Matchbox 1/700
HMS Ariadne, Abdiel-Class Minelayer PK-61

Reviewed by Robert Paymer

Four Abdiel class minelayers were ordered in 1938. They are required to complete rapid mine-laying in enemy waters and to defend themselves against enemy aircraft with sufficient AA weaponry. They were only 40% in displacement as HMS Adventure, but with a higher speed up to 38 knots. Though their length and beam were similar to large destroyers such as Tribal Class, they were defined as “mine-laying cruisers”.

HMS Ariadne was one of two additional “war emergency” sisters of HMS Abdiel, sacrificing one main turret for a twin 20mm Oerlikon in “B” position and having other modifications in weapon and radar configuration. Commissioned in 1943, she saw mine-laying service off the coast of Norway and New Guinea, carried troops in the landing of Mapia Group of Islands and finally participated in the repatriation of British POWs from Japan. She saw few operations after the war, and was scrapped in 1965.

This is the only 1/700 plastic kit for this class. It represents HMS Ariadne after completion. With some modifications and add-ons, it is possible to build any member of the six. Though out of production of Matchbox for many years without re-issue by any manufacturer, it sometimes shows up on auction websites.

The box is about 8 inches in length, same size as PK 62-64, with mark of “purple series”. Fine boxart, probably depicting the battlefield of South Pacific Islands.


Everything is in typical Matchbox style. Four parts - deck, sides and waterline plate assemble the upper hull box. Anchors and closed portholes are molded onto the side parts, mine doors are also clearly represented in the stern. Despite the lack of planking, and some flashing amidships, the deck is admirably detailed and largely precise. The locations of main turrets and parts of superstructure are also OK. However, the hull is too narrow and the bow is obviously too sharp, compared to the line drawing:

Ladders, doors and portholes are not bad. Some slight clogging and shrinking in the parts of deckhouses. Masts do not look crisp, and the protruding platforms need replacement.

Two twin 4 inch, two twin 40mm Bofors Mk IV and six twin 20mm Oerlikon Mk V are provided. The 4 inch main turrets and barrels are usable but better with some modification. The Bofors parts barely represent the outline of stabilization and fire control device. The Oerlikons almost cannot be identified as guns. WEM’s resin and PE of RN 20mm twin Oerlikons or the identical plastic parts in Tamiya’s 1/700 KGV kit can be used here, but Bofors guns have to be scratch-built so far – the difference between Mk IV “Hazemeyer” and Mk I or US type is substantial. The shape and size of Type 285M radar is incorrect. Other radar sets are not provided. Derricks are easier replaced than modified. Boats, rafts, davits and paravanes are usable.


An RN flag is provided but not well-done. The ship name is in black texts. Of course, these do not matter as we have sufficient resources today.


As other Matchbox ships, very easy to follow.


Most parts are not bad except for some that are complex in their actual shapes, beyond the tech of Matchbox 30 years ago. However, the deficient parts play an important role in the appearance of the model, and the modifications are not easy for a beginner – nevertheless, building a Matchbox kit out of the box is pure fun. If you are bored with Bismarck, Iowa, Essex and Ticonderoga, this little 3-funneled, old-light-cruiser-like ship may be a novel taste, and with some skills you can make it a unique attract, especially for a fan of RN or one who had a childhood with Matchbox.