Airfix 1/600 Scale HMS Cossack
This kit was one of the first Airfix warship subjects, first released in 1959 and according to my research remaining in production until 1983. It represents the as-built configuration of the 2 flotillas of RN Tribals, with 8 4.7 inch guns and 2 masts. Tribals were also operated by the RCN and RAN, 4 of the RCN ones being built in Canada, and all of the Aussie ones being built in Australia. These ships were heavily used during the war and suffered accordingly, only 4 surviving from the original 16 RN ships. 1 RCN ship was also lost. They are easily among the most elegant and handsome warships ever built and are my personal favorite class of warship.
The kit consists of 41 parts, including the 2 stands. The hull comes in 2 pieces, with a single piece main deck. As with all Airfix warship releases, it comes as a full hull kit complete with propellers and rudder. It can be easily cut down to a waterline version, although it lacks the internal cut line that is found on the later Airfix releases, such as HMS Belfast and the German Narvik. It scales out accurately at 377 ft in length.
This kit is rather crude, mainly due to its age. Not much in the way of molded in detail, no hatches or deck detail, crude ship’s boats with no separate davits, no superstructure detail and Aztec steps at the back of the bridge. There are many mold ejection pin markings (those little round circles) present on the main deck that will have to be filled. The main gun mounts are poor and the torpedo tubes bear no resemblance to the real thing. There are no 0.5 inch mounts for the machine gun platform between the funnels; a small pin is molded there instead. The masts are also too thick, a common problem with these older kits. There is a rather clumsy attempt at a crow's nest on the foremast brace.
The hull has nice lines, but appears too wide forward of ‘A’ turret. In my view this makes the ship look rather portly instead of a sleek thoroughbred. The portholes are poorly executed, some protrude from the hull, and others are countersunk. They would be best drilled out and sanded smooth. My sample is one of the earlier releases, molded in neutral grey. Most of the parts are heavily flashed and will require some cleanup.
Instructions are good, consisting of 2 pages of exploded diagrams showing where the parts go. Inexplicably, they show placement of the searchlight and the mainmast incorrectly, putting the searchlight at deck level and the mainmast on the searchlight platform. The older kits have detailed step-by-step assembly instructions telling what the parts are. Experienced modelers would probably ignore the order of assembly, but for newcomers they are adequate. A profile and plan are supplied showing painting instructions, although the use of ‘Battleship Grey’ for the main hull colour would certainly never go over today! It does serve to remind of a simpler time though, when building the kit quickly was most important. Decals consist of one small sheet with 3 hull numbers for HMS Cossack and a funnel band in black.
The box art on the later releases of this kit is outstanding, easily Airfix’s best warship box. Showing HMS Cossack at speed lifting out of a deep swell, it really captures the essence of these warships. It would make a really nice print if it was available in a larger size (without the Airfix logo of course!).
This kit is hard to come by, although they appear regularly on eBay (look to pay around $15-20 US for a nice one). This one needs so much work bring up to standard that I doubt Airfix will ever re-release it. Still, this kit has possibilities, and I recommend it. It does represent the as built RN Tribals fairly well and one can’t deny its ease of assembly. It does make a good starting point and with some extra work will turn into a nice model. Some recommended additions would be: White Ensign’s 4 barreled pompom, some brass rail, replacement masts from brass rod, wire boat davits, and scratch-built torpedo tubes and 0.5 inch mounts. The main gun mounts require a lot of work though, but at least repositioning the gun barrels slightly lower on the mounts would improve the look.
There are many detail differences between these ships, especially the late war survivors and the RCN ships. Conversion possibilities are many, but most would require the replacement of ‘X’ turret with a 4 inch mount (available from White Ensign), cutting down the after funnel, removal of the mainmast, and for those truly ambitious, a lattice foremast.
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