I have never been a fan of Clydeside models. Twenty years ago, I saw no reason to buy them, when I could get the same ships done by Neptun or others in 1250 scale. But my attention was grabbed recently when Bill Gilpin released his series of six French contre-torpilleurs, of the AIGLE/CASSARD classes. As a great fan of the French Navy I was immediately interested. These models, of MAILLE BREZE, TARTU, GUEPARD, VALMY, ALBATROS, and EPERVIER represent each ship in different rigs, all but the first being in 1941-2 configurations.
The two Neptun models which have been produced, GUEPARD and CASSARD represent the two ships prior to 1938. But all surviving ships had significant anti-aircraft modifications made after the Armistice of June 1940. Having converted quite a number of the Neptun models to 1941-2 rigs (see Feature articles "THE FRENCH CONTRE-TORPILLEUR") I was very curious to see just how well Clydeside had managed this. Photos of completed models looked good, so I decided to try some myself.
The models come in small white boxes just large enough to fit the hull and parts. The hulls are well proportioned with only minor flash, though on the model shown here, GUEPARD, I had to fill in a crease in the hull with putty. Each ship is different in various details from the others. So if you build all of them, no two will be the same.
Assembly is simple, with adequate written directions. Some of the parts needed a little work to fit right. I chose not to use certain parts: I substituted brass wire in place of the kit supplied steel wire for masts; Steel wire is a nuisance to cut, while brass is easily, and cleanly cut with a pair of scissors. I made my own boat cranes, again with brass wire and did not use the searchlight platform for the foremast, as the GUEPARD in 1942 did not have one. I would not have used it anyway, as I did not like the way it was affixed to the bridge. This is one part I would not use on any of the models, but would make my own instead. I did use the kit supplied antenna spreaders (located on the 4th funnel) but in retrospect would not recommend using them. Thinner wire would be a better choice. I added the bracing on the bridge wings using plastic rod. One error in this model: the after AA structure is also supposed to house a small gun director. But the housing provided lacks sufficient space for it. This, however, did not detract from the overall appearance of the model. I very much like the funnel caps on these models, and believe that they enhance the overall appeal of the ships.
The completed model stands up well in comparison with its Neptun counterparts. It is obviously slightly larger, and it lacks the fineness of detail found in the Neptun models, but the overall appearance is compatible. I have included photos of the GUEPARD alongside my Neptun VALMY conversion for comparison purposes. These two ships were sister ships but had variances after their post Armistice refits. The Clydeside models are reasonably priced and if you like assembling and painting models, they are a good choice.
In general Clydeside has changed significantly from the company of 20 years ago. These models, as well as the earlier series of FLETCHERs represent a definite improvement in the quality of detail and casting. For a devoted 1250 collector the major drawback is one that cannot be remedied: the models are 1200 scale. But if you are not so strict about mixing scales, Clydeside is worth trying.