I have been intrigued by the 1:200 scale kits that have been released and have picked up a few. When I opened the HMS Nelson Trumpeter kit in 1:200 scale, I was
impressed by the detail and the size. A kit this size cries out for additional detail even though Trumpeter includes brass photo-etch in the kit. I looked at various upgrade
sets that
Free Time Hobbies listed but never pulled the trigger in getting a set. Then Trumpeter announced the 1:200 scale HMS Hood. One of my favorite ships,
actually my second favorite ship because of her grace and beauty.
Hood is a close second to my favorite, HMS Tiger. I love all of the Royal Navy battlecruisers. I
tried to stay away from the
Hood because since the Nelson hull was so big I could only imagine the size of the Hood hull. Then Free Time Hobbies ran a pre-IPMS
Columbia show by having massive discounts for all Trumpeter kits in stock at their store. The 1:200 scale
HMS Hood was priced so low that I could not resist. It is a
beautiful kit but again, she cries out for more detail. I figured sooner or later there would be upgrade sets for this massive model. They came sooner than I thought.
Again it was
Free Time Hobbies that had them in stock. Mk I design by KA Models released four different upgrade sets for the Trumpeter HMS Hood in 1:200 scale.
One set was for masts and radar. A second set was for armament. A third set was for everything else other than armament, masts or radar. However, the big
enchilada is the deluxe upgrade set, which includes all of the sets that have previously been mentioned. The KA Models Deluxe upgrade set is not cheap but it is
certainly worthy of the
Mighty Hood. As an overview, here is what you get with the deluxe set: 6 wooden decks; 157 turned metal parts (aluminum and brass); 50
resin parts; 6 white metal parts; 21 brass photo-etch frets; two prepainted brass photo-etch fret; and one 500mm metal anchor chain.
Wooden Decks - Of the six wooden decks provided, the largest is the forcastle/forward deck, running from the cutwater to the sides of the forward
superstructure. With this and the other decks the wood is extremely thin and naturally has the adhesive on the bottom. Simply remove the film backing and attach to
the appropriate plastic deck. As with other wooden decks, you'll have to pop-out the cutouts so all of the fittings on the deck from bollards to barbettes will go
through the openings where the cutouts had been placed. With the KA Models wooden decks the cutouts pop-out very easily. In some cases they seem to pop-out
be themselves and the openings were very clean as you can see from the photographs. Other wooden decks are the shelter deck, boat deck, aft boat deck;
quarterdeck and alternate forecastle pieces. On the major forecastle the deck hawse are inboard from the deck edge but the alternate has the deck hawse open at the
deck edge. I am unsure why the alternate deck is included as the John Roberts'
Anatomy of the Ship, The Battlecruiser Hood shows the hawse openings inboard
from the deck edge. Likewise the plan in
Man O'War 6 Hood by Maurice Northcott shows the hawse openings inboard of the deck edge.
Basic Set Brass Photo-Etch Frets A through C - First of all, all parts are numbered on the fret. Fret A starts with the four bar railing. Actually it is three bar railing
with a bottom run. Some manufactures have open stanchions but I prefer a bottom runner as it is easier to attach and sturdier after drying. The bottom runner looks like
a scupper anyway. All of the railing parts are custom cut to match their location of attachment, so there is no need to cut the railing to match the location. Fret B
continues with the railing but also includes other types of railing such as three bar (two bars plus bottom run) and tapered railing. You also get vertical ladders. The
vertical ladders have attachment posts so that the ladder is set off from the bulkhead or stack, which is the way they are actually attached. Fret C concentrates on
inclined ladders. These prosaic ladders are wonderfully done with trainable treads, perforated landings and weight saving voids in the bottom supports. Other perforated
landings are present as well as some small davits.
Basic Set Brass Photo-Etch Frets D through F - If you have seen the Trumpeter kit, you will have seen that Trumpeter got the degausing cable wrong. The Hood
had a prominent double degausing cable with brackets running from bow to stern. Trumpeter has portrayed this as raised line on the hull with no double cable and no
brackets. Fret D corrects Trumpeter's failure. KA Models brass parts have the double cable and brackets. Of course you'll have to sand off the raised line on the
plastic hull. However, an easier choice would be to simply glue the KA Models degausing cable on top of the plastic version. KA did it that way in their instructions
and from the photographs it looks quite good. Also covered on the D Fret are quite a few rigging pulleys. Fret E has thicker gage brass. It is understandable that it
would be thicker in that it contains structural parts. The fret contains excellent relief-etched breakwaters with support gussets and associated structures. Other
relief-etched parts are the chain run plates, perforated hawse covers, middle windlass top and anchor chain brackets. The instructions show the subassembly for the
break waters with F Fret parts but they are actually on the E Fret. Fret F is dedicated to the Hood's boats. Most of the parts on this fret are relief-etched. About 40%
of the fret are boat davits with wonderful pulley and hook detail. Another 25% are boat chocks with raised rivet detail, if you are into counting individual rivets. Boat
belts and rope ladders are also on this fret. Davits are also present for the accommodation ladders, paravane frame parts,  and a couple of open boat platforms that are
on the 01 bulkhead between the funnels.
Basic Set Brass Photo-Etch Frets G and H - About a third of Fret G have parts for different pattern cable reels. The end wheels are relief-etched. There are six
different reel frames and six different end wheels. Boat boom ladders, brackets, boom stays and ropes are found on Fret G. Also on this fret are forward cargo
davits with rigging, jack staff, ensign staff and supports for both. Fret H gets into the ship's boats. The thwart piece for most boats have relief-etched wooden
decking. The boat's flooring has open perforations and boards. Other parts on this fret for the ship's boats are open chocks, oars, cabins, propellers, rudders, and
handrails.
Basic Set Brass Photo-Etch Frets I and J - Fret I continues with boat detail parts. On this fret are parts for five launches with cabins. You get two large
launches, one medium size launch and two smaller launches. For all five the decks are relief-etched. Other relief-etched parts for the boats are the flooring, interior
bulkheads, boat steering wheels and access doors. Other parts for the launches include hand railing, cabins with open windows (perfect for glazing), rudders, flag
staffs, cabin tops, steering posts and deck cleats. Fret J goes back to the ship and focuses on the stacks. The stack caps have stay pulleys and separate stabilizing
stays with pulleys. There are two part clinker screens on top of the caps.
KA Models gives you interior stack detail with circumference, centerline and lateral
walkways, hand rails and centerline walkway support hangars.  There are parts for the signal flag machinery consisting of five parts per machine.
Basic Set Brass Photo-Etch Frets K through M - Fret K as a wide variety of assorted parts. About a third of the fret are mesh ventilation grills. If you look
amidship at the stack base housing and the area around it, as well as ventilator openings, you'll notice that
Hood had a very large number mesh ventilation grills. For
the most part the Trumpeter
Hood shows the grill pattern but of course it is solid plastic. The ultimate look would be to remove the plastic rectangles and replace with
the open brass grills. Extra work? No doubt but the look in this scale would be delicious. About another third of the fret are search light parts. Each search light has
twelve brass parts with five of those including the housing relief-etched. Each searchlight is a miniature model. Other parts on this fret are carley raft bases with
perforations, deck machinery wheels, knobs and piping, signal lamp screens, relief-etched cable reel end plates, boom supports, platform exterior railing, conning
tower vertical ladders, siren base, forward superstructure brackets, superstructure triangular supports and boat oars. All of fret L and almost all of fret M are
relief-etched doors or hatches. Each door or hatch has an open frame with connected with exterior and interior door/hatch raised detail. You fold the front and rear
halves together and then train the door from completely closed to completely open. If you wanted to have every exterior door open, you certainly could do that. On
the M fret additional parts are a cage apparently for controlling boat davits; ship's name letters for the aft deck break bulkhead; and deck hatch braces.
Basic Set Brass Photo-Etch Frets N through P - Another full fret of doors is Fret N. Every part on the fret is relief-etched. On this fret are also twenty port holes
with relief etched-covers. You can have the port hole covers open or shut. Fret O contains port hole fittings of two types, open and closed. Every part is relief-etched.
The relief-etched open port holes have the fitting rivets and rigolle (eyebrows) raised. The closed port holes have the cover detail and the rigolle. Fret P is the smallest
fret but also the most spectacular, as it is in Technicolor! Most of the parts on this fret are pre-painted. There are parts for six flag lockers and the flags are a fruit
salad of color. Each locker has the frame, flag panel, base and lanyard eye bolts. There are red and green navigation lights and black and white semaphore arms. Finally
there are sixteen life buoys. Each buoy has a red back that folds to join the red and white front. The real kicker is that you can read
HMS Hood in black on the front
side.
Armament upgrade Brass Frets A and B - What has been presented prior to now are the brass frets found in the KA Models Basic Ship Upgrade Set. The basic
ship upgrade set does not have the armament upgrade set or the mast & radar upgrade set but the
KA Models Deluxe Upgrade Set does have these subsets. The
armaments upgrade set contains five brass frets, A through D. Armaments Fret A has the rascally Luftwaffe Condors at bay with those wonderful creations of the
British ordnance industry, the Vickers quadruple Vickers machine gun mount and the unrotating projectile (UP) rocket mount. Relief-etching, open mesh and
incredible detail runs amok in this fret. Almost all of the plastic parts in the Trumpeter kit for the Vickers mounts are replaced by brass upgrade parts. By my count
there are 54 brass parts for each quad MG mount. As an example, each of the four ammunition drums in each mount is built from seven brass parts (2 end plates,
four interior discs and one belt). Then you have the front shield, sides, foot peddles, sites, control wheel, control bar, foot bar, drum brackets, base and front
bracket. Now lets turn to those fearsome UP mounts. More kit provided plastic parts are used so it is only a modest 12 brass parts per UP mount. You get a wrap
around mesh casing with front and end caps, front plate for rocket ready ammo box, storage door, elevation gear, four parts for the operator's position, position
door, and three operator's position exterior fittings. You can have the door open displaying the operator's position and gear inside. Additional parts are for the sides of
the twin 4-inch mounts, and 4-inch gun shield overhead hooks. Fret B contains parts for the twin 4-inch gun positions. With 41 B fret parts per mount plus four
overhead hooks and two position sides from the A fret really pumps up the detail and this doesn't even include the turned brass barrels. All this detail goes onto the kit
provided plastic floor, gun shield and breech block.
Armament upgrade Brass Frets C through E - Fret C of the Armament set is dedicated to the eight barreled pom-poms. Each pom-pom has 37 parts from Fret C,
14 parts from Fret D,  and 8 parts from Fret E. This excludes the turned brass barrels. The larger parts that show are relief-etched. Fret C has the gun breeches, gun
blocks, side plates, gun sides, gun mount back pieces, platform safety rails, gun sites, hand cranks, platform floor machinery and boxes. Fret D continues with the
pom-pom mounts. The biggest parts are the perforated floors with main floor platform and two raised platforms. Other pom-pom parts on this fret are ammunition
boxes, side frames, ejector shut and platform bottom rails. The main gun turrets also have parts on Fret D. You get main gun muzzle tampions with relief-etched rims
and
HMS Hood crest. Other parts are director end caps, crown access hatches, crown centerline railing, director site shrouds, rear face vertical ladders, UP platform
supports, UP platform railing, UP platform splinter shield hand rungs, and multiple parts for a catapult support found on the right side of X turret. When
Hood went
into her 1939 refit it was decided to mount a catapult on the crown of X turret, along with an accompanying crane. During the refit it was decided that the catapult and
crane would add too much weight to the already overweight ship. The addition of the catapult and cranes was canceled but the already fitted catapult support frame
remained. Early war photographs of X turret show the presence of the frame and it apparently was not removed in the March 1941 refit. Armament Fret E is another
pre-painted fret that consists of top and side panels for the pom-pom ammunition boxes with brass shell cases with black noses.
Mast and Radar upgrade Frets - The upgrade parts for the mast and radar is another separately available set that is not found in the standard ship upgrade set but is
included in the deluxe version. It contains an additional three frets of brass. The set also includes additional equipment detail for the bridge. Mast  Fret A contains the
parts for binocular mounts, three man anti-aircraft directors, single man directors, HA director detail with side plates, foot rungs, top frame, arm plates. It also has
parts for the director on top of the conning tower with front face vision ports, crown access door, bottom foot railing, aft face vertical ladder and wing support
struts. It finishes with the two radars on the foremast director. Fret B starts with the mast detail for the foremast and fore-top. It starts with the starfish base and
supports then gives you safety railing, side platforms, yardarm footropes and detail, foretop crown detail, railing and access hatch. Fret C has main mast detail with
anti-skid pattern on the main top. Included are the starfish, bottom starfish supports, top radar, radar platform and railing, two mast sighting platforms with railing
and fittings, mast vertical ladder, boat boot rigging, block & tackle and pivot.
Resin and Turned Brass Parts - As if  23 relief-etched brass frets and wooden decks was not enough the KA Models Deluxe Upgrade set also has resin and turned
brass parts. The first thing you will notice in the resin parts are the blast bags for the main guns. The bast bags have a wonderful appearance with their folds and the
Hood did carry them. Trumpeter did a good job on the cable reels in that you can actually see the cables. However, the KA Models are significantly better. The cables
look like they are actually wrapped around the reel. KA Models provides new HA directors with arms and bin parts to replace the plastic parts. They are excellent in
appearance and when combined with the photo-etch parts make this overlooked piece of equipment really pop. When it comes to the turned metal parts, you get a
turned metal barrel for every gun on the ship, short of Enfield .303s or Wembleys. They are all brass except the main gun barrels except for the aluminum main gun
barrels. The brass barrels include 4-inch secondary barrels, pom-pom 40mm with flash suppressors and Vickers ,50 quadruple machine gun barrels. I can't determine if
the machine gun barrels have open muzzles, but all the others do. Turned brass parts are also included for yards and other equipment parts. The ship's anchors are
replaced with white metal anchors with trainable flukes. Lastly, you get metal anchor chain.
Instructions - The KA Models deluxe upgrade set comes with three sets of instructions, the basic ship, armament and mast & radar instructions. The basic ship set
instructions have six back-printed color pages. Page one has a parts laydown with door and hatch attachments. In red it shows plastic detail that needs to be removed
by sanding or cutting the plastic parts before attaching the brass parts. Page two shows equipment, deck houses cable  reels, pelorous and machinery assembly. Page
three has a series of modules on winches, ammo boxes, ventilators, signal lamps and two cabin launches. Page four is all ship's boats, cabin and open, as well as boat
booms. Page five finishes with the boats, deck house fittings, and breakwater. Page six has more breakwater assembly semaphores, interior funnel detail, jack staff,
ensign staff, more booms and searchlight detail. Page seven has davit detail, hull booms, accommodation ladders and more deck house detail. Page eight gets to deck
detail and deck break bulkhead detail. Page nine has more deck and superstructure detail assembly. Page ten has more superstructure assembly detail. Page eleven
finishes with deck, superstructure and hull detail. An unnumbered page more deck and hull detail and the degaussing cable as well as general photographs of the model
with upgrade parts in place. The armaments instruction set has another two page back-printed color set. Page one has a parts laydown and twin 4-inch assembly. Page
two is 8-barreled pom-pom assembly. Page three has assembly of those crowd pleasers, the UP mounts and quad Vickers mounts. The unnumbered fourth page as
main gun turret detail. The mast and radar instructions are two more back-printed pages. Page one has navigation equipment, single and three man short range AA
directors. Page two has HA assembly and director detail. Page three has radar and foretop assembly and detail. The unnumbered fourth page has mainmast detail. On
the whole I think that it will be easier to attach the upgrade detail module by module. If you arbitrarily pick a part and then search for it in the instructions it is akin to
looking for a needle in a haystack. The print quality and presentation of the KA Models instructions is very high. They could use a laydown describing each part but
givem the high number of parts that would probably be impracticable.
There is no doubt about it, the KA Models Deluxe Upgrade Set for the Trumpeter HMS Hood in 1:200 scale is not cheap. As with other upgrade sets, an excellent
upgrade set can costs as much as the kit itself, if not more. This KA Models set is indeed excellent, especially the deluxe version that throws in everything short of
Admiral Holland's reading glasses. The set is discounted by
Free Time Hobbies.
Steve Backer
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