By September 1940 the Royal Navy had realized that the Bangor class minesweepers that were just entering into service were too small to carry the equipment needed to
handle magnetic mines. In addition, larger ships with better sea-keeping qualities could be used an ocean-going escort vessel, if needed, to fill a critical shortage. The
general requirements were for a ship capable of sweeping moored, magnetic and acoustic mines in seas up to force 5. A new design was quickly developed which
embodied all known minesweeping requirements and was also capable of acting as an escort. The new bigger design was ironically close to the size of the older
Halcyon
class of minesweepers, which the Royal Navy had deemed too large and expensive to mass produce. A bigger ship was designed, ironically about the same size as the
older
Halcyon class that the Royal Navy had rejected earlier as too large and expensive for mass production. To maximize production, alternate designs were made to
use either steam turbines or reciprocating steam engines. This new class of large ocean-going minesweepers became known as the
Algerine class.

The
Algerine class dimensions were 225 feet long overall, a beam of 35 feet 6 inches in the beam and a draught of 10 feet. Displacement varied depending on the type of
engines fitted. Ships fitted with reciprocating steam engines displaced 1,162 tons while those with steam turbine engines displaced 1,122 tons. The ships had a top speed
of 16.5 knots with an endurance of 6,000 nautical miles at 12 knots.
The main armament was a 4-inch QF HA-LA MK V fitted forward and initially four single 20mm Oerlikons. Later in the war, some ships were fitted with four twin
20mm Oerlikons or four single 40mm Bofors. Anti-submarine weapons consisted of four depth charge throwers and two roll-off rails. Many Canadian ships omitted
their sweeping gear in exchange for a 24-barrel Hedgehog spigot mortar and a stowage capacity for approximately 90 depth charges. Minesweeping equipment was
comprised of Oropesa sweep gear for moored contact mines, 'LL' Cable for magnetic mines and SA Gear for acoustic mines. Sensors included Type 271 Radar and
Type 144Q ASDIC set.

A total of 110
Algerine class ships were completed, with 50 built in yards in Belfast and Scotland and 60 in Canadian yards. The Royal Navy commissioned 98 vessels
as minesweepers. The Royal Canadian Navy commissioned the remaining 12 as escorts and they were not fitted out for minesweeping.
HMS Algerine, the lead ship of
the class, was laid down on March 15, 1941 at Harland and Wolff in Belfast. She was launched on December 22, 1941 and commissioned on March 24, 1942. She was
sunk off Bougie, North Africa on November 15, 1942 with heavy losses by the Italian submarine
Ascianghi. Five other ships were lost during the war. The Algerine
class ships conducted sweeping operations in support of the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Normandy, the south of France and the liberation of
Greece. In addition to minesweeping, some acted as escorts for convoys. Some ships were transferred to the Pacific for operations there. After the war, a number were
retained by the RN and RCN and some were sold to other navies or merchant shipping firms. Those remaining in naval service continued on as patrol boats, survey
ships, and training ships. One
Algerine class ship is purportedly still in service with the Royal Thai Navy.
The 1:350 scale Algerine class fleet minesweeper kit is Starling Models first foray into this relatively larger scale. Previously, their products have focused on 1:700
scale, including an
Algerine kit in this scale. The master pattern for this kit was CAD designed and 3D printed and is comprised of resin parts, brass photo-etch and
decals.

The model is a one-piece full hull affair with lots of details cast integrally into the part. The deck has bitts, fairleads, lockers, breakwater, splinter shielding aft and
numerous mushroom vents. The hawse pipes at the foc’sle have sufficient depth and do not need to be drilled out. The hull itself has portholes, bilge keels and locater
holes for the rudder and propeller shaft struts. The deck has many shallow openings to accommodate the majority of the other resin parts that fit into the deck. This
will give the modeler a more precise fit and location for these parts.

The casting is excellent and I am amazed on how much detail is cast into the hull part. However, there is a downside to this as the vents are very delicate and can
break off easily by an errant finger or tweezer during assembly. In fact, one vent broke off during shipping even though the kit parts were all well packed. I looked for
the part and I couldn’t find it in the bubble wrap or loose in the box. The keel of the hull is really the only spot on this part that needs any clean-up as there are the
remains of three casting gates and the resin has to be smoothed out. I wish that the hull was split into an upper and lower hull to provide an easy waterline option,
which is my personal preference.
The next largest part is the bridge structure which also a lot of detail cast into it, such as watertight doors, lockers and the open bridge has a compass, binnacle, chart
table and windshield. This part does need some cleanup to fill in some pinholes in the resin. I also would have used photo-etch for the bridge windshield instead of
doing it in resin. The funnel is the other larger resin part in the kit and it is very well done with the external and internal piping cast into it.

The smaller resin parts include two pairs of bridge wing platforms – one pair for the 20mm mounts and a larger pair for the 40mm mounts – and an aft anti-aircraft
gun platform which is used for either gun mount. The weapon parts are comprised of the 4-inch gun shield, mount and barrel, the 40mm gun mounts and barrels, the
20mm guns, depth charges for the roll-off racks, storage racks and throwers. Other resin parts include the Type 271 radar lantern housing, gun director with
platform, anchor windlass, anchors, cable reel drums in three sizes, minesweeping equipment (main sweep cable drum, main sweep roller, Oropesa paravanes and
cranes), a trio of boats (cutter, whaler and dinghy), Carley floats, searchlight, running gear (rudder, propellers and shaft struts), cowl vents in two sizes, crow’s nest,
radome, flag locker and some small deck housings. Most of the smaller resin parts come on casting blocks with fairly thin attachment points. The smaller resin parts
are generally well cast and clean, with some needing clean up of extra bits of resin or resin film, the like the openings in the center of the Carley float stacks. The
20mm Oerlikons are cast as one piece, with shields and barrels, which is quite a feat in my opinion. Yet the shields appear a tad thick and would have been better off
done as photo-etch and the very thin barrels are at a risk of breaking off, which happened with two of the four during shipping,
The brass photo-etch fret contains all of the railings in pre-measured lengths, inclined and vertical ladders, bridge wing gun platform supports, aft gun platform
support, cable reel bases and drum ends, platform and railings for the Type 271 radar housing, depth charge roll off racks, depth charge storage racks, Carley float
storage racks and mesh insert, Oropesa paravane storage racks, boat davits, boat rudders, funnel cap grill and siren platform, bridge front DF antenna and support
brace and other detail parts. The photo-etch is nicely done with some relief etching and with part numbers etched into the fret for easy identification. A decal sheet
with numbers and letters J and M in black and white for the hull pennant numbers is provided. Two lengths of brass rod are provided for the mast, yardarms,
platform support legs and the propeller shafts.

The instruction guide is a 16-page booklet with each step of the assembly detailed with 3D CAD renders in color. The cover has a brief class history and basic
specifications. Pages 2 and 3 have a break down of the resin parts with corresponding part numbers and small images of the photo-etch fret and decal sheet. Pages
4 through 12 contain the 3D renders with images of the various sections of the model from different perspectives. The renders are very well done and clearly show
how the different subassemblies go together and were everything goes on the model. A nice bonus is a proper rigging diagram on page 13, which is something
frequently omitted from assembly instructions. The final three pages have color plan and profile drawings with camouflage scheme and pennant numbers for
HMS
Brave
, 1942, HMS Sylvia 1943 and HMS Arcturus 1944. The color references are for standard Royal Navy colors. With 110 ships in the class, there are plenty of
options for different paint schemes, so break out your Warship Perspective RN Camouflage volumes for inspiration.
The Algerine kit is an excellent first 1:350 scale kit from Starling Models, which offers lots of details in what appears to be a relatively easy build. For modelers that
prefer 1:700 scale, there is an
Algerine kit in that scale. If this is any indication of what is in store for other 1:350 scale kits, I am certainly looking forward to see
what the future will bring from Starling Models. I would love to see a
Bangor and Halcyon class kit in this scale. My thanks to Mike McCabe at Starling Models for
providing the review sample.
Felix Bustelo
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