The post-World War II Royal Navy looked towards specialization in its ship construction plans, veering away from the all-purpose fleet destroyer to a new style of
frigate. During World War II, the term frigate was used to identify an escort vessel that was, in terms of size, between a smaller corvette and a larger destroyer.
However, the new frigate envisioned during the 1950s was a much larger vessel than their World War II cousins and comparable to a destroyer in terms of speed and
displacement. The specialization came in terms of the duties the ships would perform: anti-aircraft (A/A), anti-submarine (A/S) and aircraft direction (A/D). To help
further in classifying these ships, all A/S ships would be in the 10s (Types 12, 12M, 14, 15 and 16), A/A in the 40s (Type 41) and A/D in the 60s (Type 61). All
Types had similar hulls, with a high foc’sle deck which sloped down to the gun deck just forward of the bridge. But the armament for each type varied by intended
purpose with the exception of the enclosed twin 4.5-inch turret, which was common to all. Eventually it became clear that specialization was costly, especially in
terms of maintenance and re-equipment, and a decision was made to develop a General Purpose (GP) design that could perform all three functions. The first GP
design was the Type 81 or
Tribal class frigate and while there some limitations to this class, the GP concept proved to be a better value.

The
Leander class reverted back to the high foc’sle hull of the previous specialized frigates (the Tribals had a more traditional forward hull) and were to be named
after mythological characters, though
Cleopatra was an exception as she was a historical figure. The first three ships in the class, Leander, Ajax and Dido, were laid
down as
Rothesay class (Type 12M) frigates but now the ships were to incorporate all of the attributes of the specialized predecessors – a Type 965 “bedstead” early
warning radar, twin 4.5-inch gun turret, triple-barreled Limbo A/S mortar, Wasp A/S helicopter, Seacat guided missile weapon system and variable depth sonar.
Largely for this reason, the
Leanders were classified as Type 12I for Improved.

The
Leander class proved to be a very successful and versatile design. A total of 26 ships were built for the Royal Navy in three batches. The Batch 1 and 2 differed
with the latter receiving an upgraded engine design which improved noise reduction. The Batch 3 ships had two feet added to the beam to improve sea keeping as well
as upgraded engines. The latter batch is referred to as board-beamed
Leanders. Two ships were built in the UK and exported to New Zealand and another two were
exported to Chile. Ships based on the
Leander class but built under license in foreign yards include the Australian River class, Indian Nigril class and the Dutch Van
Speijk
class.
With advances in weapons systems over the years, Royal Navy ships underwent a series of upgrades and conversions. Some ships had an Ikara ASW missile
system fitted in place of the 4.5-inch gun mount. Other ships had the Exocet anti-ship missile system replace the 4.5-inch mount. Some Exocet ships had a second
Seacat launcher fitted aft and others had the Seacat replaced with a Seawolf surface-to-air missile system fitted forward ahead of the Exocets. Some ship retained
the original gun and Seacat armament. The Royal Navy ships were eventually phased-out with some sold to foreign navies and others scrapped or sunk as targets.
Some ships sold to foreign navies served as late as 2007.

HMS Cleopatra was the last Batch 1 ship to be completed. She was laid down at HM Dockyard at Devonport on June 13, 1963 and launched on March 25, 1964.
She was commissioned on January 4, 1966 and joined the 2nd Destroyer Squadron of the Far East Fleet. She participated in the Beira Patrol which was a blockade
of oil shipments, resulting from United Nations trade sanctions, to landlocked Rhodesia through the port of Beira in the then Portuguese colony of Mozambique. In
1969,
Cleopatra was one of five ships escorting the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne during a SEATO exercise. The U.S. Navy destroyer Frank E. Evans was
also one of the escorts and was cut in two when she sailed across the bow of the aircraft carrier.
Cleopatra took part in the rescue efforts, though 74 sailors from
the
Evans were killed. In 1972, Cleopatra took part in escort duties during the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's South East Asia tour. In 1973, Cleopatra was
dispatched to protect British trawlers against the Icelandic Coast Guard in the Second Cod War.

Cleopatra was selected to undergo an Exocet/Seacat conversion and was one of the two Batch 1 ships to undergo this conversion. Work began on July 22, 1973 at
Devonport and completed on December 19, 1975. In 1982,
Cleopatra had a second refit where she was fitted with the large Towed Array Sensor, a larger hangar
for the Lynx helicopter and the mortar well plated over to increase the flight deck for Lynx operations. She served into the early 1990s when she was
decommissioned on January 31, 1992 and sold for scrap the subsequent year.
The Atlantic Models Kit of HMS Cleopatra - The HMS Cleopatra kit can be used to build just about any Batch 1 or 2 ship in their original configuration. You
can also build a Batch 3 ship since in 1:350 scale, the two foot increase in beam would be so small that it would not be visible sufficiently to make any difference.
According to information on
Atlantic Models’ website, the kit represents Cleopatra as she appeared in 1970.The kit is typical of previous Atlantic Models kits:
you get a resin hull with a waterline/full-hull option, a mix of resin and white metal smaller parts, an extensive photo-etch detail set and a very complete decal sheet.
Subsequent to this release, a kit of an Ikara conversion fit was made available.

The two hull sections are clean semi-hollow castings with very good details. The upper hull captures the profile with the high foc’sle deck. Such items as bitts,
capstans, breakwaters and other are cast into the hull. The well for the Limbo mortar is detailed with platforms and doors and fittings along the bulkheads. The
well for the towed sonar is closed off along the transom to facilitate modeling a later fit on some ships, which had the well plated over on the deck. If you wish to
fit the towed Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) equipment, then you will have to remove the resin to open up the well. Locating pins and holes are present to fit the
superstructure and other parts to the upper hull.

The lower hull is also well done and very clean with the bilge keels and shaft fairings cast into the part. Openings are provided to attach the rudders and the
stabilizer fins. 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 probably be required to fill in the joint.
The superstructure is one large piece and incorporates the bridge, hangar and other housings. The casting is very good with some bits of resin flash needing
removal along the sides and the edge of the hangar. Waffle pattern watertight doors are cast into the superstructure eliminating the need to apply photo-etch
versions. The hangar top is open to allow different roof parts which will vary depending on the version modeled. The actual hangar is detailed in the event you
wish to build the model with the doors open.

The smaller resin parts include the hangar roof, funnel, the fore and main masts, the 4.5” Mk VI twin turret, the Limbo mortar and base, Lynx helicopter fuselage,
forward director base, Corvus chaff launcher enclosures, 27’ whaler, 25’ motor boat, Gemini inflatable boat and a pair of punts. The casting is very good with
the parts require the removal of a little flash along some of the edges.

Numerous white metal parts round out the kit, which include the 4.5” gun barrels, rudders, stabilizer fins, propeller shaft supports, Type 993 radar, Type 978
radar, Corvus chaff launchers, gun/Seacat directors, tub for Seacat director, Seacat missile launcher, life raft canisters, an early and late fit foremast top array,
anchors, searchlights and aft 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 fit the bill. White metal is malleable so be careful when handling the gun barrels and the foremast top arrays, as they can be easily bent.
The photo-etch brass is excellent which is what we have come to expect from Peter Hall. This is a common detail set for both the gun and Ikara versions of the
kit, so some of the parts are not used with the gun version. Pre-measured railings, ladders, anchors, foremast and associated platforms and yardarms, mainmast
yardarms, boat davits, Seacat missiles and launcher rails, parts for the complex Type 965 radar, parts for the Wasp, flight deck safety nets, ship’s name plates and
various other detail parts are provided in this set with lovely relief etching.

A complete and well done decal sheet is provided with that provides the pennant numbers, flight deck code letter and names for all 26 Royal Navy ships. On a
whimsical note,
Peter Hall included the name for the fictional HMS Hero, which was the star of the 1970s BBC drama “Warship”. Flight deck markings, Wasp
markings and codex numbers, draft markings and the White Ensign and Union Jack are also provided. Missing is a set of bridge windows.

A total of 10 pages of assembly instructions are provided in the familiar format you see with other
Atlantic Models kits and brass detail sets, which were also
used for
White Ensign products. The instructions are 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 Wasp helicopter, 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, which are available again.
This release from Atlantic Models is most welcome as the Leander class frigate was a staple of the modern Royal Navy for many years. One of White Ensign
Models
earliest kits, long out of production, was that of a gun Leander. This completely new release will provide modelers that missed out on the old kit a chance
to build a model of one of these fine ships. It is also great to see more Cold War Royal Navy ships available as kits.
Felix Bustelo
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