The Royal Navy had a series of Heavy Cruisers built between 1928-30, known as the 'County class'. They were built in 3 similar sub-classes of which HMS Norfolk was the lead ship of the final class. The county class cruisers had large, strong hulls and were very seaworthy and long ranged but due to treaty restrictions, there was only enough spare displacement available to provide the magazines with reasonable armour, the rest of the important parts had only thin armour. The main requirement for the Royal Navy's cruisers was to protect trade across Britain's global empire and show the flag in far away ports and the County Class cruisers were a great success in this role and proved able in combat too.
In WW2 HMS Norfolk was active in hunting German raiders, notably the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneiesnau, plus the heavy cruiser Adm Scheer and was almost torpedoed by the U-47 (which had sank HMS Royal Oak in Scapa Flow). She was then damaged by bombs from a German air raid at Scapa Flow and needed repairs, after which she recieved her first radar set. After this she sailed to the South Atlantic and hunted the Adm Scheer again as well as the German armed merchant raider, Kormoran. Following this, she returned North and took part in one of the most famous naval actions of all time, the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck. HMS Norfolk along with her near sister ship, HMS Suffolk were the first Royal Navy ships to make contact with Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, shadowing them with their radar. Following the destruction of HMS Hood, the two cruisers kept up their shadowing but Bismarck got away. Bismarck was later found and HMS Norfolk was there for the final battle, supporting the battleships HMS King George V and HMS Rodney, in crippling and sinking the German ship.
HMS Norfolk then spent the next few years escorting Arctic convoys, when on Boxing Day 1943 she took part in another famous battle against a German Battleship, this time the Scharnhorst, which was attempting to intercept convoy JW55b. HMS Norfolk along with the light cruisers, HMS Belfast (flagship) and HMS Sheffield, opened fire on sighting the Scarnhorst, using their radars to aid firing. Norfolk hit Scharnhorst several times with her 8 inch guns, knocking out the German ship's forward fire control. Scharnhorst retreated from the cruisers but the cruisers shadowed her with radar and the Scharnhorst sailed right into the path of the battleship HMS Duke of York, which crippled the German ship with devastating and accurate fire from its 14 inch guns, leaving the cruisers and destroyers to finish her with torpedoes. Following damage sustained in the Battle, Norfolk went into repair/refit and it was decided to remove X turret and add extra AA guns. She missed D-day but supported an aircraft carrier raid on a U-boat base in Norway. After the German surrender, HMS Norfolk took the Norwegian Royal Family back to Oslo, before sailing to the East Indies for her final deployment. She was placed in reserve in 1949 and scrapped the following year.
Aoshima have made an all new tool series of county class cruisers in 1/700. The kit looks to be of good quality with a decent level of detailing. This is a Limited Edition kit of HMS Norfolk and represents the ship in December 1943, when she fought the Scharnhorst. The kit comes with a pre-coloured deck and funnel caps, plus a small fret of etch parts for the radars. The kit is waterline only.