HMS Onslow & HMS Pakenham
the 1/700 Tamiya 'O' Class Destroyer
By: Keith Butterley
The 'O' and 'P' class destroyers were the first of their kind built under the Emergency War Programme. They were born of the need for the Royal Navy to quickly replace many of its aging destroyers due to the clouds of war gathering in Europe. It was decided in an effort to cut costs and building time, that they would use the same machinery as the 'J' class, but with a simpler armament. These ships were designed for general fleet, patrol and escort duties. The 'O' class was ordered on September 3, 1939, with the HMS Oribi being the first completed in July 1941. Other ships were the Obdurate, Obedient, Offa, Onslaught, Onslow (leader), Opportune and Orwell. The similiar 'P' class was ordered on October 20, 1939, with the HMS Porcupine being finished in June 1941. The rest of the class was Pakenham (leader), Paladin, Panther, Partridge, Pathfinder, Penn and Petard.
All these ships served with distinction throughout the war. Their most famous action occurred in December 1942, while escorting convoy JW51B the Onslow, Obedient, Orwell, Obdurate, Oribi and the 'A' class destroyer Achates held off the Lutzow, Hipper and six KM destroyers for six hours. Finally HM cruisers Jamaica and Sheffield arrived and finally drove the Germans off, without loss. The Paladin, Oribi and Onslow were also responsible for individual U-boat kills, while the Pakenham and Petard shared one. The Pakenham, Panther and Porcupine were all lost while in the Mediterranean.
The Tamiya kit builds up to a fairly good representation of this class. However out of the box they can only be built as the two leaders, Onslow and Pakenham, modification of the aft gun house is required to do other members of the class. I relied heavily on Nat Richards' article from the IPMS Quarterly Review to make the changes in the kit that was necessary to make an accurate leader. The White Ensign Models O Class PE set was used to give them that much needed extra detail. To bring the kit up to a proper 1/700 scale, you need to lengthen the hull 1mm., however I chose not to do this, too scary! I scratch-built the RDF shacks, behind the bridge using plastic card, as they did not come with the kit. The splinter shields around the 4" HA gun were filed away and replaced them with PE fret. I am sure that if scaled out the originals would have been akin to Maginot Line fortifications.
I chose to model the HMS Onslow with her lattice mast. This was added during
her re-fit after the Barents Sea battle. I painted her in the Special home
Fleet Destroyer Design white/G45/G20/B30. This scheme required a lot of masking
due to its many sharp angle lines, but it certainly turns the kit into quite
a stunning model. The Pakenham was done in a Western Approaches scheme WA
blue/white. To the best of my knowledge she never carried this scheme, but
I have always liked it, so there !!!
This kit does require a lot of work to make a decent model, but with the addition of the WEM PE set and the modifications per Nat Richards, it can be turned into a very good model.
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