White Ensign Models seemingly has been around forever. As one of the first major developers of resin warship models and brass photo-etch sets, I have always
admired their products. It was a
White Ensign product that caused me to get the internet and to get back into building warship models 20 years ago. My best friend
told me about this model warship site that he had found on the internet called Steelnavy. At the time
Rob Mackie was running the site. For about two weeks I would
stop at my friend's apartment after work just to look at the reviews found on the site. I quickly noticed the wonderful
WEM products. My friend went in for the very
expensive
WEM HMS Hood in 1:350 scale. This was years before Trumpeter appeared and the WEM Hood, along with an Iron Shipwright version were the only
games in town. For me it was the
WEM 1:700 scale HMS Warspite kit that was my first resin kit. It was my first encounter with resin models and photo-etch and I
have been hooked ever since.
WEM brass photo-etch frets have always been designed by Peter "Mad Pete" Hall and have always had the finest quality. When
White Ensign Models closed their doors, I was crushed. Peter Hall has his own label, Atlantic Models that produces resin kits and photo-etch frets but has also
been instrumental in the rebirth of
White Ensign Models. Like a Phoenix, rising from the ashes, White Ensign Models is back in production with new brass
photo-etch sets designed by
Mad Pete, produced in the United Kingdom but sold through the new White Ensign Models run by Richard Harden, who also owns
Tom's Modelworks. This review is on one of the new White Ensign Models photo-etch sets produced after the reconstitution of WEM. It is designed specifically
for the 1:700 scale Trumpeter kits of
HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Valiant (WEM PE 7120). WEM also has separate frets designed to be used on the 1:700 scale
Trumpeter kits for
HMS Malaya and HMS Warspite (WEM PE 7119)and another fret just for the HMS Barham (WEM PE 7116). This is a beautiful, comprehensive
fret and pure
WEM.
This set has a goodly number of relief-etched parts. In the armament category six of the ten parts (plus platform support gussets) that make up each of the octuple
pom-pom mounts are relief-etched. The set gives you four of these mounts. For the early war fits the set provides four Vickers quad .50 machine gun mounts. Each
has six parts and also has relief-etching. Other armament parts include 42 single gun Oerlikons and for late war fits, 21 twin gun Oerlikons. This comprehensive
array allows modeling the ships from prewar to 1945 for armament. A part that I have never seen in any other kit is a beautifully relief-etched funnel interior plate
with additional attachment plate and top grill. The sternwalk base and overhead have relief-etching, as well as the ornate railing. Plus there are sternwalk support
gussets. The bridge canopy has stretched canvas relief. The numerous ship's boats' thwarts are relief-etched. The segments of the hangar doors are relief-etched,
plus you get hangar roof support gussets. Other aircraft handling parts are the catapult track, aircraft cradles and Walrus parts for two aircraft. These parts consist
of the propeller, wing struts, wheels and machine gun rings with guns. Even the base of the funnel siren platform has relief-etching. The large aircraft cranes are big
ticket items and each of the two cranes have seven parts. Different radar arrays are included. They are the Type 279, Type 281, Type 282 Yagi, Type 285 Yagi,
lantern radar frame, platform & supports, DF antennas, and relief-etched Type 284 gunnery radar.

Other ship specific parts include five types of boat cradles, multiple platforms & supports, yardarms with foot-ropes, funnel sirens, main and HA directors'
walkway, platforms and supports, bridge wind-screens, searchlight lens frames, deck hawse grates, and boat oars. Two and three-bar railing with a bottom scupper
are custom cut to fit specific areas of the ships. The numerous inclined ladders in different lengths have safety railing but have foot rungs rather than trainable
treads. There are different aft inclined ladders for
Queen Elizabeth and Valiant as those on Valiant have a platform at the top and those on Queen Elizabeth don't.
The accommodation ladders are multiple part assemblies with relief-etched platforms and separate davits. More generic parts consist of three long runs of anchor
chain and three long runs of vertical ladder. A comprehensive instruction set is included. It consists of three back-printed pages and one single sided page. It has the
standard top drawer
White Ensign Models format with drawings and text presented in assembly modules. Page one is a fret laydown with each part described in
text. Page two has modules on assembly of pom-poms, Vickers MG mounts, Oerlikon mounts, 282 Yagi radar, 284 gunnery radar and 285 Yagi radar. Page three
has modules for the 273 radar lantern, 279 radar, 281 radar, and aircraft cranes, Page four continues with modules on main director, compass platform, fore mast
platform, main mast platform and assembly. Page five has modules on the hangar, funnel, HA director positions and ship's boats. Page six has modules on the
catapult, sternwalk, anchors, accommodation ladders and deck railing attachment. The instruction conclude with page seven with modules on boat cradles,
quarterdeck rails and Walrus aircraft.
The new White Ensign Models photo-etch is as glorious as the White Ensign Models photo-etch of legend. Fret PE 7120 is designed by Peter Hall and
manufactured in the United Kingdom specifically for the Trumpeter 1:700 scale kits of
HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Valiant. The large fret is an outstanding
value at only $21 USD as it is filled with relief-etching and has parts for fits from prewar with quad Vickers' machine guns to 1945 with twin 20mm Oerlikon mounts.
Steve Backer
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