IN-BOX Kit-review

DRAGON 1/700 DKM Battleship Bismarck

 by Tom Kristiansen
1/700 Dragon Bismarck

2004 is the year of the Bismarck-class if you ask 1/700 modelers. At the end of 2004 we can choose from 3 different manufacters; Dragon, Trumpeter and a re-tooled Aoshima. In all 6 kits. Dragon is the first manufaturer to release its kit in June 2004 with Trumpeter following just a month behind. Aoshima is excpected to release it s re-tooling by the end of the year.

Dragon Bismarck comes packed in separate plasticbags to protect parts under transport. Accompanying the usual plastic-frets and instructions is a set of photoetch, decals and stickers. 


The photoetch-set is small and consists of radars, railings, superstructuredetails and mastdetails. Amount of railing only covers the top areas of the superstructure. Not enough for railing around the whole ship. The most etriguing details are the superstructure-details. Makes the superstructure so much more detailed! An extra star is given to Dragon for this. Altough the idea is not new, I have not seen this injection-molded kits before and I certainly hope this will be a common thing to see in the future on future models! Excellent! :)
(the PE set on the picture to the right is not cleaned yet, just disregard the stains)

Decals and stickers

Decals of Kriegsmarine-flag, airplane-marks and schwastika are included. The schwastica is split in 4 parts so that it can be sold in countries like Germany in which schwasticas are illegal. It might be a bit tricky to put this decal together, but with some nifty fingerwork this will come together. Better with an option for a divided schwastica than none at all.. 
When Bismarck was moored in Grimstadfjord some canvas was streched over the schwasticas to make air-reconicance more difficult. These canvas are included as two beige stickers that you can lay over the schwastika-area when done with painting. Nice! Not seen that before. 

Kit parts

The hull is in 3 pieces. Above waterline: 1 molded piece whilst the underwater hull is split in 2. The cover for the waterintake over the keep is molded on, but not very detailed. Other than this there is not much detail on the lower hull. Plastic is thick and rigid. Not very flexible. Good when it comes to gluing the parts together. Hull above waterline seems correct in shape. Atlantic-bow has the beautiful curve and a hole for a center-achor. Porthole-layout is not 100% correct, but close enough.

Split in two at the 2.nd secondary turrets. Fairly good choice of location to split it if one were to slit it anyway. Will be hidden by the secondary turrets so it wont be that visible. The detail of the deck is good. Some small mistakes here and there but one have to remember that Dragon is trying to make both Bismarck and Tirpitz without making too many ship-spesific parts. Wave-breakers have small supportbraces molded on. The second wavebreaker actually leans forward as seen from the aft. I am glad to see that Dragon has not molded on the chain for the centeranchor on Bismarck. Bismarck did not have this. The molded Chains are small but acceptable. 

Wooden deck and metal deck where it is supposed to be. The deckarea near the 4 first 105mm-AA C/33 guns is grated. The boxes on top of maindeck is correctly placed and molded. Vents on barbettes are close to correct. A nice addition to this kit is the photoetchdetails that are available to glue on the sides of the superstructures 1.level! 
The rest of the brigde-area is nicely detailed. Portholes-pattern is mostly correct. The flag-platform under the aft mainmast have too thick walls. Apart from this there is no big errors/misdesigns to write home about.

The top part of the armoured commandbrigde, the hangars and the funnel is in soft vinyl. I suspect that this is because it is easier to make detailed parts and get the parts out of the mold without destroying them when either the part or the mold is soft. Resin-kits are easier to make more detailed than injectionmolded kits because the mold is soft and flecible. In this case the parts are flexible and does not get broken when removed from the mold. Makes sense when you think of seams that will be hard to fix on these parts if they had been plastic and split in several parts. The downside is that it is very difficult if not impossible to modify these parts and that the parts might react unexpected to the individual gluetypes modelers are using. Also when the parts are painted the paint is more likely to break and come off when the parts are handeled too much. I think Dragon could have used a smarter breakdown of parts to solve this problem, but anyway. OK. The parts are detailed enough for me to stop whining about the choice of vinyl.

The mainturrets are quite nice. Correct shape. The rivets in the turrets are molded on. Possibly sligthly overscaled, but it makes the model more detailed when painted and drybrushed. A-turret has no rangefinders, but the rest has. All lacks the forward hatches. The barrels are movable. The size of the muzzle looks correct as well as the different barrelcladdings. 

The secondary turrets have a too much angeled turret-roof as seen from front/rear. Also lacks hatches. Barrels a bit thick compared when seen side by side with the mainbarrels. Thicker than Tamiyas 150mm barrels on 1/700 Scharnhorst/Gneisenau. 

The heavy AA-turrets are correctly shaped. However the plastic Dragon has chosen to use for this kit makes them a bit rounded as compared to Tamiyas plastic. Even if Tamiyas plastic is 30 years older, Dragon still comes short when it comes to crispness.. For Bismarck-class there were 2 kinds of heavy AA-turrets available. Bismarck had both of them because there was not time to replace all but 4 of the older C/33 with the newer C/37. This kit has 4 of the old and 8 of the new for the Tirpitz-kit. The 105mm-barrels for these are way too thick! I would use thin brass or spare Scharnhorst-class barrels instead. Sadly the rest of the story with the barrels follows with the rest of the AA. Not bad, but not what one would have expected in 2004. 

Boats, airplanes and other details
The boats and airplanes and some other details (like paravans) are molded in clear sprue pastic. This is undoubtably to make windows transparent. Myself I will prime these and just use black colour as windows. I would prime these anyway and thus the masking of the windows is just too much a job for me. 


The instructions are in multi-language with short comments. One set of instructions for the photoetch and one for the plastic-kit. Clear and easy to follow. No history is included. Paintcharts covers Bismarcks service-life with the following schemes: 
+ August-December 1940
+ March 1941
+ March-May 1941
+ Grimstadfjord 21.may 1941
+ May 26 1941


Finally we got an injection-molded Bismarck after 25 years with only a horrible model from Aoshima. The Dragon Bismarck is well worth the money. All in all I am very pleased with it. There are no big errors that I can see - only small details that are forgotten or ommited to make both Bismarck and Tirpitz. Details are quite satisfactory. Not as crisp as Tamiya but nevertheless a fine kit. There is not much to change/modify on this kit except to add on photoetch from GMM/TOMs/WEM and perhaps replace secondary and AA-barrels with thinner barrels or a WEM 1/700 AA PE-set. The PE-set provided with this kit was too small to be able to make this into a true displaypiece, but the extra superstructure-details was particulary tasty and I hope we will see more of this add-on details in future kits. 

Since this is just an in-box review I can say anything about the fit, but I think it will be a nice build. 


I bought my kit from HobbyLink Japan for about $25.85 USD; €21.20 Euros

Tom Kristiansen

Link to an excellent source of information on Bismarck /Tirpitz: