Review: AJM Models 1/700 HMS Express 1941-2


HMS Express was an E-class minelaying destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the early 1930s.

Express spent most of the first year of World War 2 laying minefields in British, Dutch and German waters. She participated in the evacuation of Allied soldiers from Dunkirk in May–June 1940, but resumed minelaying afterward. The ship was one of three British minelaying destroyers that inadvertently entered a German minefield off the Dutch coast a few months later, leading to the sinking of two destroyers. Express had her bow blown off during the incident and was under repair for over a year.

She escorted the battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulse (Force Z) to Singapore in late 1941 in an unsuccessful attempt to deter Japanese aggression against British possessions in the Far East. The destroyer then escorted the capital ships in an attempt to intercept landings in British Malaya in December and rescued their survivors after they were sunk by Japanese bombers.

Express was then assigned convoy escort duties in and around Singapore and the Dutch East Indies under the control of American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM) as the Japanese advanced. She escaped from the East Indies and rejoined the main body of the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean.

Express returned home in early 1943 to begin conversion into an escort destroyer. Upon its completion in June, the ship was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and renamed Gatineau. Gatineau was paid off in early 1946 and was sold the following year. The ship became part of a breakwater on the coast of British Columbia in 1948.

Kit History

The only people who have made a kit of this class of ship are Tamiya with an E Class kit from 2007. It has about 59 parts so doesn’t compare to the level of detail on this. Even if you manage to find one of the White Ensign upgrade sets for the Tamiya model you will still get more detail in this kit.

Inside the box:

  • 120 resin parts plus a solid resin hull
  • 1 PE sheet with about 140 parts
  • 4 small PE sheets with 12 parts
  • 1 decal sheet
  • 2 sheets of double-sided paper giving
    • 1 colour page of parts layout and painting guide
    • 3 pages of build instructions over 9 steps
  • decals for HMS Express H61

The box is a top opening cardboard box and all the parts inside are bagged and wrapped in bubble wrap. The smaller resin parts are tightly packed in a small resealable bag so they can’t be damaged. The packaging is very good.

The resin parts are very nicely detailed and some of the smaller parts are just that, very small. Care will be needed when removing the smaller parts from the pour stubs.

The PE frets are made from very thin PE and again, some of the parts are very fine and will need care. The level of detail made possible by the PE is very high and will make for an excellent model.


The instructions are good and lay things out well. The first page of the 4 pages on paper is a parts layout so you can find the parts you need. It’s handily laid out starting with 1 at the top left to the highest numbered parts at the bottom right. There’s a painting guide on this page too.

The other 3 pages cover the 9 build steps of the build. PE parts are numbered inside a square box and resin parts are numbered inside a rounded box. Each step is nicely drawn and labeled and it seems clear what is needed. There is also a full page rigging diagram too. You will need to read the instructions carefully to work out a good build sequence for yourself.

Paint & Decals

The colours are called out in Life Colour paints and also named. There are  2 colour images of the ship and these are good enough to show you all you need to know to paint the ship.

There is a small decal sheet for HMS Express only.

This kit is not for beginners because to start with it’s a resin kit and needs care to avoid inhaling the dust. Also, it has many small parts and high PE part count for a ship of this size. However, this is a nicely detailed kit and you will end up with the best E class destroyer currently available on the market.

Many thanks to AJM Models for supplying a review sample.

The kit is available from our online store here.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International
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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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