1/700 HMS Hermes 1942

Reviewed September 2016
by Martin J Quinn

HMS Hermes has the distinction of being the world’s first ship designed, laid down and launched with the express purpose of being an aircraft carrier (though the Japanese Hosho was finished first).   Designed and laid down during World War I, Hermes wasn’t launched until September 1919 and wasn’t commissioned into service until 1924. The delays were due to a combination of changes to the design based on experience gained from HMS Argus and HMS Eagle, plus the fact that the shipyard where she was being built – Armstrong Whitworth – closed shortly after her launching. The ship was towed to the Royal Dockyard at Devonport, where she was completed. 

Hermes served in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean between the wars, though much of her time was spent in the Far East. 

During the early part of the Second World War, Hermes spent much time patrolling, especially in the South Atlantic, looking for German commerce raiders. Her greatest claim to fame – before being battered by Japanese dive bombers in 1942 – was an attack on the French battleship Richelieu, which was holed up in Dakar, in July 1941.  Returning to Freetown after the attack, she collided with the Armed Merchant Cruiser Corfu, crushing 30 feet of her bow.  Repairs lasted until November. 

Assigned to the Eastern Fleet in February, 1942, Hermes was was in Tricomalee preparing for the British invasion of Madagascar on April 8, 1942.   Along with HMAS Vampire, she sortied to avoid an incoming Japanese air raid, but was spotted by enemy scout planes.  Caught by Val dive bombers while trying to return to the harbor on April 9th, she was overwhelmed and sunk with heavy loss of life. 

For more on Hermes, visit her Wikipedia page here, which is where this abridged history was pulled from.  For more on her wreck, visit Diving HMS Hermes here.

The Flyhawk Hermes

Flyhawk’s 1/700 HMS Hermes comes in a white cardboard box with artwork showing Hermes under attack on the box top. The bottom of the box has the painting and marking information. One side of the box shows a couple future Flyhawk releases – Royal Navy destroyers HMS Legion and HMS Kelly.

Inside the box is a copy of the box art that is suitable for framing. The box is separated into two sections by a cardboard insert, with all the parts in plastic bags. The larger of the two sections has a bag containing the upper and lower hull, the hangar deck and waterline plate, as well as five large sprues, the flight deck, decals, the photo-etch set, waterline plate weight, and the kit instructions.

The smaller section has four bags. One bag contains four sprues of aircraft. Two small bags contain parts for the island while the remaining bag contains sprues with AA guns, search lights and signal lamps. 

Simply put, the upper hull is magnificent. There is hull plating that is prominent without being overstated. The portholes are well defined, with faint eyebrows over them. The anchor recesses – along with the other small openings in the hull – are all sharply molded. 

The hull scales out pretty much perfectly in both length and beam, and captures the pronounced flair at the bow nicely, as well as shape of the distinctive transom like stern. 

The lower hull has less detail than the upper hull, but is crisply molded. Some of the plating from the upper hull carries over to the lower hull along the joint between them. There are well defined bilge keels and even docking keels!

The hangar deck is a large piece that fits into the hull, with the three hangar sides molded integral to the deck (the fourth “side” is a large door at the stern and is a separate piece). The hangar bulkheads have detail in and out, as you can see the outward facing sides through the openings in the side of the hull. 

The waterline plate in my kit came damaged – the very tip of the bow was bent up at a 90 degree angle. The two small rubber bands that held the parts in this bag had come loose, allowing the contents to shift.

The flight deck is one piece. It has nice detail on both sides, and even includes the hump near the stern that Hermes was known for.  The arrestor wires are finely replicated, and the underside has lots of “ribbing” to replicate structural support.  Though once the ship is closed up, you won’t be able to see much of it. Unfortunately, the tip of the flight deck was broken completely off my sample. 

The parts for the island come in multiple bags. The largest part – the lower portion of the island – is exquisitely slide molded with sublime details. There are both recessed and covered portholes, piping, ladders, water tight doors and a pair of fantastically molded triangle shaped vents on either side of the island that have to be seen to be believed. 

The rest of the island parts are scattered over several different sprues.   
Here you’ll find the main legs of the tripod that supports the spotting top, plus some vents the go on the outside of the hangar deck.

This sprue has the funnel and part of the spotting top, platforms (with ready ammo boxes), directors, plus the uptakes for the inside of the funnel.   The detail – especially on the funnel – is very well done. One thing that does surprise me is the molded on windows in the spotting top.  Why not photo-etch? 

Another part of the spotting top and the open bridge that fits onto the large portion of the island. Again, detail here is first rate. 

 More parts for the spotting top and two piece AA guns, all very sharply molded. 

Parts of the flight deck support and a gun or director tub are found here. 

On this sprue are the gun shields for the 5.5 inch guns. All I can say is – WOW.   I really was impressed by these. 

This "sprue" is a part unto itself, it’s part of the underside of the aft part of the flight deck.

This is the port and starboard platforms on either side of the hangar deck, the aft hangar door and the two lifts.    Great details all the way around – the hangar door is finely detailed, the lifts have ribbing on the underside (as if anyone will see this) and the platforms have very finely done splinter shields – some of the best I’ve seen in this scale. 

Here we have more platforms, bulkheads, props, struts and shafts, the rudder and some winches. Detail here is up to the same level as the rest of the kit.

This sprue contains what look like more parts to the spotting top, lots of bulkheads, some platforms and directors. 

On this sprue is a plastic version of the crane that is really well done, plus masts, yards, booms, and a plastic version of the palisades for the deck, if you aren’t inclined to use the PE part.   The quality of the injection molded crane really stands out. 

The 5.5 inch guns, booms, anchors, a punt, some pipes and vents.  All excellently molded. 

The first of several  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.

The ships boats. Great details on the boats!

The life rafts. Some of the best detailed life rafts I’ve ever seen, with lots of molded on detail, including what looks like straps to hold them in place. 

This sprue has 20mm guns, sans shields. Very finely done.

There are four of these, each with 2 Swordfish aircraft, for a total of eight aircraft.  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. 

A small, but nice PE set with relief etching is included. There are parts for the rigging on the swordfish, along with props, wing struts (for the folded wing versions), and tiny AA guns. 

You’ll also find a crane, funnel details (handrails and funnel cap), various bracing, netting, pre-cut railings – some with etched on canvas “dodgers” – ladders and 20mm gun shields, plus a long oval track that goes on the hangar overhead, though I’m not sure anyone will ever be able to see that. But that is the level of detail included in this kit. 

There is a small set of decals in the kit. Here you’ll find the flight deck markings, aircraft markings, plus flags. There are two different options for the swordfish – different roundels and fin flashes. 

The instructions are on one 21 inch by 7 inch, two-sided piece of heavy paper. There are six steps for Hermes and one for the A/C. They feature exploded view drawings with colored highlights, that are logical and look easy for follow. 

As mentioned earlier, the painting and marking guide is on the bottom of the box. This shows both plan and profile (both port and starboard) of Hermes, and plan and profile of the swordfish. 

Over the last 5+ years, some amazingly detailed and sharply molded injection molded kits have been released: Dragon’s Scharnhorst, Tamiya’s Tone, Hasegawa’s Yahagi, Flyhawk’s SMS Lutzow and HMS Naiad, among others. 

Hermes leaves all of them in the dust. As of this writing (September 2016), I can say without reservation that I, personally, have never seen a finer injection molded kit - in the box – than Flyhawk’s HMS Hermes. The level and finesse of the details is amazing. The only thing you may want to replace is the molded masts and yards (and maybe the spotting top windows), but then only if you are going to rig your model. While I have not tried to put any of the kit together, the engineering looks to be well thought out. 

On top of all that, the fact that we have such an esoteric subject such as Hermes as a mainstream injection molded release make this kit even more remarkable (raise your hand if you ever thought you’d see this kit released? Yeah, neither did I). The only negative thing I has to comment on is the packaging and the resulting damage to the waterline plate and the flight deck. Otherwise, Flyhawk’s Hermes is a gem, a scale modeling gift brought down to us from the Mount Olympus of Injected Molding by the messenger to the Gods himself. Ok, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but I had to get the whole Hermes/Greek Mythology thing in here somehow….

This is Flyhawk’s 1/700 HMS Hermes, kit number FH1122. The kit retails for $47.95 – not only an excellent kit, but a tremendous value for the quality of the molds and for what is in the box. Highly Recommended!! 

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.  Which I’m tempted to do forthwith.