The Arquebuse Class was the fourth class of destroyer built for the Marine Nationale. A total of 20 ships were constructed between 1902 and 1904 at various
shipyards in France. The ships were named after historical infantry weapons. Fitted with better boilers than its predecessor classes (Durandal, Framée, and
Pertuisane), the
Arquebuse Class had better power and speed. The ships measured 191 feet 2 inches (58.3 meters) in length overall, 20 feet 11 inches (6.34 meters) in
the beam and a draft of 10 feet 6 inches (3.2 meters). The vessels displaced 323 tons and were fitted with either two Normand or Du Temple boilers feeding two
triple-expansion steam engines, generating 6,300 indicated horsepower (ihp). The class could reach a top speed of 28 knots.

The main armament consisted of a single 65mm gun that was fitted atop of the wheelhouse where it had better protection from waves. The secondary armament
consisted of six single 47mm guns and the ships were fitted with two single 380mm (15-inch) torpedo tubes.
Probably the most famous destroyer in this class was Mousquet. On October 28, 1914, the brave crew of Mousquet attempted to engage the Imperial German light
cruiser
SMS Emden as she entered Penang harbor. Clearly outgunned and outmatched, SMS Emden sank the French vessel with gunfire. Another loss was
Catapulte, which sank after a collision with the British merchant ship SS Warrimoo in the Mediterranean Sea on May 18, 1918. The remaining 18 ships in the class
also served during World War I and were scrapped in the early 1920s.

Some of you may recall that several years ago there was a French archival website that had plans of Marine Nationale ships that were free to download.
Unfortunately, that site was shut down after it was apparently hacked, but before then I downloaded a lot of those plans. I had hoped that someone at some point who
had done the same and had better skills would produce a kit using one of those plans. Well Chris Meddings did exactly that with the release of the 1:350 scale kit of an
Arquebuse class destroyer under the ITA Shipyards label. Using the downloaded plans and numerous photographs, this kit, comprised of resin, 3D printed and
photo-etch parts, was developed.
The largest part is obviously the resin full hull. There is not too much in the way of details as this class of destroyer had a raised wooden deck which left the main
steel deck underneath covered. The hull does have the strakes and some portholes along the hull sides and along the main deck some hatch coamings, locater holes for
the 47mm gun mounts, mushroom vents and some other parts. The foc’sle deck has two breakwaters, the anchor winch and the supports on which a pair of
platforms rest. The hatch coamings line up with the corresponding openings in the photo-etch wooden deck and they act as both an aide for alignment and support for
the part. At the bottom of the stern are the fairings for the propeller shafts. The casting is very clean but there is a bit of excess resin at the stern that needs to be
sanded down and smoothed out. Along the keel there is little bit of excess resin that will also need to be sanded down.

The smaller resin parts are comprised of the funnels, 47mm guns, torpedo launchers, torpedo storage tube, three boats, cowl vents, mushroom vents in two sizes,
box vents in two sizes, bow bumper boom, searchlight and pedestals for the ship’s helms. The resin parts are well cast and come of runners. The funnels have
shallow openings rather than being solid, which saves the trouble of having to drill them out. The pair of boats that hang from the davits have thwarts cast into them;
the smallest boat does not but it will be fitted on its side against the railings, so any detail would be hidden in any case. The are bits of resin film on some parts that
need to be removed and the barrels on a couple of the 47mm guns are slightly warped. You may opt to replace the 47mm barrels with tubing if you so wish. The
65mm gun and mount base are 3D printed and are nicely done. The material used to print parts tends to brittle and as you can see from the photos, the mount base
was damaged during shipping. However, this is not really a big deal as the part can be easily repaired.
According to the parts list in the assembly guide, two brass rods of different diameters, two styrene rods of different diameter and a piece of styrene strip were to be
included with the kit, but my sample was missing the thinner styrene rod and strip. Again, not a big deal as these can be easily obtained and mistakes do happen. The
rods and strip are to be used to scratch build the mast and yards, the propeller shafts and struts and some other fittings.

Two photo-etch frets are included with the kit and they are excellent, with crisp relief etching and details. The larger fret contains a number of structural and smaller
parts. The largest part is the wooden upper deck which has openings between the wood slats and numerous openings to fit other parts and fittings. This fret also has
the 65mm gun platform and railing, the searchlight platform and railing, a pair of platforms that are fitted on the foc’sle deck, the bridge housing, a pair of deck
housings, and watertight doors and hatches, the latter in two styles. Other parts include some support girders for the upper deck, deck railings, the auxiliary helm
platform, ship’s helms, torpedo tube bases, hand wheels in three styles, boat davits, torpedo handling davits, nameplates for all ships in the class and sundry detail
parts. The smaller photo-etch fret the support frames for the wooden upper deck, the stern deck railing, anchors, anchor chain, propellers, open and closed
fairleads, ammunition lockers and brass versions of the large and small box vents. Parts numbers are etched into the fret with arrows pointing to the corresponding
part, which is a great idea. The deck railings have simulated mesh along the bottom section that is very well done. Fold lines are etched into the structural parts to
make folding them into proper shape easier.
A fourteen-page instruction booklet, printed on sturdy high-quality paper, is included in the kit. Page one of the instructions has some safety tips for working with
resin kits and contact information to request a replacement for a damaged or missing part. Page two has a breakdown of the resin parts with alphanumeric
identification references, images of the photo-etch frets and the generic brass and styrene lengths supplied with the kit. Pages 3 through 10 have very clear assembly
diagrams showing the construction of subassemblies and the placement of those subassemblies and other parts. As with any class, there are differences among the
sisterships and an attempt is made to note these with a code reference for each member of the class. For the scratch-built parts, such as the masts and yardarms,
instructions are provided for correct measurements. As thorough as the assembly guide and illustrations are, there are some omissions in my opinion. One example is
there is no indication were resin part TS, this is the torpedo storage tube, goes. Another omission is the location for photo-etch parts 7 and 13. The location for the
name plates is also not covered in the assembly diagrams, but they are clearly shown in the reference photos that grace pages 13 and 14. Page 11 has an excellent
rigging diagram but in contrast page 12 has a rather generic painting guide which would have benefited with at least a suggestion as to what paints to consider. Some
of the ships had pennant letters and the location and style are shown at the bottom of page 12, though decals are not provided.
Frankly I was quite excited to see this kit released as I am big fan of oddball subjects and ships of this era. ITA Shipyards has produced a great kit of an admittedly
esoteric subject but a really good one in my opinion. The manner in which this kit and the assembly guide were developed, you can tell it was done by an
experienced modeler. If you build the kit as
Mousquet, you can display it along side your Revell SMS Emden model. I would recommend this kit to a modeler with
some skill in working with resin and photo-etch parts. The kit is sold directly by ITA Shipyards at https://www.insidethearmour.com/shop. My thanks to Chris
Meddings of ITA Shipyards for the review sample.
Felix Bustelo
New York
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