sovremenny initial project 956 design. This will probably be one of the more challenging subassemblies in the set, as the two radar array is assembled from 22 brass parts. However, the finished assembly will have an appearance and detail far surpassing to kit supplied parts. The AK-130 CIWS also get the deluxe WEM treatment. How about liquid coolant pipes, footsteps, circular handrail and platform rails. WEM includes enough antennae to satisfy any officer of the BBC with Prim Wheel antenna, cage antenna, IFF antenna, Pop Art antenna, UHF antenna, and Cage B antennae. Other specific goodies are wind vanes, forward funnel platform support, aerial spreaders, platform supports, Shtil SSM open grating footplates, and RBU-1000 ASW rocket tube mechanisms.
Of course the Sovremenny is not complete without the generic details such as railing, vertical ladder or inclined ladders. Look as you will, you will not find railing in the Trumpeter kit. Well, you may say, no problem as I have plenty of spare railing left over from my build of the HMS Bumblebee. You may have plenty of spare railing but is it up to equipping the extremely pronounced sheer of the forecastle? One design characteristic found in the Sovremenny and typical of Russian warship design is the high rise to run ratio of the forecastle sheer. The bow of most Russian warships is very dramatic with this very pronounced sheer. The strong sheer is there to reduce the amount of water taken onboard forward in rough weather or a high speed, an item of importance to those operating in the Barents Sea in January or for that matter, any time of the year. To get it right, special railing needs to be used for the strongly curving sheer. White Ensign Models provides this special curved railing on this fret, as well as eight other runs of railing in three more styles. Inclined ladders, stairs to lubbers, sure Trumpeter provides them in their photo-etch fret but their ladders do not have handrails. As John Snyder well knows from his arduous service aboard USS Bainbridge, it is difficult to bring the captain his coffee from the galley without those handrails. By now, you may say, Wow, that’s a lot of stuff! Well chief we’re only halfway through, as we have another fret to go.
Fret B – Heavy Duty
One of the main differences between the initial Sovremenny and the modified design of the Project 956E ships, other than the design of the lattice mast, is the main radar. The Top Steer of the 956 is found on Fret A but the massive Fregat radar array of the 956E ships is found on Fret B. The assembly for the Fregat is far simpler than for the Top Steer, as it has only 11 parts, including the platform, compared to the 22 parts for the Top Steer array. The Top Steer is a far lighter, spider web array with a lot of curves and light framing. The Fregat array has a more massive solid appearance. Mostly this is because the Fregat has solid central framing sandwiched between the two large, flat rectangular arrays. However, don’t be deceived into thinking that the WEM Fregat is any less detailed than the WEM Top Steer. Both are superb replicas of these Russian radars. The center assembly for the WEM Fregat is very impressive with very sharp angles. The radar arrays themselves are equally impressive. Look at the photograph of the WEM Frgat. Notice that the horizontal lines are not a series of horizontal lines but to the contrary it is one long member arrayed in a serpentine manner, making a series of 180 degree loops from the start to the end.
Fret B has many more parts of equal quality. Also found are flight deck retainer net frame, folded helicopter rotors that can be deployed if desired, rotor head plates, a series of small platforms and structures for the 956 lattice mast, dipoles for the Top Steer, more open grating platforms, platform supports, DF loop, DF antenna and UHF antenna. Another characteristic of modern Russian warship design is in the way runs of railing end. Russian design calls for looped end pieces. These are found on Fret B, along with 36 relief-etched doors, special walkway railing, four runs of solid steel railing and three runs of vertical ladder.
White Ensign Models has produced another item that is essential for any modeler wishing to build a warship model to the highest level of detail and accuracy. The only question one needs to ask is, How far do I want to go? White Ensign Models provides the parts to go as far as you want. With two brass frets WEM PE3560 provides the hardware to do so. With the impressive Trumpeter 1:350 scale Sovremenny kit and WEM PE3560 any modeler will have the ingredients for a prize winning replica of this graceful Russian warship.