Dragon 1/350
German Battleship Scharnhorst

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The 31,500-ton Scharnhorst was commissioned on January 7 1939, and it often operated in partnership with its sister ship, Gneisenau. Buoyed by a top speed of 31.5 knots, this battleship wreaked havoc on Allied shipping with its nine 11-inch guns. It was involved in the invasion of Norway in 1940, during which it sank the British carrier HMS Glorious. In early 1941 the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau broke out into the Atlantic to lay siege to Allied shipping lanes. On December 25 1943, the Scharnhorst and accompanying destroyers put to sea to interdict Arctic convoys heading to Russia. However, aware of German plans, the British intercepted the Scharnhorst with a Royal Navy battleship, cruisers and destroyers. Reeling under multiple salvos of 2195 shells and 55 torpedoes, the Scharnhorst finally succumbed to its mortal wounds at 1945 hours on December 26. Of the 1968 crewmen aboard, only 36 survived. As an interesting footnote, the wreck of the Scharnhorst was discovered off North Cape in northern Norway in 2000.

Dragon has chosen to depict the Scharnhorst in her final 1943 fit with the torpedo tubes, late war radar and upgraded Anti Air fit. By this time, the ship did not carry it's float plane so none is included in this kit. 

See the preview for some of the CAD images and test buildup of the kit. 
Two of these sprues provide the main guns for this ship. The turrets are molded using multiple slides to allow more detail on each part. This allows for rivet detail on all sides and a correct profile. Two types of barrels are included and both have hollowed out ends. One set works with the DS Plastic blast bags (more on that below) and the other is designed to be used without the blast bags. The latter can be individually elevated. The modeler will appreciate that there are few seams to fill and even the underside of the turret mount has detail. 
Next are the anti aircraft guns and this sprue also features slide molding to allow for more detail. These are the 105 mm AA guns and they are made up of 7 separate parts. These gun mounts are almost models in themselves and they are the best rendition of this gun mount that I have seen to date. 
This is the secondary artillery, the 150 mm's.  Once again Slide molding is used to increase the detail on the twin turrets and open the ends of the gun barrels. The modeler gets to chose barrels with DS plastic blast bags or fully elevating ones without. 
This sprue has all the parts for the twin 37 mm AA guns comprising 6 pieces per mount. Note the use of slides to give the barrels an open tip look. Few manufactures are willing to invest the extra time and money in a slide mold for such a small part. But Dragon knows that you don't want to invest your money in a kit only to have to pay extra for aftermarket parts. 
Scharnhorst had two different types of quad 2 cm AA guns, the naval mount and the army flakvierling.  This is not to be confused with the naval vierling, which resembled a modified flakvierling.  Both quad mounts on this sprue are made from 5 parts.  The sprue also contains parts for the individual 2 cm mounts and the 150 mm practice loaders. Even these light guns benefit from slide molding to give you open tipped gun barrels. 
Sprue F contains all the parts for the ships boats.  Included on each sprue are one 11.5m Admirals Barkasse, two 11.5m Verkehrsboots, two 8.5m dinghis, a 5.2m skiff, and a 4 m dinghi.  There are 8 oval life rafts and 22 individual doors. Also included are parts for two main anchors and one stern anchor. Dragon tooled these parts so that you can have open cabins on the larger boats. Sprue P below provides the clear cabin. All you have to do is mask the windshield off and paint the cabin. When you peel off the mask you will have that clear glass look. The boats all feature nice interior details and I love the way the separate roof gives you an open interior look. These little boats are so detailed that they feature tiny rudders that are not typically seem on plastic kits. 
This sprue has two of the 4m domed rangefinders, the searchlights and the various direction finders. Slide molding allows for the rangefinder bases to be molded in one seamless part. The searchlights are engineered for maximum detail and include several parts to allow them to be posed realistically. Clear sprue P provides the clear lens. 
Sprue H includes the remaining rangefinders and cupola's. These parts are finely detailed and accurately depict the real parts.
Sprue K includes various superstructure parts and these are also well done. The deck features nicely done gun bases, and deck planking. The platforms include nice thin splinter shields that don't have that unrealistic taper that some manufactures add. The undersides have nice brace detailing. You will notice the diamond plate detail on some of the platforms that is the best I have ever seen in this scale. Dragon experimented with simulated diamond plate on the Buchanan, but they have nailed it on this kit. Let's not overlook the funnel top, it is very well done and smartly molded for maximum detail. The funnel base is a one piece assembly thanks to another slide in the mold.
More superstructure parts are featured on these sprues. The rear of the main superstructure has a nice open air intake and benefits from a separate air intake plenum part on the previous sprue to preserve the open look without making the kit look hollow. This sprue is well planned out so that detail can be maximized by the use of slides to mold side detail. 
The deck includes nicely scaled planking and parts location sockets to allow for almost seamless fits. The deck features realistic camber and really nice anchorway molding. I love the propellers on this kit. This small detail took some work to get it right and the extra time and effort has paid off with some of the best injection molded props I have seen. The prop shaft and struts feature a slide to allow for a one piece part. 
The main superstructure part is a one piece part and is engineered to minimize seams. The modeler is really going to appreciate the fit on this part. Surface detail is really impressive on this part. Doorways are recessed and ladders and grab irons are molded on. I would have preferred to have fully open portholes, but these look pretty good too. 
Sprue n x2
This sprue includes the boat crane parts and they are nice enough that you can use these parts right out of the box without aftermarket parts. Other fine fittings such as realistic roller chocks, and paravanes are included.
This clear sprue includes clear bridge window inserts, the previously mentioned clear searchlight lenses and boat canopies. Part number 4 is the bridge face and it is designed to give you a clear window look. 
Dragon has included a sprue of DS plastic to simulate the blast bags on the gun mounts. DS plastic is a vinyl like soft material typically used in armor kits and are perfect for parts like these. 
This one piece lower hull represents a major engineering hurdle. As you can see by the shape of the stern these parts required use of multiple slides to preserve the shapes. The bilge keels are also well done on this kit as is the bulbous bow. Worthy of note are the box inserts to help keep your kit safe during shipping. 
The upper hull features the sleek sharp lines of the real ship and nice porthole detail with the raised eyebrow gutters around the top. Note the curvy slots for the anchors and  the open tip on the bow. 
This sprue includes the catapult parts. These are some really nicely molded parts. I like the perforation on the platform. 
A larger version of the stand that was designed for the Buchanan is included. Decorative posts are provided to hold your ship. These are a nice touch and you might note that there are extra hole locations in the bottom for future ships. Hmmmm what else does Dragon have in the works? The world wonders. 
Four separate brass frets are included for the details too fine for plastic. 
  • Fret MA features ladders, platforms, and all kinds of fine details.
  • Fret MB provides relief etched cable reels, and realistic watertight doors. 
  • Fret MC includes railings ladders, and mast details.
  • Fret MD provides the interlocking divider plates inside the funnel.
You will need to supply the majority of railings. But there are many photo etch companies that sell these. Dragon wanted to keep the cost down on this kit and an optional upgrade set is planned that includes those railings for those who wish to add them.
Decals are by Cartograph, an Italian decal company well known for sharply registered decals. These are nice but I wish you didn't have to assemble the recognition markings. 
Instructions are ten pages in a large format. They are well drawn with many subassembly views that clearly show the parts locations. A marking guide is included and the bottom of the box features a full color plan and profile of the ship. 
Dragon has included some stunning bonus figures. These figures are not CAD designed but are mastered using the same sculptures that are responsible for Dragons well known figure line. These are provided in realistic lifelike poses and will add a nice touch. The detail on these figure is almost insane. You can make our their facial features, and the wrinkles in their clothing. My only complaint is that you only get a few. 

This is Dragon's largest 1/350 ship to date and it represents another major step forward in ship modeling. Like the Buchanan and Gearing kits, this one also features many smart features. The mold for this ship is the largest mold Dragon has made so far. It feature extensive use of slide mold technology to allow for more detail. Slides are not a new invention, they have been around for many years. However I don't think I have seen so many incorporated into one ship kit like they are in this one. Most manufactures will not invest the extra money and time in tooling to do work like this. However Dragon wants to be the best. They are not content to have simply raised the bar, they are working hard to raise it even higher. Dragon has teamed up with one of the best 3D modelers that I know, Rob McCune, and produced what can easily be called the best ship kit ever. 

This is kit number 1040 with a suggested list price of $139.50. It is a tremendous value for the modeler when you consider the detail, and hours of enjoyment you will have building it. These ships should be showing up in your hobby shops soon or order your direct from Dragon USA.