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WWII German type XXI U-boat Dragon 1/700 scale

by  Carlos Massuh


Too Late
From 1933, the propulsion systems' study that could operate without the necessity of using atmospheric oxygen, was very retarded. The two engines types more known were, the high-speed turbine of Walter that used hydrogen peroxide as oxygen source and the Diesel system of closed circuit". This last one needed stored oxygen.
These two effective methods, were very expensive for the massive production and quite dangerous when used.
In 1943, the Second World War's third year, Doctor Walter presented to the German Navy chiefs the idea of a mast for air induction, this device would allow the submarines to stay much more time submerged, improving in this way, their performances during the missions. This simple but ingenious device became famous under the name "Snorkel".
Thanks to the Snorkel, the new submarine generation was born, the famous classes VII and IX that had supported the war effort, would be replaced by the new XXI and XXIII types, these last ones were engineering marvels that duplicated the performance of their predecessors.
The type XXI submarine displaced 1621 tons in surface and 1829 tons submerged, its speed was of 15,5 knots in surface and 16knots submerged, or 3,5 knots, with the motor in silent modality. The armament consisted of four 20mm or 30mm optional antiaircraft canyons, six 533mm torpedo tubing with a maximum load of 23 torpedo, it had 57 crewmembers.
This ship had a speed of 18 knots during 90 minutes submerged, while its predecessors could reach only 5 or 6 knots during 45 minutes.
This great machine could have prolonged the war if it had entered in service one year before, but the first type XXI cruised on April 1945, when the war reached its end.
What is certain is that this design, served of base for future submarines projects.


The scale model
This model of type XXI, was produced by " Dragon " during 1995 and 1996 with the code number 1008, then it didn't appear in catalog again, what is strange since the kit is excellent.
Recently I got one of these kits, and I got excited because the XXI is the submarine that attracts me more and at this time it is not on sale.
It was awful when I opened the box, since it appeared not to have more than ten pieces, but after observing the excellent details achieved by the manufacturer and the easiness of building that proposed with few parts, it liked me immediately.


The building
The Dragon kit provides 28 parts, an instruction manual plus a small decal sheet. Due to the quantity of pieces and to my enthusiasm, I assembled the kit in less than two hours, without having any problem since the joint parts were excellent.

As option the kit offered some mobile parts, as the rudder, the prow direction planes, the 37mm two tubing guns for air defense and the prow torpedo's locks (which I left closed not to cut the line of the ship).
The only part I didn't glue at first was the exhibition base that the kit provides, since it would not allow me to paint the whole model.
The filling was not a trouble because the joints were almost perfect, I only applied putty (Molak) on the sail and hull joint.
The liquid cement works by capillarity and is ideal for closing small gaps as this kit proposed so I used it to glue the parts and I didn't to add anything for the finishing, as putty etc. Modelers who build difficult kits will appreciate what good it is from time to time, to be able to solve a model in so little time.

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The painting
I have not troubles with the painting. Towards the end of the war there was neither time nor materials for achieving complicated painting schemes, besides the little information ones can get of this type of submarine, forced me to opt for the painting option that Dragon suggests since it resembles the only picture l have of this ship.
First I painted the base color with Humbrol 28 light gray. It seemed to me close the reference I have, after this I masked the waterline with 6mm Tamiya's tape to be able to paint the hull low area with Molak grizzly blue that I also found it the more approximated to the option the manufacturer proposes.
The kit has recessed panel lines, so I took advantage of this to highlight details. I used 0,2 Rotring tip to draw all panel lines, this job enhanced the model very much.
The propellers, were painted with Humbrol 16 gold and I covered the whole ship with dull varnish from a Gunze Sangyo can.
I didn't place decals because in my reference books they are not noticeable. At last I painted support base in flat black and the letters in gold. I hope that in future this beauty will be reissued by Dragon again.


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