Airfix 1/600 Scale DKM Graf Spee
The terms of the Treaty of Versailles limited German ships to 10,000 tons, but it did not impose limits on gun caliber. German ship designers took full advantage of this loophole and created the Deutschland class of panzerschiffe (armored ships) or more commonly know as "pocket battleships." The Graf Spee was the third ship in this class which had 6-11 inch guns in two turrets, 8-5.9 inch guns in single mountings, modern AA armament and above-deck torpedo tubes on the aft-deck. This class out-gunned contemporary cruisers and could out run any battleship. The Graf Spee was slightly larger and more heavily armored than her sisters.
Her commerce raiding career began right out the start of World War II, when she sank nine merchant ships in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. However, the Graf Spee's career was cut short when she was damaged by the British cruisers, Ajax, Achilles and Exeter at the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939. After seeking refuge in Montevideo harbors, Captain Hans Langdorff decided to scuttle his ship rather than risk his crew or capture by the Royal Navy.
I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box, because the molding is very crisp, clean and detailed. The Airfix kit of Graf Spee was first released in 1971 and the company must have cleaned up the molds for this latest re-release. There is hardly any flash on the kit's 124 and the only sinkhole that I found was on the roof of one of the 5.9 inch turrets. The detail on this kit is better than some of the other Airfix kits. The ship's boats actually look like boats! The launches have planking scribed into the decks and the whaleboats have seats and floors, not the usual solid plastic pieces found in other kits.
The instructions are the standard found in Airfix kits, clear and easy to follow. The kit doesn't come with any decals or a flag sheet. German ships had some sort of shield on either side of the prow, which is molded into the kit, and decals of this and the markings for the scout planes would have been nice.
For photoetch, you can use Gold Medal Models 1/600 Bismarck/Tirpitz set (which can be usedwith all German ships in this scale) and both Toms Modelworks and White Ensign Models are planning to release sets for this kit in 1999.
This is a very welcome re-release of what I think is one of the better Airfix kits in the 1/600 scale line. Buy it if you can.