By the mid-1960s, the Royal Navy began plans to develop a more modern general-purpose frigate to replace the aging diesel-powered and special purpose Leopard
class and
Salisbury class frigates. Royal Navy warships were traditionally designed by the Ministry of Defence's Ship Department, but private shipyards lobbied for the
right design and build a ship that would meet the RN’s requirements with an innovative design that would cost significantly less than the
Leander class to build and
also be attractive to export customers. The result was the
Type 21 frigate (aka Amazon class), a collaborative venture between Vosper Thornycroft Ltd. and Yarrow
Shipbuilders Ltd. and the first Royal Navy ships to be privately designed in quite some time.

The
Type 21 was a first for the Royal Navy in many ways. These warships were the first to be fully powered by gas-turbine engines. A pair of Rolls-Royce Tyne
engines (used for cruising speeds) and two Rolls-Royce Olympus engines (for higher speeds) were arranged in a Combined Gas or Gas (COGOG) arrangement. The
Amazon class was also the first Royal Navy ships built with extensive use of aluminum alloys for the superstructure, decks and other fittings to reduce top weight.
The use of aluminum alloys came into question during the Falklands War with the loss of
HMS Ardent and HMS Antelope. Critics claimed that the use of aluminum
alloys on
Type 21 frigates, which has a much lower melting point that steel, played a major factor in their sinking. While there was no evidence that this contributed to
the loss of these ships during the conflict, the use of aluminum alloys did make the
Type 21 more vulnerable compared to other classes. Another criticism of the Type
21
was that they were under-armed in relation to their size and cost and the design did not allow for enough space for upgrading and modernizing of weapons and
sensor systems.

The
0 measured 384 feet long, 41 feet 8 inches at the beam and had a draft of 19 feet. They were very sleek, looking more like a yacht than a warship. As delivered,
the frigates were armed with a single 4.5-inch Mark 8 naval gun forward and a Sea Cat surface-to-air missile aft. A pair of 20mm Oerlikons was fitted on either side of
the forward superstructure. A hangar and flight deck aft were fitted to accommodate at first a Westland Wasp and later a Westland Lynx ASW helicopter.
In terms of automation, systems integration and habitability, the Type 21 was much more advanced compared to many of the ships that they replaced. The GWS-24
fire control radar could control both the gun and Sea Cat missile launcher, which help saved weight. A Type 992Q air/surface radar was fitted, but for some reason a
long-range air-search radar was not. A Computer Aided Action Information System (CAAIS) integrated the ship's weapons and sensor systems and provide the crew
with all the relevant information they needed for combat situations. Living accommodations were excellent, with air conditioning, bunk sleeping and separate dining
halls and cafeteria messing, which made them popular ships with crew members.

To improve the firepower of the
Type 21 ships, four French-built MM38 Exocet anti-ship missiles were installed in front of the bridge aft of the forecastle, The
Corvus countermeasure launchers original fitted there were moved to amidships. During refits, two STWS-1 triple-tube launchers capable of firing Mark 44 or Mark
46 torpedoes were installed. After the Falklands War, two more 20mm Oerlikon guns were mounted, one each side of the hangar, to provide extra close-in armament
on some ships of the class.

A total of eight frigates were built -
Amazon, Antelope and Active by Vosper Thornycroft and Ardent, Ambuscade, Arrow, Alacrity and Avenger by Yarrow. All but
HMS Amazon served in the Falklands War with two lost to Argentine attacks. HMS Antelope was hit by bombs on May 23, 1982 and sank the next day when an
unexploded bomb detonated will being defused by an explosives team.
HMS Ardent was severely damaged by bombs dropped by A-4 Skyhawks on May 21, 1982
and she sank the following day.
HMS Arrow was launched on February 5, 1974 and commissioned on July 28, 1976. During the Falklands conflict, Arrow initiated the bombardment of enemy positions
at the Port Stanley airfield on May 1, 1982 and she became the first sip to be damaged by an Argentine Air Force fighter. On May 4, she assisted in extinguishing fires on
HMS Sheffield after she was struck by an Exocet missile. Arrow evacuated 225 of the 266 surviving crew off Sheffield.

On May 21
Arrow supported troops of the Second Battalion the Parachute Regiment in the successful landing at Goose Green and on June 8 she helped extinguish the
fires on
HMS Plymouth. In her last action, Arrow provided covering fire in the lead up to the surrender of Port Stanley. Arrow was credited with destroying three
Argentine aircraft, seven gun emplacements and two radar stations.  

After the conflict,
Arrow suffered from cracking in her hull and in the aluminum alloy superstructure. Engineers welded steel plates and girders to the parts of the ship
where cracks were opening. Later during a refitting, large steel plates were welded down on each side of the ship.
Arrow continued to serve in the Royal Navy until
March 1, 1994, when she was decommissioned.
Arrow was transferred to Pakistan and renamed PNS Khaibar. The Exocet missile system was not transferred and quad
Harpoon missile launcher was fitted in its place. The obsolete Sea Cat missile launcher removed, replaced by a Phalanx CIWS.
Khaibar remains in service with the
Pakistan Navy, who purchased from all six surviving
Type 21 frigates from the British government.
The Kit - With the release of the HMS Arrow kit, Atlantic Models adds the sleek Type 21 frigate to its catalog of Cold War era warships. The HMS Arrow kit can be
used to build any ship in this class at essentially any point in their careers. You can omit the Exocet launchers and place the Corvus chaff launchers in their as fitted
positions and you can choose between the Wasp and Lynx helicopters. Of course, the modeler will have to do a bit of research for the fit you choose to build.

The two hull sections are clean semi-hollow castings with very good details. The upper hull incorporates the superstructure block that covers the middle section of the
ship and the deck housings that sit atop this block. The upper hull also has such items as bitts, capstans, breakwaters, hatches, watertight doors and other details cast
into it. Locator pins and tabs are present to accommodate the bridge, aft superstructure and hangar structure to the upper hull. The lower hull is also well done with the
bilge keels, sonar dome and shaft fairings cast into the part. Openings are provided to attach the stabilizer fins and twin rudders.

If you plan to build the model full-hull you will see corresponding pins and holes at the bow and stern and midway on the lower hull you will see tabs to help align the
upper and lower hulls when gluing the two parts together. Before joining the two halves you will have to sand down several bumps where appear to be the resin
equivalent injector pin marks. Some putty will undoubtedly be required to fill in the joint.
The larger superstructure parts include the bridge, aft superstructure, foremast and hangar structure. The large funnel is integrated into the aft superstructure. The
casting is excellent with bits of excess resin needing removal along the bottom edges of some of the parts. Waffle pattern watertight doors, vents and other details are
cast into these parts, eliminating the need to apply photo-etch parts. The hangar interior is detailed, which gives you the option to model it with the roller door open.

The smaller resin parts include 4.5-inch Mk. 8 turret, Exocet mountings and boxes, Wasp and Lynx helicopter fuselages, Corvus chaff launcher enclosures, SCOT
radomes, main mast, 27’ whaler, 25’ motor boat, Gemini inflatable boat and a small maintenance boat. The casting is generally good but not as clean as previous
Atlantic Model releases, with the parts requiring the removal of excess resin in several spots.

A common feature of
Atlantic Models kits are white metal parts, which include the 4.5-inch Mk. 8 gun barrel, rudders, stabilizers, propeller shaft “A” frames,
anchors, Corvus chaff launchers, Seacat missile launcher, a variety antennas and sensors, life raft canisters, torpedo tubes and deck windlass. The white metal parts
require a little more cleanup and are not as refined when compared to the small resin parts but they work. White metal is malleable so be careful when handling the gun
barrels and anchors as they can be easily bent. A replacement turned brass barrel is available separately from
Atlantic Models, for which I did a review of (http://www.
steelnavy.net/AtlanticMk8gunFBustelo.html).
As expected, the photo-etch brass is excellent with lots of parts. The brass includes several lengths of pre-measured railings, ladders, boat davits, Seacat missiles and
launcher rails, 20mm Oerlikon mounts and life raft canister racks. The photo-etch also includes a variety of yardarms, parts for the Wasp and Lynx helicopters, flight
deck safety nets, director platforms, ship’s name plates, squadron funnel numbers, hull side stiffeners, propellers, hangar roller door, various platforms and other detail
parts. The photo-etch is very well done with beautiful relief etching.

A complete and well-done decal sheet is which has the pennant numbers, flight deck code letter and names for all ship in the
Amazon class. Flight deck markings,
Lynx and Wasp markings and codex numbers, draft markings and the White Ensign and Union Jack are also provided. Unfortunately, not included on the decal sheet is
a set of bridge windows. The decals in white are hard to see in the photo, but trust me they look good.

A total of 10 pages of assembly instructions are provided in the familiar format seen with
Atlantic Models and White Ensign Models products. The instructions
continue to be among the best out there and provide numerous illustrations to aide in assembling this model. The first page provides a brief history of this ship and an
inventory of the smaller resin and white metal parts. The following page has an inventory and keyed image of the photo-etch fret. The remaining pages cover the
various assemblies and sub-assemblies. The ninth page is dedicated to the Lynx and Wasp helicopters, with a complete painting and decaling guide in the bottom half.
The last page has a painting and decaling guide in color for the ship with references to Humbrol paints. The names of the colors will help you match up with
Colourcoat paints.
Like them or not, the Type 21 frigates were really cool looking ships and among the sleekest built though they did have their shortcomings. I am very glad that
Atlantic Models, with the HMS Arrow in 1:350 scale, finally released a kit of this class of warships that played a significant role, yet garnered criticism during the
Falklands War.
Felix Bustelo
Sage of Sorrento
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