For several months after the Armistice of November 11, 1918 the British government kept the Grand Fleet at full strength. They were still uncertain times and it was thought that the war could flare up again. By mid 1919 it
was clear that there was peace and the threat of the German High Seas Fleet was no more. Britain no longer needed the Grand Fleet and so it was dissolved. The political leaders said that Britain no longer needed the hundreds
of ships that made up the greatest fleet that Great Britain ever possessed. They cost too much money to man and maintain and besides the Great Threat had been defeated and they too, were no longer needed. In that year and
the few that followed, rapid naval disarmament was the order of the day issued by the politicians to their Lordships of the Admiralty.


In this period Britain disposed of 83 cruisers. Almost every cruiser of pre-war construction was removed, sold or scrapped. It was a fire sale to end all fire sales. The remainder of the RN cruiser force that survived this
gutting, amounted to 49 ships and nine of those were still on the stocks with work on them slowed to a glacial pace. Admiral Jellicoe had calculated that the Royal Navy needed a minimum force of 70 cruisers to adequately
defend the far-flung trade lanes and possessions of the British Empire. Now the RN had only 72% of that minimum requirement. Through the 1920s and early 1930s the Admiralty hung on to the 70-ship minimum and
unsuccessfully tried to lobby the politicians to increase the quantity of RN cruisers. However, the political and popular criticism of increased naval budgets and the shaky financial condition of the Exchequer precluded any
meaningful attempt to bridge the gap.
A new naval building race erupted between Japan and the United States and though it was in terms of capital ships, it affected the views on the cruisers that the RN still possessed. The wartime cruiser construction of the RN
concentrated on cruisers with speed and gunpower but of short range. They were designed for combat in the North Sea not for cruising the huge distances of the British trade routes. Only the four
Elizabethans, the four
9,750 ton cruisers named after Queen Elizabeth’s great sea captains had the range and size for sustained operations in the deep ocean. Only four of 49 were truly capable of the new mission that was mandated with the peace.


When it was realized that the ambitious USN construction program had only triggered a new arms race, all the major naval powers were invited to Washington to enter a Treaty that would limit naval construction. Britain
jumped at this because she was in no financial position for a new arms race and although Japan was less eager, that country was near bankruptcy because of the tremendous tempo of new construction. Before the conference,
a brief was prepared by the Admiralty for the British negotiators. In cruisers it emphasized that parity between the USN and RN was unacceptable. As a minimum the RN needed a 3 to 2 quantitative superiority. As a back up
position, if parity in numbers had be granted, cruiser size limitations were to be limited to a maximum of 10,000 tons. This size limitation was based solely on the RN’s desire to retain the four
Elizabethans, which were just
under this limit. This provision, generated solely on a short-term outlook, would come back to plague the Royal Navy throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The Royal Navy jumped into new cruiser arms race with both feet. All of
the cruiser construction of the 1920’s involved heavy 8-inch gun construction in an effort to keep up with the Joneses in the form of the IJN and USN heavy cruiser construction. The
Counties had the range for trade route
escort duty but even though cruisers Great Britain felt great financial constraint. To keep up the numbers game old ships that fought in World War One were still kept in operation, although their merits fell to the rear as their
weaknesses came to the forefront.
The oldest class among these cruisers, typed light cruisers after the London Naval Treaty, was the Caledon Class of three ships, Caledon, Calypso and Caradoc. All laid down early in 1916, they were completed in 1917 and
saw duty as scouts with the Grand Fleet. They were the 4th variant of the C Class cruisers and displaced 4,180-tons (standard), 4,950-tons (full load). Armed with five single gun mounts with gun shields on centerline, they
also had two 3-in QF HA guns, two 2pdr and eight 21-inch torpedo tubes. The machinery plant developed 40,000shp driving two shafts for a maximum speed of 29-kts, when in good condition. Armor was a modest 3-inch
belt with a 1-inch armored deck. The following class were ordered as the
Caledon Class was laid down. They were to be virtual repeats of the Caledon Class but before they were laid down, their design was modified. Unlike
the
Caledon Class, which had no superfiring 6-inch guns, the forward superstructure was enlarged and heightened, allowing B mount to be raised into a superfiring position. Because of the extra top weight and higher center
of gravity, the hull was lengthened from 449-feet, 10-inches (147.5m)(oa) to 451-feet, 6-inches (137.6m)(oa) and the beam from 42-feet 9-inches to 43-feet 6-inches to add stability. Weight increased to 4,290-tons
(standard), 5,276-tons (full load). Because of these changes, they were from a sub-class called the
Ceres Class. Five ships were laid down in the summer of 1916 with all launching late spring/early summer 1917. Ceres and
Cardiff completed in June 1917, Curlew in December 1917 and Curacoa and Coventry in February 1918. The machinery remained 40,000shp but probably because of the new lines was half a knot faster at 29.5-knots than
the
Caledon Class. The range was the same, 5,900nm at 10-knots but obviously the range would plummet in speeds above a 10-knot crawl.


In 1930 The London Naval Treaty was signed, which placed a ceiling on cruiser tonnage, something lacking in the Washington Treaty. The C Class cruisers were too old and of limited value with their surface action 6-inch
guns to take up part of the cruiser tonnage allocated to the Royal Navy. To get the C Class cruisers of the
Caledon and Ceres Classes off of the cruiser list it was decided to convert all of both classes to anti-aircraft cruisers.
The design was started in 1934 and
Coventry and Curlew were selected to be the trial ships. Conversion started in 1935 and finished 1936. All of the original armament was removed and the ships were fitted with ten 4-inch
Mk V HA single guns and two eight-barreled (40mm) Mk VI pom-pom mounts. The 4-inch guns were mounted with four on centerline, one forward and three aft and three on each beam amidship. Additionally, two HA
directors were fitted. The 4-inch guns were hand-me downs from other ships in which they had been replaced with twin 4-inch mounts. In 1938 and 1939 the aft pom-pom mount was removed to give to other ships and
were replaced by two worthless quadruple Vickers .50 machine gun mounts. As it turned out the only other ship of the C Class to receive the AA cruiser conversion was
Curacoa, which was converted in 1939 but with twin
4-inch Mk XIV in place of the 1,3,4, and 5single gun positions, a quadruple pom-pom in number 2 gun’s position, two quadruple Vickers .50 machine guns, one on each side of the fore funnel and finally two single barrel
2pdr guns.
After her conversion to anti-aircraft cruiser in 1935, Coventry was dispatched to the Mediterranean in 1936. She returned to Great Britain in 1938 and landed her aft pom-pom mount and then was sent back to the
Mediterranean, where she was stationed when war erupted in September 1939. The next year saw
Coventry participating in the Norwegian campaign in April through May 1940. In August she was selected to be one of the
escorts in Force H at Gibraltar until she was detached for service based in Alexandria. She participated in shelling Italian ground units at Bengahzi, Libya in September, as well as escorting convoys to and from Malta. On
December 13, 1940
Coventry was torpedoed by the Italian submarine Neghelli but was back in operations in March 1941. Later that spring she supported British operations in Greece and after evacuation from Greece,
operated around Crete, which turned into a shooting gallery in which the warships of the Royal Navy were the ducks and the Luftwaffe was the marksman. On May 18, 1941 she underwent an aerial attack and received minor
damage. On June 1 She rescued 225 crewmen from
HMS Calcutta, which had been attacked 60 miles north of Alexandria by 40 aircraft. After Crete she took part in operations against the Vichy French in the Levant (Syria
and Lebanon). In October she was ordered to Bombay (Mubei) for repairs and a refit.
Coventry returned to Alexandria in April 1942 to serve as escort in Malta convoys. On September 14, 1942 Coventry was part of a force
ordered to raid Tobruk. The raid was a fiasco and the force came under heavy aerial attack.
Coventry was hit by four bombs by Italian aircraft. Very badly damaged with 63 crewmen killed, it was decided to scuttle the ship.
After evacuating the survivors, the
Coventry was sunk by a torpedo from the HMS Zulu.


White Ensign Models has produced the HMS Coventry in 1:700 scale as she appeared in World War Two. This older cruiser never received any Oerlikon 20mm guns, as her entire armament was for anti-aircraft action. She
even carried the two quadruple Vickers .50 machine guns long after they had been replaced for Oerlikons on more modern ships. As usual,
White Ensign Models has done its standard excellent job in resin casting and
beautiful relief-etched photo-etch by
Mad Pete. WEM has taken a further step in protecting the resin parts from breakage. In addition to using bubble cushioning and a liberal amount of styrofoam peanuts in the box, the runs
of resin parts are now further protected by being enclosed in a cardboard sleeve. So far
WEM is the only company that I have noticed take this additional step to make sure the modeller's Coventry arrives pristine without
damage in transit, in spite of the heaviest Luftwaffe attack. I found the hull casting to be exceptionally clean. The hull can start assembly without any form of clean up but I would still do a quick wipe of the waterline with fine
sandpaper. Casting quality is outstanding with zero defects. Not a single pin hole void could be found, not even on the bottom. Because of the extraordinary protective packaging, there was no transit damage and zero resin
overpour needing removal.
The hull casting is outstanding. It even has seam lines for individual hull plates. Could you really see these in 1:700 scale? Probably not but they are so finely done that it truly adds icing on the cake. The armor belt is also a little
bit over-scale in relief from the main hull but it certainly is not worth sanding down the thickness- The hull has excellent anchors cast integral to the hull. They require a little bit of clean up with a hobby knife. Also some sanding
is needed to remove the remnants of the casting sheet along the hull bottom. The deck planking is finely done but does not have butt end detail. Deck fittings are very nice but some do require minor cleanup with a hobby knife to
remove wisps of resin film. I really like the open chocks, which is unusual for something as common and generic as that fitting. Anchor windlasses are beautiful in profile. The forecastle is loaded with detail from the anchor
chain run plates and deck hawse to the anchor chain locker fittings, deck access fittings and bollard plates. The deck edge fittings even have support plates overlapping onto the upper hull.

The smaller parts come on resin runners. The largest of these runners has four superstructure or deck-house parts. All four have a substantial connection to the runner that would require to dremmel to separate most efficiently.
Detail is good with bulkhead lockers, excellent ready ammunition lockers for the AA armament and good splinter shielding. I think that the bottom of the carley floats could have more detail but the hull may portray them with a
canvas cover over their top. The funnels, boats and most importantly, the armament are included on one of the runners. The 4-inch HA guns are one-piece beautifully done castings but one of mine had a broken barrel inspite of
the extraordinary protection provided by
WEM. The 8-barreled pom-pom mount and two quad Vickers MG mounts are also superbly detailed one-piece castings. Stack detail is good with finely done steam pipe detail. The other
large resin runner has the upper superstructure decks and platforms, search lights, signal lamps, binocular sights, binnacles, HAC directors and rangefinder, and splinter shielding.
Brass photo-etch details? What more is needed than to mention that Peter Hall’s autograph is etched into the fret frame. For a small cruiser, the WEM Coventry has a substantial relief-etched fret done by Mad Pete. The
breakwater and multiple splinter shields with raise support ribs jump out at you in examining the fret. With the fittings for the optional brass 8-barreled pom-pom mount (You can use the resin or brass version), the relief-etching
is abundant with ammunition detail and anti-skid pattern on the mount deck. The same can be said with the optional brass quad Vickers MG mounts. Ship boat thwarts also exhibit relief-etching. Another big item is the eight-piece
mast starfish. There are plenty of other smaller brass fittings/parts. These include: optional brass anchors; funnel grates; platforms with railing; support triangles; anchor chain; boat detail; boat chocks; davits; inclined ladders;
accommodation ladders; funnel sirens; semaphores; searchlight lens; radar; staffs; yardarms; and direction finders. In addition there is vertical ladder, four runs of four-bar railing and one run of three-bar railing. A separate bag
comes with brass rods in two diameters and a plastic rod for masts.  

Ho-hum, another superb set of instructions. Will
White Ensign Models never cease upon inflicting the best instruction set for resin or plastic models in the industry, upon us helpless modelers craving a challenge in instruction
interpretation? What’s the fun in having everything handed to you on a silver platter, as is the want of
WEM instruction sets? If we make a mistake in assembly, we can only blame ourselves instead of falling back on the excuse
of poor instructions. The Swan Hunter yard, who built the original
Coventry, could have benefited with a copy of the White Ensign Models Coventry instructions. There are seven pages of instructions for the Coventry in the
usual
WEM module format. Page One has the history and specifications. Page Two has the resin and brass parts matrix, showing and describing in text each part that goes into the build of the kit. Page Three has modules on the
hull and superstructure, brass pom-pom assembly, brass quad Vickers MG assembly, brass anchor assembly and foremast starfish assembly. Page Four contains modules for the assembly of the forecastle fittings, forward
superstructure, foremast, forward superstructure details, foremast platforms and 279 radar assembly. Page Five has five modules, which cover radar house assembly, funnel assembly, amidships gun house, main mast and
searchlight platform. Page six finishes the assembly with modules on open ship’s boats, accommodation ladders, boat handling fittings and locations, aft gun deck fittings and aft HAC assembly. Each module in the instruction
includes excellent drawings and comprehensive text description. The last page has general instructions and two profiles and one deck plan of
HMS Coventry. The profiles are for the camouflage schemes for Coventry as she
appeared in 1940 and 1941.
From scout for the Grand Fleet in World War One to anti-aircraft cruiser in World War Two, the HMS Coventry had a long career that came to an abrupt end on September 14, 1942. If you want first class resin casting,
superb relief-etched photo-etch, all complemented by unmatched instructions, you can’t go wrong with the
White Ensign Models 1:700 scale HMS Coventry.
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