by: Jan Klarbæk [ ]
The following "inbox" review treatise is of Accurate Model Part's new upgrade detail set, designed for Special Navy's 1:72 Scale Type II A submarine kit.
First some information - as the observant reader might notice, Dougie and Wink have been so kind to mention my name, in the acknowledgements in the instructions. My contribution to the development of this update set has been very, very modest, and the acknowledgement is more a sign of Dougie and Winks good manners, than the amount of my work. I will do my very best to give this set an impartial review, using my knowledge about the subject at hand, and the process of reviewing and building a sample of the Special Navy Type II A.
So what’s this all about? - Around 2 years ago Special Navy introduced a German Type II A submarine in scale 1:72 on the market. This kit unfortunately presented a series of issues about details and which variant was buildable from the kit. For further details I refer to my review of the kit. Sufficient to say, that if you build the kit straight out of the box, you will get a fair representation of the Finnish CV707 Vesikko, but not the type II A announced on the box.
Wink Grisé and Dougie Martindale set out to create an update set to deal with the known issues, and having previously worked with updates, decals and fabric flags for the VII C and Gato, our hopes as sub builders were high and the wait unbearably long.
But now it’s here and at a price of 60$. Is it worth the wait, is the price fair, does it give the modeller a possibility to do a true II A and does deal with the detail issues on the kit?
A closer look now...
4 frets of Photo etch in various thickness
6 pieces of resin, detail parts and spacers for the hull
2 fabric printed Reichsmarine flags (pre swastika era)
1 decal sheet with hull numbers and depth markings
1 booklet with 24 pages
1 large poster with 1:1 rendering of the kit which shows which part goes where
4 sheets numbering and naming the parts.
This is probably the best set of instructions I have ever encountered on any kit. It’s a very comprehensive guide not only on how to use the update set, but also how to correct a number of errors where aftermarket items are not needed. In short, you get a virtually complete guide on how to build a true type II A.
I wish I had that kind of information when I build my first II A, It would have saved me a lot of research and equally lot of headache to get the information needed to rebuild the kit to an II A.
The booklet is divided into logical sections, moving from one part of the boat to another, giving detailed advice on needed alterations and use of the detail set. Using the booklet together with the 1:1 drawings will aid you immensely in getting a good result, and the illustrations in the booklet should clear away any doubts you may encounter underway.
Now the best thing is that the booklet and the 1:1 drawings can be downloaded from the AMP homepage, so you can get a good read before shopping, or should you wish to do without the update set, you will have a great resource on how to convert the kit. But be aware that doing without the set will certainly limit how far you can get.
In the resin department you get a spacer part for the aft hull, designed to push the upper part of the hull aside to increase the width of the deck. You also get a spacer for the middle part where the 2 hull sections, front and aft are assembled to ensure the correct width.
Remember that when using the aft spacer – that it is designed to utilize the aft most casting lug – so if you desire is to clean up the inner side of the hull parts, then take care to leave these lugs, as you will need them later on.
Missing on the kit is the cut-outs in the keel to facilitate the bottom vents which is included as 2 halves ready to install after you have cut out the kits keel. The parts line up with the keel sides. Personally I plan on making the cut-outs a little undersize and cut some depressions in the resin to get a better and stronger fit.
Included are a foghorn for the tower front and the voice pipe for the bridge.
2 nice flags in fabric are included - they are without swastikas and are as such representing Reichsmarine - that is pre-1935 flags so using them requires you to do at pre-35 model.
The flags are nicely printed and the instructions tell you how to deal with them, remember to seal the edges so you prevent the fabric from "running". They can be shaped and is easier to handle than the decal flags.
The etch consists of 4 frets with varying thickness to better depict the items scale wise. The etched parts can be broken down to 3 main areas which are:
1) Complete new decking
2) Templates for opening the many missing flood holes
3) General detail and update items.
1: The deck
The largest parts are the new decks that not only substitute the kit parts, but also supply you with the foremost and aft parts which otherwise are moulded solid and without any detail in the original model kit. The update parts are finely detailed with antis lip pattern and the aft part has the opening for the aerials.
The use of the aft parts of the deck requires you to use the included resin spacers, which widens the hull aft, where the hull parts meets the original kit deck.
The deck parts come in 4 sections, joining these sections are facilitated by etching away half of the material on alternate sides. This gives you a true and strait fit in all directions, but also aids you in getting the correct height difference between the major deck parts and the front and aft pieces.
Another feature, not previously seen in other etch replacement decks, are small tabs protruding from the edge of the deck. The idea is to bend down these tabs and cut them off, so that you get the right height as the kit deck is about 1½ mm thick and rests on a small shelf.
I’m not entirely convinced if I am going to use this feature or devise my own approach to the height issue. First of all I am not certain, why the tabs are not simply etched in the right length, so that it only remains to bend them down, instead of leaving you to do 24 cuts yourself with all the possible errors that can lead to.
Besides that, the tabs leave a slight depression in the edge of the deck that will be visible when the deck is mounted on the kit. My personal solution will probably be to cut of the tabs entirely and glues some square styrene strips (in the correct dimensions) on the underside of the deck and let these take the place of the supporting ribs on the original boats.
It would have been nice if some of the larger deck hatches, as the openings for loading torpedoes or the access to the galley, had been etched as separate parts should you wish to construct an inner hull and leave some of the hatches open, as I did on my previous build of this kit.
I find it very curious that a new deck for the turret is not included in this set as this is a part that begs for refinement, and which will definitely lift the appearance of the model. A somewhat odd omission in my opinion.
Aside from the deck itself, you get a lot of finer detail parts, such as separate smaller hatches which will leave them slightly higher than the surrounding deck.
A large part of the etch gives you a nice selection of templates to deal with the many missing or misshaped flood holes on the kit.
Many of the templates are given as a starboard and port part, which means that you can either use them as templates, or embed them in the kit, which will give you a good impression of a scaled hull thickness, and a much sharper definition of the holes than is available with your Dremel.
The small row of circular holes just below the edge of the deck, situated front, middle and aft are only included in one sample, so you will have to use these as templates only.
Although the designers of the original kit have gone far in giving a good representation of the flood holes and the hull thickness, they haven’t been able to reproduce the detail that the holes below water in the front and aft region is paired 2 and 2 in rows. This is finely represented in the etch, and you have either the choice of filling out the kit holes and us the etch as a template, or using them as replace parts and cut out the incorrect sections.
Looking at the kit, I will probably choose a mix of the solutions, using the more simple areas as templates and substitute the larger and more complex parts.
You also get replacement parts for the very fine holes on the turret sides. As the layout differs from boat to boat, more templates are included in the set. I will recommend that you use these parts to substitute, as they are very complex and include many small holes to be drilled, should you desire to go the template way.
The area where the pressure hull meets the thinner outer sheeting (A type don’t have saddle tanks) has a number of smaller holes, some of which are square. Since they are very small I will choose to just drilling them out – as I don’t think it will be noticeable when done.
The use of the templates and the following addition of the different flood holes will really bring life to your model and is a huge improvement in kit accuracy.
3: Updates and detailing
The kit has a not of omissions or simplified details, that this etch deals with – with the deck described further up – there is still two areas in particular that this update set addresses, one is the turret and the second is the GHG acoustic devices at the front.
The GHG is completely missing from the original kit, so the included etch are a very welcome addition to this highly noticeable omission on the model kit.
The Kits turret is a quite somber affair, so the included parts will put a lot of business into the bridge that are lacking in the kit. It included updates correspond nicely with my references, and will ad considerable to the overall impression of the bridge.
Only too bad, that a new deck for the bridge is not included, as that would have been the icing on the cake!
Fit, accuracy and measurements...
Now, this is going to be difficult both due to the lack of references in form of sharp, clear photos, and due to many alterations these boats went trough from the launch in 1935 until they where scuttled in 1945.
As mentioned in the instructions, at some point the U6 was fitted with what appears to be a all metal deck, but the layout of the different access hatches, especially the smaller ones, did changed over time and getting one or more pictures showing a single boat at one stage in its lifespan giving a overall look at the details are impossible, so both as designer of a kit, doing a update set, building the boat or reviewing this set, we are forced to rely on bits and pieces to get a decent picture.
Using “Vom Original zu Model”, the 4 samples of “U-Boot im Focus” photos kindly supplied by Dougie Martindale and various photos of the net and other publications dealing in lesser degree with the type II A, I will try to asses the layout of the update set.
The overall impression of the update set is very positive. It deals with a large number of the inaccuracy and if you include the additional issues that the instructions deal with, then you are able do a very fine type II A.
Comparing pictures and taking measurements shows that the depiction of the deck and flood holes in the deck are way ahead of the original kit parts and are very precisely depicting a early type II A, so building a sample with the Reichsmarine flag will be possible and realistic.
Comparing the deck, especially the aft part, then the inclusion of a spacer to give a wider hull, is justified, and gives the model realistic proportions.
Personally I’m not sold on the idea with the tabs supporting the deck – and I will pursue another approach to this problem.
I find the lack of decking for the turret a bit disappointing, and would very much have liked to see this item included in the set.