For some time various European nations have had joint efforts at weapon development to share design parameters, development, production and to gain a lower cost
due to the economics of scale. This has been true with armored vehicles, aircraft, missiles and warships. In 1992 Great Britain, France and Italy entered into a joint
consortium to develop a new frigate/destroyer design. During the development process the naval needs for the Royal Navy came at odds with the requirements for
the French and Italian navies. France needed a primary anti-aircraft warship as an escort for the aircraft carrier
Charles DeGaulle. Long range was not a main
requirement.  The Italian navy was the same situation. As the Italian fleet operated in the Mediterranean Sea, close to land, there was no dominating need for long
range or sea-keeping abilities. The Royal Navy wanted a more multi-purpose design with long range, more sensor systems, more weapons types and the ability to
operate in the North Atlantic without stress on the design. This would require a larger ship than the design favored by France and Italy. As a consequence, Great
Britain withdrew from the consortium on April 26, 1999 and developed their own design in keeping with Royal Navy requirements. This design became the Type 45
destroyer. However, France and Italy continued with the joint design.
This design became known as the Horizon Class or Orizzonte Class for the Italian ships. It is nominally a frigate but has also received the destroyer appellation. Each
country was going to build four ships each but this was trimmed to two ships each. Displacement is 7,050-tons with a length of 501.5-feet (153m), beam of 67-feet
(20.3m) and draught of 18-feet (5.4m). The propulsion system is CODOG (Combined Diesel or Gas), two 31,280hp gas turbines and two 5,875hp diesel engines
with a maximum speed of 30-knots and a range of 7,000nm at a speed of 18-knots. A pair of 76mm/62 OTO Melara Super Rapido guns are mounted side by side in
front of the bridge. This dual purpose gun has a range of 16km and a maximum rate of fire of 120rpm. The Italian ships have a third gun mount aft, on top of the
hangar. The two French ships were designed to mount a Mistral 2 surface to air system with a Sandral mount  instead of the third gun mount. However, the main
weapon system is a 48 cell VLS (vertically launched system) for MBDA Aster 15 surface to air missiles for medium range or Aster 30 for long range. Eight surface
to surface missiles are carried amidship with the French ships carrying MBDA MM-40 Exocet Block III missiles with a range of 180km. The Italian ships carry
MBDA Otomat/Teseo Mk2A missiles instead of Exocets. Antisubmarine weapon system is the Eurotorp B515 324mm launchers for MU90/Impct torpedoes. The
French ships carry two twin mounts while the Italian ships have two single mounts. For close in AA defense the French ships mount two 20mm/90 F2 guns and the
Italian ships have two 25mm/80 OTO Melara Oerlikon guns. The ships can carry either the NH90 or AW101 helicopters, both types of which can carry MU90
antisubmarine or Marte Mk2 anti-shipping torpedoes. The French ships are also equipped with Sagem NGDS decoy launchers to counter both missiles and torpedoes.
In September 2000, the contract for construction was signed by the two countries. The two French ships, Forbin D620 and Chevalier Paul D621, both built by
DCNS Lorient replaced
Suffren class destroyers. The two Italian ships were built y Fincantieri Riva Trigoso were Andrea Doria D553 and Caio Duilio D554 and
replaced two
Audace class ships. Forbin was laid down April 4, 2002, launched October 15 2005 and commissioned Dember 2008. Chevalier Paul was laid down
October 23, 2003, launched July 12, 2006 and commissioned in June 2009.
Andrea Doria was laid down July 19, 2002, launched on October 15, 2005 and
commissioned on December 22, 2007 while
Caio Duilio was laid down in September 2003, launched on October 23, 2007 and commissioned on April 3, 2009.

Dodo Models 1:700 Scale Horizon Class - The newest kit from Dodo Models in 1:700 scale is the French Horizon Class Frigate/Destroyer for building either the
Forbin D620 or Chevalier Paul D621. The kit does not have the fittings for the Italian pair but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see a kit for these two from
Dodo Models in the future. In short, the Dodo Models Horizon Class kit is top notch in every category from detailed high quality resin castings to extensive brass
photo-etch on two large frets and brass barrels for the 76mm guns.
Almost all of the superstructure is part of the one piece hull casting. Equipment and fittings are separate finely detailed pieces, not to mention the wealth of
relief-etched brass parts and two turned brass barrels. The quality of the hull casting is very high. I could not find any voids, breakage or blemishes on the hull. Of
course the hull is dominated by the angular stealth technology designed to angle surfaces away from the perpendicular to reduce radar cross section. This technology
minimizes deck fittings to create a smaller radar return. Inspite of this, the
Dodo Models Horizon is loaded with detail. The waterline needs slight cleaning with fine
sandpaper. The lower hull has a single deep anchor well on the lower starboard bow and another on the upper cutwater. You will have to clean this position from
excess resin pour with a hobby knife. On the sides of the lower hull are a few portholes and smaller scuttles. The stern face also has detail in the form of a small door
and scuttles. The upper hull angles back inward and has slots for storage of accommodation ladders and recessed alcoves for storage of RHIBs. There are numerous
coolant grills to vent each of the offset stacks. The upper hull has recessed set backs amidship with doors, cables and equipment box detail. The lower bridge face has
a single door and more equipment boxes. The aft face follows the same pattern but with more doors and detail. Four blocks of superstructure are part of the hull
casting above the upper hull. The two stacks are offset to deck edge with the forward stack to port and the aft stack to starboard. Each stack has a different design
with the each stack slanted outboard, again forward stack left and rear tack to the left. Stack caps both have large circular exhausts and three smaller vents, each with
a collar. The forward tower is a sharp pyramid shape with additional detail on the lower base. The aft tower starts with four sides ut half way up transforms into an
octagon shape. The aft face has access doors and aft face of rear stack more cooling vents.

Although warships built to a stealth design minimize deck fittings, the
Dodo Models Horizon has plenty of interesting deck detail. The forecastle is totally flat deck
until reaching the VLS position, which has an angled top lip and individual missile doors. Right behind this and a level higher are the circular base mounts for the gun
positions, deck access panels and other detail. On each side of the forward pyramid are raised positions for the 20mm guns. The aft deck has numerous fittings and
detail. This includes locater holes and base units for whip antennae, deck cables and boxes. The quarter deck is featureless but this is because the kit provides a
relief-etched brass flight deck for this location.
The smaller resin parts come in the form of six resin runners and three stand alone parts. The stand alone castings are the radar dome on top of the forward pyramid,
bridge top deck and aft tower radar.  The forward radar dome is especially detailed. The round dome is not just a smooth ball but rather has panel detail that give it the
appearance of a soccer ball on top of a multi-level, multi-faceted base. The top bridge deck piece has deck access doors and multiple small fittings, while the aft radar
part has panel lines and multi-faceted base.  Even the small parts on the resin runners are loaded with fine detail. One of the six resin runners concentrates on weapons
parts. This includes the exocet tubes , gun mounts, RHIBs, and other fittings. Another runner concentrates on platforms and smaller satcom domes. The majority of
the third runner are life raft cannisters, rounded out by Oerlikon pedestals, and access deck door coamings. A fourth runner has alternate, larger gun houses that were
originally fitted, an alternate smaller platform for the forward radar dome that was also part of the initial fit, small commo domes, upper tower platform and larger
deck. The fifth runner in the form of a square has a small separate tower found to the starboard of the forward stack, current forward tower platform with topmast
and another fitting. The last runner is the helicopter fuselage, as all other helicopter parts are brass photo-etch.
If you like brass, Dodo Models gives you oodles of brass. To start off the 76mm gun barrels are turned brass. Then you come to the two large, relief-etched brass
frets. They are absolutely scrumptious, to express it in review or culinary terms. Fret A is dominated by the flight deck, which has beautiful relief-etching and
perforated tie-down spots. The eight photo-etch parts that attach to the resin helicopter fuselage are present. Among the host of other brass parts on Fret A are life
raft cannister racks, vertical ladders with safety cages, superstructure doors, ventilation louvers, accommodation ladder detail, stowage box lids, flight deck safety
nettings, cannister protection bulkheads, flag & jack staffs, hangar door, whip antennae and other fittings. Fret B is dominated by the bridge levels. You get a bridge
deck with fold down open windows, so you will have see-through windows more commonly found in larger scale models. You also get the next level above that. The
laundry list of other fine parts on Fret B include VLS detail, deck access doors, Oerlikons, anchor positions, Oerlikon railing, stack cooling louvers, exocet frames and
mounts, RHIB detail, mast detail, wire antennae matrix, weather radar, and gun deck railing,

You get a decal sheet with flight deck markings, hull & deck numbers, national flags and hull markings. Instructions are four back-printed pages. Overall, they are
quite good but not exceptional. I found that they were easy to follow and identified ever part by number and clear, crisp drawings. Resin parts are designated “Re”
while photo-etch are identified y “PE” with an A or B alpha-numeric designator. I really do like that using the A or B designator identifies on which of the two frets the
part is found. Page One has an assembly markings guide and profile and plan. Page two has four modules: bow assembly; life rack cannister assembly; bridge
assembly and amidship Oerlikon platform assembly. Page three has modules for the gun deck, forward pyramid, small tower detail, forward stack detail, side drop
down panels and an inset for top mast detail. Page four reverses the view to show the placement of detail for the rear faces of the towers and forward stack. There is
also a closeup of the assembly detail of small tower. Page five concentrates on amidship assembly with exocet mount assembly and cooling vent detail for the aft
stack. Page six does another reverse view of the aft stack, RHIB position, and accommodation ladder and slot fittings. Page seven concludes with the stern, including
whip antennae, flight deck and hangar bulkhead detail. It also has an inset for the helicopter assembly. Page eight has two modules on using the alternate parts
provided in the kit for the as commissioned fit.
The Dodo Models Horizon Class French Frigate/Destroyer in 1:700 scale is an exceptionable kit. Clean, crisp resin castings, turned brass gun barrels, and two large
relief-etched brass frets present a very high quality kit of this lovely stealth design warship, two of which are currently serving in the Marine Nationale.
Steve Backer