Dragon 1/700
German Destroyer Z-31

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
Z31 was the lead ship of the 1936A (Mob) class launched in May 1941. These were modified versions of the 1936A type. Know by the Allies as a Narvick class, they used the same basic design with some improvements. When the ship entered service late in 1942 the twin 15 cm (5.9") turrets were not yet ready so a single 15 cm mount was installed forward. The Twin mount was eventually installed in 1943, but when the ship was damaged in 1945 so badly that the twin mount had to be replaced. All that was available at the time was a 10.5 cm single mount. The ship operated for the remainder of the war with this configuration. 

The Z-31 was stationed in Norway and the Baltic Sea during the war. She was a part of the unsuccessful Operation Regenbogen in Dec 42. Operating with the Hipper, Lutzow, and five other destroyers as they attacked British convoys. Later the Z31 was assigned to Altafjord with the battlegroup consisting of Tirpitz, Scharnhorst , Lützow, and a host of destroyers including sisters Z31, and Z33. One of the missions involved an attack on the  allied base on Spitzbergen. Z31 was seriously damaged on January 28th 1945 by a British cruiser and was sent to Horten for repairs. Z31 was involved in covering other capital ships in shore bombardment. 

She survived the war only to be taken over by France for war reparations and renamed Marceau. She was finally scrapped in 1958.

Dragon has continued their Smart Kit line in 1/700 scale by releasing the Z-31. This kit is based on the same CAD that produced the larger 1/350 kit. 
Two separate hulls are included in this kit. One full hull and one waterline hull. Both have plenty of detail. Portholes are deeply recessed into the hull with rain gutters commonly called eyebrows molded on. The shape appears to match the drawings of the ship very precisely. Test fitting shows that the fit is very good with the deck and the hull. 
The main deck is included on this sprue. It is one piece with nice surface detailing and recesses for a plug and socket style fitting with the superstructure parts. Slide molding is used to keep the funnels as one piece with plenty of detail on all sides. The same is done to give you a one piece radar screen. The bridge wings and other parts are nicely molded as well. 
The superstructure parts are molded on this sprue and once again slide molding is used to allow for one piece parts with maximum detail and virtually no seams. The mast parts are molded very thin as are the other details. 
This sprue is newly tooled for this ship. Mast parts and some platforms that were unique to the Z-31 are included.
The single 5.9" guns are on this sprue. They are also slide molded so that you have a one piece turret with detail on every side and the only seam is on the bottom where it is not visible. The smaller weapons are the best available in 1/700 scale plastic. Ships boats are very nicely done and many of the anti aircraft guns have separate barrel and mounts so the guns can be elevated. The searchlights are very well done and even the square floats are included. There are plenty of extra parts on this sprue for the spare parts box too.
The now standard base for 700 scale kits is included. It includes a flat base and simulated risers to give your full hull kit a more elegant look. 
Fret MA features grills with shutter assemblies for the funnel intakes. These can be opened up or displayed closed. Footrails for the funnel will also help dress up the kit. Radar antenna give you an option in case you don't want to use the plastic ones. 
A single decal sheet is provided. with the German flag and hull markings. 
Instructions are six pages showing bill of materials, sub-assembly views, and painting guides. These have been expanded by two pages over previous destroyer kits and hopefully will give you a better view of all the parts and their locations. The assembly is also changed a bit to reflect the steps typically followed by modelers. I am glad to see Dragon listening to modelers and putting the extra time and effort into their instructions. Note my name is mentioned on the instructions. The real credit should go to Sean Hert on this kit and the larger 1/350 kit. His research into this ship was invaluable to making this a great kit. 
A nice followup to the best German Destroyer kit in this scale on the market. This one gives you some additional options for German Destroyers. The level of detail is exceptional and this kit looks great right out of the box. It is available now from Dragon USA for. 24.95. A great price for a ship of this caliber.