As nation states grew, the needs of their navies evolved. For major naval powers, the prime need was for powerful ships fit to stand in the line of battle against the enemy’s most powerful ships, hence the ship of the line. Scouting and far flung action
was provided by frigates. With the advent of steam power, the ship of the line evolved into large ironclads and then battleships. The frigate also evolved into the cruiser. However, there was confusion during the transition. The
HMS Warrior was built as
a frigate type because it had a single gun deck, which was one of the characteristics of a wooden frigate. However, the Warrior was the most powerful ship of her time, and by mission was really a battleship.

The smaller ships also evolved. Sloops and brigs became 2nd and 3rd class cruisers and other types came into existence. The self propelled Whitehead torpedo caused a revolution in warship design. Cheap and plentiful vessels equipped with the torpedo
could be built by weaker naval powers to challenge the great naval power, the Royal Navy. They were called Torpedo-Boats and France, Russia and Germany started buiding hundreds of them. Great Britain saw the threat and introduced a type of
warship called the Torpedo-Boat Catcher. However, the concept was a failure because the TBC was too slow to catch a torpedo-boat. Additionally at just under 1,000-tons, they were too expensive to be built in sufficient numbers. Edward Yarrow had a
better idea. A warship one-third the displacement of the Catcher but with high speed sufficient to overtake a torpedo-boat. Initially called the torpedo-boat destroyer (TBD), the new type was eventually called the destroyer. The gun armament was lighter
than that of a Catcher but was strong enough to overwhelm a torpedo-boat From the very start the destroyer also carried torpedoes. Since the destroyer was more powerful than a torpedo-boat and still had the torpedo offensive power to attack large
ships, other nations quickly adopted the destroyer. Construction of torpedo-boats dropped off and everyone built destroyers.
At the time another type of torpedo carrying vessel had appeared and was in its infancy and experimental stage. This was the submarine and became the greatest threat to the Royal Navy and British merchant marine in two world wars. The Royal Navy
chose the destroyer as the greatest protection against the submarine and developed the depth charges. When World War One erupted, the British sent merchant ships out solo with no protection. Convoys were not used except for the most essential load,
such as troopships. Destroyers were assigned to provide protection for these high value targets but the average steamer was left to its own devices. German and Austrian U-Boats had a feast on the unprotected merchant ships and the convoy system
came back for use by British merchant ships. Destroyers were organized into flotillas and as new destroyers came into service, they were normally assigned to the flotillas serving with the Grand Fleet. Admiral Jellicoe had need of a great number of
destroyers to serve as a screen for his battleships. Older destroyers were sent to the Mediterranean to serve in naval operations around the Dardanelles. The French and Italians demanded British destroyers to operate with them. There were very few
destroyers left over to serve as convoy escorts on the long reaches of British trade routes. As a consequence merchant losses soared and all sorts of vessel were converted into warships for convoy protection. However, the trawlers, armed merchant
ships and Q-Ships were far less capable than a destroyer for protecting against a U-Boat attack.

After the end of World War One naval budgets world-wide were slashed. The European allies were almost bankrupt and only the United States still had the finances able to support and further expand on her navy. Both the US and Japan started on vast
new capitol ship construction programs, although Japan could not afford it. The Washington Treaty of 1922 ended the new battleship building race and most countries breathed a sigh of relief. Although battleship construction had been curtailed for the
RN, except for
Nelson and Rodney, the Royal Navy continued to spend sums on destroyer development. Not so for the United States. With hundreds of flush deck destroyers built at the end of the war, the US saw no further need for destroyers and
development of the type went into the dumper for a decade. Equally discouraging, no one seemed to have learned from the convoy operations of the war, specifically convoy protection and escorts. With no funds allocated for further destroyer
development there certainly was no money to spend on ships designed for convoy protection. So when World War Two began in Europe, Great Britain was not prepared for anti U-Boat operations and British merchant ships were again on their own. At
least Great Britain was faster in adopting the convoy than they had been in World War One.  However, as in the First World War, destroyers were desperately needed for combat operations and there were few left for convoy duty. Fortunately they came
up with the
Flower Class corvette, from a whale trawler design,  to work with the few available destroyers for convoy escort. However, the Flowers were too small and slow and not adequate for a true escort.
The USN were happy with construction of large full destroyers and had no interest in a smaller, inferior ship specialized for escort duties. However, not all of the command structure was happy with this position. In June 1939 Commander Robert Carney
wrote, “
industrially there is little doubt that a simplifies type can be produced quicker and in greater volume, and it is not at all improbable that in time of war this country would have urgent and immeadiate need of a number of reasonably fast
and effective torpedo craft or patrol craft which could be obtained more quickly, more cheaply, and in greater quantity than we could turn out our most modern types. From a strategic and tactical viewpoint there is one advantage in numbers;
whatever else a destroyer may be called upon to do in war-time, it is certain that some sort of screening duty will be a major requirement - screening against surface craft, air craft, or submarines - offensive screening or defensive screening. In
many types of screening, two boats, covering more ground than one, can be of more use than one, even if they are inferior in fighting strength...
U.S. Destroyers, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman and drawings by A.D. Baker
III, Naval Institute Press 1982, at page 137.

Great Britain was strapped with shipyards jammed with repairs and new destroyer construction. Their solution was to contact authorities in the United States to design and build specialized vessels that could serve as convoy escorts. At the same time the
USN realized that they had no design for a specialized convoy escort and that the US would soon be in the war and desperately needed the specialized escort to combat the U-Boats. The USN General Board sent out a request to the shipbuilders for a
design for a specialized escort vessel that could be quickly in large numbers. The Board suggested a vessel around 1200-tons in displacement, two dual purpose 5-inch main guns, depth charge projectors and stern racks and a speed of around 25-knots.
By February 1941 six designs had been submitted but none of them showed any advantage over a destroyer and enthusiasm waned. Fortunately the head of preliminary designs, Captain E. L. Cochrane, saw the value of a dedicated escort and continued
on. Captain Cochrane wanted a seventh design to be submitted by July 1941. On June 23, 1941 the British Supply Council of North America wrote that they needed 100 escorts built in the US. On August 15, 1941 the President authorized 50 British
Destroyer Escorts (BDE) to be built for Great Britain.
The BDE design was characterized by a ship of 280-feet in length, 1,290-tons displacement, three 3-inch/50 guns, and five 20mm Oerlikon AA guns. As the design received continued work, it was lengthened to 289-feet 5-inches in length and added a tall
open bridge, a distinctly British feature, to accommodate a sonar position. Captain Cochrane and really admired the British open bridge as he had been aboard various British escorts while serving as assistant naval attaché to Great Britain. This design was
the genesis of all of the destroyer escorts built by the United States. Although the original intension was for just a single class of common design, six destroyer escort classes were built, many distinguished by only the powerplant installed in them.
Traditional steam turbines were in heavy demand for urgent warship construction of other types of warships, so alternate powerplants were considered. Diesel engines with electric generators and electric motors received the primary consideration with
the idea of using eight diesel engines for 12,000 hp in each ship. Due to the high demand for diesel engines, the proposed powerplant for each ship was halved to 6,000 horsepower with a corresponding fall of maximum speed to 21-knots.

The first destroyer escort design to reach production was the
Evarts Class. Otherwise known as the short hulls or GMT for General Motors Tandem Diesel for the powerplant, 97 of the Evarts Class were built but 32 of them were delivered to the Royal
Navy where they became the
Captains Class. The Evarts Class was not considered too successful because of the low speed. Subsequent destroyer escort designs had a longer hull, which was lengthened to 306-feet to allow space for turbo-electric
drives developing 12,000 hp with a maximum speed of 24-knots and a standardized design to allow a lower unit cost due to the economics of scale. The first of the standard design, lengthened destroyer escort was the
Buckley Class, also known as the
TE for the turbo-electric drive. The
Buckley Class could be easily distinguished from the Evarts Class by their increased length, single deckhouse, trunked square capped funnel, and inclusion of a triple 21-inch torpedo mount. A total of 154 Buckley
Class ships were built but 46 were transferred to the RN as
Captain Class frigates. The British ships varied from their USN sisters by not mounting a triple 21-inch torpedo tube mount. In addition to the three 3-inch/50 guns in open mounts, the Buckley
Class
received a 1.1-inch Chicago Piano mount superfiring over the aft 3-inch gun. Although the Board knew of the problems of the 1.1-inch gun, Bofer guns went to higher priority construction at first with plans to replace the 1.1-inch with twin 40mm
Bofer guns when the production of the gun allowed the change. The ASW suite included eight depth charge throwers, stern racks and added a hedgehog thrower, which was strongly recommended by the Royal Navy. The British were willing to sacrifice
the forward 3-inch gun to have the hedgehog but that sacrifice was not needed.
The Cannon Class was the next evolution. However, because of higher priority construction for the diesel electric drive, the Cannon Class had to revert to the 6,000 hp diesel/electric powerplant and were typed as DET for diesel-electric tandem diesel.
Their displacement was 1,250-tons standard, 1,600-tons full load. Dimensions were 306-feet (93.27m) overall, and 300-feet (91.44m) waterline. Beam was 36-feet 7-inches (11.15m) and draught of 10-feet 5-inches (3.2m) Two General Motors diesels
provided 6,000 hp for a maximum speed of 21-knots. The range was 11,500nm at 11-knots. The original armament was three- 3-inch/50, two single 40mm Bofors, eight 20mm Oerlikons and a triple 21-inch torpedo mount. A crew of 186 was carried.
To build the anticipated quantities new yards had to be built. The established yards had their hands full with other construction. A few of the first Evarts Class short-hull DEs were built at Boston Navy Yard, Mare Island yard and Puget Sound yard.
Four new yards were built and numbers of existing merchant yards were contracted for building of the Destroyer Escorts. These yards had to juggle construction of the DEs with the construction of various landing craft. The
USS Cannon was DE-99
and was built in the private yard of Dravo Shipbuilding at Wilmington, Delaware. Dravo built nine of the
Cannon Class ships. Cannon was laid down on November 14, 1942, launched on May 25, 1943 and commissioned on September 26, 1943. From
November 1943 until December 1944 the
Cannon escorted convoys from Trinidad to Recife, Brazil, except for one convoy of tankers from Brazil to Gibraltar. By 1944 the war against the U-Boat had been won and along with cancellation of
construction of further DEs, the Navy started decommissioning the slower units.
Cannon was one of the first to be so decommissioned, which occurred on December 19, 1944. However, the Cannon still had a long life ahead of her. She was sold to
Brazil that month and became the
Baependi and served until 1965 when she was placed in reserve. The Cannon/Baependi was broken up in 1973.

(Bulk of history from:
Anatomy of the Ship, The Destroyer Escort England by Al Ross, Conway Maritime Press 1985; Destroyers of World War Two, An International Encyclopedia, by M. J. Whitley, Naval Institute Press 1988; Tempest Fire
& Foe, Destroyer Escorts in World War II and The Men Who Manned Them
by Lewis M. Andrews Jr., Trafford Publishing 1999; U.S. Destroyers, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman and drawings by A.D. Baker III, Naval
Institute Press 1982)
The Black Cat Models USS Cannon Early Fit in 1:350 Scale - How many times has a new warship model made a tremendous impact on you? For me, I started building ship models in the late 1950s and it was the Revell USS Arizona that made the
greatest impact. Maybe it was the garish box art but most likely it was the quality of the kit, which was so much superior to the early Revell models with their flat bottoms, exemplified by the Revell
USS Iowa and the multitude of repops under different
names but with new box art. Boy, I was a sucker for that change in box art. The kit started out in the early 1950s as the
USS New Jersey with yellow sky box art. Many times I saw the new box art and thought that it must be a new kit and after pleading
with my parents for an advance on my allowance (I was a big believer in deficient financing.), I would get the kit and open it to find the same blobs on the deck for the Oerlikons. A fundamental change occurred in the late 90s when a friend of mine told
me about a naval warship site on the internet. I didn’t have the internet and stopped by his apartment almost every day to look at kits and builds on this exotic site named Steelnavy and run by Rob Mackie. That introduced me to
White Ensign Models and
resin warship kits. My first purchase was the
WEM Warspite and when it arrived it was a life changing event. I was hooked. After building the Warspite, I was like a junkie and had to have more resin kits. The next warship kit that shook me to my feet
was the
WEM HMS Renown. Before the Renown, I had never seen a kit with butt end detail for the planking. When I received the Black Cat Models Cannon early fit in 1:350 scale, it was another eye opener on par with my experiences with the
Warspite and Renown.

The
Cannon kit is spectacular! Talk about multi-media the Cannon has it all, a superbly cast resin hull and major superstructure parts, oodles of 3D printed equipment of exquisite quality, photo-etch brass, turned bass parts, decals and a large
comprehensive set of instructions in multiple colors. Everything is top notch! Right now
Black Cat has three versions of the Cannon Class, early fit reviewed here, late fit with enhanced AA and the Free French Cannon. There is also the Edsall Class
version available. A fourth
Cannon version with three twin Bofors midship and a USCG Edsall are planned for release. Ben Druel sent me the early fit Cannon as a review sample (Thank You Ben!) and I also purchased an Edsall. The hulls of both
models are identical but there is a huge difference if the equipment in each fit. Get the version that most appeals to you, as you guaranteed a glorious kit regardless of the version that you select.
I cannot say that this kit is perfect. Slight sanding of the keel line and sanding a spot of resin splash on the lower hull would be beneficial, although the bottom keel line would not show when mounted on pedestals. At first I thought that I had found
two pin hole voids along the keel line but realized that both the
Cannon and the Edsall hulls had the same holes at exactly the same points on the keel line. Then I realized that these two small holes were intestinally placed there as started points for
attaching pedestals to secure the model with a base. If full hull is not your thing, water line hulls will be available, just as with the
Black Cat Farragut.

The hull side detail consists of the hull itself and lower superstructure. The bilge keels are very noticeable on the lower hull. They are finely done with no casting defects. Their cross section is admirably thin. On the stern bottom there are locater holes
for the shaft exits, shaft struts and twin rudders. At the bow the hull anchor hawse are well indented. Very nice detail is on the integral lower superstructure. Among the detail are electrical cables, junction boxes, very detailed doors with dog detail,
supports under the integral Oerlikon tubs, ventilator openings and support under the integral splash brake under the forward 01 level. Deck detail is mostly on the forecastle. Since the ship had metal decks there is no wooden plank detail. The deck
anchor access holes are superb. They descend into the interior and have suitable holes at their ends for anchor chain. The windlass, chain locker and bollard fittings are separate pieces so the locater indentations are present. The splinter shields around
the forward 3-inch/50 and the 01 level 3-inch gun are far above average. Both are thinly cast with interior support posts and talking tubes. This same detail is applied to the midship Oerlikon tubs to the rear of the stack. At the stern are the anchor
positions for the stern depth charge racks. Deck locater holes or squares are present for the stack, bridge, 3-inch guns, and other fittings. Recessed locater outlines are present for aft 3-inch gun splinter shield and aft 01 superstructure.        
Five major superstructure parts are cast separately from the hull. The bridge is PHENOMENAL! I dare you to find a better one from any manufacturer. On the external bulkheads you get portholes with eyebrow detail, electrical pies, junction boxes,
piping, very detailed doors and climbing rungs. However, it is the interior faces of the bulkheads that made the greatest impact upon me. Look at the photograph of the open bridge navigation bulkhead. Whether it is voice pipes, or navigation equipment
screens, this is incredible detail, at least to my eyes. I have not seen this level even on 1:200 scale kits. Other internal bridge detail includes entrance/exit alcoves, grid navigation deck, bulkhead supports, junction boxes and cables. The bridge part for the
early fit
Cannon is substantially different from that in the Edsall kit. The aft 01 superstructure is a separate part because its design varied by class. When I compared the part that came with the early fit Cannon with the part that came with the Edsall kit,
there were substantial differences. The bulkhead detail carries on with the extraordinary detail of the hull casting superstructure. The deck has a splinter shield for a twin 40mm Bofors mout at the aft end with a raised pillar for a Mk 51 director. The Bofor
splinter shield again reflects incredible detail with intricate internal supports and spare 20mm Oerlikon canisters hanging on the exterior of the bulkhead. More of these canisters hang from the starboard side of the director pillar. The forward 01 level deck
piece is separate. It features the same interior bulkhead detail, as well as climbing rungs. Minor cleanup of small resin flash will clean it up. The stack piece has its own galaxy of detail. Externally, there is a very fine cap, as well as reinforcing bands.
However, it is the internal cap detail that is the show-stopper. Since the Cannon Class was diesel powered, there are diesel exhaust pipes inside the cap. There are also internal reinforcing strakes and an equipment locker. The aft 3-inch/50 position with
splinter shields is also a separate part. The different versions of the
Cannon must have had a variation somewhere but the early fit Cannon and Edsall Class parts are identical. This part has internal bulkhead strakes and spare Oerlikon canisters. Externally
there is a hand rail. Deck internal detail includes locater holes for ready ammunition lockers and the gun.
There is one resin runner for the bulkheads at the deck break but all of the other smaller parts are in 3D printed forms. Because of the number of parts, the Black Cat kit may not be suitable for beginners. However, the detail packed into each parts quite
often includes detail that would normally be supplied by a minute brass part. This detail on the 3D parts, dispensing with the need to attach photo-etch, certainly eases assembly. Rather than mention every part in the frames, because of their numbers, I will
cover the highlights. A couple of the frames offer optional Oerlikon tubs for the tubs atop lattice structures. Both feature the same wonderful splinter shield detail The difference is that one pair are circular with the ammo lockers separate parts on the
external bulkheads, while the other pair has a squared off side with ready ammo lockers inside the bulkhead.. Photographs are the best way to determine which ships had which type of tub. The gun armament pieces are more extraordinary pieces. The
3-inch guns and the twin Bofors have gun and mount parts, while the single Oerlikons are one piece. The Bofors have intricate sighting rings and the Oerlikons have ammunition canisters on a solid pedestal mount. The Bofor mounts have integral safety
railing a part of the piece, eliminating the need to attach photo-etch railings. The triple torpedo mount has its own frame and continues the detail parade. Depth charge throwers and racks, both side and rear, will knock your socks off! The hedgehog clearly
has each hedgehog present without touching each other. Floater net baskets with intricate side detail have the integral floaternet showing at top with each float clearly delineated. Carley floats come with intricate detail with open grid bottoms and are present
in rectangular and open patterns. Flagbag lockers are open with wonderful hand rungs. Different patterns of ready ammunition lockers have intricate door details. Smoke canisters, anchors and cable reels all pop with detail. Deck access fittings have open
hand wheels.
The kit comes with three brass photo-etch frets and turned brass parts. The largest fret has mostly railing designed to provide a good fit for their locations. Two open grid platforms for the first two 3-inch guns really stand out. There is a perforated radar
grid face for the 3D printed frame. Relief-etched ventilator grills fit into the openings on the superstructure. Other parts include hand wheels, vertical ladder including one for the funnel with bars to allow the ladder to stand apart from the face of the stack.
Also included on this fret are Carley raft supports, yardarms, and inclined ladders. The next largest fret has some more railing but the big ticket items are the circular ammunition clip rails for the internal bulkhead of the  twin Bofors splinter shield. Also on
this fret are AA tub support lattices. The third fret is small with just two parts of railing. The kit comes with two bags of turned brass parts. One has the masts and the other various posts, including four brass rods for the propeller shafts. Two run from
the hull openings to the forward support strut and the second pair run from the forward strut to the aft strut. The decal sheet has seven each white numbers from 0 to 9, so you can properly number the ship that you wish to model.
The instruction booklet is top drawer with 24 pages of color coded goodness. Page one is a short class history in English and French. The next eight pages are for a parts laydown, for all resin, 3D printed, photo-etch, turned brass and decal parts. Each
part is clearly shown and numbered. The part number is shown in the assembly steps and is color coded. Resin parts show the number in a sky blue box. 3D parts’ numbers are in a magenta box. Photo-etch numbers are in an orange box. Turned brass
parts are in a golden brown box and decals in a black box. Page nine starts the actual assembly with two modules on assembling the bow. Page ten has two modules on the lower forward superstructure. Page eleven has two modules on the
superstructure 01 level deck. Page twelve has the bridge. Page thirteen has the midship area from the bridge to the Oerlikon tubs aft of the stack. Page fourteen continues assemby of the same location. Page fifteen shows assembly instructions for the
optional Oerlikon tub patterns resting on a brass lattice structure. Pages sixteen and seventeen show assembly of the foremast. Page eighteen has stack assembly as well as the first module on assembly the aft superstructure. Page nineteen continues aft
superstructure assembly. Page twenty finishes the aft superstructure assembly as well as assembly of the short mainmast. Page twenty-one has the aft 3-inch gun, gun tub and adjacent depth charge throwers and racks. Page twenty-two has the
quarterdeck assembly and under hull assembly. Page twenty-three shows two drawings of the finished model. Page twenty-four has profiles of each side and a plan of the ship in Measure 22.
Plain and simple, the Black Cat Models 1:350 scale of the early fit Cannon Class DE is superb! It changes the parameters of warship model kits. If you want to build the best, it is the Black Cat Cannon. If you want an inexpensive DE, you may try the
Trumpeter plastic
Buckley. However, one bottle of Dom Pérignon does cost more than multiple cases of Ripple, Red Dagger and Thunderbird. As for me, pass me the Dom.

Steve Backer
Huntsville, Alabama
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