HMS Penelope - JSC, scale 1:400, £11.95

(Also available HMS Penelope laser-cut parts £5.95, HMS Penelope metal gun barrels £4.95)


Laid down in May 1934, HMS Penelope was the third of the four 5,000-ton Arethusa-class cruisers. Mounting three twin 6" gun turrets, she had a top speed of over 32 knots. Serving in the Mediterranean when war broke out, she ran aground in the Norwegian campaign and returned to service in July 1941. In October 1941 she joined Force K at Malta and, after sustaining further damage from mines and bombs, she was sent to New York Navy Yard for repairs in April 1942. She was back in the Mediterranean in early 1943, joining Force Q at Bone. During that year, she took part in the bombardment of the Italian islands of Pantellaria and Lampedusa in June, the Sicily landings in August and the Salerno landings in September. After spells in the Aegean and the Bay of Biscay, she supported the landings at Anzio in January 1944 and, while returning to Naples on 18th. February, she was torpedoed and sunk by U-410. She was the last British cruiser lost in WW2. Nicknamed "HMS Pepperpot" because of the considerable shrapnel damage she sustained, HMS Penelope is thought to have been the inspiration for C.S. Forester's novel, "The Ship".

The Model.

The building of the model follows the conventional pattern adopted by JSC. An inner hull is first constructed of white card on which are glued the decking and sides. I found the curvature of the hull sides and cruiser stern quite tricky. Through my own fault, the hull itself ended with a pronounced bow which I cured by mounting on a piece of board. As the ship did not have a flush deck, platforms must be built for the funnels, which are then put in place. After mounting the aircraft catapult amidships, I next constructed the forward superstructure. The main gun turrets were straightforward and the kit included a simple mechanism to allow the turrets to rotate. At this scale, templates were provided for the guns and I used some styrene rod for these. The 4-inch secondary armament is then constructed and located aft of the second funnel. Torpedo tubes, searchlights, reels and range finders are glued in position. I was especially interested in the ammunition lockers, several of which were located around each 4-inch turret, to allow delivery of ammunition at every position. Several motorboats and pinnaces are provided and the card model is finished off with gangways and anchors. Templates are then provided for constructing the masts for which, again, I used styrene rod.
In keeping with their frequent practice, JSC has included in the kit a model of another ship, the River-class frigate HMS Spey, which had a very active war after which she was transferred to Egypt, where she was still extant in 1995. In addition, on the back cover are models of a Short Sunderland and two Supermarine Walrus flying boats to the same scale. Overall, the computer-produced kit makes up into several attractive models of subjects which were heavily engaged during WW2 and should provide ample diversion during the darkening autumn evenings.

Christopher Cooke


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