HMS Aurora was an Arethusa-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was built by Portsmouth Dockyard and commissioned on 12 November 1937.
In September 1939 she was with the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, escorting convoys to Scandinavia and engaged in the hunt for the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. After the Norwegian Campaign she participated in the operations hunting the German battleship Bismarck and, with the cruiser Kenya, intercepted one of the German supply ships, Belchen, on 3 June 1941.
Between July and August 1941, as part of Force K with the Home Fleet, she was involved in operations to Spitzbergen and Bear Island (Operation Gauntlet). In the autumn she was transferred to the Mediterranean and arrived in Malta on 21 October 1941 to join a new Force K.
On 9 November 1941 leading Force K, consisting of HMS Penelope, HMS Lance and HMS Lively, she was involved in the destruction of the Beta Convoy. On 24 November Force K, made up of the British light cruisers Aurora and Penelope and the destroyers Lance and Lively, intercepted an Axis convoy about 100 nautical miles west of Crete. On 1 December 1941 Force K with HMS Penelope and HMS Lively attacked the Mantovani Convoy. HMS Aurora also participated in the First Battle of Sirte on 17 December 1941. On 19 December while steaming off Tripoli she was heavily damaged in a mine field and was forced to retire to Malta.
After her return to the Mediterranean she joined Force H, and in November was part of the Centre Task Force for the Landings in North Africa, Operation Torch. Off Oran, she engaged the Vichy French destroyers Tramontane and Tornade on 8 November 1942, sinking the latter and damaging the former so badly that she had to be beached. The following day she badly damaged the destroyer Épervier and drove her ashore. By December she was operating as part of Force Q at Bône against the Axis evacuation and supply convoys between Trapani and Tunis.
Then, as a unit of the 15th Cruiser Squadron, she participated in the invasion of Sicily and the Salerno landings (Operation Avalanche) before moving into the Aegean in October 1943. While escorting British destroyers reinforcing troops on the island of Leros on 30 October, she was attacked by German Junkers 87 and 88 aircraft off Castellorizo, sustaining a 500 kg bomb hit abaft the after funnel. The explosion and subsequent fire killed 47 crew. Aurora was forced to withdraw to Taranto for repairs which lasted until April 1944. In August 1944 she was at the landings in the south of France, then returned to the Aegean, where she assisted in the liberation of Athens.
After the war Aurora was sold on 19 May 1948 to the Chinese Navy and was renamed Chung King. On 25 February 1949 her crew defected to the Communists with the ship. In March 1949 she was sunk in Huludao harbour by Nationalist aircraft. She was later salvaged with Soviet assistance but then stripped bare as “repayment”. The empty hulk spent the rest of her life as an accommodation and warehouse ship.
There’s only one 1/700 kit of HMS Aurora and that was produced by Flyhawk. They originally released a kit of HMS Aurora as she was in 1945 in 2015 and have re-boxed it a few times as the Chinese ChunKing, HMS Penelope, HMS Galatea and now as a 1941 HMS Aurora. Obviously, each version of this base model has some sprues changed to reflect the ship in question. You can see my review of HMS Penelope here: https://hobbylinkinternational.com/2017/12/02/flyhawk-1-700-hms-penelope-special-edition/
The box is a top opening box, with the parts securely packaged inside. There isn’t much space in the box so everything is held in place and the hull parts are wrapped in foam.
So, inside the boxes we have:
- 334 plastic parts on 31 frets (approx)
- 11 separate parts.
- 1 PE sheet with approx 115 parts
- 1 decal sheet
- 24 brass barrels and other parts
- 1 metal plate
- 21 3D printed parts
- 1 small decal sheet
- 2 instruction sheets
- 1 image of the box top and brief ship history.
The level of detail in this kit is up to Flyhawk’s usual exceptional standards. I can see on the superstructure parts that the level of detail is better than most other kits in this scale. There are doors, vents and bolts on the various parts. The ship’s boats have rowlocks and other fine details. Overall this kit has all the exceptional detail that you would expect from a Flyhawk kit.
The instructions are mostly black and white on 2 long sheets of glossy paper with instructions on 3 sides. Parts are coloured in places to clarify the instructions.
The build is done in 6 steps although there is a lot going on in each step:
- The build starts with assembling the hull, deck and lower superstructure. You have a choice of building the model as a full hull or waterline. According to the instructions, the first pieces of photo-etch railing go on in this step as well although you may want to actually add them later.
- Step two starts at the front of the ship by assembling all the main targets. If you have the deluxe kit then you have brass bells to use. You also assemble six anti-aircraft guns with photo-etch shields and working backwards at a few parts of the superstructure. In the second part of this step, you’re basically putting together the bridge and all the small parts and photo-etch that go on it. The main bridge is one of the 3D printed parts and this assembly is very detailed.
- Step three houses assembling and adding parts amidships. The ship’s crane is made mostly from photo-etch and we also add some ships boats and the bridge assembly that was completed in step two.
- Step four is still working amidships but a little further aft. We build ships massed from various brass rods provided and exact dimensions are supplied down to 1/10 of a millimetre. Searchlight platforms on either side of the ship’s funnel are built from photo-etch and installed along with the ship’s funnel. Several other small photo-etched parts, ships boats and superstructure parts are added at this point. The final part of step four is to make depth charge racks from photo-etch.
- Step five houses completing the build the aft end of the ship all the way back to adding the depth charge racks that were assembled in step four. We installed the aft to it and assemble and install the aft massed also. There are several small parts that get added to the build along with anti-aircraft guns.
- Step six simply shows the position of the ship’s railings to complete the build.
The paints are called out by name and in the Mr. Hobby, Tamiya and Colourcoats colour ranges. The painting guide is in colour and shows port, starboard, and above views.
The decal sheet gives you a couple of Royal Navy ensigns in different sizes.
This kit is currently available at HobbyEasy for $65.34.
As always, it’s an excellent kit from Flyhawk and is a variation of their earlier releases of Arethusa class cruisers. This is the first kit I’ve seen with 3D printed parts and they look to be easy to work with. The level of detail is up to their usual standards and Flyhawk is producing exceptional kits these days and their HMS Hood is highly anticipated.
Many thanks to Flyhawk for sending the kit for review.