Review by Robert Hernandez
Almost everyone is familiar with the tragic tale of the infamous German battleship Bismarck. He was the first of two very powerful battleships built in Germany just as the war started. The object of a massive hunt by the Royal Navy, the Bismarck sank the pride of the fleet, the British battle cruiser HMS Hood. The Bismarck was eventually caught and sunk when a lucky torpedo hit near the rudders prevented the ship's escape to France.
The 1/600-scale Airfix kit of the DKM Bismarck has been around in various forms since the late fifties. This kit shows its age and has many flaws not apparent to me when I first built it as a child. It is hard for me to completely dismiss this kit, since I am a dedicated 1/600-scale Airfix fan. Unfortunately, of all of the 1/600-scale Airfix kits in my closet, this one is the least accurate.
After an initial review of the DKM Bismarck kit I purchased, the first thing I noticed is the size of this ship. According to my tape measure, it measured out to 16 ¼ inches long (415 mm), which is almost exactly 1/600 scale. The kit comes with 170 gray parts and the molded details, which may have been state of the art in their time, rate only as fair to weak by todayís standards of technology.
The hull comes in two halves, has some light detail on it and is slightly warped. The height of the hull is way over scale in comparison to my 1/600 scale drawing by a full 3/8 of an inch. The propellers are to far forward on the hull of this ship and the rudders are way to oversize for this scale (almost double). The main deck comes in two sections, is improperly shaped and is 3/8 of an inch too narrow, robbing the ship of its massive beam. There is a minimum of light molded details such as anchors and storage boxes. The forward section of the ship is lacking the correctly pointed shape of the Atlantic bow. The superstructure and fo'c'sle decks need work and will require some major correction in areas.
The main gun turrets are too long in length. The turret range finder housings are a bit too thin and require some putty below them to fill in the molding depressions. The forward turret Anton will need the turret range finder housings removed. The gun barrels are a little to long and slightly too big around but the barrels can be set in different positions, which is a plus. The Bruno and Caesar turret barbettes for Bismarck lack any details, like the air ventilator shafts. They will require scratch building with evergreen scale model strips.
The funnel has very little if any detail and the grill is way oversized. The funnel cap is generally the correct shape. None of the two funnel cranes comes with the kit and will need to be scratch built. Many of the smaller parts such as the boats, rafts and smaller anti aircraft armament are okay. The 150 mm secondary armament turrets need correction. The heavy 105 mm anti-aircraft guns are really bad and are even missing some of the barrels. The Arado 196 aircraft is poor at best and needs correction or replacement. The forward gun directors are weak and the radar range finders are crude. The main mast is incomplete and needs some additions. The rear anti-aircraft directors are armored, which is incorrect for Bismarck. No decals were included with my model.
If you are looking for a challenge and in need of a Bismarck for your 1/600-1/570-scale fleet, I would push you to the old Revell-Gernany 1/570-scale kit. I still canít help but like this old Airfix kit on sentimental grounds but the amount of work to make it fairly accurate is a real chore and challenge. Many would say why even bother with it and it is hard to argue with them. One advantage of this kit is practicing your scratch building skills for those of moderate skills can only improve this kit, even if the end results are not great.
If you are looking for an easier model to build near this scale, find an old Monogram DKM Tirpitz kit since the bow shape is more accurate and the kit requires less customization. The Monogram kit is unfortunately a smaller scale (approximately 1/617) and out of production. Photo etched parts in this scale and the correct sized anchor chain replacements are a definite must for any of these kits mentioned.
More accurate and easier to assemble kits are available of Bismarck like the 1/350 Academy or Tamiya kits, the 1/400 Heller or Kagnam kits or the excellent 1/700 scale Samek resin kit. As for me, I think I am up to the challenge of this old kit. Call me a sucker for a lost cause. It will likely never win a high profile IPMS contest, but the local neighborhood IPMS or hobby shop contest is mine!
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