For a kit that dates from the 1980s, Tamiya’s HMS Prince of Wales is surprisingly nice. I backdated it to the ship’s May 1941 configuration at the Denmark Strait.
Tamiya’s King George V class battleships are an older tooling, but one that remains quite nice. Though the mouldings are less complex than many modern ship kits, they have a reasonable level of detail.
That is of course by the standards of the genre, which is sadly one where base kits tend to be disappointingly detailed and require significant amounts of aftermarket. I maintain that this is why it remains a less popular genre, but one only has to look at the price of modern toolings (before aftermarket purchases) to see that adding that detail is probably prohibitively expensive.
This Prince of Wales boxing features one of the Royal Navy’s least fortunate battleships as she appeared when sunk. Launched in 1939, bombed before completion, sent into action against Bismarck before she was fully ready for active service, and then sent to defend Singapore as part of the disastrous Force Z expedition, Prince of Wales had very little luck.
Having chosen to depict the ship as she appeared six months earlier, there was a certain amount of retrofitting required. Following the Denmark Strait action the terrible UP launchers were replaced and several extra anti-aircraft guns added, along with some different radars.
To depict the ship at this time I was going to need some aftermarket parts, as well as the typical purchase of railings. Remembering the experience I had last year with Kongo, I was wary of getting bogged down in nicely integrating aftermarket parts, and chose accordingly:
- I went with Eduard’s cranes and railings because those seemed to be the biggest single impact one could have on the model. This was a great decision: the set was limited to parts that were easy to integrate and which looked fantastic. Also this was by far the most user-friendly ship etch set I have ever seen, with half-depth notches for bending and enough strength to be easy to work with. The parts folded easily and beautifully.
- A MK1 wood deck was both lovely and disappointing. Lovely because it fits very nicely, sticks well, and looks pretty nice, and disappointing because it merges the King George V and Prince of Wales You see, the deck has cut-outs for the stern gun emplacements which are pre-cut. You want this, yes, but unfortunately the two ships have a slightly different configuration and both sets of holes are pre-cut. In other words, whichever ship you have, this will not look right.
- MK1’s Royal Navy Radars provided all the radar sets I needed to backdate the ship, in very nice (but also exceptionally fiddly!) detail.
- Master Model turned metal barrels for the main and secondary armament seemed obvious. They are a fair bit of work to install but do look very nice.
- By far the most impressive extras were the 3D printed anti-aircraft armaments. Micro Master’s UP Launchers from Shapeways were nice, but I was blown away by the Black Cat Pom-Poms. Not only did these have amazing detail, they are printed in such resolution that the layers are… well I won’t say invisible, but I had to hold them up to a strong light to see them. They are printed in a slightly soft plastic which also stops idiots like me from breaking a barrel off. I simply cannot recommend these enough.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with this kit. It looks great and reminded me that building ships can be fun. You just need to be careful not to bite off too much in the aftermarket choices. And wherever possible, I do suggest choosing 3D printed extras: personally, I think they justify a price premium.