Building the 1/700 Revell DKM Tirpitz by Frank Spahr
The Subject
There´s little need for me at this point to say much about this famous vessel. She was Germany´s last battleship, sister to Bismarck, and spent virtually all of her career in Norway being a threat to allied supplies. Her mere presence necessitated heavy units escorting the Murmansk convoys, and both sides went to great lengths in protecting and trying to destroy her. Finally on 12 November, 1944, after a series of unsuccessful attempts, ultra heavy „Tallboy“ RAF bombs destroyed her at her mooring, killing about 1,200 of her crew. 
The Kit
Revell has produced the currently best 1:350 versions of Bismarck and Tirpitz some years ago. In smaller scale, the company range only had Bismarck and Tirpitz as hopelessly outdated box scale versions. Hence, 1:700 kits of both Bismarck and Tirpitz were produced using the data collected for the larger versions. Given the availability of the recent Dragon and Trumpeter offerings, the reception these kits had was on the lukewarm side, even more so as no implicit waterline option was included and the smaller AA guns were regarded as clunky. 
I for one did understand the company´s need to offer a current kit of these economically important subjects. I also understand that they do not primarily target us enthusiasts as their audience, but a rather broader target group including people building just for fun and without any severe commitment. Having read enough disappointed comments on the kit, I decided to build one myself to see how it actually was.
Building the Kit
I decided to build mine waterline, and to place it in a Trumpeter display box. Even in 1:700, it´s a rather large vessel, and the biggest display box was needed. I committed my biggest mistake right in the beginning while waterlining, the hull, as in not cutting away enough of it. I should have removed another two millimetres, as it is my ship rides a bit high in the water. DSCN1615
 My current explanation (read this as lame excuse) is that she´s sailing towards a shallow area en route to a new anchorage, so her bunkers are empty and her draught minimized. This goof doesn´t speak against the kit, rather against my commitment in attacking it with tools. DSCN1616
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I had received the dedicated PE set for the kit, which is produced by Eduard for Revell, but had also bought the WEM PE set, which has finer parts, but is designed for the Dragon kit. In the end, it was a mix and match of parts, with the Eduard railings being used as they were customized for the kit. A lot of other items were taken from the WEM offering. DSCN1705
Apart from the PE, the masts were replaced by BMK tapered brass stock for stability. BMK and Master provided brass barrels for the artillery down to the 105 mm heavy flak. The lighter calibres were retained as kit parts, partly because I didn´t regard them as that bad and partly because I didn´t prefer fiddly and two-dimensional PE replacements. The model was built in suabassemblies and painted with acrylics, using the camo schemes from the excellent web resource The model was otherwise built OOB, without serious soul-searching on the accuracy of sensor or AA or boat fit for the period depicted with the camo scheme selected. DSCN1708
The wooden decks were painted tan and then washed brown, I did quite like the effect. Only a little weathering was applied below the anchors, as Tirpitz´ crew had a lot of time to keep her spick and span or to repaint her in some fresh scheme.  DSCN1721
The model was manned with Lion Roar PE figures and rigged with tan stretched sprue for the signal lines and UNI flyfishing thred (8/0 and Caenis) for the rest. Once complete, a final flat coat sealed the model and blended things in.  DSCN1726
The base was prepared as usual with me; it was sculpted with generic plastic putty, the overall texture applied with wall paint, the base was sprayed with green and blue acrylics, and sealed with solvent-based clear gloss spray. Any gaps between the model and the seascape were sealed with clear gloss acrylic gel, and highlights were applied with white artist´s oil paint. DSCN1727
All in all, this was a fast and enjoyable project. It´s not my usual subject, and I don´t feel that much enthusiasm for the Kriegsmarine. Hence I wasn´t hampered by too much of an effort to get as much as possible right, but could just build for fun. I did like the one-piece deck, the overall nice details, esepcially around the funnel, and the good fit. I did not like Revell´s pretty unusual design for the inclined ladders, though. These unloved „aztec stairs“ are molded with the upper deck and have extensions that fit into a hole in the lower deck.  DSCN1728
That makes removing them more laborious than usual, as you need to somehow fill the missing area in the scribed lower deck. The Eduard PE does nothing to rectify the situation, but only offers handrails for the offending aztec stairs. So I had to source my inclined ladders from WEM and Lion Roar. DSCN1730
On the whole, this kit is excellent value for money. Its downsides are:

- Lack of waterline option ( a molded-in mark on the inside of the hull would be nice)
- Unnecessarily complicated design of inclined ladders
- Due to a very small box, the instructions are printed in a very cramped style and hard to read

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On the other hand, it offers:

- Crisply molded parts
- A high detail level oriented on the design of the larger version
- An easy to work with one-piece deck
- Excellent and comprehensive decals

Even built OOB, it should build into a good representation of the last German battleship, and of a ship many consider one of the best-looking battleships around.

More of Frank Spahr's work.
Updated 2013