The Royal Navy lead the way in the development of the aircraft from World War One through the 1920s. As was true with the IJN and USN, early larger carriers were conversions of capitol ships. However, while Japan and the US selected newer, larger hulls of incomplete battle cruisers and battleships, the available material for RN conversions was limited to the incomplete sister of HMS Canada and conversions of three light battle cruisers. A strong component of the RN favored more, smaller carriers over the big carriers, big air wing philosophy found in the other two powers. The mid-1930s saw all three powers design new large carriers. For Japan the Soryu and Hiryu were followed by the excellent Shokaku and Zuikaku. For the USN the unsatisfactory Ranger provided a test bed for the outstanding Yorktown class. The first new carrier for the Royal Navy was HMS Ark Royal designed in 1935. Laid down in 1935 the Ark Royal had two hangar levels. The top level was completely enclosed but there was some ventilator openings for the lower level. The two level arrangement allowed the Ark Royal carry 48 Swordfish and 24 Skuas. The hangars were not armored as were those in subsequent RN carrier designs. Ark Royal had a brief spectacular career in World War Two. One of her Skuas was the first FAA fighter to score a kill, in this case over a German flying boat. She conducted air operations in the Norway campaign. Although she spent most of her time operating in the Mediterranean as the centerpiece of Force H from Gibraltar, the pinnacle of her career was the torpedo strike from one of her Swordfish, which jammed the rudder of Bismarck. On November 13, 1941 she was torpedoed by U-81. A starboard list allowed incoming water to flood her boiler uptakes, putting out her boilers. She continued to take in water until she capsized and sank. 

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Richard Nixon was in the Whitehouse when four Japanese model makers formed a consortium which revolutionized the world of plastic warship modeling. Tamiya, Hasegawa, Fujimi and Aoshima divided the World War Two navies among themselves and produced all subjects in a constant 1:700 scale waterline format. Competing against this scale was Revell, which used a slightly smaller 1:720 scale. The Revell scale had less of a chance against the big four's 1:700 scale than Betamax did against VHS. However, one of the Revell releases was the Ark Royal and this is still a popular kit due to the lack of a injected plastic kit of the Ark in 1:700 scale. The Revell Ark is old and nowhere near to state of art but RN FAA enthusiasts the world over now can breath easier. Thanks to White Ensign Models, the old Revell Ark Royal can get a new makeover and face-lift that would delight Joan Rivers. The set is specifically designed for the 1:720 scale Revell Ark Royal and contains all of the goodies necessary to convert the old plow horse into a fleet racehorse. 

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For anti-aircraft defense WEM provides pom-pom and quad Vickers machinegun mounts. An open lattice boat crane and radio antennae towers provide far better detail than chunky solid plastic pieces, not to mention the open stack grate. Some of the finest detail comes in the form of perforated walkways with unique catwalk treadway patterns and safety nets. The mast gets reworked with yards platforms, DF rails and supports. There are details for two whalers with thwarts and oars. The bow area gets a especially fine detail treatment for launch area detail with aircraft tail wheel footboards and various windscreens. Amidships also gets its own detail in the form of a crash barrier. Even Fairey Fulmars get propellers and wheel assemblies. WEM provides all of the necessary generic parts from anchors, inclined ladders, vertical ladders, relief-etched doors, accommodation ladders and two patterns of railing. Instructions are clearly presented in drawings and text. 

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If you want to build a plastic HMS Ark Royal, you probably have purchased the Revell 1:720 scale of the Ark at least once. Now you can speed back to the future and have the old Revell kit leap off of its deathbed. What is the secret of this modern Lazarus? It is no secret, just everyday photo-etch magic from White Ensign Models.

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