by: Todd Michalak [ ]
Flyhawk Model is most known for their aftermarket offering of photo etch and resin accessories covering the spectrums various armor and ship scales. In the past couple years, Flyhawk has ventured off into the realm of kit manufacturing; first with a line of 1/72 scale armor followed by commissioning a 1/700 scale line of ship models. Flyhawk has been consistent in creating high quality and highly detailed kits up to this point!
A little History
Laid down in July of 1935 in Portsmouth England and commissioned in 1937. HMS Aurora was an Arethusa-class light cruiser 506 feet in length with a beam of 51 feet displacing 6665 tons fully loaded. After her last refit with the Royal Navy in 1943, she boasted
• 3 × 6-inch (152 mm) dual guns
• 2 × 40 mm Bofors quad AA guns
• 4 × 20 mm Oerlikon dual power-operated AA guns
• 3 × 20 mm Oerlikon single AA guns
• 2 × 0.5 inch quadruple machine guns
• 2 × 21-inch (533 mm) triple torpedo tubes
The Aurora did carry one aircraft early on, however this was removed prior to 1945. At the outset of the Second World War, she served with the British Home Fleet. In September 1939 she was with the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, escorting convoys to Scandinavia and engaged in the hunt for the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau followed by joining the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck. In mid to late summer of 1941, the Aurora served with Force K of the Home Fleet transferring late that year to the Mediterranean where she would participate in the landings in North Africa as part of Force H. In December 1941 with Force Q, she aided in operations against the German evacuation of North Africa and targeting their supply lines. She would move on to the 15th Cruiser Squadron participating in the invasion of Sicily and the Salerno landings. The Aurora would sustain heavy damage in October 1943 in the Aegean. Repairs would keep her form the fight until April 1944. In August 1944 she was at the landings in the south of France, then returned to the Aegean, where she assisted in the liberation of Athens. After the war in 1948, HMS Aurora would be sold to the Republic of China, defecting to the People’s Republic of China shortly after and go on to serve until the 1990’s when she was retired and later scrapped.
Flyhawk’s HMS Aurora
The HMS Aurora 1945 kit is supplied in this rectangular slip-top box with a full-color artist’s rendition of HMS Aurora as she was seen in 1945 depicted on the front. The model number of this kit is FH1127 and as I mentioned, in 1/700 scale. Sliding off the top, we see what has become quite standard with FLyhawk’s ship kit, a full-color relief depicting the ship which is essentially the box art in a collectable cardstock form. Beneath the collectable card, we find a stash of parts for this model, neatly organized and sealed in various forms of clear plastic packaging. Looking at the bulk packing, we see the base kit packaged altogether inside a Ziploc-type bag with all of the parts specific for this ship, a package of Flyhawk’s ingenious stackable sprues which are a collection of standard parts found on most, if not all British ships of this class, two small clear plastic packages which appear to be parts specific to the Aurora, a package containing a sheet of photo etch parts and instructions and finally a small booklet titled German WWII Submarine (U48) Model Making guide.
In taking a look at the hull of the Aurora, Flyhawk does an excellent job in providing option for either the full hull or waterline depictions of the ship. There is a two-piece upper hull and lower hull section as well as a bottom plate insert that is used when creating the waterline version. The parts fit together very well. Looking closer at the upper hull has been rendered very well. The overlapping plating to the armor belt is presented nicely and the correct number of portholes are present on the hull. Late war configuration on this ship seen the introduction of small cover plates over the majority of the lower forward portholes ad a couple of the ones on the top row. The kit provides this hull with all of the portholes in the open configuration; if one desires to add the plates, small disks can be fabricated from styrene or brass stock and glued over the port holes. This is not an oversight by the manufacturer. This allows the builder to basically replicate the pre-1945 and 1946 configurations of the Aurora as well as the manufacturer to streamline the addition of another new kit to the ranks of the Flyhawk family, the Chunking; which in 1946, had all of the covered portholes opened again. Moving forward, the main weather deck to the ship is provided in a two-piece configuration. From the bow to just aft the quarterdeck, is provided in one large piece and the stern in separate smaller section. Both decking pieces fit seamlessly into the upper hull section; the detailing is crisp and free from any flash.
Moving onto the smaller parts to the kit, we see there are 28 individual sprue trees. These sprues have been organized nicely consisting of nine sprues specific to the Aurora, twelve are the stackable generic British destroyer parts, two sprues sealed in a clear plastic package containing part for the masts and one small clear plastic package with all of the superstructure components not attached to sprues. Opening the small clear package first, we see all of the superstructure parts. This is typical from what I have seen from Flyhawk’s previous releases. These parts are finely detailed and will require little in the way of cleanup, if any at all. Minute details such as port holes, decking and water type doors have been incorporated into the molds. A quick test fit of the parts to the weather deck show an excellent, tight fit. Also included in this package are gun houses for the 6 inch duel guns and duel-powered 20mm Oerlikons.
Jumping into the sprues, and as I mentioned earlier, there are 9 sprue trees regulated specific to the Aurora. These sprues consist of the bulk of the mid-range parts detailing the ship. Flyhawk has done a fine job here keeping the attachment points at a minimal as well as making them as small as possible with regards to injection molding. This makes life a lot easier when it comes to cleaning up the parts. The propellers a molded cleanly and appear to be thinned correctly to scale. Various additional superstructure parts such as the fan tails, torpedo launchers and smoke stacks are included in these sprues. This is where Flyhawk continues to excel in 1/700 scale kit production. Fine, crisp detailing throughout the parts is consistent. Ribbing supports to splinter shields are present along with bolt heads for the attachment plates to the torpedo launchers add a tremendous amount of detail in this scale. Each of the ships auxiliary boats have the same level of detail. The mounting plates for the gun houses, which were provided separately in the clear blister pack, are contained in these sprue along with the barrels for these guns. Although the muzzles for the guns have not been hollowed out, the detail is very crisp and these parts are more than sufficient to provide a realistic looking model when complete. Drilling is possible, however, there are a number of aftermarket replacement barrels offered today to provide the builder with this option if so desired at a low cost to the bulder.
One thing Flyhawk capitalized on when beginning to create 1/700 scale models was their generic GB sprues. These are small stackable sprue trees containing a variety of standard parts seen on all British ships of the time period. Items like Carley boats, binnacles, 40mm bofors, POM POMS, duel 20mm guns and more are contained within. Each of the sprues actually interlock into each other for easier storage while building. In addition, this setup allows the parts to be painted on the sprue eliminating difficult handling of the tiny parts. Inside the package of generic sprues is the base plate that used when creating the waterline version of the ship. The small rectangular section in the middle is to hold the provided metal weight and gives some stability to the base of the model.
Rounding out the plastic parts to this model, there is another clear plastic package included in the box. This contains two sprues with all of the masts for the ship. These too have been delicately molded and are virtually free from mold seems. However, there are attachment points that the builder will need to deal with carefully when removing these parts as well as when cleaning the area where the part was in fact attached to the sprue.
The kit contains one small sheet of decals. There are four Ensign flags provided giving the builder two options; either a straight or wind-blown wavy version of the flags.
Flyhawk provided an extensive photo etch sheet containing many parts to enhance the overall look of this already detailed model. Ships ladders, stairs and railings are of course included in this sheet as well as a fairly accurate rendition of the ships crane and radar arrays. The kit does supply the plastic versions of the crane as an option for the builder if so desired. Provided in the package with the photo etch, is a two-page instruction sheet for installing the photo etch to the model. This is easy to follow with all of the parts highlighted in various colors.
The main instructions for building the ship is provided on heavy weight paper incorporating a black and white exploded view format spread out over nine, easy to follow steps. Many of the smaller constructions are highlighted in various colors to make placement of the parts even easier. Within the instructions there is a color chart for selecting the correct paint for this ship as well as a color profile of the 1945 paint scheme of the Aurora.
Well I know I must have said it before, but I feel Flyhawk Models produces probably the best 1/700 scale ship kits on he market today. The HSM Aurora 1945 kit is just another amazing addition to the growing line of ship kits FLyhawk has to offer. The detail in this scale is simply excellent as is the overall sprue layout and part fit. Flyhawk continues to include a fantastic photo etch sheet of parts to enhance the model. The provided instructions for both the photo etch and model itself are highly detailed and simple to follow. If you’re into 1/700 scale ship building, you really cannot go wrong with this, or any of the Flyhawk kits from their line as the quality and detail offered from these kits is superior to mosrt of the plastic kits on the market today making it well worth the cost to the modeller.