H.M.S. Hood Today - Scale Models & Miniatures of Hood
Comparison of Iron Shipwright and White Ensign Models 1/350 Scale Models of H.M.S. Hood
by Evert-Jan Foeth
Updated 07-May-2014

This particular subject ("White Ensign Models versus Iron Shipwright") has always been a heated point of contention. Put simply, different people have different views on the subject. We have found that you can never satisfy everyone. We here at "Battle Cruiser Hood" are neutral and are not influenced by either "side". We could care less about any bickering or fighting that has taken place between the various producers of models. As the website of Hood's crew (the ACTUAL people who lived and served in the ACTUAL ship), it is our responsibility to make sure we let the public know what is accurate and what is not, regardless of who is releasing it or where they are from. Frankly, we see problems with BOTH kits. Neither one is perfect. On the other hand, neither is absolutely dreadful either. Don't take our word for it though. Instead, read this article, written by Evert-Jan Foeth, a man who has owned or at least closely examined both kits. We thank him for contributing this article.

You can read other well-written reviews of these kits by following the links listed at the very end of this article. You can also find photos of this particular kit at the end of the article. These kits are no longer in production. Examples may still be found in the hands of collectors or on auction websites. The prices will be very high...for what you would pay for just one of these, you could get the Trumpeter 1/350 Hood, sets of photoetch from the major manufacturers, paint and glue, and still have enough left over for a basic display case!

Chainbar divider

For those of us who prefer 1/350 models, it is better not only to have a large shelf, but a stocked wallet as well. There are only a handful of 1/350 injection moulded kits, and if you are not planning to build all five King George Vs,or all the Iowa’s in all their 4 distinct versions, you will quickly run out of available models and will need to resort to either resin or scratchbuilding. Even if you prefer scratchbuilding, you simply do not always have the time or resources to build a famous warship, so subcontracting can be very tempting. For me, the resin kit feels like letting someone else do my basic scratching and research, thus my demands are high.

One of the ships that everyone should have built at least once, in any scale, is the British battlecruiser H.M.S. Hood, one of the most elegant warships ever to sail the oceans. That Tamiya choose to do the King George V’s and not Hood, has always been beyond me, but now, one can buy this ship in resin. Lately, a lot of resin kits have been released by the cottage industry, and the Hood has been two of them: the White Ensign Models (WEM) version and the Iron Shipwright (IS) kit.

Of course, these kits are not cheap, and we're not talking about choosing between an Academy and a Tamiya version- both will cost you a healthy paycheque, or if you are a student like me, your life savings!. So I expect a model that proves its worth, and is a little more than a resin substitute for a basic injection kit. Also, resin kits are not for beginners, and require a lot from the modeller, and skills for working with resins and etched brass are the minimum. These kits are generally expensive, and are not aimed at the average enthusiast. If you just like building a model on a rainy Sunday afternoon, giving it a quick layer of grey paint, these models are not for you.

The IS model costs $510 for a full hull kit (if directly ordered), and the WEM model @$540 for the waterline version, and @$645 for the full hull version. Both companies offer excellent service, and will post the model free of charge around the world. IS first announced their kit a few years ago, but remained on the long-term schedule, and WEM released a kit of their own in June 1997. Shortly after, WEM released an update set for the model, which is now included at no extra expense (initially it was sold at cost price to owners of the first version). Several months later, IS did indeed bring their own version on the market.

I will compare the different aspects of the kits, and close with a small table summarising this review.

[Editor's Note: Both kits have since been discontinued]

The Manual: Iron Shipwright
The IS manual is a set of photocopies of a set of quick 2D drawings, indicating roughly were your parts should be placed. The modeller must do the numbering of the resin parts by comparing the silhouettes to a part list, which is not complete. Several parts are not listed, and IS choose to both use numbers and letters to identify different parts and some parts are listed as both, leading to confusion. Some of the double numbered parts also get different names, so you quickly feel like some parts have been left out. Other parts like mast parts and crane booms resemble each other greatly, and matching the right parts with the correct silhouettes proves to be near impossible. If IS would add a small marker or number on the resin carrier, or a few photographs in the manual, the identification of the parts would be a lot easier.. The list also fails to mention how many copies you need for each part, so you need to study the manual a lot closer than usual and start counting range finders, anti aircraft guns etc. The manual also fails to point out what piece of the part is carrier, and what is not. This sounds trivial, but IS uses a lot of rods on top of the masters to prevent the formation of trapped air bubbles, which probably everybody with modelling experience will notice, but pointing them out would have added to the kits value.

The placement of the etched parts follows the same line; you need to match silhouettes. Once you start picking the rudders for the launches, you might feel like choosing parts on luck. A small number on the etching, or a copy of the fret in the manual with an explanation could have saved some difficulty here. Some guidance has been added with a small letter on the fret, indicating a series of parts for deck ‘E’, for example. Thus the railing parts needed per floor are pointed out, but which of the pre-shaped railings go where is up to the modeller A few extra drawings, 3D perhaps, could again have made a lot of difference. Of course, not mentioning PE part numbers is done by many other companies, but they usually have better drawings to clarify matters.

The manual does not point out any colours, not even a mentioning of grey upper works, so again, you're on your own here. This is a great miss, as most questions on the shipping newsgroups tend to be on colours. [Editor's Note: At the end of this review there is a link to the ONLY accurate Hood colour reference available]

The Manual: White Ensign Models
The manual of WEM is a far different thing altogether; It starts with a short introduction on H.M.S. Hood and a page how to handle resin kits, with small tips and safety suggestions. Resin and PE (Photo Etched) parts are distinguished by a circle around the resin part number. The original kit had the PE parts numbered 1-63 and the resin parts 64 and above, but the PE update set counts from 64 to 81, so there is a small overlap in numbers, but even then, you have to be pretty dazed by glue vapours to confuse them, as the manual is equipped with many ‘exploded view’ drawings giving you a clear picture of the parts and their relative position. The rest of the manual is generously provided with explanatory text, even pointing out uncertainties of WEM with certain items (e.g.: Were there, or were there not 2 floats on either side of the bridge during the Bismarck action? Fear not, the parts are in the kit, should you decide if such was the case.), here and there enriched with dry British humour. There are also a few top views of the decks, showing you the position of the different vents, launches, etc. You will also get a coloured colour reference, with a suggested Humbrol number (which is unfortunate if you don’t have a conversion chart or Humbrol paints). There is a small addendum manual for the update set, which has not been integrated in the original manual. The addendum is as clear as the original manual, so that should not pose a problem, though you have to keep in mind that certain older parts are now replaced. I can only find one point of comment and that is that no general placement of ladders and stairs is pointed out, except the bridge, quarterdeck- and boarding ladders, so you need to do some searching on the drawings, but they are included for those willing to go the extra mile. The manual is more than you could ask for, and provides you with all the necessary information in a clear and simple way.

The Iron Shipwright Parts
IS chose to implement more parts in resin than WEM, like doors, the degaussing cable etc. Some of these parts were glued as PE part on the IS masters, and some are slightly heavier executed in styrene. Gluing doors is noone's favourite part, I guess, but you need to do it anyway on either kit, as some doors are glued at an angle exceeding that of acceptable error. Also, the WEM doors are RN style, and IS chose the doors from the Gold Medal Models USN set, although this is a minor issue.

A lot of IS parts show remnant glue spots, coming from masters which were improperly cleaned before making the moulds. Of course, most of these spots can be removed, but you will lose rivets on the turret tops. This will give you the opportunity to replace the erroneous range finder, which does not resemble the real thing by a long shot. Many of the IS parts will have a rough surface needing some cleaning here and there, which should not be the modeller's, but rather, the producer's task. The barrels of the guns are cast in white metal, needing some cleaning here and there. The turrets themselves, as mentioned above are very rough, and not really a good copy of the original. As a result, the turrets are rather crude parts, requiring a lot of work, if not replacement.

The IS parts are cast rather quickly and the result is a lot of trapped air bubbles, which need to be filled. Some of the small AAA parts in the kit I inspected were missing barrels, and those are not all to easy to replace yourself, but IS will replace any part you feel is eligible for replacement, without questions. The 2-pounder are the best parts of the kit, rich in detail. If IS would issue some small detail kits, these parts would contribute greatly to other British warships kits. Unfortunately, not all small parts are that nice, like the small deck winches which are a square base with two small rods at a 90-degree angle. With a punch and die set, you can do a lot better that, and considering the craftsmanship of certain IS parts, so can IS. Many of the hatches are a simple styrene square. If I were IS, I would have made a small PE set for the masters, and cast them in resin with the rest of the kit. The detailing of the resin parts is thus only medium.

The IS hull is cast as one part, and did not show signs of warping. A carrier runs along the keel and can be easily removed. The side of the hull again shows some spots, and most of the portholes were filled with air bubbles, so you need to do some sanding and drilling. The deck itself is made from the Evergreen V-grooved styrene, so you have good-looking deck. The IS hull part has a set of large gaps between the decks and the bulkheads of the superstructure, and they require some filling, in an area that leaves little room for error, as you can easily clog the deck lines or the detail. The anchor arrangement is not really corresponding to my drawings, and needs reconfiguring if you like, although that would be a larger operation.

The bridge parts of the IS kit look a bit more crisp, and some of the decks follow the drawings a little better than the WEM parts. However, the rest does not, and shows some deviation. The IS platform above the main superstructure, for example, is very basic, and misses the yardarms. The height of this platform is also rather dubious from the manual, only giving you a sketch, (copied on a Xerox machine) with no stated dimensions. You need to do some correcting here. The spotting top is correct, in contrast to the part of WEM. Also, IS has provided you with all the openings for the ladders in the bridge structure, while the WEM kit misses some of these inside the bridge structure.

The IS shelter deck part in particular is not very good, and shows a very sloppy repair work of some damaged planks in the master, with re-etched lines clearly not parallel, and it most certainly needs retooling. The largest inaccuracy is the large gap between the wooden and steel decks. The same style of gaps can be found near the ventilators next to the funnel bases. The funnels themselves also leave a few things to be desired, as they are slightly oval, and the horizontal lines are overscale, and also not horizontal.

I would build the turrets, shelter deck and funnels myself from scratch. With these deficiencies, it’s hard not to notice getting 4 starboard props, and no port side equivalents (this could be an error by the packaging department, but alas, the manual and part list do not discern between the two types of props). Though many of the bulkheads are cast a little thinner than the WEM parts, the overall accuracy of the resin parts is of medium quality.

The White Ensign Models Parts
If one starts looking for inaccuracies, you have to resort to nitpicking, and the kit requires surprisingly few corrections. Only the spotting top and a few bridge areas are surpassed in correctness by IS. For correction, one can drill out the view ports in the turrets and passages in the breakwaters, close the torpedo lookout areas and view slits on either side of the fore bridge (closed according to most resources), add a few support ribs on the admirals signal deck and some signal flag lockers, and you’re home. All these features are correct on the IS kit, by the way.

The casting itself has been done beautifully and requires virtually no cleaning up. The hull itself is maintenance free, as the two halves already have been attached and I could not have done a better job. Turrets, decks, funnels, they all have a small block of resin from the casting process, only 10 by 5 mm (That's 0.4x0.2 ") and should pose no problem even for those inexperienced with resin. A big compliment for the casting! Nearly no flash or warping at all, and I can only find a handful of trapped bubbles.

Only one part is very ambitiously cast, and that is the bridge. WEM managed to cast a hollow deck (How, I can't tell)(I'm complimenting here!) but my part showed some warping, so I asked for an unwarped version. The front of this hollowed floor is also open, making to part even more difficult to cast, but unfortunately for WEM, these should be closed! WEM choose to cast the bridge deck already fixed onto the hull, so the large openings on the aft/rear of the forward superstructure, though nearly invisible in the finished model, is absent, but is present on the IS kit.

The update set has included new turrets for the main armament, and they are near perfection. The detail on the other parts is also high, for example, the UP (Unrotated Projectile) launchers nicely show all the barrels, hollowed out a bit, just as the main gun barrels. The tripod bridge construction is completely resin, so you do not need to use rod, if you choose not to. You do need to carve a few stair openings which WEM forgot inside the bridge structure, but considering the quality of the kit, this is a minor issue. The overall quality of the parts is very high.

The Photoetch
IS offers one large etched sheet, and WEM four, with the latter carefully packaged in envelopes between cardboard sheets, and the former at the side of the box, with no other protection than some plastic wrap, and was slightly bent on arrival. The IS etching is well designed, and clearly etched. It is however not relief etched, and the WEM (relief) etchings do show more detail as a result. The stairs are the 3D design for all the IS’ parts (nice), and only 3D for the larger WEM stairs. The number of IS etched parts remains relatively low, but IS provides you with railing etched to size for the bridge parts, adding a nice feature to the kit.

A lot of WEM PE consists of extra boat detail (and is very good), the degaussing cable and doors, already present on the IS kit in resin, so the result is that these details are much finer on the WEM kit. Also, the WEM kit has many extra parts, as radars, small equipment, extra hatches, etc. that are absent from the IS etching, resulting in a much higher level of detail.

Conclusions
The Iron Shipwright kit is a kit with a lot of variation in quality. Some parts are very good, but the quality of the others leaves a lot to be desired, and has given me a mixed feeling of the kit. The hull, for instance, is a part executed with skill, but then, the shelter deck shows a lot of defects. The small launches and 4" guns are very good, but the funnels and main turrets are not. The etching is of good quality and well-designed (though not relief etched), but the detail parts are not so abundant as in the WEM kit, so the kit does not offer much enhancement of the resin parts. If I were to build this kit, I would replace the deficient parts with scratchbuild components. However, this results in a lot of parts needing replacement, and consequently, I think paying over $500 for a kit that needs a lot of work is too much. The IS kit is not bad kit, but not a single aspect will leave you ‘stunned’ as you open the box, and you need to do a lot of cleaning, filling, sanding, etceteras, and when drawings or a good manual are also missing, the result is a resin kit of medium quality. One could most certainly see it as a diamond in the rough, but then one should not pay for the diamond, as if it were cleaned.

[Editor's Note: Iron Shipwright have asked that we at least note that their Hood was an early master...one of their first attempts at such a project. By most accounts, they have improved remarkably since then and their products are regarded very highly.]

I feel that the WEM kit is clearly superior. The casting might be slightly thicker here and there, but the overall kit has much more to offer. WEM has done its research far better and most of it is in order with the plans and the Roberts anatomy book. The casting is executed with great skill, hardly showing flash, and most carriers are either very small, or non-existent. The four well-designed relief etched sheets provide you with many detail parts, and the manual is excellent. White Ensign Models scores big on all fronts, and their Hood should be a very pleasant built, once you stepped over the pricecard, but you get a lot in return. This is definitely one of the best kits on the market.

Summary
Legend: ++ Excellent / + Good, this is something to expect from a quality kit / +/- Fair, minor issue, could have been fixed easily / - Poor, should not pose a real problem / -- Bad, large problem, requires a lot of work from the modeller

Construction Manual- The WEM manual is near perfection, the IS manual is minimalistic.

Photoetch design and quality- The IS etching is well designed and etched, though the WEM etchings are better, and you get many more parts.

Resin Parts Quality- The IS parts are often of medium quality, and require lot of work, while WEM's parts are impressively clean.

Accuracy- The IS kit is reasonably accurate according to my references, but the WEM more closely resembles the original.

Final Verdict

WEM: ++ Superb Kit    IS: /- Not a bad kit, but needs a lot of work, and is too low on details for a multi-media kit at this price level


Assorted Photographs

Photos of the Iron Shipwright Kit

Rusty Whites 1/350 Iron Shipwrights HMS Hood     Rusty Whites 1/350 Iron Shipwrights HMS Hood     Rusty Whites 1/350 Iron Shipwrights HMS Hood     Rusty Whites 1/350 Iron Shipwrights HMS Hood     Rusty Whites 1/350 Iron Shipwrights HMS Hood

These are photos (click to enlarge) of Rusty White's 1/350 scale Iron Shipwright Hood.
As you can see, this kit, in the hands of an expert such as Rusty, builds into an impressive representation of our ship.

Photos of the White Ensign Models Kit

Ian Beatties 1/350 White Ensign Models HMS Hood     Ian Beatties 1/350 White Ensign Models HMS Hood     Ian Beatties 1/350 White Ensign Models HMS Hood     Ian Beatties 1/350 White Ensign Models HMS Hood     Ian Beatties 1/350 White Ensign Models HMS Hood
These are photos (click to enlarge) of Ian Beattie's 1/350 scale White Ensign Models Hood.
This excellent dockside diorama of Hood was built for him by Ian Ruscoe and was featured in Tamiya Model Magazine, Issue #69, 1998.


Links

Alternative Reviews/Additional Resources