HMS Aurora, an Arethusa-class light cruiser, was laid down at Portsmouth Dockyard in July 1935. Launched in August 1936, she was commissioned in November 1937.
For the first several years of the Second World War, Aurora served with the Home Fleet, participating in convoy escort duty, being involved in the Norwegian Campaign, and joining, at one time or another, searches for German warships, including Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Bismarck. Transferred to the Mediterranean in late 1941, she joined Force K and was involved in numerous altercations with Italian/German convoys to Africa, helping destroy more than one of these convoys. She was also involved in the First Battle of Sirte in December 1941. Shortly after this engagement, she struck a mine, necessitating repairs.
After her repairs, she returned to the Med, joined Force H and participated in Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa. During this period, she sunk or drove ashore three Vichy French destroyers over the course of a few days. Later, she was involved in the invasion of Sicily and the landings at Salerno, before operating in the Aegean Sea, where she was damaged by an aircraft bomb. Repaired again, she was present for Operation Dragoon, the landings in the south of France, then returned to the Aegean, where she helped liberate the Greek capital of Athens.
Sold to the Nationalist
Chinese Navy in May 1948, and now named "Chonqing", she defected to the
Communist in February 1949, but was sunk just a few weeks later, in March, by Nationalist aircraft.
Salvaged with help of the Russians, she spent her remaining years as an
accommodation and warehouse ship, being scrapped sometime after 1965.
The Flyhawk Aurora
Flyhawk’s 1/700 HMS Aurora comes in a black cardboard box with artwork showing Aurora underway, main battery turrets trained to starboard. Inside the box is the usual copy of the box art, which is suitable for framing. Being a "Bonus" edition, along with the injection molded sprues, which are all wrapped in cellophane or enclosed in small plastic bags, you'll find an flat clear envelop with photo-etch and another with brass parts. There is also a small plastic container containing 3D printed parts. These enable you to make the "1941" version of Aurora. Flyhawk has already kitted a 1945 version and Chinese version of the ship. Rounding things out are the instructions - specific to the 1941 version - and a metal WL plate.
My box was heavily damaged in transit, resulting in damage to some of the contents.
Included in the kit are a waterline plate, a lower hull and the upper hull. The hull scales out pretty much perfectly in lenght and beam to the real ship. My lower hull was damaged, with a significant bowing on the port side just about amidships. Luckily the upper hull was not damaged. The aforementioned upper hull has lots of nice detail on it - bollards, chocks, ladders, hull plating and eyebrows of the portholes. In photographs it almost looks overstated - especially the hull plating. However, to the naked Mk1 eyeball, it looks good.
There are two parts that make up the deck. Part E1 is the forward deck (fo'c'sle) and part F1 is the main deck. The fo'c'sle has tread plating on the forward most section (this may be slightly overstated), anchor chains, a capstan, planking with butt ends, bollards, vents, hatches and cable reels. These last items are the weakest item on either of the deck parts.
The detail on the main deck is similar - planking with butt ends, hatches and boat cradles. The planking is especially nice. Once painted, a wash will bring out all that detail.
|LOOSE SPRUES/SUPERSTRUCTURE PARTS
Flyhawk has a unique way having "sprues" that consist of just one part in many of their offerings, and this kit is no different. There are six separate superstructure/deckhouse parts, of various sizes, in the kit, all in in assorted bags. Detail all around is quite good. Parts M1 and O1 have planking (again with butts ends), while you'll also find W/T doors, piping, open hatches on the bulkheads and vents.
|SPRUES I & J
|These are two small structures that sit atop sprue K.
|The forward most of the two amidships deckhouses.
|The aft deckhouse.
|The other amidships deckhouse.
|The deckhouse supporting the forward superstructure and the B turret barbette.
|The rest of the sprues contain Aurora specific parts, and/or generic RN parts, like guns, rafts, boats, etc.
|Here you’ll find two types of davits torpedo tubes, injection molded inclined ladders, and a punt.
The Q sprue has props, struts and shafts, rudder, boats, a small deckhouse and what look to be raised director towers.
There's more superstructure parts on this sprue, along with shelters for the secondary guns (these are nicely done), injected molded radar antenna for the secondary gun directors, prop guards (these might be the most underwhelming parts on the kit), a lantern radar and the main director tower. While, overall, the detail is nice I actually found a little flash and raised mold seam on a few parts.
This small sprue if for the funnels, of which there are three, each a different height. The extra funnel may be for one of the later versions of Aurora, or for the Penelope. Detail is really nice, with what looks like riveted surface details and piping protruding up from the recessed funnel openings.
This very small sprue has a small raised platform, what looks like a AA platform and another structure.
|On this sprue you'll find piping and vents, as well as boat booms.
Here are the anchors, plastic crane and jib and breakwaters. You'll definitely want to replace the crane with photo-etch.
Plastic supports for the boat deck.
Ready ammo boxes. Each gas hinges and handles for each door.
|This is the first of 18 common sprues for RN kits. It has a 4 barreled pom-pom, .50 quad AA gun and some smaller AA weapons. Petite with nice details.
|This has searchlights and signal lamps. Tiny and really nicely molded.
|SPRUE GB03 (x2)
|Paravanes and winches.
|Bridge equipment. All nicely molded and impossibly small.
|SPRUE GB06 (x2)
|The carley floats, with lots of molded on detail, including what looks like straps to hold them in place.
|This sprue has more bridge equipment on it.
|This sprue has vents and some other ridiculously small equipment.
|Powered twin 20mm guns
|More carley floats, again with lots of molded on detail, including what looks like those straps to hold them in place.
|Ready ammo boxes or lockers and other bits and bobs for the deck.
|More ready ammo boxes, with molded on "hatches" and "handles".
|Single 20mm AA guns.
|This sprue has boats and launches on it. Terrific details on the boats, including planked decks.
|Here's where you'll find the main battery turrets. The sprues are sort of broken up, with the turret tops loose, the turret base on one 1/2 a sprue, while the 6 inch gun barrels are on another 1/2 sprue. My main battery barrels were damaged. The turrets tops have really nice riveting details and hatches on them.
|This sprue, which contains the secondary armament, is split apart, in a similar fashion to the main battery turrets. There is nice riveting details on the gun shields, but the gun barrels where damaged in transit. Thankfully there are replacement brass barrels included.
|The UP launchers on this sprue. Overall, these are really nice, with defined detail on the faces of the launches, though I do see one launcher that has some flash on it.
|3D PRINTED PARTS
|Unique to any mainstream injection molded kit I've ever seen, this one contains a print raft with 3D printed parts, to convert the original 1945 release to the 1941 version of Aurora. There is a new forward superstructure, a platform and deck behind said superstructure, boats, directors, director covers (these are especially well done), and piping for the funnels. These are some of the best 3D printed parts I've ever seen. I see no evidence of print lines, and all the parts look sharp.
|There two frets included - a large fret and a much, much smaller fret. The larger fret - which is marked as HMS Aurora 1941 - is up to Flyhawk's usual standards, and contains railings (including upswept rails for the bow) , inclined ladders, cable reels (one of the few weak spots on the injection molded parts), supports, the boat crane, funnel caps and other parts. Unfortunately, the PE was bent, as a result of the damage to the box. The smaller fret contains the radar antenna and a few smaller parts. This latter fret isn't showing on the instructions, so I'm assuming it's an errata fret of parts that were left off the larger fret.
|Turned brass barrels for both the main and secondary armament, and brass rod - in two diameters - for the masts are includes. There is also a tiny turned brass part (looks like a vent) that goes into the gun tub on top of X turret.
There is a small set of decals in the kit. Here you’ll find several different versions of the White Ensign.
The instructions the usual Flyhawk format, in color and on heavy glossy paper. There is a manifest of all the parts, six steps detailing the build, and color chart and a the painting and marking guide. This shows both plan and profile (both port and starboard) and an overhead view of Aurora, painted in Mountbatten Pink.
|Adding 3D printed parts into an injection
molded model kit is a very interesting way for manufacturers to make alternate
versions of previously released kits, without the expense of re-tooling.
It certainly has some interesting possibilities, and perhaps means that 3D
printing - until now mostly the purvue of aftermarket companies - is going to
come into mainstream use. The injection molded parts are mostly up
to Flyhawk's usual standards, though I did spot some flash and mold lines here
and there. The 3D printed parts are excellent, and offer modelers
the opportunity to make an earlier, an perhaps more interesting, version of
This is Flyhawk’s 1/700 HMS Aurora, kit number FH1157.
Overall, it's a great little model. The only downside to all of
these upgrades is the price. The cheapest I see it online is around $49.95
(not including shipping), from China, and as high as $98.95 (again, not
including shipping), from one of our sponsors. While this is a "bonus"
edition, with photo-etch, 3D printed parts and turned brass barrels, there is no
wood deck or deck masks included (these are available separately), and some
modelers might blanche at paying $100 for an injection molded light cruiser.