The Second World War has no shortage
of dramatic episodes. There are thousands of stories to be explored
so that we might learn of the sacrifices, courage, hardship, and despair
experienced by those who took up the supreme crusade. Few stories
however can match the drama of the German battleship Bismarck’s short-lived
Aoshima’s 1/700 line of kits are nice
enough out of the box. In the small scale of 1/700 however, many
details understandably must be molded too thick and lack any richness.
To make the kit come alive, a photo etched brass detail set is essential.
I usually use Gold Medal Models sets but for this kit I decided to give
Tom’s Modelworks brass a try. I used their 1/700
Bismarck/ Tirpitz set and was pleased with their quality.
Overall, parts fit was very good. I believe this kit has been in production for quite a while so there was a bit of flash to clean up on some of the smaller parts, especially the secondary and anti-aircraft armament. The main hull and deck is one piece and is nicely done. I separate construction into various sub-assemblies, which is generally the way the instructions dictate. I also kept an eye on the photo etched brass instructions, which helpfully indicate which kit parts to replace.
The main stack is much improved by adding 2 brass crane pieces, vents, and a stack grill. I used my trusty Dremel to drill out the solidly molded stack. Care must be taken here so you do not penetrate through the stack itself. I carefully cut the grill from the brass sheet with an Exacto blade on a piece of hardwood. Green Zap CA glue was used for attaching these brass details.
|Main Bridge and superstructure
This sub-assembly went together very well. I cut off the bridge wings, sanded the edges down, and replaced these wings with very nicely done brass pieces. A separate platform with railings completes each bridge wing (2 pieces per wing). The result looks much better than the solidly molded kit pieces. I also replaced the plastic kit radars with brass pieces. These must be carefully folded with a pointy tweezers and are attached to the directors. Another nice touch to add is the aircraft hangar doors. The kit simply has a flat edge. The brass doors provide a nice relief and are easily affixed with CA glue. There is also a large rear aircraft door to attach. Brass railings were cut to shape and attached to the completed superstructure. I replaced the plastic aircraft catapult with the finely detailed brass catapult provided with the Tom’s Modelworks set as well.
After the main sub-assemblies were completed,
I arranged them in place as you can see in the photo on the right.
I hope you can make out most of the brass details added:
|I then assembled the 4 main gun turrets (unlike on US battleships that number the ship’s turrets, the Kreigsmarine named them from fore to aft, Anton (A), Bruno (B), Caesar (C), and Dora (D)) and set them aside. I also attached the secondary armament gun barrels to their respective turrets but decided to leave the turrets on their sprue for painting.|
|PAINT & DECALS
Since the Bismarck’s operational
life lasted less than a month and because the German High Command tried
very hard to keep the existence and launching of the ship a secret, there
were only a limited number of black and white photos taken of the ship.
Many of you may be familiar with the black & white camo stripe pattern
that the Bismarck is usually portrayed with on model kit box art and other
paintings. However, it is known that just before the ship sailed
on her fatal mission, these black/ white stripes were painted over to match
the overall grey of the ship.
|I used clear sprue for some simple rigging and I tried to stretch it as thin as possible. I am not sure I succeeded because in this scale, rigging should be nearly invisible to be realistic. After this was completed, it was time to place the ship in her element.|
|I used a pine signboard from the craft store, Liquitex acrylic gel medium and a mixture of blue, green and white colors to create the water scene (see my article on Modeling Ships Underway for details)|
In terms of ease of construction, the Aoshima Bismarck is a good kit. The Tom’s Modelworks photo etched brass set adds a wealth of detail to the kit. I am happy with the results and can recommend the kit to any ship modeler. I cannot compare it to the other plastic 1/700 kit made by Matchbox as I have yet to come across that kit.
The Bismarck Chase: New Light On A Famous Engagement, by Robert J. Winklareth, Naval Institute Press, 1998, ISBN 1-55750-183-1.
Jane’s Battleships of the 20th Century, by Bernard Ireland, HarperCollins, 1996. ISBN 000470-997-7.
Pursuit! By Ludovic Kennedy. Kennedy was a British seaman on a destroyer accompanying the British battleships chasing the Bismarck. This is a fantastic overview of the saga.
Battleship Bismarck by Baron von-Mullenheim Rechberg. This gentleman was one of the few survivors and was a gunnery officer on Bismarck. An incredible account. I believe the Naval Institute Press still carries this title in print.
|Editors note: Len writes the Naval Corner column over on Modeling Madness, a great general modeling site that is definately worth a look. We look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.|