During World War One, the Royal Navy had in service many different destroyer types, with the excellent V and W classes being the most modern and built in large
numbers. Post-war economies and a focus on disarmament led to a large scale scrapping of obsolete surplus destroyers from the Great War. All of these factors
hampered further RN destroyer designs through the mid-1920s. However, technological advances that had been made since the war prompted the Admiralty to
solicit bids for new destroyer designs. Thornycroft and Yarrow submitted the winning designs and each yard built one ship,
HMS Amazon and HMS Ambuscade
respectively, based on their designs. These ships were used as a test bed for the new technology and designs and the results were so successful that they became
the basis for the standardized Royal Navy destroyers that were built over the following decade, the
A through I classes. Over 70 ships were built with each
succeeding class a minor improvement from the preceding one. By 1936, when the
I class was being laid down, the basic design was considered comparatively
inferior to contemporary foreign destroyers entering service. At that time, Germany, Japan, France, Italy and the United States were also building large “
super
destroyers
” and Great Britain responded with the Tribal class. However, the Tribals were simply too large and expensive to build to become the new fleet destroyer
for the Royal Navy, so a better suited design was needed. This was the
J class, which was laid down in 1937. They were larger, faster and better gunned than their
predecessors and became the new standard for fleet destroyer design and the following
K and N classes were substantially identical. Next came the L and M classes,
which were slightly larger versions of the
J, K and N classes. These ships were designed to be fitted with enclosed turrets like the latest Japanese and American
ships. Just as these ships were being built, World War Two erupted and the Admiralty was once again faced with a need for rapid expansion of the fleet and a new
set of requirements.

These requirements emphasized a need for a vessel that was cheaper and faster to build than the Fleet destroyers but with greater speed than the
Hunt class of
smaller destroyer escorts that were designed for merchant convoy protection. In short, the Naval Staff wanted a destroyer design that was versatile enough to take
on general fleet, escort and patrol roles and also serve as replacements for the older destroyers that were nearing the end of their service lives. The first two classes
built under the Emergency War Program were the
O and P classes, which were ordered at the outbreak of war in 1939. This class reverted back to the four 4.7-
inch single mount layout as the
A through I classes had and utilized the same machinery as the J class, which simplified construction. However, the O’s and P’s had
a new, shorter hull design, which required new drawings and production equipment. To simplify construction further, the
Q and R classes (3rd and 4th Emergency
Flotillas respectively), reverted to the longer
J class hull, but with a square cut transom, while retaining the same armament and machinery as the first two
Emergency Flotillas. The
S and T classes (5th and 6th Emergency Flotillas) were essentially repeats of the R class, but with an improved 4.7-inch gun with a higher
elevation angle (55° instead of 40°) and the clipper bow of the
Tribal class, which reduced the amount of spray forward. The new bow increased the overall length
to 362” 9’ from 358” 3’. The last Emergency Flotillas (7th to 10th or
U to Z classes) were repeats of the S class, with a few variations.
HMS Vigilant was constructed at Swan Hunters Shipbuilding at Wallsend and completed on September 10, 1943. Her total building time was 19 months and 10
days. The early part of her service saw her on Russian convoy duties before transferring to the English Channel in mid-1944.
Vigilant was among the Emergency
destroyers employed to cover the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944, providing convoy escort and gunfire support for troops ashore. Afterwards, she resumed
regular escort duties until she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in the Pacific in January 1945. She arrived at Trincomalee, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in escort with
HMS Formidable. There she provided screening for various operations and was involved in operations that sank four Japanese merchant ships and two of their
escorts. On May 15, 1945,
Vigilant in the company of HMS Saumarez, Verulam, Venus and Virago, proceeded to the Straits of Malacca to intercept Japanese
ships that had been sighted by aircraft. Those ships were the cruiser
Haguro and destroyer Kamikaze. In a daring night torpedo attack in the very early hours of
May 16,
Haguro was hit with eight torpedoes and later sank. Her escort, Kamikaze, was damaged by shell fire but managed to escape. HMS Saumarez was
seriously damaged by three 8-inch shell hits. After this action,
Vigilant resumed regular escort duties until the surrender of Singapore, when she returned to home
waters. Post-WW2 service saw
Vigilant as part of the Londonderry anti-submarine warfare training flotilla until 1947, when she was paid off and placed in reserve.
She was later converted to a Type 15 frigate and she continued to serve until 1965, when she was sold for scrap and went to the breakers.

The Kit - The HMS Vigilant kit was announced by White Ensign Models but never actually released before they closed shop. Well, those of us that were
disappointed that it was never released can do their happy dance (believe me you don’t want to see mine but I will continue to do it when appropriate in the privacy
of my workshop) as it is now available under the
Atlantic Models label. Peter Hall made the patterns for this kit, so it makes perfect sense that it has finally seen
the light of day via his company. Like all
Atlantic/WEM 1:350 scale kits, it is comprised of resin hull with a waterline/full-hull option, smaller parts that are a mix of
resin and white metal and an extensive photo-etch detail set. No decals are included with the kit, but they are available separately from
Atlantic Models.
The two hull sections are clean castings with very good details. The upper hull has such items as twin bitts, single bollards, capstans, breakwater, deck walkways
and portholes cast into the part. The metal tread plates at the forecastle are finely reproduced. The forecastle has anchor hawse with enough depth for some anchor
chain to descend into them, the base plate for the A gun and pair of locater pins for the forward superstructure. On the main deck there are additional locater pins
for the funnel and gun platforms and raised base plates with torpedo tubes. Further aft you have an indentation and locater pins for the aft superstructure as well as
a hole for the Y gun mount. The lower hull is also well done with bilge keels, propeller shaft skegs and a locater hole for rudder.

The superstructure parts include the 01 level of the forward superstructure, the bridge, two midships anti-aircraft gun platforms and the aft superstructure. The
part for the 01 level of superstructure has the spray guard in front of B gun with support frames nicely reproduced underneath. There is plenty of detail on the
bulkheads with handrail, watertight doors, pipes, lockers and splinter shielding. There is a little bit of resin film on the vent pipe protruding off the aft end that needs
to be removed. The bridge is also very nice with the binnacle and compass on the raised navigation platform, which has the wood grating convincingly reproduced,
watertight doors, handrails and pipes. The 20mm anti-aircraft platform has splinter shielding, ready ammunition lockers, support pillars and watertight doors on the
housing beneath. The same level of detail can be found on the twin 40mm Bofors gun platform. The aft superstructure has the spray guard for X gun with the same
support framing underneath, watertight doors, handrail and lockers. Some of the parts have little bits of excess resin film that needs to be removed and cleaned-up.
The funnel is excellent with steam pipes cast into them as well as good cap apron and some depth inside.
The remaining resin parts include the 4.7-inch gun shields, quadruple torpedo tubes, the twin 40mm Bofors mount, the 25-foot motor cutter, 27-foot whale boat
and 16-foot dinghy. These parts are also well done but have resin film along the edges and in the gun openings of the shields that needs to be removed.

The rest of the parts are white metal and include the 4.7-inch gun barrels, twin 40mm Bofors barrels,  twin 20mm Oerlikon mounts, crow’s nest, rudder, HACs
director, director control tower, searchlight, depth charges and depth charge throwers, stove pipes, Carley floats, propellers and propeller struts. The white metal
parts require a little more cleanup and are not as refined in my opinion when compared to the small resin parts but they are serviceable. White metal is malleable so
be careful when handling the 4.7-inch gun barrels, 40mm barrels and stovepipes, which are easily bent as the photos can attest. Lengths of brass and plastic rod are
provided with the former to be used to construct masts and the latter to cut down to make depth charges.
The photo-etch brass is excellent, with wonderful relief etching, and is designed to supply brass parts for both V and S class destroyers (a kit of HMS Scorpion is
also available) As a result, some of the parts are not used with
Vigilant. Most of the railings are pre-measured lengths, such as the upswept forecastle and main deck
railings, but you do get two lengths of standard railing which need to be measured and cut to size. The main deck railings have one end shaped to fit the curve of the
spray shields at the forecastle break. In addition to the railings, the brass fret has inclined and vertical ladders, anchor chains, bridge windscreen, optional canvas cover
with frame for the navigation platform, twin 20mm Oerlikon parts, Hazemeyer parts, 276 radar lantern parts, searchlight platform, Carley raft racks, catwalks, bridge
signal lamp, funnel cap grill, funnel sirens and platform, boat davits, boat details various equipment handling davits, mast yardarms, tripod mast frames, anchors, depth
charge racks and various other parts. The photo-etch also has parts for the 1945 fit lattice masts, which is a nice option to have. However, there is a little problem if
you wish to build
Vigilant in her 1945 fit. According to “Ensign 6 – War Built Destroyers O to Z Classes” by Raven and Roberts, Vigilant had her twin 20mm
guns replaced with single 40mm Mk. III guns which are not included with the kit.

The assembly instructions come on 9 pages and are in the familiar format we have come to appreciate with
White Ensign and Atlantic Model kits. My kit came with
a CD-ROM disk with the instructions in an effort to save some trees but they can also be downloaded from the
Atlantic Models website. The instructions are among
the best out there and provide numerous illustrations to aid in assembling the model. The first page provides a brief history of this ship and an inventory of the smaller
resin and white metal parts and page 2 has a keyed image of the photo-etch fret. The following six pages cover the various assemblies and sub-assemblies with clear,  
detailed and annotated illustrations and the last page was a painting guide in color for the paint schemes worn by
Vigilant  in 1943 and in 1945 with references to
Colourcoats where applicable.
The Atlantic Models HMS Vigilant in 1:350 scale is simply another outstanding multi-media kit with excellent parts, superb photo-etch and fine assembly
instructions. The kit will build into a beautiful replica of this destroyer and will make a fantastic addition to your Royal Navy flotilla.
Felix Bustelo
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