German Submarine U-Boat Type VIIC/IXC 'U-Boat Aces Part 2' (Limited Edition)
One of the latest releases from the folks at Hasegawa is a re-release of the waterline Type VIIC and IXC U-Boats in a limited edition form that includes photoetch parts and decals for the markings of four “Aces”. The kit includes four submarines in all, two of each type, as well as the bow and stern sections of two sinking merchant ships. Basic assembly is quick and easy, but installation of the photoetch railings requires removing the kit’s plastic representations and forming the metal replacement parts, which could challenge less experienced modelers. I would still highly recommend this kit to those interested in adding some small U-Boats to their collection.
The Type VIIC was the most produced submarine for the Kriegsmarine with some 572 being built during the war as a short and medium-range vessel. The Type IXC was built for long-range operations and only 54 of these would be completed by war’s end. What follows are the brief histories of each of the four U-Boats represented in this kit.
U-203 was built at the Krupp facility in Kiel with her keel being laid on 28 March 1940; she was launched on 4 January 1941, and commissioned on 18 February in 1941. She was assigned to the first flotilla, and is credited with sinking 21 ships before being sunk by British carrier aircraft and a single warship on 25 April 1943.
U-404 was built at the Danziger Werft in Danziger with her keel laid down on 4 June 1940; she was launched on 4 June 1941, and was commissioned on 6 August 1941. Starting out with the sixth Flotilla training unit, she moved to operational status on 1 October 1941. She sank 15 ships in all, 14 merchant ships and 1 warship, and is credited with damaging two additional ships. She was sunk on 28 July 1943 by depth charges dropped by two American and one British B-24.
Deutch Werft AG in Hamburg-Finkenwerder built U-505 with her keel being laid down on 12 June 1940; she was launched on 24 May 1941, and was commissioned on 26 August 1941. She is credited with sinking eight ships while serving with the 4th and 2nd Flotillas prior to being captured by the US Navy on 4 June 1944, and was once recognized as the most damaged U-Boat to return home from a patrol. She is currently available for tours at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.
Deutch Werft AG built U-515, like U-505, with her keel laid down on 8 May 1941; she was launched on 2 December 1941, and was commissioned on 21 February 1942. She served with the 4th and 10 Flotillas, sank 23 ships (21 commercial ships and 2 auxiliary ships), and damaged one commercial ship and one warship that would later sink. U.S. Navy destroyers and carrier aircraft launched by the USS Guadalcanal sank her on 9 April 1944.
Upon opening this kit, the builder will find two sprues holding the bridges and hull bottoms of the U-Boats, two sprues with the transport ship parts, four U-boat upper hulls (packed loose in the box), a photoetch fret, a decal sheet, and a single sheet of paper with directions and painting instructions in black and white. The plastic is all molded in light gray, and the photoetch fret holds deck and platform railings, Type VIIC bow pieces, aft wire supports (only shown in the directions for the type VIIC, but there are enough to add to the Type IXC if you want), life harnesses, radars, radio antennas, and twin-mount anti-aircraft guns and their bases.
I built this kit in its original form several years ago, and I must admit that the addition of the photoetch parts is a nice touch as is the very nice decal sheet. I am not sure why the decal sheet includes both 1/700 and 1/350 scale decals for some of the boats, but I will certainly keep the extras in case I want to use them on my 1/350 scale Type VIIC. As I mentioned at the start, the construction is quick and easy (keep in mind that there are some small parts) for the basic boats. Use of the photoetch parts requires removal of the deck railings on all four boats and removal of the bridge gundeck railings on the Type VIIC boats. The railings for the decks on the type VIIC boats and all of the gundecks require forming curves in the photoetch parts. I used a tool made to form various sizes of circles with one end being large and having a tapered end. The taper was ideal for the gundeck rails as they need to be larger at the top and smaller at the bottom for the ones that are curved (the Type VIIC gundeck and the lower gun deck for the Type IXC) while the upper deck for the Type IXC had a railing that was angled.
I used Testors Model Master Enamel Flint Gray, Model Master Acryl Dark Gray (F-15) and Engine Gray, and Vallejo Natural Steel, Red, Dark Rubber, and Black. The decals reacted just fine to Micro Set and Micro Sol.
I used the Flint Gray to represent the light gray on the hulls and Dark Gray (F-15) for the dark gray of U-505. The waterline plates for all of the boats, and the saddle tanks for the Type VIIC boats received Engine Gray. The decks were painted with a mix of Dark Rubber and Black as I wanted something lighter than black paint alone. I did not paint the sinking transport ships during this review, as I do not have immediate plans to use them in a display. I also left the photoetch life preservers off the boats as these were only carried when arriving and departing from port, and were not always present based on what I read.
My hits for this kit must start with the included photoetch parts, as they are more accurate for the Type VIIC boats deck rails than the kit’s molded-on plastic ones. All of the railings will improve in appearance with the PE replacements, and the type IXC boats are missing gundeck railings without the PE ones. The twin anti-aircraft guns are a great option as well. Decide the era of your boat to determine what the installed weapons were at that time as they did change during the life of a boat, as did the colors some times. The decal sheet is fantastic, and as I mentioned previously, you will have some left overs in both 1/700 and 1/350 scale. I do not have any misses to mention with this kit.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend this kit to anyone who is a fan of WWII German U-Boats and this Limited Edition release with photoetched parts and great decals is worth a little extra. Modelers with some experience with small parts will have no issues with building the basic kits, but some photoetch experience will be beneficial if you add those items.
I would like to thank the folks at Hobbico/Hasegawa USA for providing this kit to the IPMS USA for review, to Dave Morrissette, who runs the review corps, for selecting me to do the build, and to you for taking the time to read my comments.