HMS Campbeltown

Published: April 22nd, 2011     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: Paul Helfrich - IPMS# 44577
Scale: 1/240
Company: Revell, Inc.
Price: $16.95
Product / Stock #: 85-3016
Product provided by: Revell, Inc.

HMS Campbeltown was originally the Wickes-class destroyer USS Buchanan, DD-131. She was commissioned in 1919 and transferred to the UK as part of the "Destroyers for Bases" deal between the US and Britain in 1940. In exchange for 50 aging "four-piper" destroyers like the Buchanan/Campbeltown (obsolete for fleet duties, but still useful as convoy escorts) for the Royal and Royal Canadian navies, the US got basing rights in the Caribbean and Newfoundland.

HMS Campbeltown is one of the most well-known of the traded ships, as she was famously expended as a floating bomb in the "Operation Chariot" raid by British commandos on the St. Nazaire docks in March of 1942. The purpose of the raid - and it succeeded - was to deny the use of the St. Nazaire dry dock to heavy German units such as the battleship Tirpitz.

Revell's 1/240 four-piper destroyer kit has been around since the 1960s and has been issued many times as the USS Ward, the USS Buchanan, and the HMS Campbeltown.

It's basically the same kit every time it comes out, except for the decals. However, even though the decal sheet for this reissue includes the White Ensign of the Royal Navy, the hull number included is still the 131 (in US-style lettering) that goes with USS Buchanan.

In my opinion, this is one of the best of the older ship kits. Unlike some Revell kits of similar vintage (the whole "Picture Fleet" line, for instance) it's accurate below the waterline, with shafts and screws as well as a rudder. And unlike many kits of the era, rather than heavy molded railings, it has stanchions that may be rigged with thread. Before there were photo-etched railings, this was about as good as it got! Overall, the relatively large scale (1/240) really works in the kit's favor. Other nice features include open scuttles and relatively good detail on the decks and bulkheads.

The kit's parts have plenty of the flash and molding marks associated with kits of this era, but cleanup isn't too bad.

Kit parts

With all the sprues in one bag, you do have to be careful about losing parts - I usually try to identify loose ones and put them into a baggie right away to prevent this.

I started my build by attaching the two hull halves.

Attaching the two hull halves

Deck pieces and stand

Next I assembled the two deck pieces and attached the kit-provided stand to a wooden display board. The stand doesn't look like much as is, but once painted it can be an attractive part of the finished model.

Before the Campbeltown was turned into WWII's version of the Trojan Horse, she did escort duty on the Western Approaches and wore an attractive camouflage scheme of white and light blue. I opted to go with this look for the model, a very different one from how she appeared in US service.

Priming and masking hull

Painting hull and deck

I primed the hull with black spray paint and masked the boot topping.

Next step was to spray the deck grayish blue and the hull (after spraying the part below the boot topping red) with its main color of white.

After masking the areas that would remain white I sprayed sky blue for the camouflage pattern, painting the two small charcoal-colored areas by hand.

Camouflage masking and painting

Painting various hull and small parts

Painting various hull and small parts

Next I moved on to the various hull structures and small parts, assembling, priming, and painting them as units.

Instruction sheet

The kit's instructions are very clear and cover each major subassembly one at a time.

One of the prominent features of the Campbeltown in Royal Navy service was a cut-down fourth funnel; that's a fairly easy modification to make using a razor saw.

The only part of the kit that is really unacceptable for use, in my opinion, is the searchlight tower. For some reason, the detail is molded on the inside of the parts, and the sides that face the outside world are flat and very unrealistic.

Searchlight tower

I replaced these parts with a structure I scratch built from brass rod and stretched sprue. It's not completely accurate, but it looks better than the kit parts. I also added splinter shields made from card stock to the bow and stern guns, to match how they appeared while in British service. I liked the covers on the ship's boats that are shown in the box art, so I fabricated those from paper towels.

Finished kit starboard side view

Finished kit port side view

Finished kit port side view, weathered and decal added

So here's the finished product:

The railings were rigged with thread; other rigging was done with stretched sprue. Weathering was done with pastels, and the kit's hull number was replaced with decals from my spares box to match how she appeared in British service.

One other comment: as noted, HMS Campbeltown's great claim to fame was her role in the St. Nazaire raid. However, she was heavily modified prior to that operation, specifically, altered to resemble a German torpedo boat so as to help her get as far into the harbor as possible without alerting the enemy. It would take a lot of scratch building to alter this kit in such a way as to yield a model of Campbeltown as she appeared in the raid.

Thanks to Revell and IPMS/USA for the review sample kit.

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