Modelers who know me, know that while I build in different scales, my favorite has long been 1/600. In my opinion it offers the best of two worlds: compactness and detail. Models in 1/600 are relatively small, which is a plus for modelers who prefer to a to build in a miniature scale. Yet this scale is large enough to allow for a good amount for detail without needing a microscope. While it was lost some popularity over the years there are still a lot of 1/600 scale aficionados out there but to be honest, it is more of a rabid cult following.

White Ensign Models has been very aggressive in the 1/600 scale market, developing the finest photo-etch and resin upgrades in this scale to dress up your Airfix or Revell near scale models. I know that I have badgered Caroline Snyder relentlessly about producing detail accessories in my preferred scale and also about the possibility of doing kits in this scale. Well, when WEM finally announced that they would be producing a 1/600 scale model based on a Peter Hall master, I was ecstatic and ordered one as soon as I could. I can tell you that I was not disappointed when I received the package.

I recently completed this model and I, being the unofficial 1/600 scale torch bearer for Steel Navy, wanted to write about it and spread the faith so to speak. Steve Backer has already written a thorough in-box review of this kit so I will try not to be redundant. (WEM HMS Exeter In-Box Review) Instead I would like to provide some comments based on experience building this model. 

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The Parts
This kit is a multi-media model, with resin, white metal and photo-etch brass details. The resin casting is first rate and there are 5 parts in this medium – the upper hull, the lower hull, the funnel housing, the aft flight deck and the main mast. The upper and lower hulls were designed to snap together and when joined, there was only the slightest hint of a seam to fill in and sand smooth. I was really tempted to make a full hull model and it was a tough decision but I opted for a waterline version since I like the look better, especially in this scale.

Since the flight deck comes as a separate piece, I had to paint lower deck area first since it wouldn’t be accessible. Prior to doing this, I dry fitted this part and discovered that I had to sand down the lip on the lower hull under where the edge of the decks meet so that they would be flush. When I did glue the deck piece on, I had to fill in a small seam at the deck joint and also some minor gaps where the sides joined the hull.

The smaller parts are in white metal and are also very well done. These parts include: the Mk.VIII 4.5 inch-gun, the Sea Dart missile launcher, the 1022 radar housing, the 909 and SCOT radomes, 4 20mm BMARC guns, 2 Phalanx CWIS mounts, a pair of sea boats, a small boat stowage deck, 996 radar, foremast, Lynx helicopter and pair of triple torpedo tubes. The propellers and the shafts are also in white metal, but I didn’t use them since I was building a waterline model. All of these parts cleanly cast, with only some very minor flash and imperfections that were taken care of easily. The gun barrels on the 20mm BMARCs where slightly bent but the beauty of white metal is that you can carefully straighten them out. If the BMARCS where in resin, the barrels would have been broken off. The weaponry and the Lynx are so well done, I wish that WEM would sell them separately as part of their PRO 600 line.

The Sea Dart missile system comes in three parts – the main mount and the left/right missile and launcher arm combination. The instructions state that live missiles are white and the practice dummies are red. I decided to go with the practice dummies because I wanted to add a little bit of color to the model and in red they stand out more.

The Mk.VIII 4.5 inch-gun is meticulously done with the subtle shape of the turret and the bands around the muzzle accurately recreated. Photos I have seen to this turret show sections of ladder mounted on it back running to the nearly the top. I carefully clipped and applied tiny bits of photoetch ladder to the back of the model turret; I think that this adds a nice amount of detail to the model.

The Lynx helicopter really screamed out for some detail, which I was able to do with a combination of commercially available and custom made decals. The "Royal Navy" in white lettering came from the WEM 1/350 scale aircraft marking decals, which has markings suitable for 1/700 scale. I used the smallest lettering in white for the Lynx. The WEM decals also provide a variety of roundels, including the gray and red style that is used on the Lynx. However, this style of roundel on this sheet is too big for 1/600 scale. An alternative source for aircraft markings in 1/600 scale is a sheet available through Mike Grant Designs (http://www.mikegrantdesign.com/decals/), which provides markings for Royal Navy as well as eight other nations, including Canada, France and the Netherlands. I was able to get the correct sized gray/red roundel from this sheet. For the windows and doors I found a profile and top view line drawing of a Lynx on the Net which I downloaded and resized to 1/600 scale using MS Word. I then printed the images on clear decal paper, sealed them with Microscale Liquid Decal Film, and cut and applied them using Microset and Microsol to give them a snug fit. I think that the tiny Lynx looks great with the windows and markings finished off with the photo-etch rotors.

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Photo-etch Brass
WEM
and Peter Hall have established a well deserved reputation for designing and producing some of the finest photo-etch sets on the market. The brass detail fret provided with this kit is a wonder to behold and it is so good that it is available separately in the WEM catalog. There is a dizzying array of small parts, like the numerous yardarms and aerial spreaders, that will try your patience and test your skills and steady hands. I will not list the parts provided in photo-etch since you can reference Steve Backer’s review. I will say that certain parts, such as the intake grills for the housings at the base of the funnel, the flight deck harpoon ring, the hangar roller door, the 1022 radar, and the various davits and cranes really give the model a certain level of realism. I will also tell you that some of the parts are so fine and delicate that great care should be exercised when working with them. As nerve-wracking as this can be, the end result is an incredible level of detail that adds a tremendous amount to the look of the finished model. Personally, I think I could have done a better job with the flight-deck safety netting – it could be straighter and it was my own clumsiness that prevented me from achieving that goal.

Decals, Paints and Finishing Off
The one negative I found with this kit is that it does not come with a set of decals for the pennant numbers and the deck markings. The instructions with the kit advise you to use a combination of the smaller numbers from WEM’s 1/350 Royal Navy ship decals for the hull sides and the larger numbers from the similar set in 1/700 for the stern. I did this, but I think that the numbers are a tad to large and I should have used the 1/700 scale versions instead, which while a little underscale would have looked better. For the deck markings, I used a combination of white stripe decals and a white circle from an Airfix modern RN kit and white lettering from a Microscale sheet. I designed the yellow warning circles but I asked my friend Bob Santos (thanks Bob!) to print them for me since he could give them a white background and make them more translucent. When I tried to print my own on clear decal paper, the yellow circles were too transparent and you couldn’t see them on the dark deck. The WEM decal sheets have yellow warning circles, but they way they are laid out as concentric circles made it impossible in my opinion to cut out the diameter that you need. Finally, for the black boot topping I cheated and used stripe decal.

To paint the model, I used the Royal Navy Grey (M01) and Royal Navy Deck Gray (M02) from WEM’s Colourcoat Modern Naval paints for the hull and decks respectively. For the other colors I used around the model I used a combination of Testors Model Master and Humbrol paints but I was negligent and did not keep notes on what I used for what.

For the rigging I used a combination of stainless steel and brass wire and I floated the Exeter in a sea of acrylic gel painted with acrylic paints from an art supply store and two coats of Future gloss. I ordered the brass nameplate from a trophy store and it adds a little touch of class to the model.

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Conclusion
This was a fun project, which was made even more enjoyable by a well designed and crafted kit. My understanding is that sales of this model are a little lackluster which I think is a shame. It is an excellent model that captures the beauty of the Type 42 Class of destroyers. This model, with some work, minor scratchbuilding and using parts from other WEM Modern RN sets, can be backdated to an early Batch 1 ship, even the ill-fated Sheffield. I think that there may be some reluctance by the traditional 1/600 scale modeler who is used to injection-molded plastic kits to dive into a resin kit with a somewhat complex photo-etch detail set. If that is the case, try your had at detailing an Airfix kit using one of the numerous WEM sets and then buy this kit to add to your 1/600 scale fleet. To the other modelers who think 1/600 is passé, think again, as you will not find a better model in any scale.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank John Currie, who is a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy and a fellow ship modeler, for sharing some detail photos of the Exeter, on which he proudly served until very recently.

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