Reviewed by Sean Hert
June 2012

USS Nautilus SSN 571, was the world's first nuclear powered submarine, The brainchild of US Navy Admiral Hymen Rickover the "Father of the Nuclear Navy", she was commissioned in 1954, and served for almost 26 years until her decommissioning in 1980. She broke all existing underwater endurance records of her time, and helped Father of the Nuclear Navy US Navy anti-submarine doctrine by leaps in the crucial early Cold War years. Nautilus is also famous for being the first vessel to reach the geographic North Pole, in 1958. The Nautilus design was not without issues, primarily of noise and vibration- but solving these issues started a tradition of building silent boats which are "holes in the water."

USS Nautilus has had her reactor removed, and she continues today as a museum ship and National Historic Landmark at Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut.

Russ and Brandon Lowe, proprietors of Freetime Models and Pacific Front, have a new venture; Blue Ridge Models! As their first offering, they have released a resin 1/350 USS Nautilus SSN-571. This kit may be the most securely packed resin kit ever, with all the parts firmly placed within foam!


Nautilus has a single piece full pressure hull, with a casting sprue running the length of the keel, connecting by pour plugs. The hull is nicely detailed, with free flood limber holes, vents on the bottom, and a highly detailed and planked deck. Sadly, Nautilus has always painted her decks.

The conning tower is a separate piece that has few blemishes. The indentations for the openings for her various masts, radars, periscopes and snorkel are very crisp; there is a small touch of resin flash inside the open bridge that should come clear easily.

The hull has the powdery surface texture indicative of rapid-prototyping (RP); the level of detail found in the planking supports this. An unfortunate effect of using RP to create a master for a resin model stems from the difficulty RP has with round shapes; Nautilus' hull shows some flats from where the master was imperfectly shaped. While not hard to correct, care must be used not to exacerbate the issue.

The included history with this model indicates a hull length of 323' 9", or a bit over 11" in 1/350; this model checks in at 10.875". The listed beam is 27'8", and the model measures in at .94".


In addition to the hull and conning tower, there are 2 sprues of resin parts for Nautilus. The forward and aft dive planes, the streamlined shaft skegs, periscopes and masts as well as the conical prop hubs and the retractable deck fittings.


A single fret of photoetch is included. This fret contains three styles of propeller, each reflecting a different era of Nautilus' career, as well as handrails for the conning tower, radar antennas, safety rail stanchions,

Blue Ridge has also included some lengths of .020" brass to be cut in unspecified lengths for the various masts and the two actuators for the forward dive planes, and some fine clear line for the safety line, to be threaded through the eyelets atop the photoetched stanchions.


A set of white hull numbers and depth marking decals are included for both Nautilus and Seawolf.


Blue Ridge has included a well-detailed 7-page instruction book. These CAD-based instructions show every step of assembly, from the removal of the pour-plugs to painting. They demonstrate the various Nautilus options available in this kit; the 3 types of propellers, options to show the forward dive planes either stowed or deployed, sensors deployed, etc. Steps indicate the planes should be "parallel to the tumblehome", but no actual length for the brass is stated.

Also included is a Mini-CD with a PDF's of the included paper instructions and a history of Nautilus, renders of the CAD (as seen on page one of the instructions and box art) and a folder with 50 photos of Nautilus. This photo reference is quite nice, spanning her career, and includes some rare shots in both color and B&W, like the unmasked stern and undersides.


What a great first effort from Blue Ridge Models! This historically important submarine has never been so accurately portrayed in model form. It is great seeing all the various submarine kits on the market, and in various scales. This kit includes many extras unexpected in a 1/350 kit at this price. While Blue Ridge includes the props for three different eras, the faring on the forward deck, along with the pattern of hull sonar openings, has changed at different times; as always, do your research before deciding which version you want to build. No matter which you choose, this kit will make a great addition to any Cold War collection, and should prove easy to paint and build. Recommended!

Available now from Freetime Hobbies. This kit, BRM-35002, retails for $49.95. Thanks to Blue Ridge Models for this review sample.