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Schnellboot Typ S-38

Italeri 1/35 Schnellboot Typ S-38 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2018 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject Schnellboot Typ S-38 Scale 1/35
Kit Number 5620 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Beautiful and HUGE kit! Cons See text
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $219.95

First Look

Schnellboot Typ S-38
Schnellboot Typ S-38
Schnellboot Typ S-38
Schnellboot Typ S-38
Schnellboot Typ S-38
Schnellboot Typ S-38
Schnellboot Typ S-38
Schnellboot Typ S-38
Schnellboot Typ S-38

Like other navies around the world during the 1930s, the Germans started development of a high-speed torpedo boat capable of operating in the Baltic, Mediterranean, and Black Seas where conditions were usually less-than-favorable. Unlike the wooden gasoline-powered Elco 80' boats being developed for the US Navy, the German boats were metal and powered by three Daimler-Benz diesel engines. The S-38-class displaced 100 tons fully loaded and was capable of operating at over 40 knots, even in rough seas. The S-38-class boats entered service in the 1930s and served through the end of World War II. During production of the S-38-class and the subsequent S-100-class, the deckhouse and bridge module was replaced by and armored dome to provide the crew better protection from strafe and machine gun attack.

Ten years ago, Italeri applied some 'shock and awe' to the modeling world with their HUGE 1/35 Schnellboot S-100 kit. I remember seeing this model built up at a hobby trade show and Richard Dryfus' voice in the back of my mind saying "you're going to need a bigger shelf!" Indeed, the subsequent builds I've seen of this kit have been very impressive indeed, but I was working on another Italeri masterpiece, the PT 596. Italeri likes to release at least one huge kit per year, and I was honored to receive an advanced copy of one of this year's huge kits, the S-38. I could tell from the postman's colorful metaphors that the box was sizeable, and when extracted from his vehicle, it was indeed a handful. The box measures around 40 inches long, and when you look inside, you can see why - the hull halves are not molded in sections. As you look closer at the model, you can see that Italeri has done some impressive engineering to make this kit large, but with around 600 parts, it isn't very complex.

The first thing I had to do is see if these hull halves were warped, since large moldings will sometimes change shape. All I can say is that I am glad I reengineered my workbench because I needed all of the space there to wrestle the hull halves. It took a little trial-and-error to figure out how the hull halves come together, but when they did, they aligned nicely. You can see in the second image in the photo stack where I've got the hull halves together using only small clamps, and no, there is no warpage whatsoever. The only problem I found was a small section of the bow broke off during its shipping through the postal services which shouldn't be an issue when they bring these over on a container ship. It won't take much effort to glue the piece back into place once the hull is assembled.

Speaking of hull assemblies, Italeri provides four spars that fit inside the upper hull halves to provide structural rigidity and use screws to keep it that way. The kit also provides a display stand which the instructions have you assemble in Step 3 so you have a place to safely set your hull during assembly.

Molded in gray styrene, this kit is presented on nine parts trees plus the two hull halves, one fret of photo-etched details, and a bag of hardware for the structural hull spars.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Torpedo tube bow doors are positionable
  • Torpedo tube rear doors are positionable
  • Four detailed torpedoes on storage racks
  • Choice of bow gun mount or no mount (covered hole)
  • Positionable deck crew hatches
  • Positionable deck storage locker hatches
  • Detailed bridge and fire control stations
  • Detailed depth charge racks with six depth charges
  • Detailed 40mm Bofors gun mount
  • Detailed 20mm gun mount

Markings are included for three examples:

  • S-105, 2. S-Flotilla, English Channel, 1943
  • S-51, 1. S-Flotilla, Black Sea, 1942
  • S-46, 2. S-Flotilla, English Channel, 1941

One note on the decals, the set includes the Kriegsmarine flag though this one is 'politically correct' - no swastika inside the white circle. You'll have to go to the aftermarket to find the correct flag (unless you live in parts of the EU where the swastika is illegal).

If you search online, there are conversion kits for the previous S-100 kit to make the model radio-controlled. Since this kit shares the same hull, you can use the conversion to take your model out on the lake, pond, or fountain. Italeri also released a crew figure set for the S-100 which can be used here as well.

Italeri has achieved another round of 'shock and awe' with this release and will be welcomed by those modelers that want the earlier bridge/deckhouse configuration.

My sincere thanks to Italeri SPA for this review sample!