by: Todd Michalak [ ]
The HMS Zulu (F18) was a Tribal-class destroyer of the British Royal Navy. The ship was commissioned in September of 1938 for use in the 2nd Tribal Flotilla, Mediterranean Fleet.
The 344 ft long HMS Zulu had a displacement of 1900 tons with a top speed around 36 kn (41mph) and serviced by a compliment of 190 men. Her armament consisted of 6 x 4.7 in. QF Mark XII (L/45) twin mount guns (CP Mk. XIX), 1 x Twin QF 4 in Mk. XVI, 4 x QF 2 pdr quad mount Mk. VII’s,8 x .50 cal. Machine Guns (refit to 4 x single 20mm later in the war), 4 x 21 in. Mk. IX torpedoes and 1 x rack, 2 x throwers for depth charges.
Not serving the longest naval career in the fleet, the HMS Zulu did share the operational load quite well being deployed before the Second World War in a non-interventional capacity preventing passage of arms during the Spanish Civil War in 1939. With the outset of WWII, the Zulu was assigned to contraband control to enforce the blockade of goods destined for Germany as well as many escort duties throughout the Mediterranean.
One of the more notable operations the HMS Zulu would take part in is the hunt for the battleship Bismarck in May of 1941 where she would carry out torpedo attacks with the 4th Flotilla. Soon after, the Zulu would be deployed to the Mediterranean for escort and screening duties for Force H and K and various other operations until September of 1942 where she was deployed with the Mediterranean Fleet and take part in Operation Agreement, the assault landings at Tobruk. She would succumb to air attacks after sustaining heavy damage and sink while in tow on its way to Alexandria.
1/350 Scale HMS Zulu Destroyer 1941
One of Trumpeter’s latest releases in there ship line of styrene model ship kits is their 1/350th scale HMS Zulu Destroyer 1941. This is a full styrene plastic model with some photo etch added. The kit comes in their standard slip-top cardboard box with a graphic of the ship continued within on the top. The kit contains the following:
• One-piece grey colored styrene full hull section
• Seven grey colored styrene sprue trees
• One sheet of photo etch parts
• One decal sheet
• One set of instructions
This kit contains a total of 252 parts to construct the HMS Zulu as she was seen in 1941. Of the 252 parts, 210 of them are styrene while the remaining 42 are located on the photo etch sheet supplied in the kit.
While at a first glance this looks to be a new offering to continue the Tribal Class ship offerings, but sadly, it is a simple re-boxing of the previously released HMS Eskimo from Trumpeter. I have to be the bearer of bad news to anyone who is familiar with the Eskmo and expected the kit to be redesigned to fix some notable items that were incorrect. All of the sprue, as well as the hull section, are labeled “1/350 Eskimo” .I will touch on the few items that are still incorrect in this review, mainly for anyone not familiar with the previous release of the HMS Eskimo and its inherent inconsistencies with the original ship.
So with that out of the way, taking a closer look at the styrene parts, they all appear to be molded very clean and crisp and free from flash. Starting with the hull, this is a full hull kit. As mentioned, this is the same hull issued with the Eskimo kit; this also means that the same incorrect bow sheer still exists. The discrepancy is not much, but it is apparent when there is a side-by-side comparison of the kit and one of the Tribal Class Destroyers.
For the modelers out there that are not too concerned about little design discrepancies and just enjoy building models and having some fun, you would enjoy this kit. The hull is cleanly molded and somewhat representative of the original ship’s hull with the exception of the bow issue I mentioned above. Fixing the bow would not be out of the question either. A simple adding of some styrene to the top side of the outer hull edge and sanding things to the curved shape would not be terribly difficult as is a slight shortening of the tip of the bow as it protrudes slightly forward at a different angle than seen on the original ship.
The weather deck is made up of two parts which the superstructure and other decks are attached. As seen with the previous release of the Eskimo, the modeling is clean and well-appointed what was seen on the original class of ships. As with all the deck parts, superstructure buildups and armament seen on the previous release, the parts are molded nicely and somewhat indicative of the ship’s wears. There is still an extra deck included in this kit that does not get used. This is the deck is aft the funnels and has a small deck house located on it.
To the best of my knowledge, the HMS Zulu did in fact have three twin mount 4.7 in. Mark XII (L/45) along with the single twin QF 4 in Mk. XVI. The kit supplied armament looks to consist of four pairs of 4.7 inch guns which is incorrect. However, there are suitable barrel upgrades on the market for reasonable cost if one wanted to raise the level of detail a bit. When it comes to the four 2 pdr quad mount Mk. VII guns (POM POM), the kit is just wrong. Supplied with this kit, again, is the Chicago Piano 8 x 2 pdr mounting. Unlike the difference between a 4.7 inch and 4 inch barrel on the bigger guns and might not be as noticeable, these POM POM guns would stand out like a sore thumb.
One option for correcting the POM POM issue is to modify the existing part which will involve a bit too much surgery to get a suitable looking gun out of the deal. I have, in the past, been able to plausible modify Flyhawks 1/350 40mm octuplet POM POMS to create a suitable quad version for this ship. Sticking with the guns on the Zulu, this kit includes two Vickers cal. 0,5 inch Mark I gun for placement on the quarterdeck. While I am not 100% in my assessment on this, there was no Vickers cal. 0.5 inch Mark I installed on the Zulu. There was an accounting of single mount 20mm Oerlikons installed during a refit in June of 1941on the bridge; however, there is no mention of the in MKV duel 20mm/70 guns being installed. These were late war modifications and doubtful they would be seen on the 1941 configuration but could have been installed at the time of a refit before being deployed to the Mediterranean in 1942. While it does appear on several destroyers there were several the gun was not seen installed on. So I would have to classify this one under builder’s choice if it was to be installed.
This brings me to the final incorrect value of this kit; the launches. While I am not sure which ship these boats are designed for, the HMS Zulu they are not. One thing to consider when looking at tackling this kit would be fabricating new boats. After looking at numerous photographs of Tribal Class ships as well as many other classes of destroyers, these boats do not exist. It is possible the designers of the kit used a bit of literary licensing and adopted some boat designs they had lying around to fit the quota needed to complete the kit.
The included photo etch sheet seems to be the only item changed from the previously release Eskimo kit. The change comes with the radar and range finding antenna only. This is indicative of a refit in June of 1941 where the main mast was replaced to accept a new type of wireless direction finding antenna as well as a Type 285 for main armament gunnery fire control installed. This appears to be supported in the upgraded photo etch sheet.
There is a 12-page instruction booklet included with this kit which is supplied in a black and white, exploded view format. Except for the changing of the name plate (both in the kit and instructions) and the addition of the newly added antennas, the instructions are an exact copy from the previously released kit. All of the parts placements appear to coincide with parts supplied with this kit. Along with the instruction booklet, there is a one-page color painting and marking guide included which shows the two-tone Blue and grey scheme which was seen on the Zulu at the time period intended for this kit.
The supplied decal sheet contains the ship’s G18 identification numbering along with two versions of the British naval Ensign.
In the end, personally, I am not able to look past the fact that with the previously released kit’s shortcomings that Trumpeter never attempted to actually correct when they had the chance. Each of these little discrepancies is really no big problem to correct, but together it would be a bit daunting. Personally I can look past the armament as this is an area often modified through the use of aftermarket parts, but the incorrect launches and decidedly the incorrect sheering to the bow, it may be a little too much for someone not familiar with scratch building and modifications a little too much to handle. There were Sixteen of these Tribal Class ships used during WWII, this is the second ship released by Trumpeter of this class…I am hoping they might consider making some changes to this kit before releasing more in the future.
Okay, I guess it might seem I have been a bit stringent when it comes to Trumpeter’s offering of their HMS Zulu Destroyer 1941 kit in 1/350th scaling. As a basic kit for modelers not too concerned about accuracy and are looking for a little fun building a WWII era British Destroyer, the kit might be something fun to have a go at. The molds are clean and aside from the few inaccuracies I have listed above this is a nice looking kit of the represented HMS Zulu and I could recommend the kit on this alone. But if accuracy is what you want, you may want to wait for either a fix to the listed issues with this particular kit, wait for a new kit to come out with the fixed bow and convert it to the Zulu or hope for someone else to make an accurate version of the ship in 1/350 scale.