The most anticipated injection molded ship model of the past two years would have to be the ICM release of the SMS Konig and her sister-ship SMSGroßer Kurfurst (the German symbol ß translates as 'ss' – so henceforth it shall beGrosser Kurfurst). The Konig has proved to be a most popular kit, so much so that many companies have already sold out their stock of it - and we had to wait for a restocking to present this review.
In 1906 a new ship appeared on the scene. So radical was her design that an entire classification of warship was named after her. HMS Dreadnought was the first modern warship to have a uniform main battery of guns - 12" in her case. Prior to her, capitol ships carried mixtures of heavy, medium and light guns to allow them to combat various types of adversary. Experience had shown the smaller calibres to be redundant with escorting vessels already carrying them, and the weight they took up could better be used in more large guns with better range and hitting power.
Germany quickly followed Great Britain's lead and by the outbreak of World War One had four classes of Dreadnought in service. The Nassau (four ships), Helgoland (four ships), Kaiser (five ships) and the Konig (four ships). The evolution in design is interesting: the Nassaus mounted 12x11" guns in six turrets arranged with two on the centreline and two on either side amidships; Helgoland carried the same arrangement but went up to 12" guns; Kaiser had one bow and two aft turrets on the centreline, with a pair of staggered turrets amidships; Konig carried her turrets all on the centreline. A far more practical arrangement which allowed the full weight of a broadside to be used on most bearings without fear of being 'wooded' by the superstructure. The only thing which could have stood improvement was the calibre of the main battery - by now the Royal navy was using 13.5" guns and were about to introduce 15" with the Queen Elizabeth class. Germany would have to wait until almost the end of the war for theBaden and Bayern to appear with similar weapons.
In common with other German designs, theKonigs were well protected, and unlike many German designs, they were excellent sea-boats, with a good beam for stable shooting. However they possessed poor endurance as they were designed for North Sea operation and not for worldwide use.
SMS Grosser Kurfurst was laid down by the Vulcan shipyard on 10 March 1911, launched 5 May 1913 and commissioned on 30 July 1914. Until the advent of theBaden/Bayern, the four ships of the Konigclass were the most powerful in the German navy. During the First World War they formed the third Squadron of the High Seas Fleet and as such fought at Jutland where Grosser Kurfust suffered eight hits which resulted in 15 killed among her crew. On 5 November 1916 she was hit by a torpedo from eh British submarine J-1, but managed to make it safely to port for repair. On 5 March 1917 she collided with Kronprinz(another Konig class dreadnought) while on exercises - both ships were damaged in the encounter. On 13 October 1917, she hit a mine while operating in the Riga Bay against the Russian fleet, again with the result that repairs were needed. Her penultimate damage came from a grounding on 30 May 1918, and the final act was being scuttled in Scapa Flow on 21 June 1919 along with other units of the HSF. During the 1930s the wreck was refloated and scrapped.
The first thing one sees is an immense box measuring 24" x 14" x 3". Upon opening it the thought that a smaller box could have been used is very much apparent - in fact all the parts apart from the hull and decks could fit into the standard Eduard size box. Having said the preceding, I must now say that is my only complaint . . . storage is going to be a pain – I may have to actually build this one.
The hull is a single piece measuring just shy of 20 inches overall - a very nice size. The only detail incorporated on it are indentations for the portholes, strakes on the lower hull and a very faintly engraved line for painting the waterline boot-top.
The main deck and fo'c'sle decks are nicely detailed with hatches, planking, skylights and gun mount locations molded on them. The main deck sits flush on the hull, with the superstructure between it and the fo'c'sle deck being added next and then the fo'c'sle deck being affixed to that. There are openings in the main deck, so I wonder how long it will be until someone motorizes one of these kits a'la the old Lindberg kits. There is also a seven piece stand included to display the kit.
Moving on to the sprues, of which there are six – each loaded with parts. The first contains: Anchors, rangefinders, prop shaft housings, props, 4" barrels and gun houses, davits, bollards and numerous other parts I haven't figured out yet.
Sprue number two has: turret bases, stairs, 5.9" gunhouses and barrels, anti-torpedo netting booms, more davits.
Sprue three has elements of the superstructure and the forefunnel. There is also ladders and louvers for the air intakes on the side of the superstructure.
Sprue four has the aft funnel and various levels of the main superstructure; gunhouses and pedestals.
Sprue five has the main turrets, barrels and braces to affix them in place; life rafts - I have turned a few of these around to show the detail on them.
The final sprue contains the ships boats and the structures on which they were mounted. The boats are nicely done and could even be superdetailed to become little models in their own right.
The instructions consist of a 12 page booklet which starts with an outline history of the ship, this moves on to show all the parts; and then actual construction in 35 steps. There is also a full-size side and plan view drawing of the ship as she appeared in 1914 to be used as a painting guide. Another, 1/700, side view drawing shows her in 1918. There are differences in the boat arrangement, and undoubtedly other details, so check other references closely to determine which variant you wish to build - there is nothing in the instructions to say which is which.
Decals are included with the battleflag and turret-top aerial recognition markings for the late-war variant . .. but no location is shown for where to apply these.
As mentioned at the top, this is a much anticipated kit. Was it worth the wait? I can only say "YES". Built OOB it will be a nice introduction to 1/350 scale ships. With the addition of PE it will be a contest winner. Three different companies have announced that they are producing PE for the Konig/Grosser Kurfurst - Gold Medal Models, Tom's Modelworks and White Ensign Models. We should have a review of the latter in the next issue of Internet Modeler.
Forthcoming kits in this scale include the Japanese cruiser Takao and the British battlecruiser Hood.