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HMS Hermes, Orange Hobby 1:700


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HMS HERMES, Falklands War 1982

Orange Hobby 1:700



HMS Hermes was the last of the Centaur class of conventional aircraft. Although laid down in 1944 as HMS Elephant work was stopped at the end of WWII. In 1952 work began again, but to a slightly different design than her sister ships. HMS Hermes was finally launched in 1953 and entered service in 1959 after extensive modifications which included installation of the massive Type 984 'searchlight' 3D radar and only the second deck side lift in the Royal Navy, after HMS Ark Royal. Hermes initially operated Supermarine Scimitar, de Havilland Sea Vixen, and Fairey Gannet fixed-wing aircraft, together with Westland Whirlwind helicopters. Hermes served as one of four Royal Navy strike carriers mainly in the Indian Ocean area until 1970. In 1970 she was taken in hand and converted to a commando carrier, a role she served until modified again in 1980. She was refitted at Portsmouth from 1980 to June 1981, during which a 12-degree ski-jump and facilities for operating Sea Harriers were added. Hermes was due to be decommissioned in 1982 after a defence review by the British government, but when the Falklands War broke out, she was made the flagship of the British forces, setting sail for the South Atlantic just three days after the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands. She sailed for the Falklands with an air group of 12 Sea Harrier FRS1 jets of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, and 18 Sea Kings. A few weeks after sailing, more aircraft were flown or transported via other ships to replace some losses and augment the task force. Hermes air group grew to 16 Sea Harriers, 10 GR3 Harriers of the Royal Air Force, and 10 Sea Kings (after some of the helicopters were dispersed to other ships) as well as a troop of Special Air Service (SAS) and Royal Marines. As she was the RN's largest carrier, she was considered too valuable to risk close into the Falklands, due to the possibility of Argentinian AF attacks. Her Harriers therefore operated at the limit of their endurance radius, but were very successful in keeping the enemy aircraft at bay.

After her return home from the Falklands conflict Hermes entered into a much needed 4-month refit until November 1982. She then took part in NATO exercises in the North Atlantic, and the Mediterranean Sea as a commando carrier. In the autumn of 1983 she took part in her last exercise, Ocean Safari, where she reverted to a strike carrier role, embarking 12 Sea Harriers, 10 RAF Harrier GR.3s and 10 Sea Kings. After this exercise she returned to the UK for a minor refit and into reserve in February 1984. Hermes served with the Royal Navy until 12 April 1984. She was paid off in 1985. In April 1986 Hermes was refitted and sold to India and recommissioned as the INS Viraat in 1989 and continues in service to the present day.

The model

This, the latest kit from Orange Hobby has got to have been one of the most eagerly awaited maritime models for quite a while. When the rumours first started surfacing no-one thought it would actually come to fruition. Well, here it is in all its glorious resin and etched brass. This kit is to model HMS Hermes in her Falklands War guise, with the possibility of another release of an earlier build coming soon. Arriving in the now standard issue OH plain box, there is a full colour wrapper around one end. Once the wrapper is slid off and the box opened, the modeller is confronted with a box full of resin wrapped in poly bags and further protected with bubblewrap. As is normal for these style of models, plastic rod of varying diameters will be required to complete some assemblies.



The waterline hull takes up most of the box, such that parts have had to be packaged inside the hollow hull and resin pour stubs. The moulding of the one piece hull has to be seen to be believed. OH have done an amazing job in producing so much detail into one mould and apart from the large mould stubs on the bottom of the hull there is not a sign of any flash or pin holes on the visible hull surfaces. The recessed boat decks and lift areas are very well represented, some of which have pipework and fittings included. The majorities of the catwalks around the flightdeck are moulded with the rest of the hull and include the various fittings such as fuel hose reels and fire points. The only reservation is the moulding of the tie-down rings on the flightdeck which, although representative are a little large, and if scaled up to full size, would be huge. Putting the hull to one side, the only other part that is not in/on a sprue is the island, which is also very nicely moulded with fine surface details, which are nicely thin, but quite fragile.



The rest of the resin parts are supported within resin frames, giving them a good level of protection. Frames A1 and A2 contain detailed parts for the island and include the foremast, foremast platform, funnel, funnel cap, Corvus decoy launcher deck and deck house, sat-comms dishes, two navigation radar aerials, SCOT dome support beam, bridge deck light supports, Flyco position and ships crane body structure. Frame A2 also has the centreline and side lifts.



Frames B1 and B2 contain the seacat launchers, two parts each, and four seacat missiles for each launcher, two seacat directors, deck edge aerial bases, ships boat and trailer, the four LCVP’s, a RIB, and two Zodiac boats.



Frames C of which there are four, two of which contain a selection of liferafts, whilst the other two are identical containing the ships anchors, LCVP davit centre sections, several winches, bitts, commando beaching boat, two ASC dingys, and what look like storage barrels.



Frame D1, (2 off) contains the Sea King HAS 5 fuselages and sponsons/undercarriage. These are well moulded, and whilst they don’t have interiors the moulding is done in such a way as to give a deep depression enabling the look of an interior with some careful painting.


Frame E Contains lengths of storage barrels, another Sat-comm dish and a pair of aldis lamps.


Frame G, (2 off) Contain the Sea Harrier Fuselages, and wings. The nose and main undercarriage is moulded in the extended position.



The kit comes with six sheets of etch brass. Relief etched for better depth and detail the parts are really fine, and will take patience and a good pair of tweezers will be required.

Sheet A contains all the ships railings, designed to fit perfectly into their respective positions, without any cutting required, other than that to remove them from the sheet. Some bending of the railings will be needed to conform to the various platforms and decks. The watertight doors, fitted around the island are designed to be shown open, requiring the door recesses to be painted black. The large number of parts on this sheet also include the prominent Type 965 radar aerial, ships crane jib, deck edge lift underside framework, deck edge aerials and gantries, perforated catwalks, deck edge and platform safety netting, and deck light brackets, for the bridge, foremast and island sides.


Sheet B is another sheet filled to the brim with parts. They make up the foremast yards and aerial ways. Funnel walkways, vertical ladders around the island, and cable reels. The sheet also contains the mainmast in its entirety, including all yards, aerial yards, mast platforms, radar platform, topmast aerial array, LCVP davit details, boat cradles, Captains launch trailer details and seacat launcher rails.


Sheet C parts mostly make up the double decked liferaft storage assemblies for the deck edges. The other parts on the sheet include hull recess railings, whip aerials, further LCVP davit details.


Sheet D is a lot smaller than the other three, but contains all the ship deck lights, island fittings and cable ways.


The last two sheets are for the carriers aircraft. The Sea Harriers are provided with port and starboard horizontal tailplanes, four pylons, outriggers and pitot probes. The sheet also has six tow bars. The Sea Kings have folded or extended rotor blades, rotorhead disc, tail rotor, stabiliser, main sliding door and crew entrance doors.




The single sheet of decals takes up most of the bottom of the box. The main deck markings, including the black runway stripe, helicopter landing spots and white runway lines are all on one decal. It may be prudent to cut this decal into smaller parts to make it easier to position. The end of the runway, on the ramp is separate as are helicopter landing spots No's 6 and 8, carrier identification letter, deck edge lift markings and safety lines. The ships numbers for the island along with the white ensign, Union flag are also included. The decals are very nicely printed, slightly glossy, but in good register and opaque.



This is a very welcome release and in it Orange Hobby has produced, what I can only describe as a winner. The details they've managed to fit into a 1:700 model is amazing, although somewhat tiring for some eyes. This is where a good set of magnifiers will really help. Extra aircraft can be bought from the Orange Hobby website so that the flightdeck can be fully populated. Here's to the release of HMS Hermes 1960's. Highly recommended.


Review sample courtesy of Orange Hobby.com


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Anyone building the this kit may notice that there appears to be only two pairs of davits for the LCVP's however that is correct. HMS Hermes only had two sets of proper 'Gravity' davits, which were situated on the starboard side and these are the two pairs in the kit. See first images below.

The davits on the port side had short crane gantry style outriggers, as per the lower set of images below.



Starboard davits


Port side davits



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