Dragons Scharnhorst in 1:350
In the summer of 2010 it finally happened. A major manufacturer issued a kit of the Scharnhorst in 1:350.
The Scharnhorst was one of the most beautiful ships ever built and she had an interesting and dramatic history at well. During the first few years of the war she and her sister Gneisenau were very active, basically going out on raiding missions, coming back to refuel and sometimes repair battle- or sea damages and then going out again.
Their most successive sortie was the Operation Berlin, a long raid on the Atlantic, during which they sank 22 allied ships. By this time they were called "The elusive sisters" by the british, due to their ability to slip away from the british forces that chased them.
The Operation Berlin ended in Brest, where they then spent the next year being bombed by the british, repaired, hit again and repaired again.
In the early months of 1942 they made their famous "Channel Dash", sailing through the English Channel under the nose of the RAF and the Royal Navy.
After repairing the mine damage sustained, Scharnhorst was based in Norway.
At Christmas 1943 she was sent out to intercept an allied convoy. She was discovered by superior british forces and a long drawn out chase ensued. Once again it looked as if she would be able to slip away, but just as she was about to get out of the range of HMS Duke of Yorks guns, a 35 cm shell from that ship hit her in one of the boiler rooms and her speed went down. The british forces closed in on her and after a barrage of gunfire and torpedoes she blew up and sunk, taking 1932 men with her. Only 36 of her crew could be saved.
The wreck was found in year 2000 at a depth or 290m by a norwegian-british diving team.
I had always dreamed of building a model of this beautiful ship, so when the kit came, I bought it immediately. The kit is very good, but it suffers from some inconsistencies and a waterline joint from hell.
The build started with the usual inner strengthening of the hull before I joined the upper and the lower hull halves together. Apart from the hated waterline joint there were also sink marks on both sides of the bow. When sanding them away and thinning down the stem in the process, I managed to sand a hole in the hull. I filled it with Milliput. After filling and sanding the waterline joint, I primed it and found flaws in it. I filled it with Mr Surfacer, sanded it, primed it and found further flaws. I forget how many times I repeated this before I gave up.
If building the hull was a pain in the neck, building the superstructure was a song and a dance. Beautifully slide moulded parts went together perfectly and there were very few joints to fill and sand.
I wanted to build her the way she looked during Operation Berlin and this meant rebuilding the admirals bridge to an open one and to rebuild the radar. Apart from that, the conversion meant mostly omitting equipment that was added in Brest and later.
I painted the deck, using the usual "plank on plank" method. I wasn't happy with the colours in the first attempt, so I washed them away. I mixed four new shades of wood colour, using a newly developed scientific method 😉 which gave a satisfactory result.
When painting the lower hull, I first covered it with a chaotic pattern of brown and green, over which I then sprayed a thin half transparent layer of red.
I detailed the model with PE from the manufacturer and a beautiful set of PE from White Ensign. That set provides parts to build the Scharnhorst in her earlier configurations as well.
The masts were scratch built from piano wire and copper tubing.
For Dragon it's a point of honour to provide super detailed fine calibre artillery and on this kit they really went for it. For each twin 37mm flak mount there were fourteen parts if I remember correctly. The mounts were devilishly tricky to build.
The cutters on the other hand, were moulded in one part, with the thwarts looking like big boxes. I cut them away and replaced them with 0.25mm strips.
As reference literature, I used Kageros book about the Scharnhorst. It contains beautiful computer animated pictures and line drawings, that show the rigging clearly. Using them I could really go for it when rigging, which was a lot of fun.
Dragon does not provide a float plane, so instead I used Trumpeters which went together well enough. I detailed it with PE, a scratch built machine gun and an antenna.
The latter is utterly important. Since there are so few ship modellers, ship models are usually judged by aircraft builders at contests. A rigged airplane is a surefire way to get an extra point form them. 😉
The kit's figures are too large for the scale. If you stand them on the deck, the railing reaches only halfway up their thighs. I solved the problem by putting them aboard the cutter, and put better sized resin figures on the main deck.
The Scharnhorst is a very important model to me. She won a Gold medal at Telford 2011 and another one at Moson Magyarovar in 2012, my first prices at international contests.
I wrote an article about her for the September 2013 issue of Tamyia Magazine. That was the first time I published something in an international magazine.
Furthermore I think that waterline joints should be prohibited.