For the Royal Navy the Type 22 frigate, Broadsword class, appeared to be a successful design. For the British government the Type 22 frigate appeared too expensive. For the British ship building industry the Type 22 frigate was a failure in that its sophistication and cost seemed to prevent any foreign orders. In July 1981 conservative Defense Minister Sir John Knott published a White Paper that as well as stating that the RN would have to take cuts, ended production of the Type 22 frigate. The Type 22 cost 130 million pounds per unit but a new design, the Type 23 frigate, would be constructed that cost only 70 million pounds per unit. As originally conceived the Type 23 budget frigate would provide the numbers the Royal Navy needed at a price of half of the previous design. Of course to build a frigate at half the price of the Type 22 meant a reduction in capabilities. There would be no hangar for helicopters, although there would be flight deck for landings. There would be a light SAM missile system for self-defense against air attacks. A 76mm gun, Exocet SSMs but the prime purpose of the design would be for ASW, as the new ships would incorporate a towed array sonar. The British shipbuilding industry looked forward to building this cheaper design in hopes of securing orders from other navies.
The absurdity of building inexpensive, less capable ships in lieu of expensive, capable ships, was brought home the next year in the South Atlantic. In the Falklands War the economy Type 42 destroyers lost two of their number to air attack. Their AA system was incapable of defending themselves. Two Type 22 frigates participated in the war and this class came through with flying colors, HMS Broadsword and Brilliant. Early in the war Brilliant used her Lynx helicopters to hunt for the Argentine submarine Santa Fe and thus proved the wisdom of having helicopter hangars on frigates. She was then assigned to protect the carriers Invincible and Hermes from Argentine air attack. On May 12, 1982 a wave of Argentine Skyhawks bore in and HMS Brilliant fired her Seawolf AA missiles. This automatic missile system was expensive and another factor in making the Type 22 "too expensive." The Seawolf system was a resounding success. The missiles from Brilliant destroyed two of the aircraft and a third attacker crashed into the sea while trying to avoid a third missile. HMS Broadsword also knocked down another three Argentine aircraft during the war and suffered only minor damage and no crew losses in spite of being attacked twelve times. In a collective "Oops" a new White Paper, entitled The Falklands Campaign: The Lessons came out in December 1982, which announced that instead of ending Type 22 production, five new frigates of this design would be ordered to replace war losses.
The evaluation of the Falklands War not only resumed building the Type 22 frigate, but also caused a complete redesign of the Type 23. Clearly building cheap ships of very limited capabilities was false economy. Ships that canít defend themselves or their crews are hardly cheap when you have to consider the price of replacing them after their loss. Changes to the Type 23 design included addition of a 32 round GWS26 VLS Seawolf SAM system instead of the six round GWS25 system, substituting a 4.5-inch gun for the 76mm, a hangar for operation of the Sea King or Merlin helicopters. The hull was lengthened, two Oerlikon 30mm guns were added, ASW torpedo tube incorporated into the hangar were added and eight Harpoon missiles replaced the Exocet missiles. With all of these additions the estimated cost of each unit jumped from 70 million to 90 million pounds.
Special attention was paid to fire fighting in light of the damage caused by fires to ships sustaining battle damage in the Falklands. The ship has five self-contained fire fighting zones and every effort has been made to reduce the threat of fire damage. Since the towed array sonar was the original system around which the Type 23 was to be designed, the quietness of the machinery was very important. The design incorporated a combined diesel electric and gas turbine propulsion system (CODLAG). The system is very quiet and highly automated, thus reducing crew requirements. The design is also semi-stealthy. The intent was to eliminate vertical surfaces, which most readily return radar beams. To do this the hull has a V cross-section with a strong outward flare. Superstructure bulkheads are sloped in or angled out to eliminate a vertical surface.
As the Type 23 was being designed it was anticipated that the class would follow the already established naming practices for Royal Navy frigates. The Type 21 frigates all started with the letter A, Type 22 Batch I started with B and Type 22 Batch II started with C. Therefore it was anticipated that the Type 23 vessels would start with the letter D and Daring class destroyer names may be repeated. However, it was announced that the Type 23 frigate would be called the Duke class. The names were of British Dukes and repeated former battleship names (Marlborough, Iron Duke) or cruiser names (Norfolk, Monmouth, Lancaster, Kent). The lead ship was HMS Norfolk F230 and was laid down at Yarrow Shipbuilders on the Clyde on December 19, 1985. She was launched on July 10, 1987 and commissioned on November 28, 1989. The class consists of 16 frigates, twelve built by Yarrow and four built by Swan Hunter. In another economy measure three were withdrawn from service and one of them, the Norfolk sold to Chile in November 2006 as the Almirante Cochrane. (History from Royal Navy Frigates since 1945, by Leo Marriott, and Warships Today, by Chris Chant)
White Ensign Models Type 23 Frigate HMS Norfolk
For deck detail Iíll start with the stern. Here the fittings found inside the aft compartment of the main deck are shown. Youíll notice that there are support ribs on the interior hull sides, twin bollard plates and a windlass, again associated with the towed array. WEM certainly didnít need to include this detail because it will be covered with the aft portion of the flight deck, which is a brass piece. However, it has always been a policy of White Ensign Models to supply as much detail as humanly (or in the case of Mad Pete, other-worldly) possible. Going forward on the upper deck, there are minimal fittings, just a reel or so behind the forward superstructure. This minimal approach to deck details disappears to some extent at the forecastle. In front of the superstructure are base plates for the two four-tube Harpoon canisters. There are twin bollard plates at deck edge flanking these base plates, as well as two more forward on the forecastle. The VLS Seawolf mount is in an open topped deck house with four rows of eight missile canisters running lengthwise. At the fore part are two anchor chain base plates, anchor windlasses, and a breakwater. The casting of these parts is slightly thick and could have been a little bit finer.
A quick look at the superstructure reflects that all outwardly facing surfaces slant outwards, in the case on the VLS housing and forward face of forward superstructure, or inwardly as sides of the fore and aft superstructures. The superstructure sides have a good deal of detail with doors, square window covers and some vertical piping. Both forward and aft superstructures have mid-height platforms cast into the hull casting, which simplifies assembly. The top of the hanger has three unusual features, which were apparently included to break up the flat surface. They look like curving asymmetrical splinter shields. All three curve backwards as they go from starboard to aft. Locator stubs are found amidships for the separate center superstructure and on the forward superstructure for the separate bridge piece.
Smaller Resin Pieces
After the hull there are three major resin pieces. On is the bridge piece there are forward and side windows. A walkway with splinter shield curves around the bridge. I consider this splinter shielding just about right. Any thinner would invite breakage. On top of the bridge is a triangular curved fitting in front of the forward illuminator. A separate amipships superstructure piece has good forward face detail with four access doors and a small mid height platform with door. Side detail also includes doors, windows and other fittings. The top has a locator hole for the stack. The third large separate piece is the stack. As with the rest of the superstructure, all four sides curve inward as they rise. The top has four exhaust vents, two large hexagon exhausts for the gas turbines and two smaller circular vents for the diesels. All three pieces will need to be removed from resin casting vents.
Next there are three sets of pieces on resin runners. One runner contains five pieces. They are the 4.5-inch gun turret, which is exceptionally fine with a flared muzzle and bore evacuator; equally fine foremast with various platforms, mainmast, 996 radar antenna and Sea Archer pintle. There are two more resin runners, which are identical. Each one contains eight parts. These parts are a RHIB; four-tube Harpoon canister; 911 fire control director; 911 pedestal; 30mm Oerlikon mount, SCOT radome; and two RBOC countermeasure launchers. All of these parts are beautifully done with special kudos going to the Oerlikons and 911 radars. Another bag consists of the smallest loose resin parts, plus a Lynx helicopter. The Lynx is just the fuselage as all of the helicopter fittings are done in brass. The smallest parts are life-raft canisters.
Brass Photo-Etch Fret
All you need to see is the "Peter Hall" signature on a WEM brass fret to know that you are receiving relief-etched brass of the highest degree of detail and quality. As anyone who has built a resin kit from White Ensign Models knows, a WEM kit is photo-etch intensive. WEM traditionally, if not perpetually, provides more fine photo-etch with one of their kits than is found with most others. This is true with the WEM Type 23 frigate Norfolk. The large brass fret contains 51 different brass designs with many designs having more than one part. The largest brass part is the aft end of the flight deck. This spectacular piece has engraved lines and perforated plates. Almost every part of this model will be decorated with photo-etch. In fact you could not build it without using at least some of the brass pieces. As an example WEM provides resin Harpoon canisters but the mount frame is part of the photo-etch. The helicopter resin piece is unusable without the six brass pieces that finish this miniature. These include main and tail rotors, stabilizer, and three landing wheels. The ship abounds in brass platforms on the masts and superstructure and the finely detail safety nets, which line the edges of the flight deck will really make this model pop with detail. Of yes, Mad Pete even supplies relief-etched ducal crowns for the sides of the stack. No decals are provided. Although the instructions mention that WEM carries a separate 1:700 set of hull and deck markings, none are included with this kit. I quibble with this, as I think that not including decals falls short of the superlative tradition of White Ensign Models of providing to modelers in each of their kits, all parts necessary for a complete miniature reproduction of the subject matter.
As is normal, WEM instructions are the best in the industry, resin or plastic. With the Norfolk there are six pages of instructions on three back-printed sheets. Page one has the history and specifications about the ship. Page two contains photographs of all resin parts, except the hull, and the brass photo-etch fret. All parts are identified by a number and are identified in text. Starting with page three, the assembly of the Norfolk is shown in modules. Page three has the following subassemblies: Main component location; 911 FC radar assembly; HF/DF antenna; Bridge roof fittings; SCOT radome platform assembly; and 996 radar platform assembly. Page four has subassemblies for: Foremast yardarm assembly; Foremast assembly; 30mm gun fittings and director platforms; shipís sea boats and cranes; and Mainmast assembly. Page five has four subassemblies: Aft superstructure and mainmast details; Harpoon launcher assembly; Lynx helicopter assembly; and Hangar and flight deck details. The last page has subassemblies for Midships fittings port and Midships fittings starboard. The instructions conclude with a full color plan and profile. WEM Colourcoat colors are RN light gray M01 and RN deck gray M16, as well as matte black.
Modelers now can build the newest operational Royal Navy frigate design. The White Ensign Models HMS Norfolk Type 23 frigate in 1:700 scale provides the latest in the long line of outstanding resin and brass kits from this distinguished British company. With good resin casting and an extensive and outstanding brass photo-etch fret, WEM again provides an exceptional product for the money.