Quis Eripet Dentes was the motto for the battlecruiser HMS Tiger. "Who will draw my teeth?" was the challenge that it presented. The ship that bore this motto was one of the most beautiful warships ever built. For years no company produced any model of this sleek and impressive Splendid Cat. Finally this year the HMS Tiger made her appearance in 1:700 scale, produced by Combrig of Russia. (Click for review of the Combrig HMS Tiger) Although Combrig provides photo-etch with some of their kits, the majority of Combrig models have no photo-etch fret to add extra detail. HMS Tiger from Combrig does not have photo-etch.
Meanwhile, far to the west, the man who would be king, saw the opportunity presented by Combrigís Splendid Cat and moved swiftly. Once know as the Baron of Brass, then elevated to the Earl of Etch, Peter Hall was no longer satisfied with being ranked in the lesser nobility of modeldom. Peter clearly planned to forment an uprising of ship modelers to raise him to sovereign title of Monarch of Models. Somehow, between designing his own coronation regalia, in brass of course, and designing and minting his own coinage, Peter found the time to create another masterpiece in brass for the rest of us. Peter in his typical lightning speed designed a brass photo-etch fret designed specifically for the Combrig Tiger.
Since the Tiger is replicated in her World War One appearance, rather than post war, she had a simpler rig. Although the Tigerís rig is fairly simple, Peter and White Ensign Models have produced an impressively large fret for the model. The Combrig Tiger basically portrays the battlecruiser as she appeared earlier in the war, from 1914 to 1916. However, WEM has produced some brass parts on this fret for a late war Tiger.
On of the first things on the fret that is noticed is the admiralís stern-walk. Beautifully done, the stern-walk is in three pieces; the platform with folding hull supports, the relief etched canopy with stanchions to the platform and the X braced stern walk railing or fence as it is called in the instructions. One problem, I didnít remember Tiger having stern-walk. I quickly looked at the WEM instructions to see what they said about the stern-walk. They mentioned that the Tiger was built with a complete stern-walk but that a least part of which was landed soon after commissioning. Well, what did R.A. Burt say in his British Battleships of World War One? I didnít see any specific mention of the stern-walk but the photographic evidence was clear. Tiger was built with a full canopied stern-walk. The bottom photograph on page 209 of that reference clearly shows the canopy frame already fitted while still under construction. However, she was not commissioned with the full stern walk. Somewhere in the building, before trials in September 1914 Tiger displaced the walk canopy but retained the stern-walk itself as well as the ornate railing. The two page profile on page 210-211 as well a sea trials photograph, dated September 1914 show the presence of the platform without canopy. How long did Tiger carry the platform? On page 212 there is a photograph of Tiger dated January 29, 1915 shortly after Dogger Bank, which shows the platform still in place. On another photograph dated 1915 on page 211, the ship no longer carries the platform. The last photo that I found with the stern-walk platform in place was the January 29, 1915 photograph. So, if you want to use the full stern-walk with canopy, it will have to be after completion before trials in September 1914. If you want to show Tiger at Dogger Bank in January 1914, in which she sported a two-tone gray camouflage with white horizontal stripes on the funnels, she will have the stern-walk platform. If at Jutland, no stern-walk will be present.
What photo-etch fret of a Royal Navy subject would be complete without starfish. That is always a standout with any set from White Ensign Models. With HMS Tiger you get a large starfish for the forward tripod. The base or plate of the starfish has attachment grooves for the eight braces for the position, which really assists the modeler in what would be otherwise a delicate operation. There is also a small, four-arm starfish present on the fret for those wishing to reconfigure the model to an early 1920s appearance. Originally built without a mainmast, a stump mast was added during the war. In 1922 it was heightened and given this small starfish.
Some of the most distinguishing aspects of HMS Tiger and strong contributors to her beauty were her three evenly spaced round funnels. Of course WEM gives you the required stack grate caps to crown these beauties. If you want to adorn the bow, just turn to the three two-piece relief-etched anchors that WEM provides with this set. How about boat chocks on the spacious deck of the Tiger? Normally Combrig casts boat chocks integral to their deck castings but not on Tiger. There are no boat chocks on the resin parts. My guess is that Combrig omitted the chocks because they knew WEM would include them in this fret. WEM provides ten sets of boat chocks of seven different designs. The five largest sets have three supports and the sets for the smaller boats have two supports. Since the resin parts do not have the requisite chocks, these small items are now essential parts.
There is a lot of relief-etching throughout this fret. One prevalent add-on for any Royal Navy warship was mattress splinter protection used to line the deck railing. For Tiger White Ensign Models provides four generous runs, two narrow runs and two wide runs; all you need to fully protect your bridge crew and of course relief-etched. Tiger carried two signal guns and WEM provides these in brass. Each gun consists of a base plate and a one-piece gun part that folds together to add width or bulk to the piece. Every part of these guns are relief-etched. The 3-D detail doesnít end. There are 56 relief-etched deck hatches and doors and two three-piece accommodation ladders. In 1917-1918 the Tiger was given a flying-off platform on Q turret and WEM in their incessant quest to include everything, gives you that platform, again relief-etched. A second flying-off platform was added, this time to B turret in 1919 but you only get one in the set. So for the period of 1919 to 1922 when Tiger carried two flying off platforms you are limited by the single platform on the fret. In 1922 the Q platform was landed, so youíre back to one platform. To add to the late war parts WEM throws in four relief-etched range clocks, which were added in 1918. However, the late war and post war Tiger had a heavier superstructure and foretop, These additions as well as the stump mainmast will have to be added by the modeler to accurately reflect Tigers appearance during that time. British Battleships of World War One is the prime source for seeing the additions on a year by year basis in text, photographs and drawings. If you are going to change the Combrig early war Tiger to a late war Tiger, check the book for the other changes that you will need to make.
The detail doesnít end with the relief-etched parts, as there is plenty more detail to be discovered on this fret. Perforated scramble nets for the ready boats, swung outboard for quick use are outstanding. Speaking of shipís boats, you get seven boat rudders and seven sets of oars included at no additional expense. Yardarms, galley stacks, large davits, boom cable rig & pulleys and several other fine items fill out the ship specific parts parade.
For generic parts, which comprise about 40% of the fret, WEM includes 13 runs of three bar and two runs of two bar railing, three runs of anchor chain and three runs of vertical ladder. One last point, there are no aztec steps cast on the resin parts of the Combrig kit, which is fine with me since I always remove them anyway. However, you will need inclined ladders. WEM provides ten of them for your building pleasure.
I consider this fret an essential addition to any build of Combrigís 1:700 scale HMS Tiger. Yes, you can use generic railing, ladders and inclined ladders and build a credible Tiger but if you are building a Dogger Bank Tiger, where are you going to get the stern-walk? Even with a Jutland Tiger there are ship specific parts on this fret that you will not find anywhere else.
Quis Eripet Dentes Ė Your teeth will be drawn, not in anger but in a smile of delight at the detail included in the HMS Tiger fret from White Ensign Models. Peter Hall may be busy preparing for his coronation but he still has time to devote to the betterment and up-lifting of us, his subjects, through his brass creations. God Save the King! King Pete the First, King of Kits, Monarch of Models.