Airfix 1/600 Scale HMS Hotspur
This kit was first released in 1964, and according to my research went out of production in 1983. It remains highly sought after due to the fact that the basic hull and superstructure can be used to make any of the British Standard Destroyers of the 1930’s. These 89 ships built to the same basic design include the first 2 prototypes, the 8 ½ flotillas of the A-I classes, the ex-Brazilian ‘H’ class and the ex-Turkish ‘I’ class. These ships made up the bulk of the RN and RCN destroyer strength in the early years of World War II. Their war records are magnificent, but losses were heavy, 54 being sunk or damaged beyond repair. This kit represents the as-built configuration of the ‘H’ class.
The kit consists of 72 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 at 316 ft, 7 ft shorter than its real length, not a significant difference.
Due to its age, this kit suffers in comparison with the latest state of the art. Not much in the way of molded in detail, no hatches or deck detail, the ship’s boats are crude, no superstructure details with the exception of a separate bridge front that has some portholes, and some smaller parts that are just blobs of plastic. There are some unfortunate mold ejection pin markings (those little round circles) present that will have to be filled, especially on the ship’s boats. The gun mounts are somewhat crude, but are passable. The masts are also too thick, a common problem with these older kits.
What detail is present though is nice and crisp, the hull is nicely shaped with good portholes, reasonable anchor chains, very nice torpedo tubes, torpedo loading davits, and TSDS davits (Twin-Speed Destroyer Sweep). My sample, one of the early releases, is molded in neutral grey and has nice crisp parts with very little flash. I have seen later kits that are not as sharp, most likely due to the molds becoming old.
Instructions are good, consisting of 2 pages of exploded diagrams showing where the parts go. The older kits have detailed step-by-step assembly instructions telling what the parts are, very helpful for identifying some of the more ill formed pieces. 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 raise eyebrows amongst those committed to accurate paint schemes! Decals consist of one small sheet with 3 hull numbers for HMS Hotspur.
This kit is hard to come by, although they appear regularly on eBay (look to pay around $15-20 US for a nice one). I don’t imagine Airfix will be re-releasing this one soon, as it pales in comparison with the newer destroyer kits.
Still, I really like and recommend this kit. It is simple to build, looks fairly sharp right out of the box, and it’s very evocative of those dark early days in World War II when these destroyers carried the fight to the enemy. The conversion possibilities are also enormous. Of course, the detailing possibilities are endless, but add some brass rail and replace the masts with brass rod, and you will have a very sharp model.
As far as conversions go, these ships fought all over the world and appeared in many different forms, from minelayer to long range ocean escort to fleet destroyer. There were a number of articles in Airfix magazine that detailed how to go about changing the basic kit. Try to find some of these, they are very helpful.
There are many detail differences between the 89 ships. The prototypes Amazon and Ambuscade were slightly different in funnel and bridge details. The ‘G’ class HMS Glowworm and all the ‘I’ class had quintuple torpedo tubes. Hero and Hereward, the ‘I’ class, and the ex-Brazilian and Turkish ships had a Tribal style bridge. Most of the leaders had an extra 4.7 inch mount between the funnels. The G, H and I’s had tripod mainmasts.
The kits’ basic hull dimensions are correct for either of the 2 prototypes, the ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘G’, ‘H’, ‘I’ classes, Brazilian ‘H’, Turkish ‘I’, RCN Saguenay and Skeena, and the B leader Keith.
Although the other ships can also be modeled fairly accurately
from the basic kit, here are the actual hull sizes of the differing ships.
The ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’, ‘F’ classes, C leader Assiniboine, and D leader Duncan
were all 329 ft. The G leader Grenville was 330 ft overall. The H and I
leaders Hardy and Inglefield were 337 ft long. The A, E, and F leaders
Codrington, Exmouth, and Faulknor were all 343 ft in length.
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