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. The specialization came in terms of the duties the ships would perform: anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and aircraft direction. 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 in terms of maintenance and re-equipment and in
logistics, specifically with getting the right ships, in the right place, at the right time. 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
Tribal class measured 360 feet long, had a beam of 42.5 feet and a draught of 17.5 feet. They displaced 2,300 tons standard and 2,700 tons fully loaded. The
frigates had a more traditional profile, similar to World War II destroyers. They had completely flush deck with considerable sheer with the superstructure block
extending the entire width of the ship, supporting the bridge and mast. Both funnels were set aft and raked back slightly, giving them a sleeker appearance. A small
hanger and flight deck was fitted aft for a Wasp helicopter. A total of seven ships were built.

The
Tribals had a main gun armament of two single 4.5in guns with one fitted just forward of the main bridge and the other on the quarterdeck. The forward mount
had 2-inch rocket flare launchers mounted on either side of the gun shield. Anti-submarine weapons consisted of a single Limbo mortar and the Wasp helicopter. A
pair of quadruple Seacat missile launchers was fitted on either beam, which provided air defense. All ships had two single 20mm guns mounted on each side just
forward of the bridge. The ships were fitted with a Type 965 radar fitted with an AKE1 'Bedstead' aerial, a Type 993 radar with a 'Cheese' aerial and a Type 978
navigation radar. The fire control system was comprised of a MRS-3 director and Type 903 radar for tracking targets. The
Tribals also had a comprehensive sonar
suite with Type 177, 170 and 162 sonars being fitted.
The Tribal class frigate incorporated a lot of firsts for the Royal Navy. They were the first ships to incorporate guided missiles as part of the main armament in their
design with space provided for the quad Seacat launchers and their associated GWS21 control system. Due to delays in the development of the Seacat, all ships
except
HMS Zulu had single 40mm anti-aircraft guns fitted in place of the launchers until they were ready.

The new design incorporated gas turbines as part of the main propulsion, in the COSAG (combined steam and gas turbine) system. Main propulsion was provided by
a steam turbine that on its own could generate a speed of over 20 knots. The gas turbines could augment the power and increase the speed to around 28 knots. The
advantages of the COSAG system included optimum fuel efficiency at normal cruising speeds using the steam turbines which could be boosted by the gas turbines
on demand. Gas turbines meant that less boiler capacity was required with resulted in a savings on space, manpower and cost. Another advantage of this dual system
was that gas turbines could get up and running immediately so that the ship could be powered up and moving at very short notice while the steam system was still
warming up. The disadvantage of the system was that a second funnel was required to carry the gas turbine exhaust, which took up deck space. Thus, the
Tribal
class was the only frigate design to feature two funnels. The COSAG system was also implemented in the County class destroyers.

The Type 81 also featured improved facilities for the crew. They were the first ships to have cafeteria-like messes, bunk sleeping arrangements and full air
conditioning for all accommodation, working and operational areas. The latter meant that the class could operate in a wide variety of environments without being
specially modified.
The Tribal class was best suited for peacetime patrolling, show the flag port visits and low-intensity conflict operations. Their limited armament and relatively low
speed made them unsuitable to be used in Task Force situations and thus they mostly operated on detached duty. As new GP frigates were developed and
commissioned, the
Tribals were eventually placed in reserve and mothballed in the late 1970s and slated for disposal. The Falklands War led to the decision to
recommssion three ships to cover potential combat losses or ships laid up from battle damage. In the end all but three ships were either scrapped or sunk as targets.
The three remaining ships were sold to Indonesia in 1984, where they served into following decade, the last being decommissioned in 1999.

HMS Zulu was the last Tribal class frigate to be completed. She was laid down at Alexander Stephen and Sons, of Govan on December 13, 1960. She was launched
on July 3, 1962 and commissioned on April 17, 1964.
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During her 20 years of service with the Royal Navy, Zulu had an active career. In 1966, she participated in the Beira Patrol of the coast of East Africa. The Beira
Patrol was a was a blockade of oil shipments to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) through Beira, Mozambique, resulting from United Nations trade sanctions on Rhodesia.
In 1972, Zulu’s Wasp helicopter aided in the search and recovery efforts after a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion aircraft crashed on a mountain in northern Morocco.

After completing patrol duties in the Mediterranean,
Zulu returned to the UK in 1974 for refit and maintenance. The following year, she was deployed to the West
Indies as a guard ship. When Guatemala threatened to invade and annex Belize,
Zulu was quickly dispatched from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to augment British forces
there. In 1977,
Zulu participated in the Spithead Fleet Review held in honor of Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee. Later that year she took part in naval exercises in the
Far East.
Zulu was placed in reserve in 1979 as part of the Standby Squadron. She was placed on the disposal list in 1981 but she was taken out of reserve during
the Falklands War. She operated in home waters and then in the West Indies as a guard ship. Her last assignment in 1983 was as the guard ship in Gibraltar. In 1984,
she was decommissioned from the Royal Navy and sold to Indonesia, where she was renamed
Martha Kristina Tiyahahu. She was eventually struck from the
Indonesian Naval register and is awaiting disposal.
The Atlantic Models HMS Zulu 1:350 Scale Kit - The Atlantic Models HMS Zulu kit can be used to build any of the seven Tribal class ships after being fitted
with Seacat launchers as the ships remained pretty much the same throughout their careers.

The two hull sections are clean semi-hollow castings with very good details. The upper hull incorporates the superstructure block that extends the entire width of the
ship. Such items as bitts, capstans, breakwaters, hatches, watertight doors and other details are cast into this part. The decking with wood planking is nicely
represented. Locating pins and stubs and recesses are present to fit the bridge, radar house, shelter deck housing, hangar and other parts to the upper hull.

The lower hull is also well done and very clean with the bilge keels, stabilizer fins, sonar domes and shaft fairing cast into the part. Openings are provided to attach the
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 be required to fill in the joint.
The larger superstructure parts include the bridge, radar housing, shelter deck housing, forward funnel and the hangar. The aft funnel is integrated into the shelter
deck housing. The casting is excellent with bits of excess resin needing removal along the bottom edges of some of the parts. The openings for the inclined ladders in
the shelter deck structure are covered with resin film which needs to be opened up. The bottoms of the bridge and shelter deck structure have lumps of resin that
will need to be sanded down to make them flush with the upper hull. Waffle pattern watertight doors and other details are cast into these parts, eliminating the need to
apply photo-etch parts.

The smaller resin parts include the hangar roof covers, 4.5” gun shields/mounts, the Limbo mortar and base, Wasp helicopter fuselage, Corvus chaff launcher
enclosures, Seacat directors, 27’ whaler, 25’ motor boat and Gemini inflatable boat. The casting is very good with the parts requiring the removal of a resin film to
clear out opening in the shields and helicopter and excess resin along some of the edges.

Numerous white metal parts round out the kit, which include the 4.5” gun barrels, rudders, propeller, Type 993 radar, Type 978 radar, Corvus chaff launchers, MRS-
3 director, Seacat missile launchers, life raft canisters, whip aerial mountings,  anchors, searchlights and deck winch. A VDS body is provided for modelers who
wish to model
HMS Ashanti or Gurkha, as they were the only ships fitted with Variable Depth Sonar equipment. 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, anchors and
searchlights as they can be easily bent.
The photo-etch brass is excellent which is what modelers expect from a Peter Hall design. The brass included several lengths of pre-measured railings, ladders, flare
rocket launchers for the forward gun mount, boat davits, Seacat missiles and launcher rails, 20mm Oerlikon mounts and life raft canister racks. The photo-etch also
includes parts for the complex Type 965 radar, the lattice mast with all associated yardarms, parts for the Wasp, flight deck safety nets, director platforms, ship’s
name plates and various other detail parts. Optional parts for the VDS equipment fitted to
HMS Ashanti and Gurkha are provided. 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
Tribal class ships. Flight deck markings,
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.

A total of 10 pages of assembly instructions are provided in the familiar format seen with
Atlantic Models and 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. Page 9 of the
instructions has a section that covers the steps required to cut out a VDS well in the hull is you wish to build either
HMS Ashanti or Gurkha. This will require major
surgery on the part of the modeler, as there is no real easy way to do this. I for one will admit that I don’t have the skills to attempt this operation.
This release from Atlantic Models helps to fill a gap in Royal Navy Cold War modeling subjects. The Tribals were nice looking ships and an important step in
post-war Royal Navy warship design, with a lot of features incorporated in later classes. This is a high quality kit but due to the complex lattice mast and Type 965
radar assembly, I would recommend it to modelers with experience working photo-etch parts.
Felix Bustelo
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