Revell 1/72 Deutches Schnellboot Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||September 2006||Manufacturer||Revell|
|Kit Number||5051||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nicely detailed out of the box, aftermarket updates available||Cons|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$27.00|
In WWII the Friedrich Lurrsen/Vegesack shipyard successfully pioneered the development of a fast, seaworthy type of S-boat reaching to speeds even in heavy seas coupled with excellent maneuverability. Due to its well balanced construction, the design of the ship underwent no profound changes until the end of the war. S-boats (in German “Schnellboots” or “S-boots”….which means Fast Boats…proved their worth generally in escort sorties, in the sea reconnaissance role, in mine-laying operations and above all in fighting surface vessels and enemy submarines. The British hung the name “E-Boat” on them, the “E” meaning “Enemy”. However, the Germans never called them E-Boats.
Even though they scored lower in sinking enemy naval craft than the U-boats (submarines) operating in wide sea areas, owing to their high maneuverability and combat strength S-boats posed nevertheless a permanent threat to enemy shipping in the coastal areas and the English Channel, which contained a great deal of enemy forces. Despite continually improved defensive measures of the Allied Forces, S-boats achieved impressive success by lightning attacks. These attacks were carried out with much courage and commitment . They earned the S-boats the nick-name “Greyhounds of the Sea” (“Windhunde des Meeres”).
The final product and the last operative version of the S-boat types, that was used in significant numbers, was the S-100. These were produced from 1943 and which counts as the last S-boats of its time. The S-100 type was a successful compromise of size, performance and combat power coupled with a large range of action . This last developed type of motor torpedo boat was specially fitted with a rounded cuppola-shaped or “Kallote” bridge which was made of welded segments of steel (about 10 to 12mm of armor protection) and also with other areas of improved protection.
The enhanced armor protection, along with improved armament, had become a requirement when encountered with being out-numbered. Enemy MGB’s (Motor Gun Boats), corvettes and destroyers became more frequent and there was a significantly growing threat posed by enemy aircraft. In spite of wartime related shortages, this new type of S-boat afforded its crews a much improved weapon system with increased protection against machine-gun fire. This enhanced not only the suitability of the craft for combat operations, but also its chances for success.
The S-100 model was an average of 34.94m long, 5.28m wide and 2.9m high, with a 1.67m draught. It had a displacement of 98.91 tons and a full-load displacement of 110.74 tons. Depending on its speed, its operative range reached from 700 to 750 nautical miles. Several shipyards, such as Lurrsen/Vegesack, Gusto N.V./Schiedam and Schlichting/Travermunde did their best to satisfy the constant demand for new S-boats and have them stand up by superior performance and quality to Allied superiority at sea and in the air.
Initially fitted with three powerful Daimler-Benz MB 511-V four stroke diesel engines, each rated at 2000hps (later production series fitted with three MB 501A or MB 511, each with one motor-driven blower per engine, boosting up the power to 2500hps each). This was on 3 high-speed propellers of a diameter of 1.10m or 1.23m. The S-100’s had excellent acceleration power and could reach the astounding speed of 43.5 knots. This could be temporarily increased to up to 48 knots under combat conditions. Its rudder arrangement, which consisted of one half-balance main rudder and two side aerofoil-shaped rudders, which were located in the current of the outer propeller shafts, gave it particularly advantageous maneuverability. Also, this was owing to the so-called “Lurrsen-effect” additional acceleration powers.
Usually, S-boats carried a weapons load of two 533mm TR G7A torpedo launching tubes, mounted on the forecastle, and 4 torpedoes. Alternatively, the boats could be used as minelayers (carrying six mines in place of the reload torpedoes) or they were equipped with six depth charges which were used for fighting submarines. Further armament showed great differences over the last years of the war, but generally consisted of two 20mm Flak 38 (anti-aircraft) guns with up to 6000 rounds of ammo. One of these was mounted on the forecastle in a manhole which could be raised or lowered (“Drehkranzlafette 41”), the second one mounted on the quarterdeck.
From about 1943, a 20mm socket-mounted gun was added in the mid-ship position. Technical development soon called for a replacement of these smaller calibers by an aft-mounted 37mm Flak 36 cannon (or improved versions) or by a range of versions of fully automatic 40mm Bofors Flak 28’s, with up to 2000 rounds of ammo. This was used on S-100 type S-boats alternately. Additionally, the bridge carried two MG 34 machine guns and later MG-42’s on a provisional basis. In late 1944/1945, one 20mm quadruple-mounted anti-aircraft gun was installed aft, one 20mm twin-mounted gun in mid-ship position and one 30mm SK 35 in the forecastle. With this increase in the weapons load, the number of crew grew from an initial complement of 24 to up to 30, whose sole tasks were to operate the widened range of weapons.
The greatest threat that arose to the German S-boat Force (“Schnellbootwaffe”), which worked with only optical devices, was the radar locating and fire direction technology used by Allied escort vessels and by radar-supported air raids during day and night. Fully adequate defensive technology was not available on board and not be fitted until the end of the war either. Naxos radar interception equipment only disclosed radar detection by the enemy. This facilitated some quick defensive measures.
Towards the end of the war, the Allies superiority…both in terms of numbers and material prevented the chances of sinking enemy craft in decisive numbers and forced S-boats to operate jointly and in smaller numbers, more and more on the defensive until Germany capitulated. S-boat type S-100 version comprised from 1943/1945 of S-100, S-136, S-138 to S-150, S-167 to S186, S-195 to S-200, S-203 to S-228, and S-301- S-307.
107 S-boats survived the war and were distributed among the Allies as welcome war booty.
The kit comes in a long end-opening type box. The box art shows two S-boats going full throttle with shell splashes and explosions around them.
Inside the box are four large light gray trees of parts, the two hull halves, a sheet of clear acetate with the wheelhouse windows printed on it, a spool of thread (to do the life-raft tie downs and the radio aerial wires) the decal sheet and the instructions.
The instructions consist of a book with 20 pages printed on news-print type paper. There are 53 assembly steps shown. The instructions are in multiple languages, included English.
Five different marking options are offered. These mostly consist of the same overall paint scheme with only bow numbers, a shield insignia on the bow of one and a black panther painted on the side of another.
Bow numbers shown are 68 and 208. However, no other information is given about these particular boats.