Heller 1/400 Duquesne
Review by Jean-Paul Binot

Duquesne is the second frigate of the Suffren class and is currently in service with the FAN (the task group around the French carriers) in Toulon.

The kit is molded in light gray plastic, with 135 parts in 3 sprues. The general appearance is very good, with some flash and fine detail. Overall length is 395 mm, height 39 mm. As in all Heller kits, plastic railing is supplied in a special sprue. It is hopelessly overscale and should be discarded. The kit depicts Duquesneas she (or he in French) was prior to the refit of 1977. 

The hull is made of two full-hull halves, to be joined and reinforced by strips of plastic, as with all Heller kits except the Foch and Clemenceau. The main deck fits the hull very well, with no gaps to be filled. The deck is in one single large part. Overall the superstructure is accurate, but some detail is missing (doors, hatches, etc.) The kit includes two 100mm turrets, one Malafon ASW launcher and one twin Masurca AA launcher with two fire control radars. The most striking feature of the Duquesne is the large radome atop the bridge that Heller has beautifully captured. The seam between the two halves should be sanded down very carefully to avoid damaging the finely engraved structural lines.

If the modeller wants to portray Duquesne as it is now, two double Exocet missile containers need to be placed next to the Malafon launcher, together with additional superstructure and satellite arrays. The funnel is fine enough to be used, but the complex mast and the platforms it supports should be replaced by scratchbuilt elements, using the kitís parts as examples. The superstructure at the base of the mast-funnel is wrong (it would be correct for the Suffren, though), and should be reduced in size.The Malafon missile amidships is very nicely molded, but the launcher should be super-detailed. The after deck is covered with the very nicely modeled towed array sonar equipment. 

The kitís instructions provide a guide to Heller and Humbrol paints. As for all modern French warships, Duquesne should be painted light blue-gray, with all horizontal surfaces dark gray. There is one books that I suggest should be used when building Hellerís Duquesne : Les frégates Suffren et Duquesne, Marines Edition, Jean Moulin, ISBN 2-909675-43-2 .

The kit of the Duquesne is a very nice attempt at producing a model of this graceful ship. As with all Heller kits, this one should receive a considerable amount of super-detailing, including PE accessories and additional parts, but there are no obvious mistakes to be corrected. One can only regret that there is no manufacturer of PE material to have produced a set specifically for French warships in 1/400 yet.

The potential for conversion of the kit is limited since Duquesne has only one sister ship, and the two ships have not been much altered in their 35 years of service with the French Navy. Nonetheless in conclusion, I very strongly recommend the purchase of this kit, since it provides excellent value for money. If built out of the box and fitted with the PE accessories, it will turn into a very nice replica of Duquesne as completed. With the extra effort of scratchbuilding Exocet launchers and a few additional elements, it has the potential to be a real winner.

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