Riich Models 1/700 955 Borei Class SSBN
The Borei class submarine is the latest Russian nuclear missile submarine family, designed to replace the ageing Delta III/IV and Typhoon submarines. Initially started in the mid-1990s, the successor to those older SSBNs underwent several design changes before the first Project 955 boat was built. The launch of the Yuriy Dolgorukiy was scheduled for 2002, but budget issues kept it from the water until 2008. Eight Project 955 submarines are planned for construction, with five budgeted through 2015. Currently two ships are at sea, the Yuriy Dolgorukiy and the Aleksandr Nevskiy.
As this is a new submarine, it is great to see kit companies tackling the subject so soon. This model from Riich Models provides two complete waterline kits in the box, with decals and photoetch to cover both operational SSBNs. The kit is molded in black plastic, which is fine given that the finished submarine will also be black. Detail is excellent throughout, but do take note: these are waterline kits, not full hull.
Construction begins with the sail. There are actually options here, as the kit can be built with all the antennae up or all the hatches closed (or anything in between, really). This is a nice option to have, as it will allow you to have a bit of variation between the two submarines when they're finished. You get a whole slew of periscopes and antennae, eight in all, with separate hatches. Pick which ones you want out, cover up the rest, and you can move on to the next step.
The sail itself is made up from three pieces. There are two side halves and a one-piece top that has all the openings for the masts, periscopes, and antennae. This allows for some great detail to be molded on all three sides, and a quick test fit shows that there won't be much of a problem with putting it all together. In fact, with just a bit of sanding on the seams, I managed to get the sail together well enough to not need any filler anywhere. The sail also fits flawlessly onto the upper hull, so this will be an easy kit to build.
Moving on to the hull, this is molded as one piece for the upper side. There is a separate bottom plate, and the fit of that is likewise very good. The detailing present on the upper hull is outstanding, with a combination of petite raised bits and recessed lines for the various hatches. With the sail in place, the only remaining part is the rear fin. Tack that on and this is basically done. Without even trying (I was just going to test-fit things, really!) I managed to have this model completely assembled and ready for paint in about fifteen minutes.
The painting instructions are on the back of the box, in color, which is kind of odd given that the submarine is painted black overall. Still, there are little bits of color, such as the yellow and clear blue on some of the antennae, and the colorful red and white hatch on the rear deck. The decals provide lots of white markings, from hatch outlines to depth markers. Each submarine also gets a crest for the front of the sail, the only identifying mark found on these SSBNs. The photoetch provides no detail to the kit itself, but rather a nice nameplate for each ship.
This is a great weekender model. The detail is great, the assembly is quick, and even with painting and weathering, both of these could be finished in a weekend, even with a long list of other chores to do. For a more challenging move, though, one could scratchbuild the dock that these ships tie up to, and perhaps encase them in ice. Since the models build fast, might as well try out some of those ideas, right? My thanks to Dragon Models USA for the review sample.