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Building the 1/72 Airfix Reissue German Schnellboote

by Richard Eaton


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My top passions in modeling lately have included early WWI aeroplanes, small WWII armor and Patrol Torpedo Boats. After looking in vain for several years for the 1980's era Airfix German E-Boat kit, the kit surfaced recently as a reissue. I eagerly snapped one up and proceeded to fondle plastic. Hearing this, Bob Pearson then asked me to write up an article.

The Boat

Operating in coastal waters, the Kriegsmarine Schnellboote or S-boats (called E-Boats - Enemy boats - by the Allied), were a very effective WWII weapon. They took over the roles of the torpedoboats after those ships were used for destroyers.

These fast attack boats were used in almost all theaters of war -the Baltic Seas, the Mediterranean or the Black Sea - but their main operational area was the British Channel where they laid mines and attacked coastal convoys, especially during the night. S-boats also escorted capital ships giving them anti-aircraft and anti-submarine support. During the German occupation of Norway two S-boat flotillas escorted the capital ships and transported troops.

Although Allied air and naval power destroyed virtually the entire German High Seas Fleet, the smaller and auxiliary vessels of the Kriegsmarine continued to patrol and serve until the last hours of WWII. Their operational record was quite successful. The S-boats sank over 40 warships (including 12 destroyers) and well over 100 merchant vessels, while damaging 14 other warships (including two cruisers) and 15 merchant ships.

At the outbreak of World War II, only 18 S-boats were in service, but between 1940 and 1945 about 230 of these boats were build. Although there were several classes of those ships, all had the same basic design and most of them were built at one single shipyard, Lurssen in Vegesack, which continued to build successful fast attack crafts after the war. Several boats were used by other navies after the war, with two of them added to the newly formed Bundesmarine in 1957.

The History (Sorry I can't help throwing in a little WWI stuff)

During WW I the Italian and British Navy developed small and fast crafts equipped with torpedoes and machine guns for escort purposes in coastal areas. The main target of the Italian ships were the Austro-Hungarian submarines in the Aegian Sea but they were also used to attack capital ships. Their greatest success were the sinking of the battleships Szent István (June 1918) and Wien (November 1917). The Imperial German Navy started to operate small boats in shallow waters in 1916. The first experiments with modified civil sport boats were unsuccessful so they ordered six experimental crafts (LM 1 - LM 6) at Fr. Lurssen (Vegesack), Naglo shipyard (Zweuthen/Berlin) and Max Oertz (Hamburg) equipped with Maybach airship petrol engines. These trials were canceled at the end of the war.

The new German Reichsmarine continued these trials in the early twenties. In 1926 they ordered three more experimental crafts at different shipyards. Based on these trials a batch of six boats was ordered at Fr. Lurssen in 1929. The basic design of these boats was improved with the following generation of the German S-Boats.

1929 Type S1-S6
1932 Type S7-S9
1933 Type S10-S13 (this model)
1936 Type S14-S25
1939 Type S30-33
Gusto Type S151- S158

The Model

This 1/72 scale Airfix kit has an impressive number of detailed parts (290). Most parts had a small amount of flash which is to be expected on a reissue. The real problem was those time-honored Airfix ejector marks! They were pervasive. I wore out three sanding sticks on this one. I built OOB, though several assemblies would have benefited greatly from scratching up thinner parts

I spray painted the major colors while the parts were on the sprue. I used Testors German Gray for decks, camouflage gray for hull and bulkheads, and flat black for the keel. I went with dark base colors because I knew I was going to do a ton of drybrushing and wanted depth.

Assembly was pretty straight forward. I took things in sections so that detailing would be easier and so that I would not throw the thing against the wall before completion. Each section included cleanup, assembly, applying a wash of Tamiya acrylic brown, and drybrushing with Testors flat light gray and white. I used Testors Metalizer burnt metal and brass on the spare torpedoes.

Once the assemblies were done it was largely a simple matter of fitting and alignment. The only real fit problem encountered was the two hull pieces to the deck. This required clamping and CA as the hull parts were slightly warped. From there, final touchup, decals, and rigging (black sewing thread ) and it was done. The kit comes with a passable paper Kriegsmarine Flag that adds a tad of color to the gray beast.


Despite the cleanup problems, I recommend this kit to PT boat and ship lovers. Due to the cleanup, and the large number of small parts, I recommend this kit for experienced modelers. It really does build up to an impressive boat. . . Errrr E-boat . . . no S-boat!


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