The Castle class was designed as specialist offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) to take over the duties that were being carried out by Ton class
minesweepers that had undergone a patrol craft refit. The original plan was to build ships, but in the end only 2 were built,
Leeds Castle and
Dumbarton Castle. Both ships were built at Hall Russell & Co. in Aberdeen, Scotland, with both being commissioned in 1982. The class was an
improvement over the
Island class of patrol ships, since they were capable of spending more time at sea and operating a helicopter. While there were
no hangar facilities, the flight deck was large enough to accommodate a Sea King.
Leeds Castle was involved in the Falklands War, operating between Ascension Island, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands as a dispatch vessel. She
spent the rest of her career dividing her time between patrolling and protecting oil and gas facilities and fisheries in United Kingdom waters and service
as a guard ship in the Falkland Islands. In 2000,
Leeds Castle underwent an eight-month refit, returning to the fleet in early 2001. After one final
deployment to the Falkland, Leeds Castle returned to Portsmouth on August 8, 2005 to be decommissioned after 24 years of service.
Dumbarton Castle performed the same duties as her sister-ship, alternating with the Leeds Castle, until she was decommissioned in 2008. In 2010,
both ships were sold to Bangladesh. In March 2011, the
Leeds Castle and Dumbarton Castle was recommissioned as the Dhaleshwari and Bijoy
respectively and continue to serve in the Bangladesh Navy today where they have been reclassified as corvettes.

The Kit - The HMS Leeds Castle kit is the latest release from Peter Hall’s Atlantic Models. With this kit you can build both ships in this class, which
only had some very minor differences. Optional parts are also provided to build a model in a later upgraded fit. The layout of this kit is very similar to
Atlantic Models’ other kits. The resin hull has a waterline/full-hull option, the smaller parts are a mix of resin and white metal and it comes with an
extensive photo-etch detail set and complete decal sheet.
The two hull sections are clean hollow castings with very good details. The upper hull has such items as bitts, capstans, breakwaters and hatches cast
into the hull. The prominent bulwarks and support ribs that run from the bow back to a little more than half way back are also cast into the hull and
are very well done. You will have to open up the hawsers and numerous scuppers which are covered with a thin film of resin. The lower hull is also
well done and very clean with the bilge keels and shaft fairings cast into the part. Openings are present to attach the rudders and stabilizer fins.
If you plan to build the model full-hull you will see corresponding pins and holes at the bow and stern and on the lower hull you will see a pair of 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 some bumps that
appear to be the resin equivalent injector pin marks. A dry fit of the two halves show that there is a slight bit of warping that will require clamping of
the two parts together to correct it and some putty will undoubtedly be needed to fill in the joint.

The next largest resin part is the one-piece superstructure, which is well cast with lots of details like watertight doors, vents, portholes and lockers.
The bottom of this part has locator holes that correspond to pins that are on the deck of the upper hull. There are some bits of flash here and there,
such as the openings in the deck for the ladders, which need to be removed and cleaned up. There are only two other resin parts, the Mack and a
radome on a pole. The latter is one of the parts used to build a later fit model. They are well done but do need clean-up to remove some resin flash and
overpour.

The rest of the parts are white metal and include the 30mm Oerlikon gun mount, windlass, radars and mast, life raft canisters, RHIBs, anchors, boat
cranes, antenna bases, rudders, stabilizers and propeller shaft struts. 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 30mm gun mount and mast as can be
easily bent.
The photo-etch brass is excellent, with lovely relief etching, and is quite extensive for a model this size. There are a number of pre-measured lengths of
railing, some with angled ends that butt up against a bulkhead. This helps to eliminate the need to measure and cut generic lengths of railing and
facilitates assembly. In addition to the railings, the brass fret has inclined and vertical ladders, flight deck safety nets, propellers, cradles and details for
the RHIBs , life belts (rings) and stowage racks, fuel can stowage racks  mast yardarms and electronics, wire antenna spreader and various other detail
parts. Some optional later fit parts are also included, such as a part of decoy launcher platforms with associated railings and bridge wing supports. The
wire antenna spreader is designed in such a way that it can be easily altered for the different versions fitted to each ship A small but complete decal
sheet is provided with pennant numbers and names for two ships, flight deck markings, bridge windows, draft markings and a White Ensign and Union
Jack.

A total of 6 pages of assembly instructions are provided in the familiar format you see with
White Ensign Model kits and brass detail sets. 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 and keyed image of the photo-etch fret. The following page has an inventory of the smaller resin and white metal parts and a
general assembly diagram for the main structural parts. The remaining pages cover the various assemblies and sub-assemblies and the last page was a
painting guide in color with references to, of course,
WEM Colourcoats paints.
This release is an excellent addition to the Atlantic Models line of Cold War and modern Royal Navy ships. It will build into a beautiful and detail
model of this class of patrol vessel.
Felix Bustelo
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