By Tom's Modelworks
Reviewed by Rob Mackie
Kit: HMS Campbeltown
Scale: 1/350 full hull
Producer: Tom's Modelworks
Medium: Resin, plastic rod and photoetched brass
Strengths: Beautifully cast one-piece hull, nice photo etched fret, and easy assembly
Weaknesses: Instructions, crooked scuttles
The HMS Campbeltown
started life as the USS Buchanan (DD 131), a Wickes class 4-stack destroyer. When
construction ceased in 1922, 271of these "4 stackers" had been launched. This
WW1 design rapidly became obsolete, and by the onset of World War Two 102 of them had been
scrapped. Nevertheless the Royal Navy, desperately in need of convoy escorts, obtained
fifty 4-stackers as part of the Anglo-US 1940 Lend Lease Agreement.
Renamed HMS Campbeltown, she
escorted Atlantic convoys and assisted in the sinking of the German submarine U-141. The
Campbeltowns most famous exploit, however, was the legendary St Nazaire raid.
Drastically refitted to resemble a German Mowe class torpedo boat, the Campbeltown and her
commando detachment entered the German-occupied port of St. Nazaire, France on the night
of March 28, 1942. The ruse worked until she was unable to properly acknowledge a
recognition signal. A savage battle ensued, with heavy loss of life. Nevertheless, the
Campbeltown achieved her goal of ramming the lock gates protecting the repair facilities
of the German battleship Tirpitz.
Delayed action fuses subsequently detonated the 4-ton explosive charge hidden on the
beached Campbeltown, destroying the battleship repair facility, and ensuring the little 4
stackers place in naval history.
The Tom's Modelworks kit shows the Campbeltown
as she appeared in the St. Nazaire raid. She has two stacks instead of four, revised gun
armament, amidships armour shields and numerous other modifications. Those of you wanting
to build a 4-stack destroyer in something closer to its "as built" configuration
should opt for the Gulfstream USS Ward, another excellent resin kit. They would
make for a highly interesting "before and after" display.
The one-piece full hull is a masterpiece. It is full of detail and flawlessly cast. You
will need to eliminate the seam along the keel, an unavoidable byproduct of doing away
with separate upper and lower hulls. This is a small price to pay for the not having to
mate, fill and sand upper and lower hull castings.
There are 29 resin parts in addition to the hull. Casting quality is excellent. The
deckhouses and gun platforms are especially noteworthy, snapping securely into place with
minimal cleanup. Fit rivals that of better injection molded kits.
This is a Tom's Modelworks kit so you expect excellent photoetch and the Campbeltown delivers. Note the beautiful prop guards, a
prominent feature of 4 stackers, as well as the semi-circular gun elevation rails (needed
to prevent the gunners from firing into the ship). Note also the delicate yardarm and mast
ladder. Affix these to the enclosed plastic rod to complete the main mast. You may want to
use brass tubing for the masts, gun tub supports, and prop shafts rather than the included
plastic rod. I prefer brass because of its rigidity, but this is a matter of personal
The instructions, while adequate, are not up to the kit otherwise high
standards. Placement of some PE parts is not altogether clear and there is no parts list.
There is a 1/350 profile view from which you can deduce the height of the gun tubs and
masts. But less experienced builders may not be able to figure this out. It is not clear
which plastic rod sizes (3 are provided) should be used for the masts, prop shafts and gun
This is an outstanding and complete kit of a historically important ship.
Ship modelers new to resin should not have any problems with the Campbeltown. It is finely
mastered, exquisitely cast and easy to build. At US $50 it represents good value for the
money. Highly recommended.