When HMS Victoria was commissioned in 1890, the publicity at the time called her the largest, fastest and most powerful ironclad afloat. For all the
fanfare and hype, in actuality her design was not very successful and her career was tragically short. The
Victoria-class was designed to be an improved
version of
HMS Conqueror. She was originally to be fitted with two 13.5-inch guns in a single turret forward, which was bigger than the 12-inch guns
Conqueror. However, Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd had just supplied the Regia Marina with 16.25-inch guns for the Italian battleship
Andrea Doria. This ship was seen as a potential threat to British supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea, which was an important sea route to India. As the
Victoria-class was to serve in the Mediterranean, the design was altered to fit them with 16.25-inch guns as well, with a single 10-inch gun fitted in a
mount aft. On paper, these big guns were to be formidable, but in service they performed poorly. Loading time was five minutes per shell, the barrels
had a short life span of 75 rounds and the sheer weight of the gun caused the muzzle to droop. The low freeboard caused the forecastle to slip
underwater and disappear from view even in slight seas. Because of this tendency,
HMS Victoria was nicknamed "the slipper" and with her sister-ship,
Sans Pareil, "the pair of slippers". However, the most successful innovation of the class was the introduction of triple expansion steam engines into
Royal Navy battleships. The main benefit was the improved efficiency of the engine which translated into a need for less coal, which in turn reduced

HMS Victoria was launched in April 1887 and joined the Mediterranean Fleet after her commissioning in March 1890. During torpedo exercises off of
the Greek coast on January 29, 1892, she ran aground on a rocky shoal in shallow waters. Her hull was damaged and three compartments flooded which
caused her to be stuck fast and complicated efforts to free her. She was lightened and her leaks temporarily patched which eventually allowed her to be
refloated and removed from the rocks.
Victoria was able to proceed to the new Hamilton Dock in Malta for permanent repairs. On June 22, 1893,
Victoria collided with HMS Camperdown during manoeuvers near Tripoli, Lebanon. Camperdown’s ram bow struck Victoria’s starboard side below
the waterline. As the weather was hot that day, all the hatches, watertight doors and ventilation ports were opened to help cool the ship. When
Camperdown reversed engines to separate from Victoria, tons of seawater rushed in before any watertight doors could be shut. Five minutes after the
Victoria’s bow was already awash and more water entered the open hatches. In the end, it took only 13 minutes for Victoria to capsize and
eventually sink killing 358 including Vice-Admiral Sir George Tyron, commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet. One of the survivors was a young
John Jellicoe who was
Victoria’s executive officer.

HMS San Pareil was launched in May 1887 and commissioned in July 1891. Compared to Victoria, she had a longer but less eventful service career.
San Pareil joined the Mediterranean Fleet in 1892, where she served until April 1895 when she was paid off. She was transferred to Sheerness, where
she served as port guard ship until 1904. She was sold for scrap in 1907.
Combrig expands its catalog of 1/350 scale Royal Navy ships with the release of HMS Victoria/Sans Pareil. The kit will allow you to build either ship
which had some slight differences as well as the option of modeling the
Victoria in either her as launched fit with shorter funnels or as she appeared
when she was in service with taller funnels.

As usual, Combrig offers this kit in both a two-part full hull and a waterline version. My kit is the waterline version so I don’t have any images of the
lower hull part. The upper hull has plenty of details cast into it, with hatches, skylights, gun casemate doors and portholes. Along the lower edge of the
upper hull there is a resin lip that will need to be removed, but there is a recess that will guide you when doing this.

The deck is basically devoid of any detail, with the exception of the barbette, mooring bitts and chocks, skylights and some hatches, anchor hawse
fittings and capstans and wood planking. While the latter is done well enough it suffers from the common error that there are no butt ends. The deck
anchor hawse openings are flat but this is an easy fix and can be drilled open. These will look a lot better open and have the chain run into the interior
than having the end of the anchor chain sitting atop a flat plate. The decks have recessed outlines for the various deck coamings, housings and fittings
which are separate parts. This is supposed to serve as an aid, showing where the corresponding parts are to be glued to the deck. The kit is broken
down into a lot of individual parts, which makes for easier casting but a little more work for the modeler. The trade-off is that you do get a lot of detail
in the final build and it could simplify painting is some areas.
Two thin resin casting wafers contain the forward and aft upper decks, sky light coamings, the conning tower, bases for the funnels, the pilot house, a
deck housing, several platforms and the fighting top. There are two different forward upper decks and pilot houses, one for
Victoria and another for
Sans Pareil. Overall the detail in these parts is very good but there are a couple of quibbles. Where there is wood planking, again there are no butt ends
and the where the pilot house doors would be there is a plain recess which would benefit from some photo-etch doors which are not provided. The
breakwater is cast as a separate piece that will need to be removed from a casting runner.

There are three sets of funnels included which will enable you build this kit again as
Victoria or Sans Pareil. Looking at the photo of the funnels, the
pairs on either end are for
Victoria. The shorter pair is the original funnels for Victoria as completed in 1888 and the other pair is the funnels after they
were made taller in 1890 to improve natural draught. The middle pair is the taller funnels for the
Sans Pareil. According to R.A. Burt in British
Battleships 1889-1904
, both ships were initially fitted with shorter funnels and had them raised in 1890. Whichever pair you decide to use, the funnels are
well done with deep openings and good cap aprons. The turret is also nicely cast, with viewing cupolas and openings for the resin gun barrels. The resin
base, which will fit into the barbette, may need to be sanded down a little to have the turret sit flush with the barbette.

As mentioned above, there are a lot of smaller parts attached to casting runners. The parts are very well cast, need little, if any, clean up and must be
carefully removed from the casting runners. One runner has the skylights which fit into the coamings mentioned above, a winch and the base for the aft
10-inch gun. A total of 12 boats of seven different types (torpedo boat, pinnace, motor launch, cutters, whaleboats and dinghies) are provided. The boats
have nice details, such as the thwarts, wooden planking and rudders, cast into them. The steam-powered boats have funnels (the one for the torpedo boat
is on another runner) but other than the torpedo boat, photo-etch propellers are not provided. A pair of torpedoes is included on one of the other runners
for the torpedo boat.
The smaller resin parts include the propeller and running gear (even though this is the waterline version), gun barrels, smaller deck guns, cowl vents,
anchors, boat davits and sundry deck and bridge fittings. With respect to the gun barrels, you will get a pair of the 16.25-inch for the turret, one 10-inch
barrel and a dozen 6-inch barrels that fit into the casemate positions in the hull. Burt cites that
Victoria had four 24-inch searchlights and Sans Pareil had
three but there are no searchlights included with the kit.

Combrig provides two photo-etch brass frets, produced by North Star Models, of ship specific parts. With the exception of the lattice railing for admiral’
s walk, the modeler will have to use after-market photo-etch railing. The larger brass fret has the boat skids and the catwalks that rest on them, legs,
bases and shields and other parts for the 6-pounder guns, shields and details for the other small deck guns, inclined and vertical ladders, boat cradles,
anchor chains, upper deck supports and a variety of small detail parts. The smaller fret has the blast plates for the deck around the 16.25 inch turret, the
admiral’s walk deck and canopy, 10-inch gun shield, funnel caps, more boat cradles, ladders, deck gun parts and other fittings. The photo-etch is fine
and has some relief etching. I still do not understand why deck railings are not provided, especially with North Star Models producing the photo-etch.
Some generic railing sets from North Star could have been bundled with this kit.

The instructions come on six pages in the typical Combrig format but are a step back in my opinion compared to some other recent releases. The first
page has small plan and profile drawings that are reproduced from R.A. Burt’s
British Battleships 1889-1904. According to the Combrig website, this
was done with permission from the author. The drawings are rather small but the profile does provide a standing rigging diagram and the ship’s history
and specifications are in English. Page two has the standard resin parts layout. Page three has an image of the photo-etch parts, an inset with templates
for cutting the masts and yards and the first general assembly diagram for the running gear. Page four has an assembly diagram for parts that are
common to both ships as well as several smaller insets focusing on the secondary and small armament and details forward near the hawsers. Pages five
and six focus on
Victoria and Sans Pareil respectively The two pages are basically identical, including the two insets focusing on the mast and torpedo
boat assemblies, with the exception of the funnels, forward upper deck and pilothouse which differ between the two ships. I don’t think that this
approach was required to denote the differences. Also a final illustration of the fully assembled model is omitted, which would have been very helpful,
especially with the boat skids and catwalks. The instructions also do not cover the placement of the boats and the torpedo net booms, which is clearly
disclosed on these two pages. I think that the one page more efficiently drawn could have covered the different parts for each ship which would have
saved the final page with a final view of both ships. Also, the torpedo net booms are not included in the templates provided on page three. I think
Combrig missed an opportunity to design a more complete set of assembly instructions; as they are they are just adequate and you will need to seek other
references to supplement them.
Overall this is a good release from Combrig though there are a few relatively minor issues. I really like that this time Combrig went with a Victorian Era
Royal Navy ship and I hope that they will do some others as there are some pretty cool subjects to choose from. You can purchase this kit from
Time/Pacific Front Hobbies
, which is the sole source for Combrig kits in the United States.
Felix Bustelo