1/700 HMS Formidable 1941

Reviewed January 2023
by Martin J Quinn

HMS Formidable was an Illustrious-class aircraft carrier ordered for the Royal Navy before the Second World War. After being completed in late 1940, she was briefly assigned to the Home Fleet before being transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet as a replacement for her crippled sister ship Illustrious. Formidable's aircraft played a key role in the Battle of Cape Matapan in early 1941, and they subsequently provided cover for Allied ships and attacked Axis forces until their carrier was badly damaged by German dive bombers in May.

Assigned to the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean in early 1942, Formidable covered the invasion of Diego Suarez in Vichy Madagascar in mid-1942 against the possibility of a sortie by the Japanese into the Indian Ocean. Formidable returned home for a brief refit before participating in Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa in November. She remained in the Mediterranean and covered the invasions of Sicily and mainland Italy in 1943 before beginning a lengthy refit.

Formidable made several attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz in Norway in mid-1944 as part of the Home Fleet. She was subsequently assigned to the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) in 1945 where she played a supporting role during the Battle of Okinawa and later attacked targets in the Japanese Home Islands. The ship was used to repatriate liberated Allied prisoners of war and soldiers after the Japanese surrender and then ferried British personnel across the globe through 1946. She was placed in reserve the following year and sold for scrap in 1953. 

For more on Formidable, visit her Wikipedia page here, which is where this history was taken (word for word) from.  There is also a site called Armored Aircraft Carriers in World War II, which has lots of great information and pictures. 

The Flyhawk Formidable

Flyhawk’s 1/700 HMS Formidable comes in a dark colored cardboard box with artwork showing Formidable launching aircraft on the box top.  The kit is supposed to represent the Formidable in 1941, when she saw action in the Med. 

Inside the box is a copy of the box art that is suitable for framing. The parts are all sectioned off in various clear plastic bags, with the hull and deck parts wrapped in a thin white plastic paper.  Also included are the decals, the photo-etch set, waterline plate weight, and the kit instructions.

SPRUE A - Flight Deck
The first sprue up is the flight deck, which has nice molded on details.  The arrestor cables look reasonable for being molded on.  There are well defined ready ammo boxes and splinter shields.  There is a "dimple" in the middle of the flight deck which doesn't look like it belongs there and will need to be cleaned up, as well as another similar nub in the recess for the palisade.   There has been some talk on the Modelwarship forums that the shape of the catapult was wrong, especially from those who first received their kits.  My sample appears to have the correct shape, though those "in the know" say that the front edge of the catapult should fair into the deck less abruptly. 

Interestingly, the way Flyhawk has chosen to mold the flight deck, it includes bulkheads that will fair into the ships hull.  It will be interesting to see how the fit is, once construction commences.

SPRUE D - Hull
Overall, beautifully detailed.  The strakes on the hull are subtle and not overdone.  Referring to my comment above about the way they molded the flight deck, the engineering of the hull is such that I first thought my hull was short shot.  It's not, it's just the way Flyhawk has decided to engineer things.  Again, let's see how the fit is during construction.  The portholes on the hull all have tiny eyebrows over them, and their are chocks molded into the openings in the sides of the hull, as well as a prominent armor belt. 

SPRUE E - Hangar Deck
The hanger deck fits inside the hull and includes elevator pits and planking on the quarterdeck, which will be visible through the openings in the sides of the hull.  There are bollards and other details molded into this deck as well. 

SPRUE F - Hangar/Fo'c'sle 
This part sits inside of the hull and on top of the aforementioned hangar deck.  The fo'c'sle has nice planking and anchor handling equipment.  The anchor chains are molded on, and look pretty good for plastic, especially since they'll be mostly hidden inside the hull.  There is raised detail on the inside of the elevator wells and the outside of the hangar bulkheads, which will exposed through the openings in the hull.  There's some nicely done vents along the outside of the hangar bulkhead, which feature a fine mesh-like pattern.  On the other hand, there are a few knock out pins on this part, but most shouldn't be visible once this part is installed. 

SPRUE G - Waterline Plate
It's a waterline plate.

SPRUE H - Lower Hull
This part has a sharp prow, bilge keels and a prominent armor belt, which matches that on the upper hull.  There are some raise mold line which will need to be removed if you are building your model full hull, especially near the stern. 

 This sprue contains decks that run along each side of the hull, where the majority of the ships boats are nested.  The boat davits are molded into the decks.  There are also two AA platforms - also for the sides of the hull - along with some director covers.  These latter parts have some nice detail on the covers, which are made to look like stretched canvas. 

This is the largest sprue in the kit.  On it, you'll find elevators - which have molded on details on the bottom (which you will never see) - props, prop shafts, rudder, platforms the decks that support the 4.5 inch DP guns, as well as a funnel cap.  The latter is pretty nicely done for an injection molded part. 

This part is the island structure.  Very good details overall - portholes with eyebrows, subtle bridge windows, molded on vertical ladders and watertight doors.  There is a little bit of flash present. 

This small sprue has the funnel and parts for the tripod mast.  Nice details, especially on the funnel.  The vertical ladder on the sides of the structure on the mast is nice for injection molding.  My only concern is the size of the attachment points from the sprue to the funnel could cause some damage to that part if you aren't careful.

There is another platform for the island and some gun directors on this sprue.  The details look good, but removing the directors from the sprue is going to be a challenge. 

Along with the plastic cranes - which are quite good for injection molded - there are masts, winches, anchors and various other small parts.  The masts also look nice for plastic parts. 

This sprue has AA guns, more anchors, cable reels, radio masts and bridge equipment.  The cable reels are quite nice, but there is some flash present, especially on the radio masts. 

On this small sprue is a platform for island, another flight deck elevator and mast. 

Lots of ships boats on this sprue, with nice details, especially the planking.  Again, though, there is some flash to be found. 

 This has searchlights and signal lamps. Tiny and really nicely molded.

Here you'll find paravanes and winches. 

Here we have what looks like bridge equipment and a director for the island. 

This sprue has more ships boats.  The interiors of these boats are quite nice. 

There 2 Swordfish aircraft on this sprue.  Each Swordfish is a little kit unto itself, with multiple parts: open or folded upper and lower wings, separate tail planes, 2 part landing gear (for port and starboard), a separate part for the front of the plane for the “engine”, with detail that gives a hint of engine cylinders, and even a separate torpedo! Some of the ribbing and panel lines may look exaggerated in the photos, but will most likely look fine once painted.  Separate PE bracing is included on one of the PE frets in the kit. 

Formidable's fighter aircraft - Fairey Fulmars - are here.  There are 3 aircraft on each sprue, with the option for open of folded wings, like the Swordfish.  I think these are even nicer than the Swordfish, the panel lines don't seem as exaggerated. 

This is a small sprue of weapons that go on the fo'c'sle.  They look like saluting guns. 

The eight-barreled pom-pom guns are on these sprue.  Detail is good, though there is some flash present, especially on the muzzles of the gun barrels. 

There are searchlights on the sprue.

These pair of sprues have the 4.5 inch Mk1 dual purpose weapons. 

You'll find rafts, with nice details, on these sprues.

The all-Fairey air group is rounded out by two sprues containing the Albacores.  Similar to the other aircraft, there are options for open or folding wings.  Detail is similar to the Swordfish, with panel lines that may be a bit over-stated, though I like the "fabric" on the wings.  There are 3 aircraft per sprue, for a total of six. 

There are two decals sheets included.  A large sheet, that has decals for the flight deck, different types of white ensigns and union jacks, as well as decals for the aircraft.  There is also a smaller set of additional rudder flash fins for the Fulmars and Albacores. There is no mention in the instructions as to why the second, smaller set is included, nor do they look much different from the ones on the larger sheet. 

As this is the "deluxe" version, it comes with four frets of PE.  Two seem to come with the basic version, and two are from the deluxe set.   What appears to be the basic set includes props for the aircraft, bracing for the bi-planes, radar antennas for the gun directors, as well as crash barriers and the palisades for the flight deck. The advanced set - two frets - contains two types of railings (with and without the waterway), radio masts and cranes to replace the plastic parts in the kit, platforms with railings, cable reels, radar aerials, straps for the rafts, gun sights for the pom-poms, hatches and more very, very small parts.  All of it looks up to Flyhawk's usual standards.

Turned brass parts include masts, yardarms, gun barrels for the 4.5in DP guns and more. 

The instructions are in the usual Flyhawk style, printed on both sides of long pieces of paper that are almost a long as a receipt from CVS.  Paint instructions include callouts for paints from multiple manufacturers, including Sovereign Hobbies Colourcoats.  The instructions look relatively straightforward, though I have to confess that I've never actually built one of these Flyhawk kits, so I can't say for sure. 

The instructions are similar to the regular kit instructions, albeit on smaller pieces of paper.  Pay close attention, there are many many very small parts to be added to the ship, and, in some cases, corresponding plastic parts to replace, so you may want to review both sets of instructions before jumping into your build. 

Following up on their earlier release of their circa 1940 Illustrious, Flyhawk now brings us her sister Formidable, as she appeared in 1941.  I don't know enough about this class of ships, nor does my home library have much information on them, to comment on the accuracy.  Others more knowledgeable than I seem to think that Flyhawk captured the differences (flight deck, island platforms) between the sisters. 

Overall, this is a nice kit, with lots of great details.  It's definitely a better kit, with crisper details,  than the re-tooled Aoshima versions of this class.  However, it just doesn't seem to be quite as nice as some other Flyhawk kits I've reviews.  I was somewhat surprised, and disappointed, at the number of ejector-pin marks and the amount of flash I found.  That being said, I think most modelers will be satisfied with the kit, especially fans of the Royal Navy, or those with an interest in the war in the Mediterranean during the Second World War.  Recommended.

With this release, the British battle line at Matapan is now available in injection molded plastic.  Who's going to be the first to do a diorama of Formidable, in-line behind Warspite and Valiant, with Barham astern of her? 

This is Flyhawk’s 1/700 HMS Formidable, kit number FH1152S.  I've yet to find an actual retail price, and prices for the deluxe version vary wildly online, but she is available from many of our fine sponsors. 

Thanks to Flyhawk for the review sample. This is an in box review.  I can't vouch for the total accuracy, and your mileage may vary once you start assembly.