Review: Mirage-Hobby 1/350 HMS Spiraea

History

The Flower-class corvette was a British class of 267 corvettes used during World War II, specifically with the Allied navies as anti-submarine convoy escorts during the Battle of the Atlantic. Royal Navy ships of this class were named after flowers, hence the name of the class.

The majority served during World War II with the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). Several ships built largely in Canada were transferred from the RN to the United States Navy (USN) under the lend-lease programme, seeing service in both navies. Some corvettes transferred to the USN were manned by the US Coast Guard. The vessels serving with the US Navy were known as Temptress and Action-class patrol gunboats. Other Flower-class corvettes served with the Free French Naval Forces, the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Royal Norwegian Navy, the Royal Indian Navy, the Royal Hellenic Navy, the Royal New Zealand Navy, the Royal Yugoslav Navy, and, immediately post-war, the South African Navy.

After World War II many surplus Flower-class vessels saw worldwide use in other navies, as well as civilian use. HMCS Sackville is the only member of the class to be preserved as a museum ship.

The months leading up to World War II saw the RN return to the concept of a small escort warship being used in the shipping protection role. The Flower class was based on the design of Southern Pride, a whaler, and were labeled “corvettes”.

There are two distinct groups of vessels in this class: the original Flower-class, 225 vessels ordered during the 1939 and 1940 building programmes; and the modified Flower-class, which followed with a further 69 vessels ordered from 1940 onward. The modified Flowers were slightly larger and somewhat better armed.

The modified Flowers saw the forecastle extended aft past the bridge to the aft end of the funnel, a variation known as the “long forecastle” design. Apart from providing a very useful space where the whole crew could gather out of the weather, the added weight improved the ships’ stability and speed and was retroactively applied to a number of the original Flower-class vessels during the mid and later years of the war.

The original Flowers had a mast located immediately forward the bridge, a notable exception to naval practice at that time. The modified Flowers saw the mast returned to the normal position immediately aft of the bridge; however, this does not seem to have been done in all of the modified builds or conversions of the original vessels.

Kit History

In plastic, I can only see 2 companies who have made 1/350 scale Flower Class ships Mirage-Hobby and Iron Shipwrights. The 3 kits by Iron Shipwrights are in resin and from the 2000s although they do cover both the long and short forecastle versions. Mirage-Hobby does 4 ships, all long forecastle versions and they date from 2013/4.

Inside the box:

  • 3 sprues with 190 parts
  • 1 PE sheet with 9 parts
  • 1 decal sheet
  • 1 double-sided colour sheet of instructions
  • 1 colour painting guide

The box is a solid cardboard box and all the sprues inside are in a single plastic bag. The PE fret and decals are in a resealable bag that is stapled to the front of the instructions and placed in the bottom of the box.

The plastic parts look good although the sprue attachment points look a little large on some of the smaller parts. You might need to take extra care in removing those parts. The PE parts look to be mostly railings.

The instructions are pretty straight forward but could do with being a bit larger. You might want to either take a photo of them or scan them and print out an enlarged copy. The instructions give you some background to the ship as well as information on the 2 colour schemes shown. The build is shown in 26 steps and they seem pretty clear, although as mentioned, you might have to look at some steps very closely to see exactly where things go. The placement of the PE parts is given as part of these 26 steps. There are 2 painting schemes with oith showing port and starboard views in colour. There isn’t a top view, but the colours used are explained in the text. A top view might have been nice to show that most of the decks are green and only wooden covers would be wood colour.

I’m not going to go through all 26 steps in a bulleted list, but the general scheme is to first build the hull and decks and then work from the fat to the forecastle adding all the small parts.  You might want to save the PE to the end and perhaps paint the main hull and deck before you start adding all the small pieces.

Conclusion
This looks to be a competitively priced very nice kit of the Flower Class. It’s not a huge parts count and the PE supplies just the most noticeable items. It’s a perfect introduction to 1/350 shipbuilding.

Many thanks to Mirage-Hobby for supplying a review sample.

The kit is available form their online store for about $18.00

Paul Tosney – Editor
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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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