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Revell 1/131 German U-Boot Type XXI, U2540 Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review July 2007 Manufacturer Revell/Germany
Subject German U-Boot Type XXI, U2540 Scale 1/144
Kit Number 5004 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice to see this classic on the shelf again Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $21.99

First Look


The Type XXI U-boat was a fundamentally new sort of submarine for Germany with a very streamlined hull and high-capacity batteries to give great submerged speed and endurance. The design was suggested at a conference in Paris in November 1942 as an alternative to the Walter turbine boats which were taking so long to develop.By June 1943, the preliminary design work was complete.

The planned submerged speed was to be 18 knots for 90 minutes, a tremendous advance on any submarine’s performance and one that would have caused formidable problems to the Allied navies had the Type XXI become operational in any numbers earlier in the war. Additional advantages of this type of U-boat were a deep-diving capability, a fast silent speed and rapid torpedo loading. The underwater armament was six bow tubes with 23 torpedoes.

It was planned to give these boats a defensive AA armament of a quadruple 30-mm (1..18in) gun of a new design, but because of production problems few were fitted and most boats had the standard 20-mm (0.79 in) weapons. To speed production the hull was prefabricated in eight all-welded sections in different shipyards away from the bombing targets of the Allied forces. After transporting the sections to the launching slip, they could be welded together rapidly and the boat launched after spending minimum time on a vulnerable launching slip.

The size of the Type XXI made it unsuitable for operations in the North Sea or the English Channel. Although 118 Type XXI U-boats were built, not many saw action and many were sunk in German territorial waters by Allied aircraft. After the war, U2540 (mentioned on the box art) was damaged by Allied fighter-bombers and scuttled on May 4th, 1945. It was raised and underwent a modernization program. The U-boat was handed over to the Bundesmarine (West German Navy) in 1958 and renamed “Wilhelm Bauer” in 1960. It is currently the only surviving Type XXI U-boat and since 1984 is housed in the Technical Museum in Bremerhaven.

The kit comes in a long end-opening type box. It is not cello-wrapped and the end flaps are held shut with large circles of Scotch tape.

The box art shows a Type XXI that has just sunk a freighter and is being attacked by a U.S. Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat. A side panel shows 6 color photos of the model made up. Another side panel has the U-boat’s history in four languages, including English.

On a scale of 1 to 5 for difficulty of assembly of this kit it is rated as a 3. That is described as “More demanding model with up to 100 parts”. Inside the box is a large cello bag holding two medium gray trees of parts. The instructions, decal sheet, a small sheet of signal flags, and a sheet of hazard warnings (in 21 languages.

The instructions consist of two large sheets that are folded in the center and amount to eight parts. These are folded a second time to fit them into the box.

  • Page one of the instructions begins with a black and white photo of the model made up. This is followed by the history of the Type XXI U-boat in German and English
  • Page two begins with “Read before you start” instructions in 18 languages, including English. This is followed by some scrap drawings of how to cut and hold parts
  • Page three starts with international assembly symbol explanations, followed by “Safety advice”
  • Page four begins with a hobby paint listing in multiple languages, followed by the parts tree drawings
  • Pages five and six give us a total of 24 assembly steps
  • Page seven has the painting and marking illustrations for 5 different Type XXI U-boats: U2502, U2540, U2514, U3501 and U3504
  • Page eight is blank

The parts trees are not alphabetized, but they do have the part numbers molded next to the parts. The first largest tree holds the two hull halves. (two parts) The second, slightly smaller, parts tree holds: the propellers, the rudders, the deck pieces, the conning tower parts the periscopes and snorkel, deck guns and the display stand parts etc. (47 parts). 1/144th scale may sound small, at first, but the hull of this kit is 21” long so it makes up into a nice size sub.

Highly recommended to modelers of WWII ships.