The Z-39 was the fifteenth, and final ship of the Zerstorer 1936A-class (known to the Allies as the Norvik-class) built by Germany during the Second World War. The Z-39 had her keel laid in 1940; launched on August 5, 1941; commissioned on August 21, 1943, and survived the war to and taken by Great Britain. The ship was given to the United States Navy, was renamed DD-939, and was used for testing until she was given to France in 1948. The French used the ship for spare parts for other destroyers until finally scrapped in 1964. Displacing just over 3600 metric tons fully loaded, the ship had a length of 127 meters, a width of 12 meters, a draught of 4.65 meters, and she was powered by two geared turbines that allowed a maximum speed of 37 ½ knots. Armament for the Z-39 consisted of 150 mm, 37 mm, and 20 mm guns, 533 mm torpedo tubes, mines, and depth charge launchers.
The Z-39 operated in Jutland as well as the Baltic Sea while serving the Kriegsmarine and it was in the Baltic where Soviet bombers hit her in June of 1944. The ship was sent back to Kiel, where she was built, and another Allied bombing raid in February of 1945 damaged the ship once more. The ship did not see additional action during the war after the air strike in Kiel.
This new Smart Kit from Dragon contains over six hundred and fifty parts according to the box, and there are not many left over parts when construction is completed. The parts are spread out on fourteen plastic sprues (the upper hull and base are not on sprues), and three photoetched frets. In addition, two plastic sprues hold six figures (three on each), and there is one decal sheet with markings for both the German and US Navy service, and one flag sheet. The ship may be built as either a waterline or full hull version, and a nice base and posts are included if the full hull is selected.
As with a previous ship review, I used my handy color cross-references to get my paints to represent RAL colors 7001, 7024, 7016, and 8013. I settled on using Model Master Enamel paint 2037, Flint Gray (for RAL 7001); Model Master Acryl 4752, Gunship Gray (for RAL 7024); 4767, Aircraft Interior Black (for 7016), and 4675, Rust (for 8013). I am not entirely certain that the ship was a dark red-brown beneath the waterline (as I have seen wartime photographs of other ships showing a more reddish color), but I went with the recommendations of Dragon. I used Alclad II Lacquer Gloss Black Base (ALC 304) and Chrome (ALC 107 R-C) for the base and posts.
I will admit up front that I spent an additional week building this review kit due to its complexity (as I mentioned before, there are over 650 pieces to this kit). I took the in-progress kit with me to a couple of my model club meetings, which elicited comments from my friend Keith on the model being over-engineered (as an example, each of the four dual-mount 37 mm guns consist of fifteen parts). Another model friend, Ralph, would say that you have to “model” to build the kit. My friend Tim says that I am the only one in the clubs that would even attempt such a build. The point that I am making here is that this is far from a simple kit to build, but it is a very complete kit (all of the louvered ventilation covers are represented by photoetched parts that can be formed at any angle), and with some time and patience makes a wonderful looking destroyer.
The following are my construction suggestions for others to consider when building this kit, as I learned many of them the hard way:
- Step 1: Assembly C – parts H5 and H7 are swapped in the directions
- Step 2: Assembly K – there are only enough parts to build four of the assemblies, not five
- Step 4: If building the photoetched radar assembly, the PE parts sit on piece C34 (this is shown in the directions without a part number)
- Step 8: Assembly T – trim approximately 1 mm from each side of part C41, or this will block the Assembly M mast legs in step 14. Assembly T – when installing part C26, ensure that the slot is down (this is not shown in the directions)
- Step 9: Assembly U – the directions do not mention the need to fold radar MB 11
- Step 10: The sub step for adding sidepieces does not mention that each side will require two piece G15’s. Install Assembly U before G14 and G15 as well as C1 and C2
- Step 12: Install forward torpedo launcher (Assembly H) AFTER Assembly T is attached in Step 14. Part B4 (wave break in front of the main gun) is shown attached to bow in close-up drawing, but is not spelled out as being attached in this step
- Step 13: Install parts C21 and 22 prior to D19, D20, and G18; in addition, C4 needs installed before G13/19/20
- Step 14: PERFORM PRIOR TO STEP 13 (with the exception of Assembly G2). Install Assembly T prior to Assembly M/P/R/S. The forward torpedo launcher (Assembly H) will block Assembly T if it was installed first in step 12. Part MB15 is called for to attach to the port side of Assembly M/P/R/S, but the part needed is really MB7. In the right side sub-step, part D31 is called for twice; one side will need part D32 instead as there is only one D31.
- Nearly all of the holes required some additional opening to allow items to fit where needed
- Some holes were not formed all of the way through the plastic
- There are no locators for the several cable and hose reels that attach to the deck.
- The box states “for skilled modelers aged 14 and over”, and Dragon means it
For me, the hits of this kit are once again Dragon’s ability to capture such fine detail in their moldings, and the included photoetched parts. Using their slide-mold technology, all of the gun barrels are recessed on the ends, saving the effort of having to drill them for those who prefer their models to be preparing to fire. If you are a fan of 1/350 scale ships, you will be truly impressed with what this kit has to offer. There was a minimal amount of clean up required on the parts with only a few seams needing to be removed. There was no excess flash on any of the parts. The main deck and lower hull fit perfectly on my kit, and the overall fit of the other parts was good. If I had installed the three assemblies that carry the guns to the deck without the weapons being in place, I likely would have avoided the small issues that I did run into. I like to think that it is because of an earlier review of mine, but whether this is the case or not, Dragon now includes port, starboard, and top views for the painting and markings pages.
There really were no misses for me with this kit, as time and patience overcame most of the issues that I encountered during construction. I did find that the legs (parts G15) for Assembly W did not quite reach the deck alignment holes, and the three braces (parts C16 and 17) on each side of Assembly R had a similar issue. Dragon includes photoetched chains for the two anchors, but I think they look too 2-dimensional, so for the review I replaced one with a piece of chain (from Builders In Scale that is 40 links per inch, and is close to the size of the PE chain, but 3-dimensional). I did leave one PE chain installed in order to show what is included in the kit.
To conclude, I did like this new release from Dragon, and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to add either the German Z-39 or the American DD-939 destroyer to his or her collection. My thanks go out to the fine individuals at Dragon Models USA for providing this kit for the IPMS-USA to review, and to you for reading my comments.
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