Dragon 1/700
German Destroyer Z-39

Reviewed by Timothy Dike

The Z-39 was a Type 1936A (Mob) destroyer that was commissioned in August 1943 and became operational in January 1944. After working up, she was transferred to Reval on the Gulf of Finland and took part in mining operations in company with Z-25 and Z-35. Later while  in route to Baltisch Port in Estonia on June 23, 1944 she came under air attack and was damaged by bombs. Escorted by Z-28 she headed for Swinemünde by way of Libau. Further repairs were planned  in Copenhagen, but without sufficient fuel, Z-39 repairs were instead made in Swinemünde and were completed in late March 1945. 

Z-39 was back in action escorting transports to Bay of Danzig and providing gun support for the German forces ashore. She was lightly damaged by air attack again while escorting Z-43 to Warrnemünde. In early May she joined the old German Battleship Schlesien in bombarding Soviet units and covering the bridge over Peene River. Z-39 was called upon to tow the Schlesien to safety when that ship struck a mine. They made it all the way to Swinemünde where the old battleship was left grounded in a position where the guns could cover the roads leading into the city. Z-39 resumed bombardment until German forces were forced to withdraw from the area. From the Z-39 along with Z-38, torpedo boat T-33, and tender Jagd escorted five steamers loaded with 35,000 refugees and wounded soldiers. Z-39 made another rescue trip before sailing to Kiel where she was decommissioned on May 10th. 

After the war Z-39 was sailed to Plymouth in the UK and on to Boston Navy Yard where she was turned over to the US Navy as a war prize. In September her Anglo-German crew was demobilized and Z-39 was commissioned into the US Navy as DD-939. After extensive study of the German design, Z-39 was turned over to the French Navy in 1947, where she was eventually cannibalized for spare parts. Plans to upgrade her were never acted on and in 1953 she was broken up for scrap.

Dragon has continued their Smart Kit line in 1/700 scale by releasing the Z-39. 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. 
The twin and 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. 
Two decal sheets are provided. One includes the German and US flags. The US flags are in case you wish to model this ship in USN service as DD-939. 

The second sheet includes hull numbers, draft markings, and other nicely rendered markings. Only the number 39 is included so you will have to supply your own numbers if you use this kit to do a sistership. 

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. 
Some photos of this kit built up using only the supplied parts are shown below. 
Easily the best German Destroyer kit in this scale on the market. This kit sets new standards for plastic kits in this scale. 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.