1/700 SMS Emden

Reviewed October 2023
by Martin J Quinn

The German Imperial Navy cruiser SMS Emden is one of the most famous commerce raiders of all time. Laid down at the Kaiserliche Werft (Imperial Dockyard) in Danzig in 1906, she was launched in May 1908, and completed in July 1909. The second of the two ship Dresden-class, Emden spent the majority of her service life overseas, as part of the German East Asia Squadron, starting in 1910.

Highlights of her pre-Great War career included helping suppress the Sokehs Rebellion in the Caroline Islands and winning the Kaiser's Schießpreis (Shooting Prize) for excellent gunnery in the East Asia Squadron. 

Emden spent the first half of 1914 cruising Chinese and Japanese waters. Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, Emden was the only German cruiser in Qingdao, as Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were cruising in the South Pacific, while Leipzig was en route to replace Nürnberg off the coast of Mexico. With war just days away, Müller put to sea on July 31th, to begin commerce raiding, once war had been formally declared. Two days later, on 2 August, Germany declared war on Russia, and the following day, Emden captured the Russian steamer Ryazan. The Russian vessel was sent back to Qingdao, and converted into the auxiliary cruiser Cormoran.

On 5 August, Spee ordered Müller to join him at Pagan Island in the Mariana Islands. Emden rendezvoused with the squadron on August 12th. The next day, Spee learned that Japan would enter the war on the side of the Triple Entente and had dispatched a fleet to track his squadron down.  Based on this information, Spee decided to take the East Asia Squadron to South America, where it could attempt to break through to Germany, harassing British merchant traffic along the way.   At this point, Müller suggested that one cruiser be detached for independent operations in the Indian Ocean, since the squadron would be unable to attack British shipping while it was crossing the Pacific. Spee agreed, and allowed Müller to operate independently, since Emden was the fastest cruiser in the squadron. On August 14th, Emden parted ways with Spee's squadron, and began her epic cruise. 

Over a raiding career spanning three months and 30,000 nautical miles, Emden destroyed two Allied warships and sank or captured sixteen British steamers and one Russian merchant ship, totaling 70,825 tons. Another four British ships were captured and released, and one British and one Greek ship were used as colliers. 

Emden met her end, at the hands of the Australian cruiser Sydney, which caught her off the Cocos Islands, where Emden had sent ashore a landing party, in hopes of wrecking the British port facilities.  Sydney's more powerful weapons wrecked havoc on Emden, forcing Müller to ground his ship.  Of a crew of 376, 133 lost their lives in the battle.  The beached wreck was mostly broken up by wave action, until what remained was broken up for scrap in the 1950's. 

For more on Emden, visit her Wikipedia page here, which is where this abridged history was pulled from.

The Flyhawk Emden

This version of Flyhawk’s 1/700 SMS Emden is the "First Run, Limited Edition" version, which comes in a dark cardboard box with artwork showing a white and buff Emden cruising off a tropical island. 

Inside the box is a copy of the box art that is suitable for framing.  The hull, deck and waterline plate are wrapped in a thin white material, while the sprues are in various plastic bags.  At the bottom of the box are the directions, decals, and more - as this is the "Limited Edition" release of Emden, there are photo-etch and 3D printed parts included. 

FlyHawk lists each component of the hull and decks as different sprues, A through E.   Sprue A is the forward/main deck, Sprue B the aft deck, Sprue C the lower hull, Sprue D the waterline plate, while Sprue E is the upper hull. 

The first of two decks, this includes the Fo'c'sle and well deck.  The forward section is molded to represent a linoleum deck, with planking on the deck where the forward guns sit. The amidships/well deck is planked, with lots of coal scuttles. Detail on this part is up the usual Flyhawk standards, with subtle strips holding down the linoleum, nice planking and other finely done details, like the capstans.  Anchor chain is molded to the deck.  It doesn't look bad, but some may want to scrape it off and replace it with aftermarket parts. 

The detail here is similar to the fo'c'sle above - linoleum with planking around the guns.  There is also a skylight and bollards. 

The lower hull has detailed torpedo tube doors, some hull plating and bilge keels.

Not much to say here. 

The upper hull is in two halves.  There is hull plating with butt straps, finely done vertical ladders, portholes with eyebrows, hatches, chocks and more bollards - these latter items are molded as part of the hull halves.  The hulls scales our pretty much perfectly in length and beam. 

These are the kit supplied funnels.  Really nice detail - there are rivets, piping and ladders. 

This is "mini-sprue" of one deckhouse. The deckhouse features molded on hatches, vents and a skylights.  The clasps on the hatches as well as the screens on the vents are particularly impressive.

This small sprue contains guns, yardarms and what look like staffs.  All very petite - the yards and staffs look especially fragile. 

Another small sprue, here we find anchors, secondary guns, davits and searchlights. 

Another small set of deckhouses.  Really nice detail, especially the skylights. 

These are the gun shields for the main battery weapons

This is the largest sprue in the box.  It contains funnel caps, boat racks, struts, shafts and props, ,more anchors, the rudder and additional deck houses. 

Here you'll find platforms, bridge decks, masts, boats and gun shields for the casement guns. The detail on the decks of the platforms and bridge decks is quite nice. 

This sprue has additional vents, hatches, davits and platforms. 

A display stand, for those who build the model full hull, is included. 

A small plastic box is included in this limited edition.  Inside are a 3D printed bridge, funnels, funnel caps and some vents.   The bridge is well done, printed in a black resin.  I especially like the bridge windows.  The funnels, funnel caps and vents are printed in a gaudy orange resin.  Honestly, I don't think they are any better than the kit supplied parts.  I would have prefrred Flyhawk to have included the dummy funnel Emden wore at the beginning of her raiding cruise, rather than these. 

There are four photo-etch frets included in this limited edition version.  You'll find railings, ladders, platforms, davits, ratlines and more.  It's all up to the usual Flyhawk standards.  Four bags of brass and turned brass parts are included.  Enough rod for masts, along with replacement barrels for the main and secondary guns. 

Two decal sheets are included.   One very small sheet, and one very large sheet.  The small sheet has two pennants on it.  The large sheet is festooned with pennants, as well as Imperial German Navy ensigns and decals for the red demarcation line between the white and buff on the hull.  I'm guessing the smaller sheet is an errata set and included pennants that were left off the larger sheet. 

The instructions are in typical Flyhawk fashion, printed in color, on both sides of oversized glossy paper.  This sheet has the parts manifest, exploded view drawings, and color profiles of the Emden in her war paint.  A second, smaller sheet shows Emden in her colorful pre-war guise.  The limited edition bonus parts have their own small instruction sheet, while the photo-etch set comes with it's own set of instructions as well. 

Fans of World War I vessels - and those who like full hull ships - will like this kit.  It's got the usual high level of detail found in Flyhawk kits, and this limited edition version comes with photo-etch, brass parts and bonus 3D printed parts.  About the only thing missing deck masks, but those are included in the "deluxe" version that Flyhawk has released (along with a base and other paraphernalia).  Recommended. 

This is Flyhawk’s 1/700 SMS Emden, kit number FH1306S. The kit retails for around $69.00, but can be found for less than that.  This review sample is courtesy of my wallet - I picked mine up from the Squadron/FreeTime conglomerate.

This is an in box review only, your mileage may vary once you start assembly.