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Jonny

Royal Navy 'Insect' class gunboats

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My dear old Dad served on one of these ships just before WW2. If I remember correctly, it was HMS Moth, on the China station (Yangste River, I think): He was a bit upset to hear that the ship was scuttled by the Royal Navy, raised by the Japanese and eventually sunk by the US Navy!

Anyway - does anyone know if there are any kits of these ships? I've seen photos and they are quite interesting - a small hull with at least one 6-inch gun.

Any answers / suggestions gratefully received,

Jonny

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Jonny, afraid there are no kits of this class of ships, which is a great shame as I think they are a wonderful unheralded bunch of vessels. I first read about them in "East of Malta, West of Suez" an HMG publication dating from the wartime. Later I read a book just about the Insect class and almost all of them had fascinating histories, so I scratchbuilt one in 1/600 scale. Very basic as they were just a hull, simple deck superstructure and 2 x 6" and 1x 4" gun. I couldn't find any drawings so I did it from pictures so not very accurate, but in 1/600 scale it was pretty small. I have since found drawing and thought about doing it again, but with 5.26 x 10 to the 5th power amount of other projects to do, it is not likely.

Graham

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Just looked them up out of curiosity. What fascinating ships.

They probably saw more action in a week than most Navy ships saw in their lifetime.

Too many models I want to build and far too little time.

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I read a great book about the Insect class some years back and have always fancied being able to build one. I have asked John at White Ensign, but they're backed up with projects at the moment.

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Jonny, I have a few photos taken by my great uncle on HMS Bee (I think) showing the 19th Shanghai river gunboat flotilla 1923 summer deployment, complete with hand drawn map - fascinating! There used to me a website called 'hmsfalcon' or something like that that covered all the gunboats but I've not been able to find it lately - if you can get on that, you will have all the info you need!

Steve

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Jonny

The best book about the Insect class is "Armed with Stings" by A. Cecil Hampshire printed in 1958.

It is typical of his books - a mix of official history with lots of personal stories woven into the text. There are no drawings or even photos of the ships but it does tell their story very well in 188 pages (in the edition I have).

There are many facets to the story of this class - they were a rushed wartime build designed for use on the Danube which ended up serving in the Middle East, Northern Russia (in 1919-1920), on the Danube (where one of them took the deposed Emperor into exile), in China and Singapore and then though WW2 in the Med and the Persian Gulf. A couple of them took part in the invasion of Southern France and were then refitted ready for the invasion of Japan!

I also have a file of drawings for this class culled from various magazines - if you are interested in a scratchbuild give me a private message and I will get them scanned and over to you - should not be a difficult job to build one as they were designed to be cheap and simple so mainly straight lines and flat decks!

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My dear old Dad served on one of these ships just before WW2. If I remember correctly, it was HMS Moth, on the China station (Yangste River, I think): He was a bit upset to hear that the ship was scuttled by the Royal Navy, raised by the Japanese and eventually sunk by the US Navy!

Anyway - does anyone know if there are any kits of these ships? I've seen photos and they are quite interesting - a small hull with at least one 6-inch gun.

Any answers / suggestions gratefully received,

Jonny

Coincidently I'm just writing about this. HMS Moth was not on the Yangtse but at Hong Kong. She was in the graveling dock for a major re-fit with her hull plates removed when the Japanese invasion began on 8th December December 1941. Her gunners were in action from the dry dock in the AA role until 11th December. On that day some of her crew were transferred to HMS Cicala* (another Insect class) which had been damaged in air attacks the previous day and her guns were dismounted. The dock was then flooded and Moth submerged. There is inconsistency in references about the armament on the various Insect class boats which changed anyway during their service but Moth was reported to have 2 x 6-in BL, 1x 3-in AA, 1 x QF 2-pounder and 6 x mounted and shielded mg.

After the surrender the Japanese salvaged her, re-armed her and put her to work as the IJN Suma. She survived several direct air attacks by US planes at Hong Kong and after repairs at Shanghai commenced Yangtse river patrols. On 19th March 1945 she hit a US air-dropped mine on the river which destroyed her.

There are some small scale waterline models of the Insect class available 1/1200 from Clydeside-Flotilla:-

http://www.clydeside-flotilla.com

and 1/600 from PT Dockyard in their Russian Civil War range:-

http://ptdockyard.com/

There may be other small scale wargaming-type models available but the boats really deserve larger scale kits! Premier Ship Models offers a 66cm custom built model of HMS Cockchafer:-

http://premiershipmodels.co.uk/modern-military-models/hms-cockchafer-premier-range

You have to get a quote!!!

* Cicala survived sixty dive bomb attacks and almost continuous shelling until she was finally sunk by a stick of bombs on 21st December.

Nick

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There is indeed a resin kit of this class - in fact two: one in 1/72 and one in 1/192.

Russ Wilson makes them under his International Models Asia Ltd (IMACO) banner, essentially to order as he is a 'one man band'.

I purchased one of his Fly class gunboats in 1/72 as a built model, in fact the one used to illustrate the kit on his website (http://www.imaco.com.hk/kits/).

It arrived partially disassembled and beautifully packaged and is exemplary "clean and square" in its assembly.

All the basics are there and there is scope to add a lot more detail if you are so inclined.

Since getting the Fly I am inspired to also get the Insect and at last build Cockchafer in her tropical whites.

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