HMS Campbeltown

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 Ship
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 Campbeltown’s 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 Model
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 taste.

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 tub supports.

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.