Next to the Bismark, the most-popular seaborne subject of World War 2 remains the Battle of the Atlantic. Whether Germany really came close to strangling Britain's supply line from the Americas is hotly-debated. However, early in the war, Germany was sinking as many as 11 ships in a single convoy. Things were so ominous that Churchill later admitted the only thing that kept him awake at night were the U-boats.
Revell of Germany
has done more than its part in bringing the campaign to modelers (especially those interested in the German side) by releasing excellent kits (at reasonable prices, too) that recreate the ships and submarines which stalked one another across the Atlantic and even into the Indian Ocean. Among their most-popular releases have been those in 1/72nd scale, including two Type VII U-boats, a Flower
-Class Corvette, an E-boat and two Type IX C U-boats.
Somewhat larger than the workhorse Type VII, the Type IX was intended for more-distant patrols off the coast of the United States, in the Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico - in fact, all the way to the South Atlantic off Brazil and along the convoy routes 'round Cape Horn. Slightly over 280 were launched (vs. over 700 Type VIIs); the most-famous U-boat of all (at least among the few surviving ones) is a Type IX: U-505, captured in June, 1944 and eventually housed inside Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry
That kit models the boat taken by the US Task Group 22.3 in 1944 which included the carrier USS Guadalcanal
and five destroyer escorts. The later version of the Type IX C has as its salient feature a longer rear superstructure (Wintergarten
), and the absence of the 10.5 cm (4.1 in) SK C/32 deck gun originally mounted on Type IXs. As the war went on, U-boats didn't dare stay on the surface long enough to sink a ship with gunfire, or they risked being depth-charged or strafed by anti-submarine patrols. So the guns were removed.
Now Revell of Germany
has now kept its promise to release the earlier version of the Type IX C with the shorter Wintergarten
and the missing deck gun.
Carefully-packed to prevent breakage in one of the usual long Revell of Germany
turquoise ship boxes are:
10 sprues of blue-colored styrene
A hull in four pieces
three deck sections
A sheet of Kriegsmarine decals (sans swastikas)
A spool of black twine for rigging
A painting and decal guide for two different boats
Just like with its other Type IXs Revell of Germany
has once again put out a lot of kit for the money. The out-of-the-box builder will be pleased with the detailing, which is solid, though not spectacular. Many of the same observations I made about the IXC "late" in my review of the earlier Revell of Germany kit
remain the same:
1. The molding is crisp, with RoG's usual low amount of flash and seam lines.
2. Knock-out holes are also few in number from my observations, though the parts will need some clean-up work (flash, for example, on the propellers).
3. No glaring inaccuracies in the shape, etc.
However, there are two glaring deficiencies in the kit: the inclusion of three periscopes and the absence of even a rudimentary pressure hull.
The periscope issue will impact even the casual, out-of-the-box modeler. Originally Type IXs had three scopes; one in the control room and two in the conning tower. But with the development of the C version, the control room scope was dropped. Both this kit and the earlier one of the U-505 have this error, and it will need to be corrected.
But a greater disappointment in my estimation remains the same as with the earlier kits: the absence of even a rudimentary pressure hull that would allow modelers to open the drain/flood holes. Those are molded in such a way as to look highly stylized and inaccurate. The situation could be easily rectified with a simple molded "sub floor" underneath the deck. Numerous PE aftermarket decks are available for this kit and the U-505, so it's clearly something modelers want.
Eduard has released two after-market PE sets for this kit that replace the molded-on drains, but the ones along the length of the vessel will have to be drilled out and replaced with plastic card to replicate the supports that prevented debris from washing into the outer hull. I haven't counted the number of holes I'll have to drill out; it's too daunting even though I know I will do it.
decals & painting guide
Two relatively successful but otherwise obscure subs were chosen for the painting and markings:
The former is shown in the early war version with tricolor camouflage and the saw-toothed cable cutting blade at the bow. This was removed as the war went on, which is the array for the U-154 version.
The Revell of Germany
U-Boat kits in 1/72nd scale combine the right size to bring out the details of these boats that get lost in smaller versions, yet aren't so large as to take over your residence. Following the company's sale, there was concern that these sorts of projects would be shelved, or that production values would slip. I'm happy to report both concerns were unfounded. Options for super-detailing are there for those inclined to go the extra lengths, including two sets of PE from Eduard, along with brass propellers from G Factor, and metal barrels and periscopes from Schattonmodelbau.