Converting the Revell (Matchbox) 1/72 Flower Class Corvette into a typical RCN Flower.

By Bob Pearson


Stern view of the unmodified kit

Although the Revell (nee Matchbox) kit includes the option to build a Canadian corvette, HMCS Snowberry, she is more akin to a typical British corvette than the average Canadian example. Anyone wanting to build another ship besides the kit options is usually limited to either a British-built corvette, or one of the ten Canadian built, British owned, but Canadian operated Flowers. For my own model, after an exhaustive period trying to determine just which ship I was going to do, be it Snowberry, Jonquil or some other, I kept coming up against details that directed me away from my present choice.

I finally decided I wanted to make use of my new ALPS printer and do an RCN corvette with its cartoon artwork on the 4" gunshield. But which corvette to do? I have been busy doing up artwork for various RCN corvettes and had many choices, however all but Snowberry and Eyebright would require changes to their superstructure and equipment. I finally decided that I would scratchbuild all the minesweeping gear, and if it turned out okay, I would then convert the kit to make use of it. The M/S gear turned out far better than I had hoped, so modification to an RCN corvette was next in the cards. This article will cover just what is entailed in doing such a conversion.

The main differences between RCN Flowers and their RN cousins are the length of the open quarterdeck and engine room casing; location of the 2pdr bandstand and location of the galley. Lets start with the quarterdeck/engine room casing.

Quarterdeck/Engine Room Casing

Side view of unmodified kit

It was decided to fit the first 54 RCN Flowers with minesweeping gear, consequently the stern was modified to provide increased space for the winch,davits, floats and depth charge racks. This entailed changing the round shape of the original stern to a squared off one on the RCN ccorvettes. As I intend my model for R/C operation I decided to not tackle this operation.

The second method of increasing space was one that benefitted the crew in a way not originally anticipated when the galley was resited from its position at the extreme end of the engine room casing to directly behind the bridge. As well as providing increased space for the M/S gear and depth charge racks, this also drastically shortened the distance that RCN mess attendants had to travel to pick up their meals. On early RN corvettes the crews still had to walk all the way to the rear regardless of the weather.

I had already assembled my engine room casing (STEP 8) when I decided to convert the kit into an RCN Flower, however it is a simple operation whether the casing is pre-built or not. I started by drawing lines for the various cuts based on the leading edge of the resited bandstand sitting over the rear of the engine room skylight. I made an error in that I had scratchbuilt a new skylight and as it was longer than the kit example, I had the choice of pushing it forward, or backwards to rest against the original locators. Without thinking I pushed it back and did all cuts based on this location .. however a day later (after it was all constructed) I went back and redid it with the skylight pushed forward. This does two things: firstly it gives an extra 8mm of quarterdeck space (believe me, it is needed if you build the M/S gear). Second it puts the cut exactly on the second vertical panel line on the engine room casing. I used a new #11 exacto blade and a steel ruler to do these cuts. Save the two pieces as they will form the sides of the new, reduced width structure under the overhang.

After the sides were cut I turned to the deck of the casing. I started by using a razor saw to cut off the various parts locators except for the skylight, vents and large central hatch (shown in yellow on the illustration). Hold the blade flat against the deck and it will cut the excess away nicely. After sanding this down, you are ready to draw the lines for the new deck unto it. Using the aft end of the skylight locator as the base line, draw a line across the deck at 69mm (A), a second one at 51mm (B) and a third at 36mm (C). Now looking at the deck from above, add a point (X) at 16mm from the either side on line A. Connect this point to line C at the stbd side (Y). This gives you the first diagonal cut. For the second cut, mark off 8mm in from the port side on B (Z). Connect this point to the mark on A. You now have a diagonal line on the stbd side and a stepped diagonal on the port side. Cut along these lines using the exacto or a dremel rotary cutter.

Stern view showing RCN modifications

With the deck done it is time to add the structure below it. Turn the structure over and draw two parallel lines 12mm in from either side, and an athwartship line 17mm from the new end. The two sides you saved earlier are now added on the 12mm lines - be sure you have them on the correct side as it makes a difference in orientation. Cut a piece of thick styrene (IIRC I used .040) and trace the top and bottom profile of the middle of PART F11 to get the correct deck curvature. Remove the middle 40mm of this and glue that to the two small sections. Use scrap to connect this to the original sides. To complete the new section, doors are added to both small athwartship pieces and to the rear of the stbd side. Small triangular supports are fitted under the overhang.

One other difference between RN and RCN corvettes was the fitting of a shelter deck at the focsle break on RCN corvettes. Cut away the slight overhang at the fore end of the casing, and discard part E4 in STEP 153. Replace with a solid piece of .080 or .060 styrene to cover the deck below. I have yet to measure this exactly, so check photos of the ship you wish to model for exact length. For now I have shown it in representational form on the drawings above.

To fill the resulting gap in the deck I cut a piece of .080 styrene card and fitted it into the hole. Note that you need to remove the lip to allow the casing to sit flush.

2pdr Bandstand

The most obvious difference between Canadian and British corvettes was in the location of their bandstand. RN corvettes had theirs in front of the engine room skylight, while RCN Flowers moved it to the rear of the skylight so that they would have a wider arc of fire and not be 'wooded' by the mainmast.

This is an easy operation to accomplish. Once again use the razor saw against the deck and cut away the bandstand support. This will be glued behind the skylight so that the leading edge of the round portion is over the rear of the skylight, or (fortutiously) so the rear of the support is right at the rear Lewis gun hole in the deck.The hole where the bandstand was originally located was filled with a styrene disc cut to size.


Modified RCN galley

Eventually RN corvettes relocated the galley from the aft end of the casing to a new structure in front of the funnel. In the kit this is STEP 88, however you can skip this step. Rather, just remove the mast socket from PART F7 and leave some material around it to allow you to glue it to the new galley roof. Since the galley is now superfluous, you need to add a styrene strip to the resulting gap in front of the funnel base (STEP 87).

Canadian corvettes had their galleys behind/below the bridge. In order to fit above the boilers, this galley was partially above the deck line. Therefore this will need to be scratchbuilt from styrene. Cut two side pieces 13mm x 27mm, one rear piece 13mm x 62mm and a deck piece 27mm x 62mm.

In the deck piece a 1/4" hole needs to be added on the centreline 7mm from the rear edge. The mast socket is to be affixed below this. Also note that a small hole will need to be cut in the deck to allow the full length of the mast to be used, or else the mast and socket need to be shortened to fit the new galley height. Add skylight J51 (STEP 101) to this deck, checking location from photos.

The bridge is built as per the kit instructions (or scratchbuilt as desired), with the following changes: Discard parts M54 & J35 (STEP 39) as new supports will be made from styrene strip. Remove the centre 62mm from part D12 (STEP 36). The new galley is then glued between the remaining ends of D12 against the rear of the bridge. Vertical supports are now added from the bottom of the radar platform to the galley.


The above is a simple conversion enabling a typical RCN corvette to be made from the Revell/Matchbox kit with the least amount of work necessary. After completing the M/S gear and the basic RCN conversion I then went on a search to see just what corvette I was going to build. At this point I noticed that not one RCN owned and operated corvette carried its M/S gear after having had its focsle extended (although many of the RN-owned, RCN operated ones were refitted for M/S in 1944 – Snowberry and Mayflower for example). Therefore if I want my corvette to be completely accurate I should either forgot the M/S gear if I want o have it with a long focsle, or I shall have to convert the kit into a short focsle. I've decided on the latter option, so watch this space for an article on doing just that.

Next month we focus on one other item specfic to RCN Flowers, a 27' whaler kitbashed from the two 16' dinghys supplied with the kit.