Flyhawk 1/700 HMS Penelope Limited Edition

HMS Penelope was an Arethusa-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was launched in 1935 and commisioned at the end of 1936. She was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat near Naples with heavy loss of life on 18 February 1944. On wartime service with Force “K”, she was holed so many times by bomb fragments that she acquired the nickname “HMS Pepperpot”.

At the outbreak of World War II she was with the 3rd Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean, having arrived at Malta on 2 September 1939. Penelope and her sister ship Arethusa were reallocated to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron in the Home Fleet and arrived at Portsmouth on 11 January 1940.

in April and May 1940, she took part in the Norwegian operations. On 11 April Penelope ran aground off Fleinvær while hunting German merchant ships entering the Vestfjord. Her boiler room was flooded and she was holed forward. The destroyer Eskimo towed her to Skjelfjord where an advanced base had been improvised. Despite air attacks, temporary repairs were made and she was towed home a month later.

After repairs and trials were completed in August 1941, Penelope reappeared as ‘a new ship from the waterline down’. She returned to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron at Scapa Flow on 17 August 1941. Penelope also lost her catapult and had two quadruple 2-pounders fitted between August 1940 and July 1941. Four single Oerlikons were added at the end of 1941, and four more in the summer of 1942.

Penelope and her sister Aurora were then assigned to form the core of Force K based at Malta, and departed Scapa on 12 October 1941, arriving in Malta on 21 October. On 8 November, both cruisers and their escorting destroyers departed Malta to intercept an Italian convoy of six destroyers and seven merchant ships sailing for Libya. During the ensuing Battle of the Duisburg Convoy on 9 November off Cape Spartivento, the British sank one enemy destroyer (Fulmine) and all of the merchant ships.

On 23 November, Force K again sailed from Malta to intercept another enemy convoy; next day they sank two more merchant ships west of Crete. Force K received the Prime Minister’s congratulations on their fine work. On 1 December 1941, Force K sank the Italian merchant vessel Adriatico, the destroyer Alvise da Mosto, and the tanker Iridio Mantovani.

Penelope was holed both forward and aft by near-misses during air attacks on Malta on 26 March 1942. While on the island, she was docked and repaired at the Malta Dry Docks. Day after day she was attacked by German planes, and the crew worked to fix a myriad of shrapnel holes, so many that she was nicknamed HMS Pepperpot; when these had been plugged with long pieces of wood – HMS Porcupine. She sailed for Gibraltar on 8 April and on the next day was repeatedly attacked from the air. She arrived in Gibraltar on 10 April, with further damage from near-misses.

The damage was extensive and would require several months at home after temporary repairs in Gibraltar. Meanwhile, the question of Penelope’s repairs had been reconsidered, and it was decided to send her to the United States. She accordingly left Gibraltar on 10 May 1942, for the Navy Yard at New York via Bermuda, arriving on 19 May. She was under repair until September and arrived in Norfolk, Virginia on 15 September, proceeding, again via Bermuda, to Portsmouth, England, which she reached on 1 October 1942.

Penelope arrived at Scapa Flow on 2 December and remained in home waters until the middle of January 1943. She left the Clyde on 17 January for Gibraltar, where she arrived on 22 January. She had been allocated to the 12th Cruiser Squadron, in which she operated with the Western Mediterranean Fleet

On 18 February 1944, Penelope, under the command of Captain G D Belben, was leaving Naples to return to the Anzio area when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-410 under the command of Horst-Arno Fenski. A torpedo struck her in the after engine room and was followed sixteen minutes later by another torpedo that hit in the after boiler room, causing her immediate sinking. 417 of the crew, including the captain, went down with the ship; 206 survived.

As far as I can tell this is the only 1/700 kit of HMS Penelope in plastic. There were 2 resin kits produced by WEM, but this is the first time a plastic kit has been made.

The box is a top opening box. Most of the parts are then packaged inside separate plastic bags and where there is more than one sprue in a bag they are held together with an elastic band so they can’t move and damage each other. The  PE sheets are laid flat on a backing card with the resin part taped in a bag to this backing card also. In case that gets a bit confusing, have a look at the video, but the packaging is excellent.

So, inside the boxes we have:

  • 378 plastic parts on 25 sprues.
  • 129 PE parts on 2 frets
  • 14 brass parts
  • 1 resin part
  • 4 pages of instruction
  • 4 pages  PE instructions

Th instructions are in 5 steps on 1 long piece of double-sided, colour, glossy paper. This sheet covers the basic kit, which is solely in plastic. There’s also a second smaller piece of paper showing the fitment of the lower hull that comes as part of the special edition kit. There’s also a second long single-sided sheet of paper that covers the construction of the 2 1/700 aircraft that come with the kit. If you’re going to put on of them on the catapult it should be the Seafox as the Walrus was never part of the ship’s company. Finally, you have another long double sided piece of colour, glossy paper that covers the use of the 2 PE frets, brass barrels and the single resin part that form the extras you get in the special edition.

The instruction steps are laid out pretty clearly, as below. Throughout these steps, some parts will be replaced by the extra PE and brass parts in the special edition.

  1. In step 1 you attach the main hull to the waterline plate and add the 2 piece deck and some superstructure.
  2. This step adds some PE to the fo’c’sle, adds the 2 forward turrets and adds more detail to the forward superstructure.
  3. This step is amidships and adds more superstructure and ship’s boats.
  4. This step is still amidships but moves further after and adds the side moulded funnels, torpedo tubes, masts and other small parts.
  5. This step is at the aft of the ship and adds the aft turret and small details at the aft of the ship.

With the special edition kit though you also have several places where plastic is replaced by PE and brass parts. So far that, just the same as with any other PE set you buy, you have to note which bits are to be replaced. I like that they also provide photos of the extra PE fitted to the ship so you can see exactly where it needs to go and what it needs to look like. The only thing I can see missing is a rigging guide for the supplied thread. Other than that the instructions are very good, clear and use colours to avoid confusion.

The level of detail in this kit is exceptional. The basic kit was as good as they get, but adding another 100+ parts of PE and brass parts takes it to the next level. There’s even a sprue containing binoculars! it doesn’t get much more detailed than this kit. What is a really nice touch is that a lot of the sprues have raised corners to protect the delicate parts. When you put the sprue down the raised edges keeps the actual parts from touching the bench.

Two colour schemes are shown in colour diagrams and the paints are called out in Mr Hobby, WEM, AK Interactive and Tamiya. One paint scheme is overall light grey and the other is black and white, as used int he Norway campaign.

Decals are provided for 2 large ensigns and 2 small, one of each as if furling in the wind and 2 sticking straight out.

This kit is currently available at LuckyModel for $44.99. It is specialal edition, so if you want it you had best get it soon.

This is one of the best 1/700 I’ve seen. Loads of fine detail, lots of extras. The only downside for me personally is the small parts. Highly recommended.

Many thanks to Flyhawk for sending along the kit for review.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International

Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.


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