Heller 1/400 Arromanches
Review by Stuart Robottom

You can see this model in the Photo Gallery

This ship was originally built as one of the "light fleets" for the Royal Navy, and served under the name of Colossus. The Royal Navy, after WW2, had many aircraft carriers, including several fleet carriers, so they sold off the smaller ones as part of the reduction of their fleet. Some wonder why, as these light carriers were arguably more suitable for a peacetime navy than the larger ones.

 Luckily someone I knew served on HMAS Melbourne, a similar ship, and I have several photos of details on these ships. If I find another kit I may try to build Melbourne as she appears in the photos, but this would require a lot of work. Some interesting shots show her on heeling trials -- at least I hope that's why she's heeling!

 Back to the Arromanches. I built this model out of the box without adding any other fittings from outside sources. I considered replacing the kit's aircraft with some others but I couldn't find any in the required scale so I just used the ones provided.

 I started work on my model by looking over all the fittings. First step was to carefully extract the railings, and put them in my parts drawer - along with several other Heller railing sets that have not been used. They’re completely out of scale, unfortunately. The hull halves were not perfectly formed with warp and a not completely formed bow. This was disappointing to me as I like the look of these ships from ahead. A small piece of thin plastic was added after construction to repair the hole caused by the latter imperfection.

 When I dry fitted the two hull halves, there was considerable warp, which lead to a more difficult joining process than was first apparent. It was a small challenge to determine how to best hold these halves - I settled on using masking tape and clothesline pegs. When adding the propellers and shaft pieces these also did not fit properly. It took some filler to get them to look good. Once dry I commenced painting, using the specified colours, both the underwater and above water sections of the hull. I also painted any sponsons, the island, crane, basically anything else that required these colours, all at the same time. This is to avoid having slightly different shades which sometimes results from painting at different times. I used a black felt tip pen to mark the boot topping and painted the scuttles silver.

 Assembly is quite straightforward. It almost fell together, in fact. One small problem I encountered was locating the sponsons, since I wanted to put them all on at once. A better method would have been to attach those on one side with the model leaning so that side were on a horizontal hull, then when the glue dried, rotate the model 180 degrees and attach the other side’s sponsons. The weaponry to be put on the sponsons is not brilliant. They are basic but if painted using different colours can look okay. I didn't glue the guns into position as they have locating holes which should do the job. The island is the best feature of this kit in my opinion. It has a nice mast, several searchlights and radars and it can be made to look good with some work. 

When it comes to the aircraft I’m not exactly sure how to politely describe them… I put them on, but only because the bare flight deck looked out of place. The tractors used for moving aircraft around the fightdeck are also a disappointment, but some dobs of black paint after the main painting helps a bit. I painted the tires black and where the seat would be was painted brown.

 Overall this kit was an interesting project. It does not have great surface detail but with work more can be added if required. I didn't add any extra pieces but I tried to improve it slightly using paint, for example with the guns I painted sections gray, others black, and others silver. Not exactly authentic but I thought it looked okay! It will look great on a shelf due to its size, but don't put it on a shelf near a Tamiya battleship or the difference in detail will be obvious. 

© ModelWarships.com