Pavla 1/72 'Molch' midget submarine
KIT #: ?
PRICE: $
DECALS: None
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Short run, detailed resin model complete with side mounted torpedoes

HISTORY

Designed by Dr. Heinrich Drager, the Molch (Salamander) was an unsuccessful, one-man series of German midget submarine created during World War Two Built in 1944, it was the first mini-submarine of the  Kriegsmarine, but was not successful in combat operations and suffered heavy losses.

The Molch was based on  torpedo technology, and carried two G7e torpedoes attached externally on either side of the craft. It was fully electrical and was created for coastal operations, with a range of 64 km (40 miles) at 5 knots (9.26 km/h). As the Molch did not have an engine for surface running, this meant that it suffered from very limited endurance. To compensate for this, a large proportion of the hull was allocated for battery storage. This resulted in positive buoyancy which made the submarine almost impossible to dive. As a result, the submarine was robbed of a vital asset – concealment. The front section of the boat held a large battery. Behind the battery was the operator's position, which sat between two small trimming tanks. Behind the operator sat an electric motor. The complicated system of tanks made it difficult to control during combat operations. The first boats were delivered on June 12th. Production was largely centred at the works of Deschimag A G Weser at Bremen.

The craft can be devided into two sections. The fore section containing the batterie. The size of the battery meant that the Molch was a comparatively large craft with an impressive underwater range although whether the single operator could stand such a voyage was another matter. Behind the battery in the aft section was the single operator position. He sat between two trimming tanks whose relatively small size and position must have made them useless in compensating for the weight of the battery. In fact when the first production model went out on trials it proved impossible to make her submerge and therefore the Molch operations were carried out with the craft running awash. The controls were extremely simple, a magnetic compass was fitted externally although in some boats an automatic auto pilot was installed together with a simple hydrophone. A perescope was fitted but its use was negated  by the fact that it could only be rotated 30 degrees either side of the centre line. Finally behind the operator was the electric motor. A total of 393 units being completed.

The Molch were first used in the Mediterranean against the Allied Operation Dragoon in 1944. The submarines were a part of the K-Verband 411 flotilla. On the night of September 25 they attacked allied battleships, losing ten out of the twelve Molch submarines in the flotilla. Shortly after, the remaining two were sunk by allied warship bombardment off of the San Remo coast. Other Molch flotillas were sent to Holland in December 1944, but were also unsuccessful. From January to April 1945, Molch and Biber submarines went out on 102 sorties, , lost 70 of their own and only sank 7 small ships for a total of 491 tons and damaged 2 for 15,516 tons.

THE KIT

The Molch midget submarine kit comes in a sturdy cardboard box the type that Pavla Models packs the resin kits and conversion parts. On the box lid there is a colour side view that proves useful when it comes to paint the model. Resin moulded parts, light tan, are sealed in plythene bags; three in all. One contains a pair of detailed torpedoes complete with delicately moulded contra rotating propellers. Care is taken to preserve this detail during assembly since if broken it will be hard to pick the missing part and fit it back in place due to the small size. The overall length of each torpedo is ¾ the length of the hull and looks huge compared to the hull of the submarine. They have recessed panel lines and some rivet detail. The 4 tail fins are all there but these are very thin and beautifully represented. There was a slight mismatch to one side of the torpedo but this only require some filler and smooth fairing to rectify the situation. Be careful when separating the torpedoes from the runner particularly the tail fin area in order to avoid damage. Another bag contained the two hull halves and a third contained detail parts, 24 in number. There are also two astrodomes in clear vac form acetate. Among the detail parts are tail fins and horizontal stabiliser, propeller parts, rudder, coning tower and full cabin interior detail. The single crew compartment is quite small and the interior detail will not be appreciated if the tower is closed. There is a 5 page of A5 size instructions and there are 6 stages of construction, one page is devoted to kit parts and another page has colour detail in labelled form.

If you would like to see the parts, please visit the preview.

CONSTRUCTION

The first three stages deal with assembly of crew cabin complete with steering wheel, side console and instruments integrally moulded with the hull parts, and a seat. A forward and rear bulkhead separates the tiny crew compartment from the battery station at the front and the steering compartment at the rear. After fixing all the interior detail and painting the interior as per instructions then the two hull sections are brought together. These contain no locating pegs and corresponding holes. Great care is taken to match the two parts together when in the end takes the form of a cigar shaped hull. Stage 4 deals with detailing the hull and the prow. Fins, stabilisers, lifting eyes, rear pointed cone end all fitted to the hull. An astrodome fits to the entry hatch which can be fixed open or closed. The conning tower contains small rectangular windows from which very little can be seen once Kristal Kleer is added as glazing instead of cut rectangular clear Perspex suggested in the instructions. Instruments inside the crew compartment also include a compass and a hydrophone for detecting distance sounds. A mast and a periscope complete the coning tower detail. The torpedoes which are fitted during the final stages, ie after painting the kit should go inner of the lengthwise shallow stabilisers and these should not be mistaken as pylons since this is not apparently clearly indicated in the instructions.

Like previous Pavla midget submarine, there is no stand which will hold the model in a display position. This should not deter anyone from getting the kit as it is a simple task to scratch built one from plastic card. I designed one after looking at reference material on the web. One should only calculate the dimensions of a carrier trolley from the kit size and section. I then added 4 heavy wheels and could display the kit as I desired. 

COLORS & MARKINGS

 One could either refer to the box cover side view or the instructions last page when it comes to painting the completed model which seems to differ. I preferred to go by the colour painting on the cover. The hull was painted overall blue grey CBC10 Compucolor brand, adding darker stains at the panel lines consisting of drops of brick red partly mixed with the blue grey and airbrushed chord wise. The torpedo nose could be painted black or silver or yellow but I preferred to airbrush these in medium grey as shown on colour side view and the rest was extra dark sea grey JPH grade enamel. The three propellers one mounted on the sub and two on the torpedoes were painted in Uoridol Goldfarbe which is the colour of yellow brass since the propellers were made of Manganese bronze (60/40 brass mainly). There were no decals to go on the midget submarine. In the end the model was given a coat of semi gloss clear Lacquer finish, Model Master Brand.

CONCLUSIONS

In the end a small but impressive kit is produced. The kit is definitely not beyond the capability of most modellers and in view of the few parts it contains it can be definitely recommended for a first time try one’s hand on a resin kit.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org

 Carmel J. Attard

January 2009

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