|HMCS Haida was one of several Tribal class destroyers in
the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War and early Cold War
period. One of four built in England for the RCN, she was commissioned
August 30, 1943. Initially assigned to escort convoys to Russia, she was
later transferred to the 10th Flotilla based out of Plymouth.
In this capacity, she took part in Operations Tunnel and Hostile, sweeping the Bay of Biscay and English Channel in preparation for Operation Overlord; she sank more tonnage than any other RCN vessel. She is credited with sinking or assisting in the sinking of T-29, T-27, Z-32, U-971, and a pair of heavily-armed trawlers. HMCS Haida continued to serve in the Korean War, where she acquitted herself well by providing fire support and destroying the North's coastal trains. She was transferred into civilian preservation in the early 1960s, and is now owned by Parks Canada as a National Historic Site museum in Hamilton, Ontario.
Ultracast is a Canadian company best known for their aftermarket accessories for aircraft, armour, and figures - basically, anything but ships. However, sometime before 2002, they seem to have made a brief foray into the ship modelling side of things with this release of the Haida. The kit represents her in April 1944, when she engaged T-29 and T-27 along with HMCS Athabaskan. As far as I can tell, the Haida was Ultracast's one and only ship release, and it has been long out of production.
It is interesting to compare this with Trumpeter's much more recent 1/700 Tribal class destroyers, as well as Samek's 1/700 HMS Nubian and Loose Cannon's HMS Cossack. Sadly, I do not have one of those in my posession, but do note that all except the Loose Cannon Cossack miss the bow sheer, portraying the forecastle as flat. At least the Trumpter's separate deck will make the fix easier than for the Ultracast or Samek kits. The latter are also waterline-only. More comments on the hull and other parts below.
|The kit comes in a sturdy cardboard box. Oddly, there is
no manufacturer marking on the box - you're only aware that it's an Ultracast
kit when you open the box and see the front page of the instructions.
The hull comes wrapped in bubble wrap, while the resin parts are attached to sprues, split into two zip-lock bags. Decals, PE, and brass and plastic rods are also in a third bag.
There is no padding in the box. Most impressively, none of the parts are broken, save one boat that came off the sprue whole. As far as I can tell, there are no moulding defects - no bubbles, cracks, or blemishes.
Some flash is apparent in the hollows of the gun turrets, but that's to be expected. The 4.7" gun barrels are warped, but those would best be replaced with brass anyway (that's one good thing about picking up this kit a decade after its release - the Trumpeter one should spur a whole lot more aftermarket options!). The only other flaw from a quality perspective is the warped starboard overhang adjacent B Turret - see hull-04.jpg and hull-12.jpg.
Other than those fairly minor issues, the quality of the resin casting is superb. No need to ask for replacement parts from the manufacturer here - a good thing, since they probably don't have any left anyway.
|The hull is moulded waterline, with sharp portholes (though
no eyebrows), and includes everything up to the top of the first deckhouse
Some impressive details include the anchor chain (a well-done 3D appearance that painting can really bring out) and depth charge rack. Raised bumps and holes on the deck assist with placement of the resin parts. Overall, sharply-cast and well-detailed, with pipeing, ladders, and hatches already on the bulkheads.
That said, there are several things to be improved. The two raised circular plates along the upper portholes at the bow should be sanded down in thickness. The stem of the bow is also a bit crooked, curving towards starboard as it approaches the waterline - as seen in photos hull-12.jpg through hull-14.jpg. As well, anti-slip tread pattern is not moulded into the forecastle.
Finally, as mentioned in the intro, there is no deck sheer portrayed. Related to this, and similar to what I've seen online of the Trumpeter versions, it makes the hull sides at the bow look fairly slabsided, with insufficient overhang of the main deck versus the waterline. This effect tends to make the model blockier and less graceful than they actually were.
There is another discrepency between the kits. Whereas Trumpeter's (and Samek's; possibly Loose Cannon's) Tribal begins its narrowing at the bridge face, Ultracast begins narrowing from the first funnel, producing a much sleeker hull when viewed overhead. In the comparison below, I've overlayed the foredeck piece of the Trumpeter 1/350 Eskimo (image taken from the review here) on top of the Ultracast hull.
Note how the Trumpy deck piece protrudes beyond the Ultracast hull, and this is before the deck piece has been inserted into the hull - so in addition to the protrusion you see, add on an extra millimeter for the hull side's thickness. Comparing both with the set of HMCS Athabaskan plans in "Unlucky Lady", it appears the real shape is somewhere between the two: the Ultracast narrowing too far aft, Trumpeter narrowing too close to the bow (go figure!).
|It is what it is. Nicely done. Portholes, hatches, etc. Sparse on the details for the open bridge, though - only the binnacle is moulded on.|
|Nicely done, but the ammo boxes could definitely use some extra detailing.|
|Resin Sprue 1|
|The first resin sprue contains the gunnery director, torpedo tubes, and funnels. The funnel tops are hollow, allowing for a nice effect when the PE funnel grills are installed. The bottom of the torpedo tubes are cast as a simple slope, with no hollow appearence as in more recent kits. Surface details overall could be improved, but not bad.|
|Resin Sprue 2|
|The second sprue contains the 4.7" and 4" gun barrels (with breech molded on), as well as the Pom-Pom gun, galley vent, and both anchors. The barrels are warped, as is typical of most resin barrels. The Pom Pom is in one piece, and is fairly sparse on detail though clearly recognisable. Aftermarket replacements would certainly be welcomed. The anchors don't come with a stock.|
|Resin Sprue 3|
|This one consists of the crowsnest, search light platform, aft 20mm platform, and a search light.|
|Resin Sprue 4|
|Only two parts here: the foward superstructure's gun/flag platform and the flag bags/bulkhead for it.|
|Resin Sprue 5|
|Signal lamps, Type 271 radar lantern, plus the Pom Pom deck. The Type 271 is kind of silly, resembling more a very large mushroom vent. Builders would probably wish to just build a cyclinder with a railed platform around midway up.|
Contains the 4.7" and 4" gun shields. The 4" looks about right, but
I'm not too certain about the 4.7"'s shape. The slopes towards the sides
begin too close to the sides, and they lack the viewing ports. They are
to be commended, however, for being hollow - a true shield. They are also
superior to the Trumpeter version as they do have a divider between the
What the instructions call "Gun Crew Shelter", "Torpedo Crew Shelter",
and "Torpedo Derrick". The derrick does look quite nice, but not sure how
it scales out.
Three of the four boats in the kit. Not particularly well-detailed,
but cleanly cast as with the rest of the kit.
The fourth boat is here, along with the powered twin 20mm Oerlikons
and K-gun depth charge launchers. The 20mm would best be replaced with
aftermarket (as far as the reviewer knows, the only option is White Ensign
Models PE+resin PRO7038). The K-guns are very good, though, and should
be usable without further modifications.
Rafts! Extremely well done. Very impressive details - sharp, clean, and distinct. I've never been so excited about a sprue of rafts before.
The PE fret includes about as much stuff as you'd expect from a turn-of-the-21stCentury
effort - no relief etching, but come with railings, ladders, overhang supports,
radars, funnel grills, and lattice mainmast. Not as thin and detailed as
newer PE, but still usable. Six individual PE pieces for the davits for
the ship's boats are also included, but are not attached to the fret and
are loose in the zip-lock bag. Also included are three brass rods and a
styrene rod, used for making the masts.
|A small decal sheet includes three each (for port, starboard, and stern) of two types of pennant numbers; this allows you to have usable decals regardless of which camouflage scheme you chose.|
|A full-colour six-page instruction book is included; one of the better instruction booklets out there for a resin kit for sure. Photographs of all sprues are labelled with numbers, which are then used to point out the parts on photographs of the model under construction. Close-ups of the latter would be welcome, however, as the three photos showing the construction are fairly small. A bonus is the listing of the names of each kit part. The manual also includes several shots of the completed model as reference.|
|So what do we make of all this? Is it worth other modelers
haunting eBay, waiting for this old and nearly-forgotten kit in favour
of Trumpeter/Pit-Road, Samek, or Loose Cannon's kits? Probably not. Loose
Cannon's, coming in at $30, accurately captures the elegant sheer of the
bow, as well as being much more detailed. The only benefit to the Ultracast
kit is that it seems to be more cleanly moulded with parts easier to remove
from the sprues, as well as the PE fret; however, the PE being rather out
of date, most would elect more aftermarket anyway. In that case, one may
just as well go with the Loose Cannon if all they want is a Tribal. But
for a Canadian Tribal, it may well be the case that this old Ultracast
kit remains the best option, if indeed its narrower bow is more accurate
than Trumpeter's. There are likely other differences, such as platform
shapes, but lacking a set of Haida plans I cannot say one way or another
whether the Ultracast Haida is a better choice for representing that ship.
I ran into this little piece of modelling history hidden in the back of the counter at Uncle Bill's Hobby Shop in Calgary, Alberta. Sadly, the only reason I was behind the counter was due to shop's liquidation - the untimely passing of shop owner Rick Chin left the shop with few other options. I intend to (eventually) build this kit as a small memorial for his years of service to the modeling community here.