L'Arsenal 1/400 Early-War Flower Class Corvette Kit Review
Review by Felix Bustelo

 Flower Class corvettes were the true workhorses of the Allied navies in the Battle of the Atlantic. They herded convoys critical to the war effort back and forth across the Atlantic and filled in the gap for escorts until larger and faster ships, like frigates and escort destroyers, were built to conduct these duties. In the mean time, Flowers provided ASW support and screened convoys from the U-boat threat. These ships were not sleek and fast like destroyer escorts and frigates, but they were easy to operate, easy to build (therefore numerous), sturdy and seaworthy. However, due to the hull's trawler design, they were not suitable to deep water service and they were susceptible to extreme rolling.

 L'Arsenal has beautifully captured an early-war long forecastle version of this important class of ship in a multi-media kit. Provided with the kit are optional resin and photoetch parts that can be used to build just about any variant of an early-war long foc'sle Flower. The first Flowers had short foc'sles, but they were extended far aft to provide extra crew accommodations and to improve seaworthiness starting with the 51st vessel built. Some short foc'sle Flowers had their foc'sles lengthened later in the war.

 The model is a full hull kit and the one piece hull is very nicely cast with the funnel, main deck house, bridge, hull portholes and a variety of deck details. The hull is not resting on a casting block, which eliminates the need to saw it off, but some clean up is required along the keel. Locator holes are present on the deck to aid in the placing of the smaller resin parts and the water line is faintly etched into the hull, which will be a great help when painting. Two resin stands are included that can be used to cradle the model during assembly and, if you like, can be used as display mounts. My only real complaint is that there are no openings in the stern for the depth charge racks. You will have to carefully cut them out yourself if you so desire.

 The smaller resin parts are stored in a ziplock bag and they are numerous. These include the main gun bandstand, the 2 pounder gun tub, those very distinctive cowl vents, an optional Type 271 Radar lantern, lifeboats and rafts and other items. These parts are again very nicely cast and will require minimal clean up. Part numbers are cast into the sprues to aid in identifying the parts. Care must be given in removing the parts from the sprues so that the locator pins don't get broken off or some of the delicate parts, like the mast and gun barrel, get snapped in two. My parts bag came with some extras, but I don't know if this was intentional or by chance.

 The photoetch parts come in two brass frets. The first fret provides the kits deck railings. The other fret contains numerous detail parts and they are very nicely relief etched. The detail fret includes such parts as inclined and vertical ladders, anchor chains, shields, the breakwater, funnel grill, the 4 inch gun shield, 20mm Oerlikons, davits and the depth charge racks among other items. Some of the items are optional; depending on which variant or armament your particular Flower carried. The kit's open bridge area and other bridge details are done in brass photoetch and assembly appears a little complex. This will present a challenge to someone who is not experienced in working with photoetch.

 A decal sheet is provided with hull numbers and funnel markings to build any one of two FNFL (Free French) ships or one Royal Navy ship. Decals are also provided for bridge windows and the lenses on the radar lantern. The quality of the decals is excellent.

 A total of five pages are provided with assembly instructions and they are very well illustrated, appear to be very detailed, but are written completely in French, which will present a problem to some. The language barrier will present a challenge, because while the diagrams are helpful, some of the more complex assemblies (like the bridge and some of the alternate AA armament) are explained in text. The last page has painting and decal placement illustrations for each of the ships that can be produced with what is supplied with this kit. 

This is an excellent, high quality kit of a very worthy subject and 1/400 scale and Flower fans should go and buy this kit. The language barrier is not insurmountable (buy a dictionary or use an online translation utility, like Alta Vista Translations.) and by referring to good sources and photos this kit can be built into a wonderful model. My thanks to Jacques Druel, of L'Arsenal, for supplying this review copy.

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