Kronprinz WWI German Battleship
The SMS Kronprinz was laid down in 1911, launched in 1914, and entered service toward the end of 1914, serving with the Kreigsmarine until cessation of hostilities in November 1918. She had 10 12" main guns in 5 turrets, and could manage speeds in excess of 21kts, which is a creditable speed for her type and age. She was damaged by a British torpedo in 1916, but was repaired to finish the war as the Kronprinz Willhelm, in honour of the eponymous Crown Prince.
After the armistice, the remainder of the German fleet were anchored off Scapa Flow, and stayed there until June 1919 when they were scuttled to prevent them being seized by the allies on signature of the agreement. The Kronprinz still lies there today with her sister ships, as she was too deep to be salvaged for scrap, and because of that depth, some of her steel has been salvaged for delicate instrumentation that require radiation-free steel.
The kit arrives in a large flat top opening box with a painting of the Kronprinz in action firing her front turrets. Inside the box are 10 small sprues of parts, a single piece hull and two large deck parts, all in a dark grey marbled styrene. The package is completed by a small decal sheet and the instruction booklet.
The single piece hull is quite impressive at 8cm wide and just over 50cm long (approx 3.25" x 20" in old money), and has a single mould seam along the keel, which should be pretty simple to remove. There are very fine lines scribed around the hull for the black boot-topping and brick-red anti-fouling hull.
The two deck parts overlap to cover the full length of the hull, and have all five of the turret rings built into them. The turrets are the first items to be built up, and have raised rivet detail criss-crossing their surface. The main guns are moulded with closed ends to their barrels, but drilling out all 10 isn't likely to take much time, and there are likely to be suitable metal replacement barrels for those wishing to upgrade their look.
Sensibly, the stand is next in the construction process, allowing the modeller to perch their hull on the stand during the rest of construction. Little needs adding to the hull, other than the port and starboard propellers with their attendant cowlings, shafts and rudders. The cowlings fit into two depressions in the underside of the hull, either side of the single moulded in prop shaft. These should be fairly straight forward to fair in, as there is little other detail in the neighbourhood.
Once the lower deck part is attached, the 14 5.9" gun emplacements are built up in the sides of the upper deck. These turrets have movable single barrels that are inserted through the back of the turret, and the hole is then blocked by a small part to keep the gun in place. The same method of construction is also used for the six smaller 88mm (3.5") guns mount in the upper superstructure. The upper deck mounts on top of the emplacements, and extends right to the bow with the anchor handling equipment moulded in. The chain is quite well done, but would benefit from being replaced by some truly 3D chain that can be sourced from specialist model ship retailers.
The balance of construction is taken up with the building of the two main superstructure elements fore and aft of the centre turret. Each has a large funnel as the centre-piece, with the forward containing the bridge and foremast, while the rear section holds a ranging turret and some small gun emplacements.
The ship's complement of small boats attach amidships, and comprise 7 vessels of varying sizes. A rigging diagram is included for these, the crane and the main boarding stairs. A further large (A3) diagram shows the location of the rest of the rigging, plus color call-outs in the Model Master paint range.
The decal sheet is small, containing only flags and pennants (some of which are not used), and the two large recognition circles that are applied to the "top" turrets fore and aft. They are thin and in register, and of course the flags will need applying to a more sturdy base material to give a realistic drape.
It is worth noting here that although the ship's railings are shown on the painting diagrams, there are no railings included with this kit. They are of the three bar type however, and these can be sourced in Photo-Etched metal from various suppliers.
This is a brave release from ICM, as WWI battleships from mainstream manufacturers aren't exactly numerous. That said however, there seems to be a resurgence in interest in these mighty ships from the Great War, with a few more releases expected in 2011, so this kit from ICM should appeal. Detail is good, although a few sink marks will need attention, but overall the kit should build up into a splendid replica from the box, with the addition of some brass railings.