At the conclusion of World War One Europe was in shambles. Three empires were gone. The Russian Empire had lost Finland, Poland and the Baltic States and was in
the midst of civil war. The German Empire had lost land in the east and west and was prostrate with hyper-inflation and huge reparations. The Austro-Hungarian
Empire was totally dismembered into small states. The victorious western powers were not much better off as they were in financial chaos. Having just finished the
war, they could ill afford new armaments construction. However, two other of the victorious powers changed this equation. The United States and the Empire of Japan
had surged economically with a rapid increase of industrial infrastructure. While European powers had ceased construction of new capitol ship designs with an
exception of the Royal Navy’s Repulse, Renown and Hood, the USA and Japan had increased the tempo of their new construction and were in the midst of a new
armaments race in the Pacific. The major powers met in Washington in 1921 to discuss an end to this budding naval race and in 1922 signed the Washington Treaty,
which put a moratorium on capitol ship construction and set new qualitative limits on cruiser designs. Bot the United States and Japan had to discard new construction
that was already underway. The Royal Navy was allowed to construct two new capitol ships of 35,000-tons, which became
Nelson and Rodney to match Japanese and
American ships armed with 16-inch guns.

For France new capitol ship construction was far removed from feasibility. With the removal of Germany as a possible foe, it was Italy that was elevated to the place
as the most likely future foe. By the early 1920's a new cruiser construction race was underway and France was concerned with the new Italian cruiser designs and to
a lesser extent, the Japanese cruisers. It was seen that these new cruisers could pose a threat to French commerce in any future hostilities. It was thought that the new
ultra-fast Italian cruisers could dart into the Western Mediterranean Sea, raid French merchant ships and then dart back to the safety of their ports. By the start of 1926
France was certainly better off financially and she still had 70,000-tons of capitol ship construction available under the terms of the Washington Treaty. The French
Admiralty took a look at the Italian naval program. Although some old battleships were basically being rebuilt, there was no inkling of new Italian battleship
construction. What France had to counter were those fast Italian cruisers. In 1926 there was a work up for a new capitol ship whose purpose was to counter the
Italian cruisers. The design called for a low displacement of 17,500-tons, so that four of them could be built. They would be armed with a new 12-inch/55 (305mm)
gun. The design was influenced by the
Rodney design, which allowed significant weight savings by concentrating all the main guns forward allowing for a shorter
armor belt. The French had selected a quadruple turret with the
Normandie Class battleship before the World War, the new design went back to the quadruple turret
with two quadruple turrets of 12-inch guns forward, a speed of 35-knots, and an armor scheme designed to protect against 8-inch shells. Clearly this design was design
was developed to destroy cruisers but was too weak to counter foreign battleships.
In 1927 a new design was prepared that greatly expanded the original concept. The displacement was now 35,000-tons. Now a third quadruple turret was added aft of
the superstructure but the guns were still the 12-inch/55 with twelve 130mm secondary guns mounted in quadruple turrets. A much heaver armor scheme was
provided with maximum belt width of 11-inches. A large hangar was added amidship capable of handling four large seaplanes. Oddly, the design carried two triple
tube 550mm torpedo mounts. Maximum speed was 33-knots. The design bore a very heavy resemblance to a scaled-up version of the heavy cruiser
Duquesne with a
tripod foremast. In 1928 four more designs very similar to the 1927 design were produced but there was also a fifth design armed with six 16-inch (406mm) guns and
sixteen 130mm secondary guns, again in quadruple turrets. The secondary guns were for surface action only as their maximum elevation was not sufficient for anti-
aircraft fire. The Marine Nationale did not order a new capitol ship firstly because there was not a yard sufficiently large to build the design. If that wasn’t enough, the
cost of the battlecruiser would severely impact the current authorized building program. Other considerations were that the Italians were dormant on new battleship
construction and that the United Kingdom was proposing another naval treaty with maximum displacement of capitol ships restricted to 25,000-tons and a maximum
gun size of 12-inches (305mm). The London Conference ran from January to April 1930 in which the USA strongly objected to lower qualitative limits on new
battleship designs, which remained unchanged from the limits of the Washington Treaty.

For the Marine Nationale the UK’s continued insistence on a maximum battleship displacement of 25,000-tons posed a problem. The politicians of the government
wished to keep friendly relations with the UK. However, something had to be done, as the existing French battleships were antiques. A new factor to be considered
was the construction of the German panzersciffe with 11-inch guns and a top speed of 26-knots. The Naval General Staff ordered new designs of between 23,333-
tons and 25,000-tons to allow construction of three ships. A design based on an enlarged version of the 1926 17,500-ton battlecruiser was prepared with the same
quadruple 12-inch/55 turrets forward but with the 130mm DP secondary guns clustered aft in quadruple gun turrets. The armor belt was to be 9-inches and the ship
would have a maximum speed of 30-knots. This came to nothing because of political wrangling and contortions. In 1931 the only thing that was authorized was more
design studies. This time the requirements were a displacement of between 23,333-tons and 28,000-tons with two 13-inch (330mm) quadruple turrets forward,
130mm secondary guns in twin turrets and armor protection against 11-inch shells to counter the panzersciffes. These requirements could not be met on a
displacement of 23,333-tons and would require a ship with a displacement of 26,500-tons as a minimum.
On April 27, 1932 the specifications were finally approved and a construction order  followed on October 26, 1932 with Arsenal de Brest for one ship, the
Dunkerque. It was planned that the 1934 building program would include a second ship of the class, the Strasbourg. Before the order was placed the Italians
announced that they would be building two new 35,000-ton battleships with nine 15-inch guns. This caught the French flatfooted and it was considered cancelling
Strasbourg to meet the Italian threat. However, due to the substantial delay in preparing completely new designs it was decided to build the Strasbourg to a
slightly different improved design from
Dunkerque with a displacement of 30.750-tons. The Strasbourg was ordered from Chantiers de Saint-Nazaire on July 16,
Dunkerque was laid down on December 24, 1932 and launched on October 2, 1935. She was completed in April 1937. The 13-inch/52 main guns were of a
new design prepared in 1931. There were sixteen 5.1-inch/45 (130mm) secondary DP guns with three quadruple turrets aft and twin gun turrets on each side
amidship. Anti-aircraft in addition to the DP secondary guns were eight 37mm guns in twin mounts and thirty-two 13.2mm machine guns. As can be seen the AA fit
was very heavy for the time. Dimensions were 703-feet 9-inches (214.5m)(oa), 685-feet 8-inches (209m)(pp) in length with a beam of 102-feet (31.08m) and
draught of 28-feet 6-inches (8.7m). The
Dunkerque was powered by four Parsons geared turbines with six Indret boilers providing steam. The ship had four shafts
and a maximum speed of 29.5-knots. The armor belt ranged from 9.75-inches to 5.75-inches, which was sufficient for protection against 11-inch shell gunfire. The
Dunkerque did have an exceptionally thick armored deck with a maximum of 5-inches. Thee heavy AA outfit and heavily armored deck reflect that the French
designers were at the forefront of changing threats. Turret armor was a maximum of 13.25-inches with secondary turrets with 3.5-inch armor. The conning tower
had 10.5-inches of armor. A large two tiered hangar was provided aft for carrying three large seaplanes.

Trials and work up for
Dunkerque took twenty months, including cruises to the Caribbean and West Africa, and she became part of the Atlantic Squadron as
squadron flagship for Vice-Admiral Gensoul  on September 1, 1938. After spending the fall in exercises with the Atlantic Squadron and target practice with the old
predreadnought battleship
Voltaire, Dunkerque spent a couple months at Brest for some minor changes and fine-tuning until February 27, 1939. She flip-flopped
from Brest to the Atlantic Squadron for a couple of months until the April Sudetenland crises in which Hitler started gobbling up Czechoslovakia when she was
dispatched to the Azores because the
Admiral Graf Spee was operating off the coast of Spain. On April 24, 1939 the Strasbourg joined the Dunkerque as part of
the Atlantic Squadron.  The sisters left port together on May 1 and reached Lisbon, Portugal on May 3 to celebrate of the discovery of Brazil by the Portuguese
explorer Alvares Cabral. In late May until most of June the pair visited British ports returning to rest on June 21, 1939. With the thickening crisis in Europe the Royal
Navy and the Marine Nationale had extensive talks and developed plans of operation in case of war. One of the responsibilities of the Marine Nationale was to help in
hunting down German raiders. When the war came the
Force de Raid was formed at Brest with Dunkerque and Strasbourg as its key components. The first sortie
of the sisters was on September 2 but they returned to Brest having to escort the liner
Flandre to safety. After this the sisters parted from each other as each was
assigned to their own hunting groups to track down German raiders.
On October 22, 1939 Dunkerque left Brest with the cruisers Montcalm and Georges Leygues to escort convoy KJ3 from Jamaica to the English Channel.  The next
month this force joined
HMS Hood off Ireland and headed towards Iceland to intercept the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which had sunk the merchant cruiser
Rawalpindi. Near Iceland the bow of Dunkerque was damaged in a strong storm and she had to reduce speed to 10-knots. When she returned to Brest for repairs it
was recognized that the bow construction was too light and that this was a significant design flaw. On December 11
Dunkerque with cruiser, Gloire, left to take the
French gold reserve to Canada. After reaching Halifax on December, the pair joined
HMS Revenge in escorting the seven troopships that formed convoy TC2 until
the French warships left the convoy when relieved and entered Brest on December 30, 1939.By early 1940 the raider threat had diminished but the Italians were
sounding more bellicose. On April 2, 1940 both
Dunkerque and Strasbourg with other cruisers and destroyers left Brest bound for Mers el-Kebir in Algeria and
arrived on April 5.This was just a temporary stay as the
Force de Raid was sent back to Brest for operations off of Norway. By the time the force got to Brest the
situation in the Mediterranean had deteriorated even further. The Norwegian operation was cancelled and the force returned to Mers el-Kebir.

On June 10, 1940 with France falling, Italy entered the war. At Mers el-Kebir in addition to the
Force de Raid was the Second Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet
with the elderly battleships
Bretagne and Provence. The next day the French Force received information that indicated that German battleships were going to sail past
Gibraltar to reinforce the Italian Fleet. Apparently little consideration was given as to what happened to the Royal Navy. On June 12, 1940 the sisters made their last
sortie in a fiasco that would become known as the Battle of the Mirror Wardrobe (
la bataille de l’armoire a glace). At 05:40 on June 13 an aircraft reported a large
force of warships heading towards Gibraltar. The command concluded that these warships must be from the Italian Fleet on way to facilitate passage of the German
battleships. The French Squadron increased speed to 24-knots, eager to come to grips with the Italians. This excitement lasted for only 20 minutes because by 06:00
it was realized that the aircraft that had sent the report had spotted the French Squadron and no Italian or German ships were around. The French force turned
around and returned to base.         
As the French Mediterranean Fleet swung at anchor at Mers el-Kebir, events were rapidly approaching a resolution in France. The French kept assuring the British
that they would not sign a separate peace with Germany but the British were unconvinced.  The British resisted deployment of 25 squadrons of fighters of the RAF  to
France. The French saw this as British perfidy but with 20/20 hindsight that certainly gave the RAF a strong nucleus for the future Battle of Britain.  Admiral Darlan,
the commander of the French Fleet, assured the British that no part of the French navy would be turned over to the Germans and that preparations had already been
made to scuttle the ships, rather than let them fall into the hands of the Germans. The British government did not trust these statements. Indeed the French
government did start negotiations with German to end the conflict in France. On June 22 the armistice was signed. On June 23 the British government was able to
read the terms of the armistice, which called for the ships of the French fleet to be demobilized in French ports to which the individual ships were assigned in peace
time under German or Italian supervision. Churchill saw this as a recipe for disaster as ships such as
Dunkerque and Strasbourg used Brest as their peace time port.
Churchill ordered that the Royal Navy prepare for Operation Catapult to prevent the ships at Mers el-Kebir from leaving for France. The government brought Vice
Admiral James Summerville to command the newly formed Force H, which would execute Operation Catapult. First Sea Lord, Admiral Dudley Pound opined that if
the Germans got their hands on
Dunkerque and Strasbourg, it would take only two months for the Germans to make them operational. The was a wildly inaccurate
estimate but the mere threat of it was galvanizing for Churchill. On June 25 French merchant ships in British ports were seized, French warships in British controlled
ports were forbidden from leaving and forces at Gibraltar were ordered to stop and French warships from passing. On June 27 the British government agreed on
execution of Operation Catapult for Mers el-Kebir to demand French warships join the British or be interned. After the initial armistice had been signed, the French and
Germans continued to negotiate the details of the return of French warships to France. This agreement was signed on June 29 and called for the incomplete
Jean Bart to return to Toulan, the Dunkerque and Strasbourg to remain at Mers el-Kebir and for three old French battleships to go to Bizerta. The French agreed
not to let the British have the ships and the Germans agreed not to seize them.

Bizerta in Tunisia had been the major North African naval base for France but in the 1930's it was seen that Bizerta was withing bombing range of the Italian air force.
Major plans were made to convert Mer el-Kebir into the major base but little money was put into executing these plans. The port was roughly in the shape of an oval
with the North Jetty extending from the western shore and was mostly complete. An Eastern Jetty from the eastern shore had not started construction. The sheltered
waters were very confined and ships would have to go in single file in normal conditions to put to sea. Nothing had been done for the planned coastal defenses and
bunkers, although there existed two old forts, Santon Fort overlooking the bay with four 194mm (7.6-inch) guns and to the east, near Oran, a battery of three 240mm
(9.4-inch) guns. Under the terms of the armistice, the breach blocks of these coastal guns had been removed and placed in storage. The bombers in an airbase had
their fuel tanks emptied and their tires deflated to prevent their crews from defecting to Gibraltar. The four capitol ships were anchored and tied to the North Jetty
with their bows facing landward with their sterns seaward. From West to East they were
Dunkerque, Provence, Strasbourg and Bretagne. A large percentage of the
crews were looking forward to demobilization and a high percentage was ashore during the time after the signing of the armistice. They certainly were not prepared
for Force H.
Force H consisted of Hood (flag), Valiant, Resolution, Ark Royal, light cruisers Arthusa and Enterprise, eleven destroyers and two submarines. Early on July 3
Force H arrived at Mers el-Kebir. The destroyer
Foxhound approached the port while the main body took station about 17,000 yards northwest of the port. Vice
Admiral Gensoul on
Dunkerque would only speak to a Vice Admiral or higher and Somerville had to stay on Hood to command his force, so negotiations were done
through lower grade officers and passed on to the principals. Gensoul tried to contact Admiral Darlan but was unsuccessful, so he played for time. The only
response received by either Admiral from their respective Admiralties was to use force. The ultimatum delivered to Gensoul required the French to: Join the British;
Steam to a British port for interment; Steam to the French West Indies for demobilization; Scuttle their ships at Mers el-Kebir. Failing any of these actions, Force H
would take action. At 13:05 Swordfish from
Ark Royal dropped five magnetic mines in the narrowest part of the pass to the sea. French gunners were ordered not
to fire, as Gensoul did not want France to fire the first shot. He continued to recall his crews, get steam up and prepare his ships for combat. At 17:25 Gensoul
ordered his crews to action stations and at 17:55 four flashes were seen as
HMS Hood fired a ranging salvo. It is ironic that Hood, Somerville’s flagship and
Dunkerque, Gensoul’s flagship, had steamed together in search of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau only seven months earlier. Gensoul had his ships cast off and open
fire. Four French destroyers were already approaching the pass, as Gensoul ordered the
Strasbourg to take the lead in heading for the open sea. Then Dunkerque
was supposed to follow with
Bretagne and Provence bringing up the rear. For British gunners the targets were either stationary or near stationary. The first salvo
was short, the second hit the Jetty and the third was on target.

Dunkerque with the help of a tug was barely underway when she was hit by four 15-inch shells, two of which penetrated the armored belt causing destruction in
the engineering plant.
Dunkerque lost steam and all electrical power to continue south across the narrow anchorage and be beached on the southern shore. Bretagne
was about to turn east when two 15-inch shells penetrated her aft main gun magazine. The resulting explosion destroyed the rear of the ship. As the ship started to
settle by the stern, two more 15-inch shells exploded in her secondary magazines, causing the ship to capsize with a loss of over 1,000 of her crew.
Provence was
also hit near a magazine but flooding the magazine prevented a repeat of the catastrophe suffered by
Bretagne. Provence, like Dunkerque, continued across the
anchorage to beach herself on the southern shore.
Mogador, the flagship for the destroyer flotilla was approaching the pass when a shell exploded her depth charges
at her stern and she too had to beach. The other four destroyer’s steamed past the stricken
Mogador to form an escort for the Strasbourg, which was escaping to
the east. After 10 minutes of action Somerville ordered his ships to cease fire, as he believed that he had fulfilled his distasteful duty. Mers el-Kebir was covered with
smoke and Somerville was unaware that
Strasbourg had escaped. The first 15-inch shell ricocheted off the turret crown above the outboard starboard 13-inch gun
of the second turret, pushing in the armor, opening a small hole in the armor above the gun and creating spalling inside the turret compartment. The
Dunkerque and
Strasbourg had an armored bulkhead separating the turret into two fighting compartments so and the two guns and their crews in the port side of the turret were
unaffected. However, two powder bags were ignited and the crew of the starboard compartment were killed, although gun 7 still could be worked. The second 15-
inch shell passed through the hangar at the stern without exploding, which had previously had her seaplanes moved to the water and the ship’s avgas containers
emptied. The quarterdeck flooded and the electrical cables to the rudder were damaged but resultant damage was minor. The third 15-inch shell penetrated the armor
belt and continued until exploding above the forward engine room, which powered the outer propeller shafts. As it passed through the handling room for the waist
twin 130mm secondary turret it ignited two of the secondary shells and started fires. Toxic smoke caused by the fire in the 130mm handling room killing every
crewman there except 12 who managed to escape. The fourth 15-inch shell also penetrated the belt passed through a fuel bunker to the boiler room that supplied
steam for the turbines for the outboard shafts. The steam flues for the boilers collapsed killing many of the crew. The damage caused by these four hits totally
Dunkerque and beaching the ship was the only option available to prevent her destruction.        
Somerville had received an aerial report that Strasbourg was out of the harbor and steaming east but he refused to believe it. He believed the magnetic mines laid at the
mouth of the pass precluded the escape of any major warship. It wasn’t until a British destroyer observed the
Strasbourg and reported that Somerville realized that one
of his key targets had escaped. He ordered the
Ark Royal to find and attack the ship and started in pursuit with Hood and some destroyers. The Swordfish failed to
score a hit and with nightfall the pursuit was called off.
Strasbourg successfully reached Toulon and entered port to the cheers of dockside personnel. The day after the
attack, Gensoul evaluated the condition of
Dunkerque. She was not in that bad of condition. All of the turbines were operational and five of the six boilers were capable
of being used. Seven of the eight 13-inch guns were operation and only the starboard twin 130mm mount was impacted. The estimate was that it would only take only
days to make temporary repairs sufficient to put to sea and return to Toulon. The saying is “
Lose lips sink ships.” That certainly applied to Dunkerque. The French
estimate of the quick repair time was published in a local newspaper. Churchill, still furious with the escape of
Strasbourg, ordered Somerville to return to Mers el-Kebir
to finish off
Dunkerque. Three days after the initial attack Force H was back at Mers el-Kebir. Somerville decided not to use battleship guns in order to prevent
collateral damage because
Dunkerque was now much closer to civilian housing. He ordered Ark Royal to use her Swordfish to attack Dunkerque with torpedoes.
Three days had passed since the initial attack but there were no torpedo attacks around
Dunkerque. Most of the crew had been moved to ocean liners, leaving only a
damage control and repair party of 360 with no crewmen for the antiaircraft guns. Three coal powered patrol boats, loaded to the hilt with depth charges, were moored
along the side of
Dunkerque, one to starboard and two to port.. The twelve Swordfish came in three waves, 6, 3 then another 3. The first wave was spotted at 06:15
July 6 and as they approached Captain Seguin ordered the magazines of the turrets to be flooded. The repair party was sleeping on deck. The patrol boat
was moored on the starboard side of
Dunkerque adjacent to the main gun turrets. A torpedo hit the stern of Terre-Neuve and she started sinking by the stern but the
warhead failed to explode. No torpedoes hit
Dunkerque but a torpedo from the second wave struck the Terre-Neuve again. This time the hit was amidship and exploded
breaking the patrol boat in half. A torpedo from the third wave sank the tug
Esterel. After a few minutes after the conclusion of the attack, there was a huge explosion
next to
Dunkerque, as at least 14 of the depth charges carried by Terre-Neuve exploded in unison.

Unlike the damages to
Dunkerque caused by the July 3 attack, this time damages to the ship were catastrophic. The starboard side was ripped apart, two armor plates
of the main belt were dislodged, the deck between the main gun turrets bulged upwards, a hole 56-feet by 37-feet was opened next to the main gun magazines, and
20,000-tons of water entered through that hole. If the magazines had not been flooded as the attack started, it would have been likely that they would have exploded. It
was later estimated that the explosive force of the depth charge detonation was the equivalent of eight torpedoes. Engineers were flown in from Toulon and it was clear
that local facilities at Mers el-Kebir and Oran were incapable of repairing
Dunkerque. A steel panel to cover the hole in the hull was manufactured in France and shipped
to Mers el-Kebir. It was attached from August 19 to August 23. From August 31 to September 11 cement was used for final sealing of the hull breach. Now that
Dunkerque was water-tight she was pumped clean and refloated on September 27. During November the engine and boiler rooms were repaired. In April 1941 trials
while moored were conducted and the normal crew came aboard on May 19.
Dunkerque was ready to return to Toulon but this was not undertaken since there was
heavy activity in the Western Mediterranean. On February 19, 1942, under great secrecy,
Dunkerque, escorted by five destroyers and 31 aircraft, exited the pass at
Mers el-Kebir. Speed was set at 18-knots and after an uneventful cruise,
Dunkerque entered Toulon at 23:00 on February 20. On March 1 and then on June 22 she was
placed in the large Vauboan drydock.
Dunkerque was still in drydock in November 1942 when the German army swept into Vichy France to occupy the rest of France.
German tanks were on the outskirts of Toulon by 05:30 November 27, when the French fleet was ordered to be scuttled. The seacocks of
Dunkerque were opened and
the sluice to the drydock was opened to allow the flooding of the drydock and
Dunkerque, which would require three hours. Germans arrived at 07:pp but they didn’t
realize the ship had her seacocks open. The Italians were interested in salvaging
Dunkerque and Strasbourg but both were beyond their abilities to make operational. The
bow of
Dunkerque was separated in 1944 in order to refloat the hull and clear the drydock. The hulks of both Dunkerque and Strasbourg remained in Toulon until
stricken and scrapped in 1955.
Back in November I went to the Free Time Hobby web site and was shocked to see that HobbyBoss was releasing a 1:350 Dunkerque and that Free Time had a
pre-release price for the kit of under $100. Well, in went my order. I would call over there occasionally but Brandon didn’t know when the kits would arrive. That
was OK as I was reveling in collage football, at least until my beloved Crimson Tide ran afoul of the Clemson Tigers in the Championship. I consoled myself that at
least Dabo played for the Tide before taking up coaching. Last Thursday I called
Free Time and was rewarded by being told that the Dunkerque had arrived that
morning. I was assured by Brandon that my copy would go out that day. After the call I checked my e-mail and saw an e-mail from
Free Time that was sent an
hour earlier that my
Dunkerque had already shipped. Sure enough it arrived Saturday, only two days later. Was it worth the wait? Yes! The hull is one piece with no
incised line inside the hull to facilitate conversion to waterline form. I compared the lines and porthole locations on the model with the profile in
French Battleships
by John Jordan & Robert Dumas, which I used for the bulk of the history of Dunkerque. The details matched in numbers of port holes, their location
and their patterns. The port holes have eyebrows (rigoles).  The bow is right with the unique forefoot and anchor locations. The bottom of the hull has location lines
incised to fit the separate bilge keels, allowing for thinner bilge keels than if they were integral to the hull molding. Smaller secondary bilge keels are molded as part of
the hull and are thin.At the stern the profile of the skeg matched the reference profile. There are also lines showing attachment locations for the shaft housings and
strut locations.  Other hull detail include climbing rungs and horizontal plate lines. All in all, it is a very nice hull.

Many of the larger parts are separate from the 15 sprues of smaller parts included with the kit. These include three decks and the larger superstructure parts as you
can see from the photographs where I dry-fitted these parts. Also included are six brass photo-etch frets, anchor chain and decal sheet. They decks have nice deck
paneling with butt end detail, which appear to match the plan view found the above mentioned reference. The forecastle starts with a anti-skid metal deck with a
square cross hatch pattern until the breakwater, which is a separate part. I compared the deck fittings with the reference plan and they matched in location and
shape, except for the port anchor hawse. In the kit the port and starboard hawse are parallel but in the reference plan the port hawse was a little bit aft of the
starboard hawse. It certainly is not worth the effort needed to move the port hawse a very short distance aft of its location on the part. The deck edge open chocks
shown in the reference were missing on the forecastle and quarterdeck but these appear to be separate parts found on the sprues. The quarterdeck has three access
hatch coamings that are not in the reference plan but appear to be present in a photograph of the ship. The 01 and 02 levels of the superstructure come with two
parts, which are loaded with detail with excellent doors and pipes with bracketing. Another two parts for the majority of the tower superstructure with open
windows for the navigation position. That position even has a floor so you can have crew figures looking out behind the windows.  The forward bridge and top
platform were also separate but it appears that these four parts are shown in the instructions as the P sprue. There was no separate P sprue in my sample.
A Sprue has the funnel halves, tower directors, breakwater, various bulkheads and platforms, rudder, ship’s boats and funnel clinker screen. The funnels have nice
ventilator screens and steam pipe detail. The bulkheads and circular catapult base house have the same excellent door detail found in the main superstructure parts.
Sprue B concentrates on the lower hull parts with bilge keels, propeller shafts and struts. Also found are more directors, anchor windlasses, boat and aircraft cranes
and a host of smaller parts. There are two
C Sprues, which have the main gun turrets. These look very nice with vision cupolas on the sides and crown, bottom
apron and climbing rungs on the forward face. The twin 130mm turrets and barrels are also on this sprue and they include hinged vision ports on their forward
faces as well as rear face detail. Also found on these sprues are tripod jack and flag staffs, propellers, more ship’s boats, open chocks, paravanes and other smaller
parts. Four
D Sprues concentrate on the quadruple 130mm turrets. These turrets have front and rear face detail and bottom aprons. The main gun barrels are also
found on these sprues and have open muzzles. Other parts include search lights and their mounts, AA guns, ship’s boats, more open chocks, rectangular carley
rafts, anchors and other smaller parts.

The two small
M Sprues have deck houses, free standing small directors, davits and smaller parts. N Sprue has platforms, tower levels, conning tower, funnel cap
base,  medium size directors and name plate. The small
Q Sprue has only three parts with two deck houses and the funnel cap. The funnel cap has climbing rungs
and has the shape of the cap on
Dunkerque in 1937. HobbyBoss provides two sprues, each of which has one Loire 130 seaplane in clear plastic. The fuselage has
detail for cockpit windows, panel lines, circular windows, and rear turret. The wings have flap detail. The frets conclude with the wing pontoons and engine. The
plastic parts conclude with
W Sprue, which is the stand.
Metal parts include six photo-etch frets as well as anchor chain. There is not enough railing for the entire ship, so it would make a better appearance with some 3rd
party railings. The two
A Frets have AA mounts, boat ladders, inclined ladders with railing and trainable treads, vertical ladder, main gun turret apron chutes, boat
cradles, 130mm turret gun opening rims, crane railing ladders and block, director railing, and small davits. The large
B Fret is dominated by the catapult and
accommodation ladders. There is some relief-etching on this fret as the catapult top has raised lines and bracket detail on the side frames There are also relief-etched
superstructure plates for
Patrie and Honneur. Other parts include a propeller (only one), aircraft cradles, catapult platforms, main gun turret railing, director crown
railing, hangar crown railing, searchlight platform railing, funnel platform, top mast detail, inclined ladders and vertical ladder. Two small
C Frets are mostly railing
and include parts for conning tower railing, bridge triangular supports, bridge railing, tower starfish brackets, inclined ladders and vertical ladders.
Fret D has AA
tower railing, mid-tower platform railing, tower starfish, and forward 01 level railing. A small decal sheet has flags and seaplane markings.
HobbyBoss provides an excellent plate with starboard and port profiles, Loire seaplane plans and profiles and painting chart. At Mers el-Kebir Dunkerque was still
wearing the darker Atlantic Gray, rather than the lighter Mediterranean Gray. The plate shows the ship in Atlantic Gray. The appropriate colors are identified in a
matrix for Paints produced by Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol. The instruction sheet is well organized in 24 pages. The cover is just general
instruction while the parts laydown occupy pages 2 through 4. Page 5 has preparation for the forecastle and amidship decks. Page 6 has deck attachment, anchor
installation and assembly for searchlights and AA guns. Page 7 has lower hull assembly and catapult assembly. Page 8 has final catapult assembly, main gun
assembly and some deck fittings attachment. Page 9 is exclusively about main gun turret assembly. Page 10 has details for boats and tower directors. Page 11 goes
back to the forecastle for fittings attachment. Page 12 does the same for the amidship deck and quarterdeck. Page 13 is mainly forward boat placement as well as
some inclined ladder and flag staffs. Page 14 covers director attachments, secondary gun turrets and crane assembly. Page 15 covers the searchlight platform,
bridge assembly and amidship boat attachment. Page 16 has crane attachment and aft superstructure assembly. Page 17 has searchlight platform attachment, AA
tower assembly anf attachment and conning tower platform assembly. Page 19 shows funnel assembly, conning tower platform fittings and a tower platform
assembly. Page 19 finishes withe the conning tower assembly and starts on the tower assembly with portions on top mast assembly. Page 20 is exclusively on tower
assembly, which continues to page 21. Page 22 concludes tower assembly, aft director attachment and superstructure railing attachment. Page 23 shows attachment
of the major sub assemblies. Page 24 finishes with Loire seaplane assembly and stand assembly.
Is it time to hunt down the skulking Scharnhorst and Gneisenau with Dunkerque in company with the stately HMS Hood of your best ally in November 1939?  Or
is it time to have 15-inch shells from the very same
HMS Hood of perfidious Albion smash into your Dunkerque and force you aground in July 1940? Either way
you’re covered with the HobbyBoss 1:350 scale model of the French battlecruiser
Steve Backer