by: Jan Klarbæk [ ]
Originally published on:
Initially the German Kriegsmarine didn't have much interest in midget submarines, so in the first war years a number of design ideas and projects were turned down and all development stayed on paper.
It wasn't until autumn 1943 the first project were sanctioned, which probably can be related to the increasing losses of submarines, the British success with the X-crafts, most noticeable the attack on Tirpitz and the increasing need and lack of raw materials. The real reasoning is probably either lost in history or buried somewhere in a dusty archive.
The XXVII Hecht and the XXVIIB5 Seehund where among the first designs to be built. The first Seehund prototypes were delivered from in spring 1944.
Around 285 Seehunds were made and at least 138 were delivered and commissioned.
The Seehund had a displacement of 17 tons, a 2-man crew and was armed with 2 externally mounted torpedoes of type G7e. The Seehund had the range of 300 km. About 50 Seehund boats had an additional fuel storage looking like saddle tanks as seen on the bigger brothers, that gave them additional range.
According to www.uboat.net then from January through April 1945 the Seehund boats went out on 142 sorties, lost 35 of their own sinking 8 ships for a total of 17,301 tons and damaged 3 for 18,384 tons. They saw active service out of Ijmuiden in the Netherlands.
A number for Seehunds survived the war - a small number saw service in France after the war - and can be seen on museums around the world. Some were also raised and is displayed in various states of decay and repair.
I bought 2 of these kits off White Ensign web shop, after all they are very small.
Displacement: 17 long tons (17 t) submerged
Length: 39 ft (11,86m)
Beam: 5 ft (1.5 m)
Propulsion: 1 x 60 hp Büssing Diesel engine
25 hp AEG electric motor
Speed: 7 kn (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) surfaced
3 kn (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) submerged
Range: 270 nmi (500 km; 310 mi) at 7 kn (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) surfaced
63 nmi (117 km; 72 mi) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Armament: 2 G7e torpedoes
One styrene fret,
Instructions (A4 sheet)
Paint suggestions and
A small decal set
Details and accuracy…
The kit is labeled as a early boat - what precisely is defined as a early boats characteristics are unknown to me, except that it looks like the later boats had a higher sitting turret hatch - probably to better facilitate sneaking up to the enemy without relying on the periscope. There's some extra parts not used, so they are presumably ready for a later version.
The kit is very finely molded and shows sharp and precise casting and details - some of the details are very fine, and as such also quite small or fragile, as seen with the front hole which was damaged on both my samples. Likewise there was damage to one of the propellers for the torpedoes, which had a dislocated propeller blade.
The original was welded as can be seen on the numerous surviving samples. But many of these survivors seem to have been repaired and altered over the time, so I won't recommend using those as a guideline for accurate depiction of the weld seams.
The weld seams are represented in the kit as raised panel lines as we know it from older kit planes, but these are not only a bit overdone, but also lacking any of a weld seams characteristics. If you really want to go for a better look, you can either sand them back a bit and try to give them the welded look with careful use of glue and a knife, or just remove them all and replace with Archer decal weld seams.
Decals are cut off register, which means that I might have lost one of the turret numbers. This also looks like a common error as it is the same on both my kits.
The turret hatch should be equipped with a transparent dome, as the original had a clear dome - this is molded solid in gray styrene and probably helps keeping the costs down, but you have to replace it if you strive for a more accurate representation.
Otherwise, comparing the kit with my reference pictures, show a reasonable accurate depiction - if a bit overdone - of the weld seam layout and likewise with the different hatches.
The torpedoes are a quite somber affair, lacking a lot of detail except for the fins, propellers and the fuse propeller - in between you only get a smooth tube void of any detailing. Some panel lines and inspection hatches would have been nice. The ends of the torpedoes have a 2-stepped decrease, which is not the case on the original, but in this scale it's hardly noticeable.
Details on the hull are quite sharp and well defined and there is a minimum of flash.
The original had a length of 11,86 meter, which scales out to 16,47 cm, the kit measures 16,4and are as such within the tolerable.
Compared with drawings, the shape and proportions are very true to the original.
Quality and buildup…
There are a few minor issues concerning the quality of this kit:
The front eyelet is very fragile and was damaged on both my samples - probably an issue from releasing the frame from the mould.
The port attachment hole for the rudder is missing on both my samples, my guess would be, that the mould is faulty.
The propellers for both the boat and the G7 torpedoes are very delicate and sports some flash, which will is difficult to clean up without damaging the parts - one of the propeller blades were broken of as it is very delicate.
Neither the hull halves nor the torpedoes have any attachment pins - so care is needed to get a good fit, but since the parts are quite finely casted, they have a good fit.
There's is no indication on the parts how far aft or front the torpedoes are supposed to sit - refer to the painting instructions or search the net for pictures.
As far as I can see, parts 18 and 19 are mixed up on the instructions, and I had to swap them to get them to fit.
The supplied base is rather unimaginative and the kit will profit from a new base.
Build up is an easy affair and can be done in a few hours. Take care when aligning the hull halves and the torpedoes to get a good fit.
As always I opted to open up the flood holes in the hull and "turret" and thin out the material from the backside - not that it's really needed, but it gives a better representation of the flood holes than I can achieve with washes.
I painted it a light gray over a dark gray pre-shading, and highlighted the larger parts with a even lighter gray.
After a coat of future, I added the decals which are finely printed on a quite thin carrier film, and finished with another coat of future to set the decals.
A nice and attractive little kit, with a good level of details and accuracy. The weld seams are a bit lacking in finesse and a bit on the heavy side, but otherwise you will be able to do a solid representation of a Seehund at a fair price.
Building is easy and you are quickly on to the painting and weathering - even if it's a small boat in 1:72 there is still room for doing some interesting paint and weathering work.
Highly recommended. If you have never done a submarine before, then this would be a good place to begin.