Airfix has been a staple in my modeling life since the very early 1960's when I acquired my first HMS Hood. At the time there was a company in the United States that
produced warship kits in a constant 1:600 scale. If you are old enough, you’ll remember those quirky Aurora kits in 1:600 scale with their bizarre design details. I had
been building Aurora kits years before I saw the Airfix
Hood but after getting my hands on the Hood, I could see a world of difference between the beautiful Airfix
Hood and any of the Aurora curiosities, even though they were in the same scale. Even in the US, any 11 year old would have to sing Rule Britannia over the wonders
of the British kits. Well. Aurora has disappeared into the mists of time, as has the British competitor of Airfix, Frog, which had warship kits in 1:500 scale. However,
Airfix is still going strong and are constantly retooling older kits. As a subscriber to the monthly Airfix Magazine, I eagerly await each issue to see the newest Airfix
wonders. In addition to historical warships, British and German, Airfix also released kits of modern warships of the Royal Navy. In 1963 Airfix released a model of
HMS Devonshire, County Class destroyer, which was new construction for the Royal Navy at that time. The Devonshire has been re-released a number of times and
for the 1992 release the model was retooled with new parts to update the 30-year old design. As with any plastic kit, plastic parts are somewhat limited for fineness.
The Sage of County Durham, Mad Pete, has a justifiable love for his country’s preeminent plastic model manufacturer and has stepped into the breach as would
Henry V. Mad Pete’s
Atlantic Models has released a lovely full set of relief-etched brass photo-etch for the Airfix HMS Devonshire in 1:600 scale.
The fret has about 25% in railing but the balance are ship specific parts. When it comes to parts with relief-etching about another 20% to 25% of the fret are relief-
etched parts. The ship’s boat davits and davit lower leg thickeners have the bulk of the relief-etched parts with raised frames and recessed panels. The Sea Slug
launcher has relief-etched base plate, side arms, base plate bracket, launcher support frame, and missile rails, The Corvus chaff launcher is also relief-etched. Other
relief-etched parts include the engine room vents, searchlight, hangar door and main mast ECM gear. The other brass armament parts that are not relief-etched are
the Sea Cat missile rails, missiles and loading davits, 20mm Oerlikons, Corvus chaff launcher tubes and stand, and Sea Slug telemetry antenna, braces, and frames.
In addition to the hangar door other parts involving flight operations include flight deck safety nets. The Wessex helicopter gets parts for the main rotor extended
for operation, main rotor folded for storage, tail rotor, and tail wheel. Sensor array included are four parts for the Type 965 Radar Array, two parts for the Type
277 Radar Array, Type 978 Radar, Type 992 Radar, DF antenna, top pole antennas, and Sword and Shield antenna.
Other ship specific parts include the propellers, paravane crane, manual paravane crane, various mast yardarms, stays and gaffs, two piece anchors and two
quarterdeck inclined ladders. The ladders have nice safety railing but the treads are rungs and not trainable treads. There are 15 runs of railing. Three of the runs
are generic three bar railing with a bottom gutter but the other twelve runs are designed for specific location. These locations include the quarterdeck, B gun deck,
fore mast platforms, hangar roof, aft funnel deck, main mast deck, forward director deck, forecastle, forward superstructure sides and forward superstructure
rear. Other generic brass parts are two runs of anchor chain and two runs of vertical ladder. The instructions are excellent and follow the extraordinarily high
standard established by
White Ensign Models, which is no surprise since Mad Pete did and still does the WEM instructions. There are three sheets of
instructions, two of which are back-printed for a total of five pages. Page one is the fret laydown with every part numbered and described. Page two has four
modules of subassemblies and include Sea Slug launcher assembly, Type 965 Radar array assembly, Oerlikon assembly and Sea Cat missile launcher assembly.
Page three has five modules for assembly of the Corvus chaff launcher, Corvus enclosure, forward superstructure fittings, fore mast fittings and main mast
fittings. Page four has six modules for assembly of the forecastle railing and anchors, B deck railing and fittings, forward superstructure railings, funnel vents and
railings, aft superstructure and hangar railings and fittings, and boat davits. The last page has three modules for assembly of quarterdeck railings and fittings and
flight deck safety netting, Sea Slug attachment and Wessex helicopter fittings.
The Atlantic Models relief-etched brass fret designed specifically for the Airfix HMS Devonshire, modern British destroyer in 1:600 scale is an absolute necessity if
you are going to bulld the Airfix model. The design, detail and fineness of the brass parts take the Airfix model to replica level.        
Steve Backer
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