by Robert Apfelzweig
1/350 DKM Tirpitz Sept. 1943 (Revell)
Over a decade ago I purchased and built Tamiya's 1/350 model of the Tirpitz, but I had the opportunity to purchase the vastly better Revell Germany kit of the same ship about two years ago at an online auction site -- and I am very satisfied with the result. The detail of the parts, especially the deck and bridge equipment, is much better than Tamiya's older kit, especially with a good deal of aftermarket detailing (other than Revell's ridiculous plastic railings, which resembles wooden log fences in scale -- but photoetch easily replaces them). The bad news is that, apparently, this kit is out of production (probably why it was so hard to find). The aftermarket sets, however, are all still available:
The most difficult part of this build was the painting scheme. Revell provides a detailed list of paint colors in multiple languages and illustrates them well on the ship for two time periods (port and starboard and overhead views) -- all in black and white. Fortunately, the near black ("anthracite") patches on the hull, as well as the boot topping, are supplied as decals for either of those two time periods -- July - September 1942 and September 1943. With any other camouflage or painting scheme (and there were many during this ship's career), you're on your own. The modeler must, however, align the decals accurately so that their color continuation on the superstructure can be matched. I also used, by removing them from my old Tamiya model, GMM's porthole covers for the superstructure just above the main deck (the Eduard photoetch set, while otherwise splendidly complete, omitted these, and the Revell portholes don't quite match with the Tamiya locations as shown in the GMM instructions). Another advantage of Eduard's railing set over GMM's is that many of the shorter segments are hinged where bends are needed. making assembly quick and easy, if rather fragile. I was able to remove the 5.9-in. and 4.1-in. gun barrels and the 37 mm twin mounts from my old Tamiya model and install them on the new Revell one. The Eduard single 20 mm guns are 2-dimensional so I replaced their flat bases and gun barrels with proper 3D ones.
- Artwox wood deck
- MasterModel metal gun barrels (15-in./38 cm, 5.9-in,/15 cm, 4.1-in./10.5 cm), 20 mm
- Eduard photoetch, dual 37mm and single 20mm gun mounts
- Veteran quad 20 mm Flak guns
- ModelMaster flat enamel paints with Liquitex Cadmium red hue spray paint for the lower hull and a Tamiya acrylic blend for the dark blue section on the port side
- Some Veteran bridge gear and scratch-built optical equipment. These were just featureless pegs on the Tamiya kit but showed more molded features, or were separate parts, on the Revell kit.
I was also helped in this build by having reference to the excellent Kagero "German Battleship Tirpitz in 3D" booklet by Stefan Draminski, particularly with small details of various bridge and superstructure features and rigging.
I printed my own flag and decals for the swastikas on the forecastle and quarter decks (for me, a rather unpleasant display, but I wanted historical accuracy and besides, they would have made excellent bulls-eyes for Allied bombers).