by: Jim Adams [ ]
Building models is all about history. No matter what you build there is history behind it, some more so than others. Sometimes as builders we get drawn to the latest improvement in kit construction. However when we take a step back we see some vintage kits are well worth the time.
These kits can be found several places, garage sales, flea markets, vintage kit dealers, swap meets, and of course Ebay. Some of these kits focus on a subject that a main stream kit maker has ignored. A well informed modeler will not walk past these kits and will make the right choice. Vintage kits can be a challenge and they can be fun.
The Schnellboot or S-boote, fast craft, was a type of German torpedo boat that saw service during World War II. The S-boote was approximately twice as large as their American and British counterparts. By comparison with the Allied craft, the S-boote was better suited for the open sea and had a substantially longer range at approximately 700 nautical miles. These vessels were known to the Allies as E-boats.
The S-boat was a way for Germany to skirt the Treaty of Versailles which prohibited most Naval ships. Germany used the S-boat to meet roles played by larger vessels in the Royal Navy and USN. These boats were used as destroyers and even in the role of an auxiliary cruiser.
They would patrol mainly the Baltic Sea and English Channel. Some were sent to the Mediterranean and others were seen in the Black Sea. After the war some S-boats were transferred to England and the United States.
Displacement: 100 tons (max)
78.9 tons (standard)
Length: 32.76 m
Beam: 5.06 m
Draught: 1.47 m
Propulsion and power: 3x Daimler Benz twenty-cylinder diesel engines MT 502; 3,960 hp Speed: 36 knots
Range: 800 nm at 30 knots
Armament: 2x 533 mm torpedo tubes (4 torpedoes)
1x 20 mm C/30 cannon (later two)
8x 7.92 mm machine guns alternatively
Inside the box
When looking at a vintage kit keep in mind a few things. First, if it is no longer in shrink wrap open the box and make sure the plastic bags are in tact. If not be careful looking through the sprues. Beware of loose parts in those bags and be sure to inventory the parts. Most dealers in vintage kits will inventory them for you and let you know if something is missing.
The box is of nice heavy duty lidded cardboard with a colorful illustration on its cover. First thing noticed when the box was opened was no bags and several loose parts. If that is the case, be careful. This kit is from 1975, so keep that in mind when you read on.
The parts are molded in a light grey color and clear and they are on 9 different spures. Also included in the kit are a sheet of paper flags and a sheet of decals. The first major sections are the hull thirds and main deck. This kit can be made either waterline or full hull. I dry fit my parts together and noted there will be a good deal of work needed to get them to work right for you. The deck has some detail, but not all that much.
One point that really hits home is how heavy the attachment points are to the sprues. Take care when removing your parts and you should be fine. Compared to a kit from today there are a good deal more sink holes and ejector pins marks, but this kit is 33 years old.
Some good points about the kit is the nice details in certain parts. On the platform for the aft machine gun the wood is nicely molded. The side rails with the canvass draped over them is actually a decent looking part as well. One might think it would be bulky and out of scale, but it is nicely done and thin. Rivet patterns around the bridge, on the torpedo tubes, and other sections of the ship have a fine appearance.
On the down side, the figures look like small Pillsbury Dough Boys. The machine gun is rather plain and lacks good detail. Sprue attachments are heavy, there is much more flash than current kits, ejector pin marks, and sink holes on major parts.
With all of that said and the availability of new kits to build why take the time to pick up a 30 year old kit? First of all, if you want to build an early model S-Boat this is the kit you need. If you want to improve your skills working with a harder kit, this would fit the bill. You can still find these kits around in different places for a not a good deal of dollars.
Overall this is a nice kit. It is not the high tech kit we are used to from today’s manufactures, but it still nice. The early model S-Boat was an important stepping stone in its class and this is your shot at building one.