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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 10:38 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2006 7:19 am
Posts: 191
Location: Washington, DC
The following is a thumbnail in-box review of Aoshima’s 1/700 HMS Exeter in her final fit (1942).

Aoshima’s 1/700 HMS Exeter is the most accurate kit of this ship in her final fit (1942), and while not quite state of the art, it is really quite nice.

The kit is molded in gray plastic and provides a waterline option only, but the hull is molded as a single piece with a built-in baseplate—which is a nice touch, as it will save some sanding and filling. Two large deck-pieces are molded separately in tan plastic, and the planking is restrained, and thankfully it does not depict the plank butts. Much of the molding is, as noted elsewhere, somewhat “soft,” and some features will benefit with sharpening by a sanding stick.

A photoetch (PE) fret (wood deck included) is available separately from Aoshima, and looks like it will greatly enhance the appearance of the model (especially the ship’s crane, catapults, support bracing for various platforms, and handrails).

The kit is spot on dimensionally, based on my references (Raven and Roberts, British Cruisers of World War II). Because the deckhouses and funnels are not molded in one piece and require assembly, I have not been able to compare them to photos of Exeter to determine how they measure-up—shape and proportion wise. But the various deck details and the deckhouse footprints seem to measure up well when compared with the HMS Exeter rigging plan available online from the National Maritime Museum (IIRC), and overhead photos of the ship.

The hull is very nicely done; the sheer looks right, as does the bow knuckle. However, the use of delicate raised lines to represent the hull plate strakes is not quite convincing. The portholes are tiny and appear to be in-scale with tiny eyebrows. The deck has a slight camber, which is a nice touch, though the deck fittings—such as capstans and bollards--are a bit soft and basic, and the breakwater is a bit thick. The primary armament looks OK, though the AA gun tubs atop B and Z turrets are a bit on the thick side (some modelers may want to replace these with the 3D printed turrets available from Micro Master via Shapeways). The secondary armament is very basic, and should probably be replaced.

Aoshima’s Exeter looks like it will build into a very nice kit (see some of the in-progress builds and critiques of the kit by several Japanese modelers on Twitter—links provided below). But there are a few minor errors that builders will have to correct to get an accurate model:

1) The lower course of portholes on the hull should be largely absent, and will need to be filled. Modelers should consult photos for details.
2) The 4” HA gun shields should not wrap around the rear of the gun platforms as depicted on the model. Rather they should be enclosed on three sides (fore, aft, and outboard). And the shields are a bit on the heavy (thick) side.
3) The pom-pom platform on the aft deckhouse should be semicircular—and thus U shaped—and not as depicted in the kit, with the arc traced by the splinter shield extending beyond 180 degrees.
4) The heavy ribbing on the funnels should be removed, the PE platforms provided for the funnels (as seen on Japanese warships of that era) should be omitted, and the aft funnel should have two steam pipes, not one, on its forward side.
5) As best I can tell, the square structure right behind the catapults should be removed. It did not exist. Instead, there should be a scaffold-type structure aft of each catapult.

Photos of these scaffold-like platforms can be found here: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... _1930s.jpg Based on the study of photos of Exeter in 1941 and 1942, I believe that this detail remained unchanged after her post River Plate refit.

Anyhow, most of these fixes are within the capabilities of reasonably experienced modelers—and many modelers will be happy to build the kit out of the box without any major alterations. I think that this is a nice kit that will build up into a nice looking model.

Highly recommended!

Mike E.

For those on Twitter, check out the following build threads by several Japanese modelers (and apologies in advance for the inappropriate manga art interspersed in some of these threads):

Fake John Bull: https://twitter.com/fake_johnbull/statu ... 54432?s=20

Mitchy798: https://twitter.com/mitchy798/status/986919107718074368 (here is where the thread starts, and it continues in the following weeks)

Rpapa: https://twitter.com/R1papa/status/996596568009592833

CORRECTIONS: after further study of the kit and photos of the actual ship, I would add these two corrections: 1) the watertight doors are incorrectly portrayed on the kit (the doors are all secured/closed, but are portrayed as if they were swung open, with the distinctive X shaped locking arms in view). Accordingly, they should be replaced with aftermarket items; 2) the splinter shields for the 4" HA guns probably consisted only of a curved, outboard shield, without perpendicular fore and aft "legs." I have arrived at this conclusion after careful study of photos of the ship. Counter-arguments are welcome.

_________________
Mike E.


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