The U-47 was a Type VIIB submarine or U-Boat used extensively during the Kriegsmarine throughout the Second World War. The Type VIIA predecessors had limited fuel capacity so a new variant was created, the Type VIIB and 24 vessels in total were built between 1936 and 1940. To overcome the shortcomings of the previous U-Boat type with the addition of two external saddle tanks. This improved the vessels range by over two thousand miles. The Type VII submarines were the most widely used U-boats in the Second World War and the most produced in history with 703 vessels built.
On the night of October 14th, 1939 under the command of Günther Prien U-47 surfaced in the heavily guarded British Naval Base in Scapa Flow. The battleship H.M.S. Royal Oak which lay at anchor there was sunk by a salvo of several torpedo‘s. U-47 then succeeded to escape undetected back to home waters. Seventeen months after this spectacular action U-47 was sunk by the British destroyer HMS Wolverine. U-47, one of a total of 24 Type VII U-boats was built at the Krupp Germania dockyard in Kiel and entered service in December 1938.
The U-47 was launched in December of 1938 under the command of Gunther Prien and during its career, sank a total of 31 vessels and damaged eight more. U-47 was successful infiltrating the Royal Navy’s primary port of Scapa Flow and responsible for sinking of the British battleship HMS Royal Oak on the 14th October 1939 with the loss of over 800 men.
The main armament consisted of 53.3 cm or 21 inch torpedo’s – the typical compliment was 14, together with a 8.8 cm naval gun and an anti-aircraft machine gun. The vessels were powered by two MAN AG 6 cylinder 4-stroke M6V 40/46 diesel engines, producing a total of approximately 2,200 brake horsepower. When the vessels were submerged, they were powered by two Brown, Boveri & Cie GG UB 720/8 electric motors giving a total of 750 horsepower.
Upon opening the box, you are presented eight sprues of medium grey styrene, two small decal sheets and a twelve page instruction booklet. The main pieces of the kit comprise the two hull halves, which when the kit is fully built, will give you a kit just over 53 cm in length.
The remaining parts comprise all of the bulkheads, interior paneling and a pair of diesel engines. The exterior panels build up into the conning tower, props, rudders and the two exterior armaments.
What makes this kit particularly interesting is obviously the inclusion of the interior. The five compartments depicted will give you a unique insight into the inner workings of a Second World War German submarine. To complete the model, you also receive 15 small figures which can be positioned throughout the vessel.
Moving from bow to stern, the five compartments depict:
• Forward torpedo room
• Main control room (or bridge), containing various control and work stations, together with the ladder leading up to the conning tower.
• Next is the crew sleeping quarters (very small!)
• Engine room which contains two massive diesel engines
• Lastly we see the stern torpedo / storage room
In terms of the moulding quality, the quality is certainly above average but this is most definitely an entry-level kit. The port half of the hull has had the hull opened up to allow you to peer inside when the vessel is completed.
The first thing that caught my eye is that the styrene throughout the entire kit is very shiny, giving a much more glossier appearance than I was expecting. This translates through to the texture of the kit and when rubbed, gives a very slippery feel. I would almost say that if you were building the kit, extra attention would be needed when applying a coat of primer to the hull pieces especially as I have suspicions that the paint may struggle to stick to the plastic. If I were building this, I would sand the entire surface with a fine grade sand paper to “scuff” the plastic and give the paint a better chance of adhesion.
Mould quality is good, albeit a bit soft but there is plenty of scope to add extra layers of detail by opening up some of the vents along the hull used to submerge the vessel.
Moving on to the other pieces of the kit, the glossy appearance of the styrene continues throughout all of the pieces and upon closer inspection, quite a lot of flash appears on some of the smaller, and funnily enough, larger pieces.
You get a supply of ten torpedoes with the kit, which made these submarines infamous. One thing that has always bothered me personally is the unnecessary step manufactures insist on including: making very small parts out of more than one piece of styrene. In this case, I am pleased to say that the torpedoes are single pieces (yay!).
The control panels included within the kit include a mix of raised detail and small flat panels, upon which a builder would apply the various decals. These panels could, if you wanted a further channel, potentially be back lit to really help bring your completed U-47 to life. There would not be a tremendous amount of room between the rear of the bulkhead and interior hull, but a few well-placed fiber optics could do the job.
Also supplied are the two enormous five cylinder diesel engines. Using a small figure for reference, these engines are easily 12 feet tall. They include a decent amount of detail and you could certainly go the extra mile and fit various fuel pubs and electrical wiring. Such is the potential that it is almost a shame you will only ever see one half of one engine when the model is completed.
Overall, construction looks fairly straightforward with construction starting with the forward torpedo room and steadily working your ways aft. It does look as though this kit will certainly ask that age old model maker question of “do I build the kit and then paint it” or build sub-assemblies, then assemble the kit”? Personally, I would imagine that this kit would be a combination of the two. I am confident that you could open the lid of the box and build the kit with minimal fuss easily of the course of a weekend.
What would make the model sing however would be to build up sections into sub-assemblies, paint those and then glue the parts together – but not all sections require this attention to detail. Once of the main elements of the kit, and presumably the reason the kit has been designed as a cut-through model, is to show off the control panels.
The main control panel, housed in the second compartment runs for approximately a third of the length of the kit. While easy and tempting to simply glue this in place, you can make life a great deal easier for yourself by painting this part, and applying all of the 50 (very small!) decals depicting the various dials and controls separately, and then fixing this to the bulkhead. I have always found that plastic cement does not especially like to be used on painted plastic as a) it will give you a poor bound and not weld the plastic together and b) you will end up making a right old mess! Luckily in this case however, all of the attachment points are on the reverse of the panel so you will never be able to see them.
Talking of decals, for decals of this size and shape, I would strongly recommend purchasing some Micro Sol and Set decal setting solution. Other brands are available but these are my personal favorites. Micro Sol softens the decal, allowing it to control to more unusual shapes and once nearly dry, apply Micro Set, which ‘pulls’ the decal down onto the plastic – giving you a very professional appearance. Micro Sol and Set are pretty inexpensive and a sound investment for any beginner modeler. I still have the original bottles I purchased not far off ten years ago and are still ¾ full – so you will not need to worry about them running out any time soon.
Another part of note are the inclusion of the 15 figures. They are not very large, approximately 1.5 cm in height but for a kit of this scale / price point, they are a welcome addition! I have never attempted to paint a figure of this scale (the closest being a Games Workshop Space Marine Dreadnought for a friend) but would like to give it a go! Having the crew in place would really add some movement to the kit and bring it to life. They might be too small for a “full works” paint job with oil paints etc, but if you have had a go at that, you are a better painter than I am!
The conning tower also looks like an area which you could have a great deal of fun with and potentially add lot of extra detail.
Also included with the kit are the two artillery pieces, the main deck gun, a 8.8 cm SK C/35 naval gun and smaller anti-aircraft gun. Both are well moulded to give nice crisp lines and show nice detail. As always, these could be given more detail with the addition of photo etch or even a brass barrel. In these type of instances, it would be up to the builder to decide how much time, or cost to invest in the project. With the original kit being inexpensive to start with, any additional details or parts you use will rapidly exceed the original price of the kit.
I feel the Deutsches U-Boot German Submarine U-47 with interior
is an entry level kit, based on an earlier model kit so you will inevitably come across compromises. If you were new to the hobby or looking to purchase a kit as a present for someone you could do a lot worse. However, the more I think about it, the more I believe that for real naval enthusiasts (and please don’t take that in the wrong way regarding any political views of the Second World War), this would build up into a great little kit. Many of the hard to find models I have come across over the years are cut-away kits and becoming exceedingly rare and expensive (for example the Millennium Falcon and original USS Enterprise) – because you are limited only by your imagination. There is enormous scope on this kit to either build it quickly over a wet weekend or to take your time and pull out all the stops.
It is all here, the potential for real weathering, shading, use of pastels, photo etch and it even includes a set of figures – all giving a modeller of any skill level something to get their teeth into.
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