"Jan Klarbæk gives us a closer look at this Special Navy 1/72 scale multi-media kit of the Type II A U-boot, in this "inbox" style review."
In a way the history of the type II begins with an end. The end of hostilities and the treaty of Versailles meant that Germany had to lay off most of their armed forces which included scuttling all its submarines. The navy was reduced to a few surface vessels and had to contend with the other branches of Reichswehr for the allotted maximum of military personnel of 100.000 men.
To preserve knowledge of submarine warfare, design and technology a dummy company Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw was set up in Holland in the mid 1920ties and in 1931 a contract was made with the Finnish government concerning construction of the CV 707 Vesikko at the Crichton-Vulcan shipyard at Turku in Finland.
This submarine was operational in 1933 and served as a prototype and test bed for the following year and in February 1935 the keel was laid down for the first type II A at Deutsche Werke at Kiel.
The II series came in 4 variants not including the Vesikko, and the A series covers U1 to U6. These small boats were inspired greatly by WWI design and technology and the size limits the use to costal areas like the Baltic and North Sea. The boats were nicknamed the Einbäume which translate to "dugout canoe", but despite the nickname it was considered a reliable and well made design and the crews were generally happy with the performance of the boats.
With the outbreak of the war and the intensifications of the submarine warfare, the limitations were soon felt, and the Type II submarines were given the role of training vessels. Despite that, the boats did see active frontline service, proving their usefulness and generally giving a good account of themselves.
In a spectacular effort, 6 of the boats was stripped down and transported partly by barge, partly over land, to the Black Sea to see service against the Russians.
The Vesikko is the sole surviving type II and is on display in Finland - there are a number of resources on the net providing many nice workarounds and detail shots.
In the box...
This is truly a mixed media kit, with parts in styrene, cast metal, resin, turned metal and photo etch you get a tour around the most used materials in modelling today.
The hull is cast in styrene and consists of 4 main parts and 3 parts for the deck. The parts are reasonably straight but some warping is present and the lack of locator taps and holes will make a straight and true assembly a challenge.
Deck, tower, armament and a number of other parts a divided over 2 spruces and have a reasonable level of detail, some flash to contend with and no sink marks.
A number of parts are supplied in resin and cast metal, in some cases it makes a lot of sense, like the railing done in metal and the finely detailed Reichsadler done in resin, but in other cases - like the hatches and stand for the 20 mm. doesn’t make much sense, as these parts probably could have been cast in styrene to a reasonably quality and a lower price.
Periscopes are done in turned metal and looks really nice, likewise the photo etch that provides the builder some finely detailed parts that will lift this kit over the average.
Overall the impression is positive, given the mixed media and the foreseeable challenges with assembly of the hull, this is not a kit for the beginner - especially considering the hefty price tag.
Instructions are pretty straightforward and should not give any problems.
Accuracy and scale measurement:
You don’t have to sit with this kit very long before noticing that the layout is mostly inspired by the Vesikko, and if you are going to attempt a correct Type II A you will have to do a little work.
In reality you can make 7 boats from this kit with a reasonable effort - namely the Vesikko and U1 to U6 - later boats the II B types where about 2 meters longer than the "A"s and had a different turret layout so they would be hard to do without some serious surgery - besides rumours goes that a "B" is underway.
Building the Vesikko would be more or less possible out of the box, but on the U1 to U6 some work is needed.
1: flood holes: there are 2 sets of flood holes too many - the row just front of and behind the ballast tanks has to be deleted.
2: Keel cut-out and vents: The Vesikko lacks the cut-outs in the keel that gives room to 2 vents on both sides on the bottom - these cut-outs are quite visible and ought to be added.
3: Small flood holes: on both sides of the casing is a row a round holes at the stern and below the turret - these are not critical but noticeable so I would add them.
4: Round holes front and aft of the ballast tanks: these are missing and are easily added.
5: Flood holes in general: Many of the flood holes are cast open and only need some cleanup and further thinning from the backside - the material is already reduced due to the design of the casts, but a number of flood holes should be opened up and thinned from behind for a better appearance.
Flood holes in the deck are moulded shut and should likewise be opened up - unless you invest in a replacement deck like the Nautilus wooden deck
or the upcoming Photo etch set from Accurate Model Parts
In general the propellers look weird - they are cast in resin for some reason and the pitch looks all wrong - I am going to attempt to find some replacements - another method could be to cut of the blades and try to reposition them.
Measurements hold up pretty nicely with scale measurements and the scale plans in "Vom Original zum Model" and details likewise. One point to observe is, that submarines did undergo a lot of modifications during there service - most noticeable is the flood hole configuration, armament, colours and the layout of electronically equipment like radar etc. - so it is essential when building a submarine with the ambition of making it accurate, that you find a specific boat with a lot of reference material and choose a timeframe that you want to depict. The type II A´s came in service in 1935 an preformed active service until 1945, which means that a lot of changes and updates happened over time.
This is a nice and interesting kit - although the choice of casting some parts in metal and resin is not obvious and mostly increases the price of the kit.
On the other hand many of the "special" parts make good sense and give the builder a good challenge in the construction. This is not a beginner’s kit; some experience with mixed media and short run kits is needed to get a good result.
Detailing is fine but some work is needed to faithfully depict a Type II A - but nothing that can’t be done with basic scratch building skills.
So far there are not many upgrades to this kit, but it will - with the reservations mentioned elsewhere - build into a nice model out of the box with the addition of a little putty.