For Christmas 2015 I updated my stash. I try and stick to the rule of one-in-one-out. Not sure I am winning but I finished the two Sukhoi jets so felt not-too-bad about adding two new kits. One was an early Christmas present to myself – the Revell German Submarine/U-Boot/U-Boat VIIC “Wolf Pack” – their Kit Number 05015. This is in the unusual scale of 1/72nd for me – something I admit to hating but that didn’t put me off doing the Finemolds Millennium Falcon you will note! It is also a highly unusual topic as I do not do nautical topics. I can’t explain quite why this appeals to me so much – but it does. There are no rules.
I have fancied building this for years now and it has an impressive pedigree of aftermarket to go with it. I like this for one of the reasons I like the Millennium Falcon – it looks like an easier/quicker build than my usual fair of super-detailed aircraft. No cockpit, no glazing, no small fiddly bits, no undercarriage, etc – just lots of acreage to go crazy weathering. Heaven.
So that was one thing, the other? More my usual cup-of-tea – a 1/48th scale Russian aircraft! You can call be boring, call me predictable, but this really is my thing. The funny thing was that my wife bought this for me as I added it to my Amazon Wish List on a whim really. I had not added a kit to such a wish list before and I actively told my family NOT to buy me kits as I would only end up with stuff I didn’t want. I am fussy like that. But when I was putting my wish list together at the back end of 2015 I threw it in there as a wild card just for fun. This seemed to appeal to my wife who was obviously bored of buying me books (I guess).
So, yes! This is the newly released Zvezda Petlyakov Pe-2 Soviet Dive Bomber. Now I already have the old MPM kit but that was very poorly supported by the aftermarket sets so sat on the shelf since purchase as I couldn’t get the enthusiasm to build it. Now I have no excuse. The Zvezda kit is as good as the MPM kit was bad. By my reckoning it has 400 parts although a small number are not used as it looks like Zvezda will be introducing further variants from a common mould. This is a proper Russian product, everything is in half in English and half in Cyrillic. It is even made in Russia – but this is a quality product. None of your shoddy East European limited run injection nonsense from twenty years ago. This is state of the art.
Now of course I haven’t fitted it together but you can judge the enormous extent of their ambition. In the UK this retails at around GBP20 (US$30) which is pretty cheap, by my reckoning, once you open the box. The colour artwork on the box top reminds you of the classic Airfix artworks of the 1970s before they got all politically-correct. Turn the box over and you get to see a sneak preview of the assembled kit with all its interior details intact. Zvezda left nothing to the imagination. You get a complete cockpit interior, complete bomb bay, complete rear fuselage interior, lots of bombs, crew figures and a completely exposed/detailed engine. Wow. The detail is chunky and work-manlike but the aftermarket crowd have notice the enormous potential for the kit and the photoetch sets appeared before the kit even became generally available. Awesome.
Now, open the box, the artwork is actually on a slim card sleeve. Slide that off and you have a very stout cardboard box inside. All the sprues are well protected in tough plastic bags. The clear parts are backed in a separate poly bag with the decal sheets. Nice touch! I have not had cause to open the bags yet but a good hard stare through the plastic bags shows the detailing to be exquisite and state-of-the-art. Everything looks beautifully done with subtle riveting and panel lines. It looks delicate, even fragile – with a lot of very small parts. There is no flash and the whole thing has a feel of quality about it. This is at the cutting edge of injection moulding technology. It just screams “build me”.
So the plan is this: snap up two of all the aftermarket items:
- Eduard Photoetch ED48871 Petlyakov Pe-2 exterior
- Eduard ED49091 Petlyakov Pe-2 seatbelts SUPERFABRIC
- Eduard ED49092 Petlyakov Pe-2 seatbelts FABRIC
- Eduard photoetch ED49747 Petlyakov Pe-2 interior
- Eduard EDEX488 Canopy masks
- Eduard photoetch EDFE747 Petlyakov Pe-2 interior
- Peewit PEE48008 paint masks
I will then build the MPM kit and this together – at the same time – using the Zvezda as the master to help the MPM kit along. Well, that is the plan. I don’t know if the MPM kit could just drag the project down but, as I recall, the quality of that moulding is quite good but it has been criticised for poor accuracy.
Let’s return to the submarine now as this is an entirely different kettle of fish (pun intended). It is BIG, very BIG! 93.3cm long it says. I believe it. Revell have put a stout box around it but moulded the hull in two complete halves meaning they shoe-horned them into the box diagonally. This certainly invites disaster but mine survived shipment from Hannants without a scratch. This is testimony to the fact that Revell also ship it in a very stout outer box which no doubt helps it survive. The part count is just over 200 so this is not a complicated build and you get a LOT for your money physically. This was retailing at GBP60 (USD90) for a while but has recently been discounted down to GBP30 when I snapped it up. You have to watch out for the postage and packaging though which in the UK cost me GBP6.50 as I recall. This was slightly less from Hannants than one of their competitors. What was even better is that I purchased the Mach 2 Sputnik 3 model in the same bundle and it still cost me £6.50 P&P! Bargain.
The Revell product looks good. Chunky and solid. The hull is a blend of engraved panel lines and raised. I am unsure if this is accurate but given they have both I can only assume so. However it doesn’t seem right to have raised panel lines. I think they should be toned down a bit – they are probably slightly raised weld seams. I need to do some research! By now there are a lot of really good pro-builds visible on the web. One of these is here: http://www.travel-net.com/~gcauley/U673/1_plan_prep.htm where you can see a listing of aftermarket stuff. Of these the Nautilus wooden deck looks like a must-have. Find it here: http://nautilusmodels.com/72-501.htm.
Whilst digging around I came across the U-boat type VIID Minelayer “Conversion set for Revell kit U-boat VIIC” from CMK. It isn’t on the Hannants listing but you can find it here: http://www.cmkkits.com/en/ships/u-boat-type-viid-minelayer-conversion-set-for-revell-kit-u-boat-viic/ This is interesting as it means slicing the hull in half to insert a large plug for the mine-laying apparatus. So, think about that! A metre long model that you then extend to make longer. How could I not resist THAT! It will be enormous. I certainly haven’t seen any of those pro-built on the web so this could really set the build aside and make it interesting, if not just plain enormous.
Alongside these two essential I reckon I will probably need the White Ensign Models “WEM Flood, Drain and Vent holes PE kit” as it looks like it will improve the accuracy no end. This is a whole lot of photoetch knocking about the web. There are the Eduard sets, of course, but if you have gander over at Scalemates web site there is quite a listing of photoetch here: https://www.scalemates.com/kits/103551-schatton-modellbau-7241-periskope-f-r-das-revell-u-boot-vii-c including the metal periscopes on that link. Then there is photoetch set at http://www.modelbrass.com/revell_viic.htm and these insane dry transfers by Archer: https://www.scalemates.com/kits/220764-archer-fine-transfers-ar88023-revell-u-boat-super-detail-kit
If you want to splash out a bit there is also this http://freetimehobbies.com/1-72-pontos-models-u-boot-type-vii-c-super-detail-set/ for the Pontos Models U-Boot Type VII C Super Detail Set which looks amazingly awesomeif you can find anyone who has a copy. I think EBay might pay for itself but it will be pricey. One area that looks a good candidate for improvements is around the armaments. Eduard Brassin do an entirely new deck gun plus there are more upgrade options from Griffon and Schatton-Modellbau. Whilst you are on the web have a gander at AMP and the Larsenal super detail set. CMK also have a plethora of accessories, crew sets, internals and other hull detailing sets that appear to be widely available. Interestingly enough the mine-laying conversion also seems to be available from Special Navy although it looks suspiciously identicle to the CMK version. I think they are the same? Then again Schatton Modellbau also appear to have a mine-laying conversion here but it looks different. I will shop around.
Certainly you could spend many more hundreds of pounds on the U-Boat – vastly more than I spent on the kit itself. But the result should be amazing. Just as long as we steer well clear of internal details heah? What a time to be alive.