|Let me preface my comments by saying that both the Iron
Shipwright (IS) and White Ensign Models
(WEM) 1:350 scale HMS Hood kits are superb.
Choosing between them is an exercise in nitpicking, so if you expect me to tell you that
one of these Hoods is Gods gift to modeling while the other is hopelessly deficient,
stop reading here. Its not going to happen. I would be very happy indeed to find
either of these models under the Christmas tree, but alas they are on loan and must be
returned. With sufficient effort and loving care, either Hood can be turned into a
stunning replica. If you buy one of them and are unhappy with the end result, you have
only yourself to blame, because there are no serious accuracy or detail deficiencies in
It should also be mentioned that neither model has been "prettied
up" for this article. Both of them passed through several sets of hands before
reaching me, not to mention suffering dents and breakage thanks to the US Postal Service.
Consequently both kits are more banged up than a model received fresh from the
manufacturer. Ive endeavored to photograph both kits in their entirety, and in such
a way that the reader can assess each producers treatment of a given part. The photo
gallery follows this article.
Instructions and Presentation
The WEM Hood has far better instructions. They are well illustrated and accompanied by
clear, helpful text. It is not often that I characterize assembly instructions as
enjoyable but these most definitely are. Dave Carters step-by-step assembly is a
pleasure to read and will be especially appreciated by less experienced modelers. There
was no parts list and the plans normally included with WEM Hood kits were missing in my
sample. This was likely attributable to the plans being removed by a previous owner.
The IS Hood instructions rely primarily on two-dimensional drawings with minimal text.
They are adequate, if rather spare, and in places I found them confusing. They do include
an illustrated parts list, though quantities are omitted. Neither plans nor illustrated
painting guide are included.
Cleanup and Preparation
Most of the cleanup on the WEM Hood has been done for you. This is unusual in a resin kit
and White Ensign is to be commended. The waterline hull comes pre-primed in dark grey and
there are no large resin plugs to remove.
The IS Hood is a one-piece full hull model. Iron Shipwright has pioneered the casting
of large one-piece hulls. However the modeler must remove the resin sprue along the keel.
This is not overly difficult. More to the point, it is far easier than mating an upper and
lower hull, a problematic step on a capital ship model. The hull halves sometimes shrink
at different rates resulting in mismatched upper and lower hulls. Fixing this can be a
daunting task, so the one-piece Iron Shipwright approach is preferable if you are partial
to full hull models (Editor's note:
White Ensign has advised me that the full-hull WEM Hood comes pre-mated. All mating,
sanding and filling are done prior to shipping, so in effect it is a one piece full hull
kit). The downside is that Iron Shipwright does not offer a waterline option.
You will have to remove casting sprues from many of the IS Hood resin parts. This is
not unusual on a resin kit. What is unusual not to mention impressive - is how
little cleanup the White Ensign Hood requires.
Resin Casting and
Casting on the White Ensign kit is both clean and competent. Voids and pinholes are
minimal. Many of the WEM parts appear thicker and/or heavier than their Iron Shipwright
counterparts. The bulkheads and splinter shields in particular are much thicker on the WE
Hood. I prefer the consistently thinner and crisper look of the Iron Shipwright versions.
Iron Shipwright has a reputation for aggressive casting and it shows in the thin, in-scale
appearance of many parts. A resin producer has to assess the benefits of aggressive
casting (impressive appearance, sharper parts with more detail) against the drawbacks
technical difficulty and a higher rejection rate. White Ensign has taken the more
conservative approach while Iron Shipwright has been more aggressive. Study the photos to
see the difference. There are more voids in the IS parts but not enough to make me prefer
the more workmanlike White Ensign casting approach. Like everything else in modeling this
is a matter of personal taste. Study the photos and decide for yourself.
Both kits are commendably accurate. I prefer the IS shelter
deck treatment (click adjacent photo for a closer look). There is more cast-in detail and
the funnels extend through the deck rather than sitting atop, as they do on the WEM
version. There are other minor accuracy differences. The WEM turrets lack bolt detail,
though Hood kits from later production runs have corrected this omission. The starfish on
the IS kit is more accurate. Again, later iterations of the WEM kit have corrected this.
The improved part as well as other refined details are available from WEM at additional
cost for those who purchased a Hood from WEMs first production run. WEMs later
Hood kits include the revisions at no additional charge.(Editor's
note: see below for some of the upgraded parts now included with the
WEM Hood at no additional charge)
WEM provides more etched brass, and much of it is beautifully relief etched. This is most
impressive but a mixed blessing. Rather than casting certain details such as watertight
doors into the hull master, WEM executes them in etched brass. Affixing these photo-etched
pieces requires more effort on the modelers part. The finished result will no doubt
be beautiful, but is the marginal increase in sharpness worth the
considerable extra effort? Another example: the degaussing cable spanning the hull
perimeter is cast into the IS hull, while it is an etched brass part (and a very long
one!) on the WEM kit. But the WEM part is very fine and "in-scale" while the IS
degaussing cable is heavier. Which do you prefer-the finer WEM cable that requires far
more effort to affix or the cast in and slightly heavier IS treatment?
Similarly WEM has rendered the aft superstructure bulkheads in etched brass (pictured at
right). I prefer resin versions as on the IS kit. Brass bulkheads create more work for the
modeler with no significant gain in crispness or accuracy.
Selecting a clear "winner" is beyond me. Both kits are superb. Resin newcomers
will prefer the WEM kit for its outstanding instructions and the lack of cleanup.
WEMs instructional "handholding" is far and away the best in the business.
I dislike guesswork in an expensive kit and WEM does away with it in their Hood. Bravo!
The IS Hood is more finely mastered and takes better advantage of resins ability
to capture fine detail. I much prefer resin to etched brass as a medium in which to work.
There is something "unfriendly" about brass no matter how well done. Affixing
photo-etch is my least favorite part of ship modeling, and one can expect to do a lot more
of this with the White Ensign Hood. Detail should, if possible, be part of the master
pattern rather than an additional brass part. In this respect I prefer the IS Hood.
These are both expensive kits. The IS Hood (full hull only) sells for $510 if purchased
directly from Iron Shipwright. WEMs Hood is available direct from WEM at a cost of
US $540 (waterline) or $645 (full hull). Both WEM and IS post their kits free of charge
anywhere in the world. And both have well-deserved reputations for excellent customer
These HMS Hood models have been available for over one year, and both producers have
made great strides since their release. Competition has led to steady improvement from
these companies. The pattern quality of the WEM 350 scale Sheffield (released subsequent
to their Hood) is their best 350 scale model yet while IS has improved its instructions.
They still arent up to the level of WEMs impressive documentation. WEM kits
are very polished in their overall presentation. In this respect they have set the
standard for cottage industry producers.
IS kits, rougher around the edges and requiring more cleanup, are crisply cast and very
well mastered and engineered. So flip a coin or make your decision based on the vendor
with whom you prefer to do business. Youll be very happy with either of these fine
models. Building either will be most rewarding.
For further information
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