"Lets take a closer look at Trumpeter Models 1/700 scale Richelieu 1946, in this MSW Inbox review!"
Named after the French Cardinal and Statesman, the battleship Richelieu was the lead ship of a class of French battleships designed in the 1930’s to counter the growing threat from the Italian Navy. Basically an improved and enlarged Dunkerque design, the ship was laid down in October, 1935 and launched in January 1939 at Brest, France.
With the fall of France imminent in the spring of 1940, the, as yet to be finished, ship was hurriedly made ready for sea, escaping just ahead of the German occupiers. She sailed for Dakar, in Africa, where she helped the Vichy resist Allied attempts to take the strategic port. As part of that campaign, she was attacked, severely damaged and immobilized by an attack by Swordfish aircraft launched from the carrier Hermes in July, 1940.
In September, 1940 she dueled with the British battleship Barham while tied to a Dakar quay. During this engagement, an explosion in the barrel of a gun on turret two put two guns out of action.
With the fall of French North Africa in November, 1942, Richelieu came under Allied control. She sailed for the United States in January, 1943, arriving in New York in February for repairs.
Richelieu spent the next 7 months at the New York Navy Yard undergoing repairs and upgrades. Along with the repairs to the damage sustained in Dakar, she had her 380mm guns rebored to 381mm (to accept British ordinance), lost her aircraft & catapult and received 14 quadruple 40mm anti-aircraft mounts and fifty 20mm mounts.
Following sea trials in Chesapeake Bay, Richelieu sailed for Mers el Kebir in October, 1943. After a brief stay in the Mediterranean Sea, she joined the British Home Fleet at Scapa Flow in November. The following February, she provided cover for carrier strikes against German positions in Norway. While in British waters, she received an additional 11 single 40mm guns, while nine 20mm mounts were removed.
In March, 1944, Richelieu sailed for Ceylon, to join the British Eastern Fleet. In April, she joined the British carrier Illustrious and the US carrier Saratoga in strikes against Japanese held Sabang. Following shore bombardment duties, she returned to France for crew replenishment, then sailed to Casablanca and finally Gibraltar, where she underwent another refit. Upon completion of her refit in March, 1945, she accompanied the British battleship Queen Elizabeth back to the Far East, where they worked together hammering Japanese positions In Singapore.
In May, 1945, Richelieu joined a mixed force of cruisers and destroyers hunting the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro, which was found and sunk by the French battleships escorting destroyers.
Richelieu traveled to Durban, South Africa, for another refit in July 1945. While here, her captain decided not to make use of a new floating dry-dock, which he felt was too small for his ship. It was the right decision. When the smaller British battleship Valiant was put into the dock, the dock broke in two and the Valiant was heavily damaged. At the time of the Japanese surrender, Richelieu was back in Ceylon.
In September, during a transit of the Straits of Malacca, Richelieu set off a magnetic mine, but suffered minor damage as she continued onto Singapore to accept the Japanese surrender with the battleship HMS Nelson.
She spent the rest of the year shuttling around the Far East, escorting troop ships to Indo-China and showing the French flag in her former colonies. In December, she left the Far East and headed back to France, where she underwent a complete overhaul in Cherbourg in 1946.
The rest of her career was spent in maneuvers, with stints as the flagship of the French Mediterranean Fleet in 1950 and 1953. Some of the highlights of her later career were maneuvers with the HMS Vanguard and US carriers in 1953 and with the Jean Bart in 1956. After 1956, she was mainly stationary, serving as a school ship in Brest before stricken from the French Navy list in December 1967 and then sold for scrap. She was broken up in Genoa, Italy.
35,000 tons standard; 47,548 tons full load
813 feet long/108 foot beam/31.5 foot draft
Steam turbines providing 150,000 hp to 4 shafts, 30 knot speed
Armament (as designed):
2 quadruple 15 inch/45 caliber turrets, 3 triple 6 inch/55 caliber turrets, 6 twin 3.9 inch/45 caliber guns. Also 4 twin 37mm and 4 quad 13.2mm AA guns.
13.6 inch main belt, 13.8 inch conning tower, 16.9 inch armor on turrets.
The box and what’s inside…
The model comes in a sturdy cardboard box with a very attractive painting of a Richelieu sailing at speed on the box top. On one side of the box is short history of the ship alongside a plan view. The other side of the box has both a port and starboard profile.
Inside the box are 10 sprues packaged inside plastic, two hull halves – upper and lower - which come wrapped together in some sort of Styrofoam paper, a waterline plate, a black display stand and a small decal set with French flags.
Also included are a color profile and an 8 page instruction booklet.
Outside of some mold lines, the hull is nicely done. While I didn’t match it up against a set of plans, it looks like the Richelieu, and also scales out perfectly to the real thing. There is both a lower hull and a waterline plate for you to use, depending on the type of model – full hull or waterline – you choose to build.
contains parts for the forward superstructure and a 1946 specific Richelieu name plate. The parts are reasonably well done, but suffer from ejection pin marks.
holds two parts of the deck: the forecastle and the quarterdeck, each of with come with holes for the various guns and deck fittings. The planking looks good, and while the molded on chain doesn’t look bad on the forecastle piece, some modelers will probably remove and replace it.
has more decks – the main deck and the 01 level or boat deck (not sure what the French nomenclature for this deck is). Like the pieces on sprue C, the main deck is planked and comes with many holes in it for smaller parts. The 01/boat deck part also has some pre-molded boat cradles on it, along with a pair of gun tubs. All of this is reasonably well done for this scale.
has the two turrets, the breakwaters, prop shafts, rudder and various other smaller fittings. While not an expert on this class, the turrets don’t look “right”. Maybe when the rangefinders, blast bags and barrels are added, they will.
consists of numerous gun tubs, platforms and some superstructure parts. Again, there are numerous ejector pin marks on many of the parts. I also noticed what looked like scratches in some of the flat surfaces. Hopefully a coat of primer and then paint will make this less noticeable.
holds the majority of the superstructure parts. The annoying ejector pin marks and mysterious scratches are found here as well.
(of which there are 2) has the secondary gun turrets, the bases for the main batter turrets as well as the barrels and blast bags. You’ll also find directors, rafts and ships boats here as well. More of the parts look pretty good, outside of some flash.
(of which there are 2) consists of 20mm, 40mm and some twin 3.9 inch guns. While the 40mm are useable, the 20mm are not very good, with grossly over scale gun shields.
The color painting and marking guide has callouts for Mr. Hobby colors. However, from the information I’ve seen, the colors are incorrect for 1946, which is what the model is supposed to represent. Apparently Richelieu wore a 2 or 3 color scheme during this time. If that type of accuracy is important to you – do your research! If not, then paint as instructed and enjoy!
The instructions are in the now familiar Trumpeter format, and are very straightforward. However, I (still) can’t understand why they tell you to add the lower hull or waterline plate to the upper hull in the last step, when the model is complete!!
While the 1946 Richelieu has nice details, the kit is marred by ejector pin marks and scratches on some parts.
Hazy Gray & Underway’s Battleship List
Battleships of World War II, MJ Whitley
Allied Battleships in WWII, Garske & Dulin