WEM 1/350 HMS Widgeon
KIT #: K3569
PRICE: £51.00 plus VAT
REVIEWER: Frank Spahr
NOTES: Resin kit with Photo Etch and Brass Wire


During the 1930s, Britain started her rearmament and prepared for the foreseeable war. An important issue were convoy escorts, as the convoy system had proved crucial in winning the last U-boat war. Amongst other projects, nine patrol sloops of the Kingfisher class were constructed in three groups. They were handsome vessels, looking like scaled-down destroyers, but soon proved to be unsuitable for mass production and for the convoy work needed in the next war. They lacked endurance and seaworthiness, their machineries were too complicated, and they lacked armament. Ultimately, they were used for coastal escort work, mostly on the East Coast, where they had to cope with German aircraft and E-boats. Wartime modifications centered on improving air defence and adding radar sets. Two were lost in the war, the others were sold or scrapped soon after.


This resin kit by WEM of the HMS Kittiwake, lead vessel of the second group of the sloops, contains resin and PE parts plus brass wire to build either a full hull or a waterline model of one of the sloops. The instructions are to the usual high standard and refer to an article by John Lambert in Military Modeling Annual for further references on this rather obscure class of small warships. As usual with WEM, the PE is outstanding; the resin parts are well done, too, and flawlessly cast in two shades of resin. Apart from decals, the kit contains everything you need to build a nice model of this class. There are some references to alternate parts for early and late versions, for instance regarding the depth charge rails, so the kit manufacturer cared about modifications already.

If you really are serious about details and accuracy, you will have to go some extra miles, a path not eased by the scarcity of reference available. Obviously a class of nine vessels built at different yards will have a goodly number of differences from the outset, and refits and modifications will complicate things yet more. I will not open this can of worms too wide, but the three groups in which the class was built differ in displacement and dimensions, so if anyone is really serious about his accuracy, even the hulls might need modifying. But not for me, I can assure you that.


I cooperated with some of my German Gamblers friends in a build-the-same-kit manner on this project, each of us chosing one vessel of the class with a view to sometime presenting them on a common base. I chose HMS Widgeon, as the abovementioned John Lambert article contains some very helpful images of her from 1942 in a very weathered finish. Having had to complete other projects first, I was able to profit from my friends´ research and experiences in building the kit when I started mine.

 I started by somewhat detailing the hull; I inscribed panel lines and added some raised round plates visible in the reference images, and drilled out the scuttles a bit. The hull was mounted on a strip of wood during the build using metal screws. The superstructure parts were treated as subassemblies and built and detailed according to my reference images of HMS Widgeon in 1942. Some modifications were needed re the bridge wings. Strip styrene and CA-infused paper plus brass wire were the materials of choice. Watertight doors were added from the kit PE, whilst the covers of the ready ammunition boxes were taken from the fine L´Arsénal detail set. The aft deckhouse needed most modification; the deck was replaced by sheet styrene, and the two Oerlikons mounts were taken again from L´Arsénal. The quad .5 in Vickers gun at the stern was beefed up a bit using styrene rod and brass wire, as it looked too flat to me as an all-PE item in this scale. A splinter shield was added as per reference images. The main gun was retained as resin item; some PE details were added and a splintershield from CA-infused paper. As usual with me, the mast was replaced with tapered BMK brass for better stability; a mix of kit parts and some additions was used to bring it close to my reference images. The DF loop on the bridge roof was replaced by a smaller PE assembly late in the build.


 When the subassemblies were prepared, they were primed using Model Master enamel primer. After enough curing time, I switched to acrylics and started the most fun part, weathering the hull. I assumed that the vessel had sported a meticulously applied peacetime coat of paint in the dark Home Fleet Grey, which had been repainted under war conditions with a lighter coat. Hence the vessel was sprayed in a lighter grey, and then weathered. I started this process by sanding off paint with a fibre glass pen, thus partially exposing the darker undercoat. Next came many passes with various mixes of artist´s oils in varying shades of grey and rust, applied in a drybrushing manner. The hull numbers were unavailable as decals to me, so I made paint masks and sprayed them. They were weathered accordingly. The superstructure was treated far more mildly, as wear and tear would be less up here and the area easier accessible to the crew for cleanup and repaints.  As always, it should be noted that each weathering technique looks different in real life and in closeup images, a bit like an actor will receive dramatically different makeup for the stage or for a movie. We need to compromise here, as the models are primarily made to be watched at home and at model shows, but also need to look reasonably acceptable on the net.


 Canvas dodgers were added to the railings using PVA glue, the canvas areas were then painted a lighter grey to add some variation. Clearview windows were added to the bridge combining PE rings and PVA glue. Having added the superstructure parts to the hull, I was able to start on the remaining fittings like depth charge assemblies, davits and boat, Carley floats, floater nets, marker buoys, anchor chains, searchlights, galley stove pipe, mushroom vents, cable reels and the like. Always working from the center to the periphery, I then was able to add the PE railings. Being more on the clumsy side, I tend to prepaint them and add them to the prepainted model instead of assembling it all prior to any painting like my more capable friends prefer to do it.

Finally, the mast was added, and the model was rigged using UNI flyfishing threads. 8/0 gauge in black and tan works for the larger lines, while the ultrafine Caenis thread works for the rest. Both lines may be glued using PVA glue and tightened using heat. Having completed all this, the model received a final flat coat to blend things in and hide glue stains.

 The base was made in my usual way using a Trumpeter display box. The model´s waterline shape and the positions of the screws were traced to cardboard. The template was used to mark the position of the mounting holes which were drilled through the base. Now the base was painted with green wall paint, using a large brush in a stippling motion, ending up with a slightly irregular surface, quite like water. The template replaced, the base was sprayed using various shades of acrylics until the desired shading was achieved. Several applications of gloss clear lacquer completed the base. The vessel was to be depicted moored to a buoy, so a buoy was made from styrene with a brass mooring ring. It was painted yellow, then dirtied and weathered mercilessly.


 So this is how the model stands so far; I am planning to add a crew pending I can lay my hands on good and affordable crew figures, and I will discuss a common display with my friends.

 This model kit is of high quality and will provide the modeler with some experience with resin with an excellent base for a nice model of this overlooked small ships. Those with higher demands re accuracy will have to invest more time in research and detailing to make their model as true to the original at a given point of its service life as possible.



British Destroyers and Frigates; the Second World War and After, Norman Friedman, Chatham Publishing, ISBN 1-86176-137-6.


 July 2010

 Frank Spahr

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