Review by Jean-Paul Binot
The Maillé-Brézé was an escorteur díescadre (i.e. a large DD) of the T47 program (ten ships, plus an additional seven in the T53 program, and one more in the T56 program). Three of the T47 were converted into command ships, four into Tartar AAW destroyers, and the remainder into ASW destroyers. Maillé-Brézé was part of the ASW batch and served in the Atlantic fleet until being withdrawn from service in 1988 to be turned into a museum in Nantes.
The kit is molded in light gray plastic, with 206 parts in 4 sprues. The general appearance is good, with some flash and fine detail. Overall length is 321 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 Maillé-Brézé in her original state as an all-gun destroyer, with a strong 127mm and 57mm battery. The instructions in the box mention that Maillé-Brézé was fitted with a Malafon missile launcher, but obviously the box does not include any part for the rebuilt ship, although in a Heller catalogue, the box art for the Maillé-Brézé kit shows the ship firing such a missile.
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 two-level main deck fits the hull well, but some small gaps will need to be filled. Contrary to normal Heller practice, the basic elements of the superstructure are molded in with the deck, which can make conversion difficult. Overall the superstructure is accurate, but some detail is missing (doors, hatches, etc.) The kit includes three 127mm and three 57mm turrets, plus four torpedotube batteries. Detail is minimal but the general shape and proportions are good. The masts and radar aerial are too heavy and should be replaced by scratchbuilt and PE elements, using the parts provided with the kit as examples.
The kitís instructions provide a guide to Heller and Humbrol paints. As for all modern French warships, Maillé-Brézé should be painted light blue-gray, with all horizontal surfaces dark gray. The decal sheet is nicely done, although the motto plates should be replaced by the GMM PE equivalent.
The potential for conversion of the kit is extremely high. The T47 class can be built in four variants:
There is one books that I suggest should be used when building Hellerís Maillé-Brézé : Escorteurs díEscadre, Robert Dumas and Jean Moulin, Marines Editions, ISBN 2-909675-29-7. This 280-page book outlines everything one needs to know about the T47, T53 and T56 destroyers. It provides an in-depth coverage of the design and history of each of the eighteen ships, with many pictures and diagrams of the refits and reconstruction they went through. Also included is information on colors and markings.
In conclusion, I very strongly recommend the purchase of this kit, since it provides excellent value for money. Its amazing potential for conversion makes it a must for all serious modellers of modern warships.