Remembering Eaglewall kits

By Rob Morgan

The splendid UK discount bookstore The Works, which has over 150 branches across the country is selling ( Summer 2012) an interesting book, in hardback at £5.99, Called “Classic Kits,” written by A.Ward; the publisher escapes me for the moment. It’s a full-colour volume and deals with many ranges, Airfix, Tamiya and Revell among them, even as far back as the 1930s SkyWave kits (before my time!), but there’s a gem hidden in the pages of the book, and plenty of copies on the shelves by the way.

Eaglewall was a Sussex-based company which operated around the period 1960-1963, perhaps a little either side of that. This book provides some interesting information about the splendid range of 1/1200th WWII waterline, with full hull option, warships the company made in plastic kit form, boxed at around  2/6d ( a substantial sum in terms of pocket money then!) about 12p today.

The book provides full-colour box art work for a dozen of the kits, some are well known. The Battle of the River Plate trio of RN cruisers, and the Graf Spee of course, Bismarck and many of the vessels involved in her demise. In fact, I’ve still got an Eaglewall HMS Ajax somewhere, but there are others in the list new to me, having first encountered the ships as a schoolboy long ago. I had no idea that a 1/1200th British merchant tanker was in their list. Altmark, the Nazi supply ship, I knew of, and also Saar and Acheron, the U-boat depot ship and tender — I once bought them. Nor did I know about the twin pack of a British corvette and US Lend Lease destroyer escort. One kit I can recall buying was a rack of 5 U-boat models, tiny models they seemed then, and the set covered most classes, I can’t remember any more about them, they vanished donkey’s years back, but the company made U-38, seemingly as a single model? The box art’s in “Classic Kits!”

I remembered that by the time Don Featherstone wrote “Naval Wargames” in 1965, they had stopped trading and were by then wargaming and modelling history. Don said of them that the kits had to be “searched for in small shops in back streets” — true! He however extends the range, to British escort carriers, and also provides what I take to be a reference to fleet carriers, perhaps he means HMS Ark Royal which would fit in with the Bismark chase.

There’s also a suggestion by Don that some Italian WWII naval vessels were issued, but that’s as far as it goes.

The author of “Classic Kits” suggests that there was a duplication of models under different box names for the same kit and class of warship, which is entirely possible. For HMS King George V in 1941, you could have five named vessels, and Bismark and Tirpitz likewise.  Though a number of British County class cruisers are shown, there’s no mention of a Tribal class destroyer, like HMS Cossack which captured Altmark in a Norwegian fjord. I can recall an illustration and letter in old Airfix Magazine in the ‘70s which showed a box cover for HMS Rodney, the Battleship which saw off  Bismark, but the Eaglewall range at that point slips into legend.

I was too young to have made serious notes on the range and I don’t even know if Eaglewall issued a catalogue or list. I can’t find an advert in the issues of my early collection of Meccano Magazine or Airfix Magazine, but possibly Model Boats carried a review. Tantalisingly, the book says that in a model shop in Surrey there’s a complete collection of Eaglewall models on display. If there is, then this is a treasure which deserves better publicity. What an article that would make!

Anyone know anything?

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10 Responses to Remembering Eaglewall kits

  1. John Briggs says:

    A complete history called “Eaglewall’s table top navy” was published last year written by Donald Hood. Unfortunately, this excellent comprehensive book is around the £40 mark which may put some readers off.
    In response to some of your queries raised in your blog, Altmark and British oil tanker were the same kit in different boxes. U38 was never issued as a single model. The Italian navy models were never issued. HMS Cossack was issued. HMS Rodney was never issued. The model shop with the Eaglewall display is Dorking Models.

  2. John Briggs says:

    just to clarify U38 was pictured on the box which actually contained 5 different U-Boats

  3. Eddie says:

    I remember buying most of the warship kits from Eaglewall. The german ones I recall was the Z class destroyer,HMS Warspite and the H class destroyers….Hardy,Hotsper,Havant,Hero and others which I can’t recall.
    There was also an armed trawler,which,when assembled,was only approx.1″ long.
    I bought 3xGraf Spee models which would make up also Lutzow and the Sheer.
    In 50s and early 60s I was 9-14 yrs old and my mates and I used to play on my double bed with an eiderdown sheet on top (oh what joy!).I also remember Exeter,Achilles,Ajax,Altmark,but no Cossack.I’m not sure,but was there any Italian ships made?
    My mum (bless her) gave them all to my cousin when he joined the royal navy in about 1965,I did not find out until a week later because I was into the sixties music and joined a group(which was the thing to do in them days) and had had them in my wardrobe in 3 shoe boxes packed in cotton wool.Alas! I never saw them again.I think the total was approx 50 ships, it makes me think how much they would be worth now.
    I hope that brings a few more memories for you….I wish a company could find the original moulds…any ideas? Ed.

  4. Phil Thorne says:

    I have a made-up collection of these that I would like to sell, which I made and painted as a 12-14 year-old (not very well, by later standards) many of which suffered damage over the years, usually losing masts and a few gun barrels, although I did save these intending to repair them, but never got round to it. I imagine that with the expert model making ability around these days, any experienced collector might well be able to construct any missing parts. I THINK the collection is complete, at least I bought all those that were stocked locally and kept chasing up the suppliers until Eagle went bust. It is possible I missed a few but until I get Hood’s book I can’t be sure. What I have are : Victorious, 5 King George V/Prince of Wales, 2 Bismarck, Gneisenau, 2 Admiral Hipper, Prinz Eugen, Graf Spee, Admiral Scheer, Lutzow, Altmark, Nordmark, Ajax, Achilles, 2 Exeter, Warspite, 4 County class cruisers, Saar, Acheron, Black Swan, trawler, corvette, 5 U-boats, 5 Maass class, 7 Von Roeder class, Kimberley, 6 Cossack tribal class, Hardy, 4 H class, 2 F class, 2 I class – the last 8 items being the Narvik destroyers. Obviously I doubled up in places to make complete classes, not knowing if individual ships would be produced.
    I do have one unmade kit which someone started, HMS Valiant, still in its box but there is no plan.
    If anyone is interested I will consider offers, bearing in mind the condition. I noticed a couple of kits on eBay at quite high prices. I don’t expect similar prices for these but I ask for serious offers, not ‘give away’ prices. They may not be good enough as they are for displaying, but could well be ok for wargamers.
    Should anyone wish to buy them, it would be preferable if they could collect rather than trust them to the post, as fragile as they are. In any case a buyer might prefer to see the models first.

    • John Briggs says:

      Hi Phil, I’d certainly be interested in the unmade Valiant, any chance of a picture so I can make you an offer>. I’d beintertested in some of the other too if you want to email me directly,

      • Phil Thorne says:

        Hi John, Give me a few days to get photos done then I’ll email you again. I have had some difficulty in scanning lately as my Brother printer does it different to my previous Epson – for some reason it puts things into a PDF file which isn’t as straightforward, although I did get there in the end.
        As to the completed models, I prefer to sell the lot in one go for a reasonable offer, bearing in mind my description of them.
        Regards, Phil

    • John Briggs says:

      Hi Phil, I’d certainly be interested in the unmade Valiant, any chance of a picture so I can make you an offer. I’d be interested in some of the other too if you want to email me directly,

  5. Phil Thorne says:

    Quick follow-up: there are 9 Von Roeder class, not 7, plus a US destroyer escort type.

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