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L'Arsenal 1/400 scale Flower-class corvette

Kit: No. 400-03
Scale: 1/400
Manufacturer: L'Arsenal, BP No. 2,
14790 Verson, France
Price: 295 French francs (about $50) plus postage
Comments: Multimedia, 171 parts (52 resin, 119 photoetched brass), decals.

Originally intended as coastal escorts, corvettes were pressed into service as oceangoing escorts. The Flower-class ships were 205' long with 33' beams. Their cramped, round-bottom hulls made them some of the wettest and most uncomfortable warships afloat.

L'Arsenal's 1/400 scale Flower-class corvette features crisp resin castings with only a few air bubbles on the bottom of the hull. The photoetched parts are sharp and delicate.

The eight-page, French-only instruction sheet has photoetched parts maps, four overall parts location diagrams, and side-view drawings for the ships that can be made with the decals: one U.S. Navy, five French, two British, and two Canadian vessels. Bridge details also are provided as decals. The resin pylons provided conveniently hold the model throughout construction.

I can't read French, so I relied on the parts numbers and diagrams in the instructions. The bridge is the most difficult subassembly to build. The six-step diagram for building the bridge is handy, but because some photoetched parts mount inboard of others, reference photos are a must.

The overall construction diagrams helped, but they omitted the locations and assembly of the 20mm and 40mm guns. Two 20mm guns are located on each side of the flying bridge and one 40mm gun is located in the aft gun tub. Railings are included but no reference is made to them in the diagrams.

With the major assemblies complete, I painted the kit as the USS Saucy using Polly S dirty white overall with a blue disruptive pattern. Hull red was used below the waterline, and Panzer gray and chestnut brown were used on the decks.

I used the hull-number decals, but decided to pass on the windows for the bridge and lookout - I'll try to paint them in later.

My 6 1/4"-long model scales well to the data and photos at the Canadian Naval Memorial home page on the Internet. Also helpful are the photos of Allen Brewster's 1/72 scale Saucy in the March 1992 FSM.

I spent 47 hours on my corvette, most checking parts locations. Though the kit is not difficult to build, you should have some experience building multimedia kits - and a working knowledge of French will help, too.

Phil Kirchmeier

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