Background - L'Adroit class was a coastal patrol/escort/ASW ship built by the French Navy in the late 1950s. Their design was based on the American 173’ PC-461 class of subchasers and a total of 11
ships were built. They were used for patrolling the Mediterranean and the coast of North Africa and later in their careers as training ships or fishery patrol vessels. They were armed with two single 40mm
Bofors, a 120mm ASW mortar and depth charges. These ships served in the Marine Nationale through the late 1970s.
L’Adroit was laid down at DCN Lorient Naval Dockyard, launched on October 5,
1957 and commissioned on June 23, 1958. She operated out of Toulon, Dakar, and Mers el Kébir during the 1960s.  She was used for fishery patrols out of Cherbourg until she as decommissioned on
July 6, 1979 and was later sunk as a target in 1985.

The Kit - The L’Adroit class is the latest 1:400 scale kit in L’Arsenal’s line of French naval subjects. The kit is comprised of resin and photo-etch parts and a small decal sheet. The majority of the resin
parts in this kit were CAD designed and the masters 3D printed, which is apparent based in the level of detail in some of the parts. The largest part is the one-piece full hull, which incorporates the entire
superstructure with the exception of the bridge. The forward and aft 40mm gun tubs, the anchor winch, some lockers and small vents and the mooring bitts are also cast in the hull piece. The bitts are
very delicate and fine and because of this they can break off quite easily. There is even some wood decking where the ASW mortar is fitted. The casting is well done and requires practically no clean-up.  
The corners on some of the lockers had an air bubble that needed a little filling in. There are slight recesses in the deck to accommodate fitting some of the smaller resin parts. The bridge is a separate part
with a notch at the bottom that fits into the corresponding slot in the hull. Again there is a good amount of detail but this part required a little more in terms of clean-up along the bottom and in a spot on
the roof where the mast is fitted.  
The rest of the resin parts include the 40mm guns, anchors, the mortar launcher, cable reels in two sizes, depth charge launchers and boxes, life rafts and running gear. Opting to have the cable reels in
resin rather than photo-etch brass does make assembly a tad easier. I received a pre-production sample which included only the CAD designed parts. After I took the photos of the kit for this review, I
received the 40mm guns and anchors but I neglected to photograph them for this review but they are exactly the same as those included in other
L’Arsenal kits. The small photo-etch fret provides the
main deck railing with the supports for the life rafts, railings and ladders for aft section of the superstructure, safety railing and ladder for the mortar launcher, mast, propeller guards, depth charge
handling davits, depth charge racks and flag staffs. The photo-etch is simple but delicate and for the most part does the job. To be frank, I was disappointed with the flat two-dimensional mast as the real
thing is more complex based on photos. The small decal sheet has the hull numbers and names for all 11 ships in this class. When I received my pre-production sample, the decals were not yet ready and
I received them later. Again, I neglected to photograph them but you came see an image of them in the assembly instructions. My one complaint with the decals is that the French tricolor is not provided.
The assembly instructions are provided on four pages. The first page contains an inventory and parts number key for the resin and photo-etch parts. The assembly diagrams are very well done and
clearly show how the parts go together. The last page is a decal placement and painting guide.

The Build - I decided to build my model as L’Adroit and to display it in a seascape which is my preference. Instead of cutting down the hull, I made an opening in a piece of wood to hide the bottom of
the hull. The build itself was fairly straight forward and the model went together well, though I did make some additions along the way. Rather than giving a detailed account of my build, I will focus on
some points that I thought are important. I downloaded some as fitted plans from the Service Historique de la Defense site from this class of ship before that site was unfortunately taken off-line. I also
obtained photos from the Alabordache site (http://www.alabordache.fr/) which is a site where French Navy veterans post photos they took while serving on their ships. This is an excellent site to look
for on-deck and detail photos.
Based on my references, I replaced the doors cast into the bridge with more accurate photo-etch versions from the L’Arsenal 1/400 scale detail parts set. I also added some photo-etch doors and a
small vent grill to the back of the superstructure on the main deck again from some
L’Arsenal sets. I had some left over life rafts from another L’Arsenal kit which I had already painted, so I got lazy
and used those instead of the kit parts. As I mentioned above, the photo-etch mast is flat and two-dimensional and not really a good representation of the real thing. I scratch-built my own mast using
brass rod and wire, some plastic stock, photo-etch bits and some details clipped off the kit version, using the plans and photos as a visual guide. While not perfect, I think it looks better than the photo-
etch one. The photo-etch railing for the kit is one long run for the port and starboard side and in my first attempt at using them, I found them to be too clumsy to work with as is. To make it easier, I
clipped the railings into three sections, gluing them on the deck one section at a time and mating them along the way. In hindsight, I should have made the railings a little shorter as they are a bit too long
and caused the depth charge racks to be a little too close together and not giving enough space to fit the aft flagstaff with the tripod supports. This didn’t matter anyway as the photo-etch flagstaffs
were so delicate that I mangled them trying to bend them into shape. I ended up using brass wire instead.

Photos of the ships in this class show that French naval motto plates were fitted to the railings at the aft of the upper deck, with each having two mottos. I think that the motto plates are a unique detail
on French navy ships and not having them somehow on the model is not quite right. Since I couldn’t find photo-etch versions in the proper format and size, I used some from the 1/700
L’Arsenal set
and stacked them to make the pairs. The plans show that a flag bag was fitted just aft of the bridge, so I made one from plastic stock and glued it into place. The decals were easy to work with and
reacted will to MicroSet and MicroSol decal setting solutions. I rigged the model with painted stainless steel wire and added a French flag from the
Gold Medal Models decal sheet and some crew
members using
L’Arsenal figures. The model was painted using White Ensign Models modern French Navy Colourcoats paints.
Overall the kit builds into a nice little model. The addition of a few extra details helped to enhance it a bit and I was satisfied with how it came out. I would recommend it to fans of the Marine Nationale
and this model makes a nice addition to my 1/400 scale fleet.
Felix Bustelo