Trumpeter 1/350
Admiral Graf Spee

Reviewed by Sean Hert

The Deutschland class of Panzerschiffe, or Armored Cruisers, comprised three ships; the Deutschland (later re-named Lützow) laid down in 1929, Admiral Scheer laid down in 1931, and the Admiral Graf Spee in 1932. Designed with the Treaty of Versailles limitations, these diesel powered ships carried a heavy armament for their displacement of 6 280mm/54 (11") and 8 150mm/55 (5.9") guns and 8x533mm torpedo tubes. Reclassified as "heavy cruisers" by the Kriegsmarine, these ships were somewhat derisively called "pocket battleships" by the British media; the name stuck in the popular consciousness and persists today.

Graf Spee's Dimensions:

  1. Length: 181.7m cwl, 186m oa
  2. Beam: 21.65m
  3. Draft: 7.34m max
  4. Displacement: 16,320t max

One month after Trumpeter's release of the 1/350 Prinz Eugen heavy cruiser, comes a 1/350 Admiral Graf Spee. This second Kriegsmarine release for 2009, coupled with the Academy release of Graf Spee and the announced Scharnhorst from Dragon Models, is welcome news for the modeler of German naval subjects, and 1/350 modelers in general.


Trumpeter has molded Graf Spee's hull in their typical fashion; grey upper hull, red plastic lower, with an red hull plate for the waterline option. The upper hull has some minor flash, and a few rough spots along the waterline, but are minor issues. The armor belt appears a bit too thick, protruding from the hull quite far. The lower hull has Trumpeter's usual heavy mold marks, and is lacking sea chests/water intakes detail. The stern anchor, port side is facing the wrong direction- it should face forward.

All the parts fit well together, with a minor mismatch between the upper hull and waterline plate. The upper and lower hulls fit very well together; continuing a standard started with their Eugen kit- which is a running theme throughout this review.

The kit measures out to about 21" long at the waterline, which is nearly spot on (should be 20.92"). It is also very close in beam, with being less than a .1" over.


The deck comes in 3 parts; 2 for the main deck, with an additional single piece for quarterdeck. These deck pieces all staggered wood planking, and raised locater areas for the superstructure. The first deck piece extends back to about midships, and the seam between these 2 decks, while not be covered, will be obscured by multiple details after construction.

The decks have little molded on detail, except for the usual molded on anchor chains. These chains look very simplified, and there are no wooden chain runs molded to the decks. Removing the molded on chain will damage some planking detail, but the runs can be then added with styrene to correct.


Sprue A has a variety of parts for Spee, with the props and prop shafts, masts and yards, rudder and various platforms for around the 01 level. It appears the included masts are missing a yardarm, a problem the Academy kit shares- an easy enough fix. The props are just a tiny bit undersized (.443" vs .49").


Sprue B is comprised of most of the primary superstructure parts, including the citadel bridge/conning tower, walls and the floatplane catapult. The citadel is formed from 4 pieces, with no bulkheads or stiffeners to help with alignment. Those seems may prove challenging to clean up. There is a plate molded to the front of the superstructure, but sadly no "Coronel" decal or to put on it or raised letters, which would have been a nice touch. Parts B23/24 are pieces of the bridge wing assembly; the windows appear too small.


This spruce has a few, large parts; 01 decks, parts for the stack, the lattice boat tier. The shape of the deck pieces look correct in shape and size. Use care when removing the boat tier, as the latticework may snap easily. The breakwater has the proper openings for the anchor chains to pass through.


Sprue D has a myriad of details for Graf Spee on it, from the boat and aircraft handling cranes and searchlights, to cable reels, anchor capstans and AA gun directors. There are also many of the bridge and navigation accessories here. The boat davits are nice with the thin strand of styrene coming down to represent a cable. Some other manufacturers have started molding cable reels on the decks, and it is nice to see Trumpeter isn't following that trend.


Sprue E is the primary weapons sprue, containing a triple 28 cm/52 (11") SK C/28 turret, base and barrels; the quad G7A torpedo mount; the 10.5CM AA barrels for sprue H; the base and barrels for the 15CM gun houses on sprue F, and some simplified light AA guns. The main turret shape appears good and the armored sight doors on the face are parallel. The turret also sports a molded on ladder, and some more rivet detail. The 28CM barrels are slide molded with open muzzles, and these are better executed than the ones on Eugen- but to be fair, these are large caliber guns as well. The turrets are missing a location for the shield device and name for each turret.

The armored torpedo mount is covered in access doors and panels, and these are well executed here. The separate tube assembly shows some flash, as well as the 10.5CM AA barrels.


The 4 sprue F's included each have 2 of the 15 cm/55 (5.9") SK C/28 gunhouses. The gunhouses have lots of detail, but the rivets are irregular, and are very overscale. The raised doors on the face of the gun houses should be flush, and should be 2 doors for one opening.


The 2 sprue H's included each have 2 of the 105mm AA mounts molded on. These parts, originally issued with the recent 1/350 Prinz Eugen (and labeled "Eugen") are some of the highest detailed parts seen from Trumpeter in a 1/350 ship kit. These parts do have some flash, and the doors on the front are somewhat heavy in detail. However, the fuse setting machines to each side, and the open and stowed loading hatch detail resembles the detail seen on some recent resin kits.


The Ar-196A floatplane is the same sprue and plane issued with the recent 1/350 Prinz Eugen. The standard wartime floatplane of the Kriegsmarine, in clear plastic. The fuselage is in 3 longitudinal pieces, which is a bit unique, and may cause alignment issues. The plane can be built with optional folded wings.


Graf Spee comes with 3 photoetch frets, 2 labeled "GRAF SPEE B" and the other labeled simply GRAF SPEE. The 2 "B" frets are railings, while the other fret is a relief etched eagle crest for the stern. There is a small etched part next to the eagle to simulate the presence of a swastika in the eagle's talons.

Not many kits include a full set of photoetch railings, so this is a nice touch. Be forewarned, these railings are not pre-shaped, and proper use will require some research by the builder.

The standard display base and nameplate is included.

This decal set provides the modeller with markings for the float plane, ships crests and a decal alternative for the eagle crest on the stern. None of these markings include an intact Nazi swastika, keeping with the laws in certain legalities which ban the display of the symbol. Also missing shield device and name decals for the main turrets, as well as a "Coronel" for the bridge face.


A 12 page instruction book is included, using Trumpeter's standard construction order and methods. It is odd that Trumpeter still instructs the builder to build the upper hull with all superstructures and details, THEN attach to either the baseplate of lower hull. When will manufacturers realize no one builds that way?

A double-sided, full color poster showing two paints schemes for Graf Spee, as well as steps for the floatplane is included. Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol colors are shown on a paint reference chart. There is no one manufacturer with every color referenced available, so some mixing may be required.


Trumpeter has followed in Prinz Eugen's footsteps with an excellent Admiral Graf Spee. Picking up the standard where Eugen left it, this kit features some great detail, and some improved finish on the parts. While the Academy Graf Spee is less expensive and was earlier to market, the higher level of detail and accuracy of this Trumpeter offering should appeal to the more discerning modeler.

Keep up the good work Trumpeter! Now, since you're providing photoetch railings regularly, how about some PE radars? This kit is definitely recommended!

Thanks to Stevens International for the review sample. It is listed as #TSM-5316 1/350 German Pocket Battleship Admiral Graf Spee with a retail price of $99.95 US. Stevens is the exclusive importer for Trumpeter kits in the US. If your hobby shop does not carry Trumpeter kits have them contact Stevens International or try their Hobby Shop Locator to find one that does. Also, thanks for forum member Bob Craig his comments aiding this review.