I am a big fan of US Navy subjects, particularly those from the Cold War on. For years, I struggled in my model-building with respect to railings. Sure, there are many sets out there, many of which are high-quality and look excellent when installed. However, two things always bugged me: First, the rails offered by other companies were too thick to represent lifelines. They were fine for typical "pipe" style solid railings, but what about ships that have wire lifelines instead? We all know that many USN warships, whether WWII or modern, used lifelines on their main decks and in some cases their upper decks. Second, the lack of angled stanchions always irked me a little bit. Look at any photo of typical USN lifelines/rails and youíll see angled support stanchions. Unfortunately, very few manufacturers included these in their photo etch designs.
Enter White Ensign Models to save the day! Their excellent Knox class and C.F. Adams class kits introduced railings that addressed both of my main gripes. Not only were the horizontal line sections fine enough so that they accurately simulate lifelines, but they also included the angled stanchions! My prayers were answered when they recently introduced a specific fret of these railings for the USN modeler to use on any project of his/her choice!
The set is in 1:350 scale and titled "USN Ultra-Fine Railings". A nice instruction sheet is included with the photo etch. A total of 7 different types of railings are included for both modern and WWII-era ships! These include: 5-bar lifelines of the type used on modern Arleigh Burke class destroyers (perfect for that Panda kit!), 3-bar lifelines with angled support stanchions (for main decks), 3-bar lifelines without angled support stanchions (main decks), 2-bar lifelines with angled support stanchions (for upper decks), 2-bar lifelines without stanchions, 2-bar "close stanchion" solid railing (for use on upper decks and masts) and finally, upswept 3-bar lifelines with stanchions for use on upswept main decks. In addition to the railings, WEM has included lengths of vertical ladders and 6 inclined ladders with handrails.
These rails are phenomenal! I honestly wonít use anything else now that I have tried them, particularly on main decks where lifelines are called for. They are extremely high quality and easy to work with, even though they might be a little finer than you are used to working with. There are enough rails provided to build 2+ destroyer-sized kits or perhaps 1+ Cruiser kits I squeezed out 2 cruisers with one set. I canít say enough good things about these rails- honestly! They can be used on all WWII and Cold-War subjects and they look great when installed. If you are looking for that extra bit of realism on your latest project, I urge you to check out this set. It retails for £16.13, which at current exchange rates is approximately $30.00 U.S. and can be ordered directly from the WEM site at http://www.whiteensignmodels.com/
Note: I am not affiliated with WEM- this is an independent review.