Airfix 1/72 German E-Boat Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||September 2010||Manufacturer||Airfix|
|Kit Number||5303||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nicely detailed early S-boat kit||Cons||No parts tree drawings and trees not alphabetized, plus parts broken off trees will make parts hard to identify at times; Kriegsmarine flag censored with no swastika|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The German naval command's attention was drawn to a highly innovative motor yaht that Lűrssen built for the German-American banking tycoon Otto Herman Kahn. It's round-bottomed hull was 22.5 m (73 ft. 9.8 in.) long and displaced 33.5 tons (20.4 MT). The vessel was powered by three 550 hp Maybach engines and reached a top speed of 34 knots (39 mph/63 kmh), making it the world's fastest boat in it's class at the time. It was named Oheka II after Kahn's initials. In it, Lűrssen overcame many of the drawbacks of the round-bottomed displacement hull. The boat utilized a composite construction of wood planks over alloy frames for reduced weight. An underwater hull form flattened towards the stern and provided hydrodynamic lift where it was needed. This counterbalanced the inefficient tendency for round hulls to "squat" stern-down at high speeds.
Oheka II's combination of speed, strength, and seaworthiness was precisely what the German naval command wanted. Additionally, the large displacement would minimize the balance effects of carrying and firing two heavy torpedoes far forward of the hull's center of gravity. The Reichsmarine awarded Lűrssen a contract to build a boat to the same basic design in November of 1929. This vessel would differ from Oheka II in having two detachable torpedo tubes on the forecastle, a slightly improved top speed, and other minor differences. It was commissioned into the Reichsmarine as the UZ (S) 16 IN 1930, but was renamed S-1 in 1932. It was Germany's first true MTB (Motor Torpedo Boat) and was the basis for all other S-bootes built before and during WWII.
Because of the hull numbers on the decal sheet in the kit, which are S10 through S13, that makes the kit a S-boat from the S-7 Class. A knuckle was added at the bow beginning with S7 in 1934. This feature increased reserve buoyancy at the bow and prevented the boat from nosing into waves in foul weather. S7 to S13 entered service from October of 1934 to December of 1935. These 75 ton (68 MT) boats were built with the same dimensions as the S6, were heavier because of different engine installations. A 7.92mm machine gun was mounted in the bow for use against surface and aerial targets. The Kriegsmarine determined early in the series that the S7 Class were not yet fast enough for requirements. Consequently, later boats…up to S17, served as test-beds for new motor types and configurations. Additionally, Lűrssen built three boats of this type for export to China, five for Bulgaria, and eight for Yugoslavia.
Airfix is a model company based in the UK. At one period of time, MPC…based in the U.S. sold their kits under their label.
The kit comes in large and long tray and lid type box. This box measures 26” x 11” x 2 ¾”. It is 8” TOO LONG for the contents and could have been packaged in a shorter box. I remember when I purchased it, years ago, that it really hung over the edge of the shelf in the local hobby shop.
The box art shows two S-boats making a fast U-turn. In the background is an island with two dark painted cargo ships near it. The S-boats carry the bow numbers S10 and S11.
One side panel of the box has 5 color photos of the model made up. Next to this is an announcement about saving tokens, printed on the box, to redeem for free kits from MPC. MPC was based in Mt. Clemens MI at the time.
The other side panel has a short paragraph about the S-boat, a list of the kits features, another color photo of the kit made up, a copyright date of 1982 and MPC Fundemention’s address.
Inside the box is a large pillow case sized cello bag that holds all the light gray parts trees and one single clear parts tree. There is a smaller cello bag that holds two spools of light tan string and a length of black string. These are used for aerial wires and rope railings. A decal sheet, with a black eagle and swastika and black and white markings for S-boats S-10 to S-13 is included. Another decal is of the Kriegsmarine flag. In the kit, this flag has a Balkenkruze in the center rather than the correct swastika. I have altered this by adding the swastika to mine.
Although the eagle and swastika mark are done as a decal here, on the actual S-boats this was a bronze casting that was removed shortly after the beginning of hostilities in WWII.
The instructions and a sheet explaining the token redemption program complete the kits contents.
The parts trees look to me like they were hacked away from larger molded trees. Although they have the part numbers next to the parts, none are alphabetized nor are there any parts tree drawings on the instructions. Many parts have broken off these trees and were floating around in the large cello. This means that you will have to search each tree for the part numbers needed in the assembly steps…and…worse yet try and identify the ones that have broken off the trees. This will surely make for a lot of extra work.
The bull consists of 2 halves, a stern wall, the main deck and the bottom hull piece. The separate bottom hull part makes it possible to build the model as waterline or full hull. There are cradle support parts in the kit. Included also are 3 crew figures.
Normally, I try to identify the parts on each tree. I will dispense with this for this review as it would be a real chore, and being a armor buff foremost I would probably miss-identify things too. So, just look at the pictures of the trees and the loose parts.
This is a great companion kit to the later Revell of Germany 1/72nd scale S-boat kit. Worth looking for if you can find one. I paid about 9 bucks for mine back in the early 80’s. With inflation and the kit being out of production it will probably be a lot more expensive today.