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Gorleston kit, model, first look, review, Cybermodeler, Cybermodeller, Online

White Ensign Models' 1/700 HMS Gorleston 1943 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2007 Manufacturer White Ensign Models
Subject HMS Gorleston 1943 Scale 1/700
Kit Number K743 Primary Media Resin/Photo-Etch
Pros Beautiful casting and detailing throughout Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (BP) £25.49 (About $51.50 USD)

First Look

Gorleston Kit
Gorleston Kit

(Quoting the instructions) Initially laid down as one of ten Lake-class US Coast Guard Cutters and named Itasca after a lake in central Minnesota, this vessel was built by General Engineering and Dry Dock Company of Oakland, California. She was launched on 16th November 1929 and commissioned into the US Coast Guard on 12th July 1930. Seeing service on the US West Coast during the early 1930s, the Itasca was ordered to carry out a spell of duty in the Pacific during 1937 and proceeded to Hawaii before doing a tour of the equatorial islands.

However, she was to become involved in a moment of history that still has many people speculating as to the actual outcome: during July 1937, Itasca was one of the main vessels that were to communicate with and help provide for the Amelia Earhart flight Itasca had one of the last radio communications with Earhart before the flight mysteriously disappeared without a trace, and she was subsequently involved with the lengthy search for Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan, and the aircraft.

When World War Two broke out Itasca and her nine sisters were designated to be handed over to the British under the Lease Lend Agreement and the ships were made ready in Brooklyn, New York where they were renamed and transferred to their British crews. Itasca then became HMS Gorleston, named after a small British port near Gt Yarmouth. Initially based at Londonderry as convoy escort, covering convoys to west Africa and Gibraltar, she also escorted one Atlantic convoy to the West Indies in 1943. In mid 1943, she moved base to Freetown, West Africa. In 1944, after a refit in the UK, she deployed to the Far East via the Mediterranean, but was damaged in a collision with a destroyer in Alexandria harbour on 18th April 1944, repairing at Port Said.

Based in India in 1944, Gorleston escorted convoys to the Suez Canal. In September 1945, she was at Singapore for the Japanese surrender. Gorleston returned to the UK in February 1946, and was returned to the US in April 1946, where she was one of four of the original ten kept in commission by the US Coast Guard. (Three had been lost in action whilst with the British, and one was not returned.) The Coast Guard eventually returned only to of the cutters to service, Itasca not being one of them. She was sold for breaking on 28th November 1950 after an eventful 20 year service.

White Ensign Models has been doing to process improvements! Look at this kit - it comes with one resin-cast hull with no casting blocks (standard practice with WEM) but now we have an updated way of producing the smaller parts. Instead of casting these individually, with some rendered in white metal as was the practice in the past, WEM has adopted what appears to be a high pressure casting system where the parts are cast onto sprue trees, just like a styrene kit. This has the advantage limiting the number of molds needed for each kit, and for minimizing the number of bad castings through this new process. Looking at those 1/700 cutter and whaler boats, this process is very nice and those details are very sharp!

The four sprues of resin parts include the main superstructure, bridge, gun platforms, guns, lifeboats, two 32' cutters, two 27' whalers, depth charge launchers, vents, and more. Just like a styrene kit, just snip the part off the tree, clean up with a microfile, and cyano the part into place.

As with their full range of warship kits, this kit has a nice array of photo-etched parts included which provide railings, matting, anchors, gun shields, raft racks, 20mm guns, antennas, ladders, and boat rudders/oars.

The kit also includes WEM's usual well-illustrated instructions to walk you through the assembly process and a color diagram to show you the camouflage scheme warn by the HMS Gorleston circa 1943.

This is another impressive offering from White Ensign Models and it is always interesting to see what subjects they add to their prolific line of kits, many subjects of which still haven't been addressed in styrene!

Go to the White Ensign Models website for more information on their 1/350 and 1/700 kit and accessory offerings.

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