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Flyhawk 1/700 scale HMS Naiad

Flyhawk Precision Model’s new Royal Navy Dido-class HMS Naiad fills a hole in the early World War II Royal Navy cruiser force in 1/700 scale.
Commissioned in July 1940, Naiad was the second of 11+5 Dido-class antiaircraft light cruisers. She was one of the few completed with her intended armament of five QF 5" 25-caliber Mk.I dual-purpose twin gun turrets.
The Naiad was considered a cheap, quick-to-build “low-end” crusier compared to the 12x6" Southampton-class ships and was roughly equivalent to the U.S. Navy’s Atlanta-class AA cruiser.
Ordered from R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie & Co. Ltd., Hebburn-On-Tyne, the ship was delayed by damage caused by air raids to her turbine mountings (due to a near miss).

After commissioning she was assigned to convoy protection with the 15th Cruiser Squadron, sailing the Atlantic and later reassigned to the Mediterranean. In March 1942, she was torpedoed and sunk off Crete by the German submarine U-565. Naiad was one of 30 Royal Navy cruisers lost during WWII.
This kit is a unique combination of engineering and the art of camouflage for a specific era and. It’s a 1/700 scale kit with the detail of a 1/350 or 1/200 scale model!
I had an excellent resource for colors and matched 1940 green with a paint chip, so I’m confident that my colors are accurate. Resources included Cruisers of World War Two (M.J. Whitley, ISBN 978-1-55750-141-7) and Snyder & Short Enterprises’ Royal Navy World War II Ship Colors, Set 1 color chips.

While the fragile photoetched metal is well advanced, the detail of the injection molding is exquisite in its fine molding. The smallest parts are injection molded in a frame (35mm x 40mm), looking much like a radial aircraft engine with a single injection point.
The kit consists of 20 plastic sprues, carefully packaged photoetched metal, and 17 structure parts. The modular system will likely offer later versions from the manufacturer.

Starting with the hull, the kit comes with the options of a full hull or waterline application. I chose the waterline configuration since there is a bottom with a metal rigid insert provided to firmly flatten the upper hull, which had exhibited a slight “ski” shape. The other reason was to use the vaguely ’60s concept of providing a display base created from the kit’s box.

I deviated slightly from the instructions,  painting each structure and stack before placement, as there are many wee and fragile parts in the way.
Otherwise, follow the superb 13-step (with 14 subassemblies) instructions to carefully mount parts. Many are tucked into tight locations.

The only problem was the quad 2-pounder Mk.VIII placement, which did not allow room for the railings. The only scale issue may be the tiny 4" star-shell cannon mounted on the after superstructure.
This kit ranks among the finest quality 1/700 scale kits I’ve seen in more than 45 years of building this scale. It’s challenging to the point of requiring a jeweler’s loupe, an ultrafine, pinpoint tweezer, and the patience of a saint.

The multicolor camouflage slowed the building to 81 hours but created a striking effect, resulting in an amazing item in 1/700 scale. There are even an accurate compass binnacle and pelorus on the open bridge, which has interior walls and deck.
Any experienced 1/700 scale ship modelers will enjoy this kit and quietly tuck any resin kits in the back of their stash closet.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2015 FineScale Modeler.
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