Kombrig 1/700 light cruiser Uruguay
KIT #: 70083
PRICE: @ 25 €
REVIEWER: Frank Spahr
NOTES: Resin kit. Addition bits are from WEM PE 730 Askold, 16 € / WEM PE 757 HMS Tiger, 16 €


Uruguay was termed a cruiser, but basically this very small vessel rather was a mix of torpedo boat and gun boat and couldnīt compare to contemporary proper cruisers. To me she looks like a budget ship for a modest country with modest naval interests. Her main armament were two 4.7 in Skoda guns; she had a number of smaller guns and two deck-mounted torpedo tubes. Built in 1910 in Germany at the Vulkan yard at Stettin (now the Polish city of Sczeczin), she served her country well over several decades, mostly as a training ship. Her moment closest to serious action was in 1939, when she was tasked to face the German raider Graf Spee and the pursuing British task group, maintaining Uruguayan interests. Luckily no fight ensued, and Uruguay soldiered on to be scrapped around 1950.

There isnīt that much more info on this rather small and obscure vessel, which formed a lot of the kitīs appeal when I found it during a summer visit to NNT mail order. This would be pure and guilt-free happy modeling without nits to be picked or rivets to be counted. Ya-hey!



A typical Kombrig offering, the kit comprises a limited number of parts which are crisply molded in resin. With the original measuring a mere 85 metres, the modelīs length equals the calibre of her main guns, a bit under 5 inches. Luckily no parts had been damaged in the flimsy Kombrig paper box. A small PE fret with specific parts for the ship was most welcome, whereas more generic parts were easily obtained from WEM PE sets. As usual, masts and yards are included in resin, but due to their softness they are only fit to be used as templates for metal replacements. The splinter shields of the main guns are cast solid, a PE replacement would have been nice. The kit misses the originalīs bow and stern crests; I tentatively thought of replacing the bow crest with an Imperial Japanese chrysanthemum of appropriate size, painted blue and white, but somehow never got around to commit this sacrilege. All in all this is quite nice value for money and a good resin kit for beginners in the pre-WW1 field.


 Making the base

 Having got a number of Trumpeter display boxes as birthday presents, I quickly found an equally small and suitable one to fit this small model. The hull was placed at a slight angle on it, and its position fixed with screws running through holes drilled through the base. The edges of the base were masked, grey acrylic paint was misted over the hull to mark its perimeter, then the hull was removed.

German hardware supermarkets sell a putty that is virtually the same as Revell putty, but in larger tubes for less money. This putty was used to sculpt the waves and wake of the ship. Tools used were  a spatula for artistīs oils, and a wire brush to stipple the wake. After the putty had cured, corrections  were made using sandpaper and an X-ACTO knife.

Now white wall paint was applied in a stippling motion using a normal painterīs brush. I aimed at a bit livelier sea so used a bit more paint and stippled a bit harder. With a bit of practice, you can replicate varying sea states with this method.

The white paint dried, I brought my airbrush and sprayed first a green shade of acrylic (Revell 48, IIRC) and then Vallejo ModelAir Insignia Blue on the base. Some corrections were made with ModelAir White. This technique allows blending the various hues rather easily. Already at this point, white artistīs oil paint was used to highlight the foam caps and the wake.

When the base was fully dried (I gave it about a week), I generously applied solvent-based clear gloss from a big rattle can from the hardware supermarket. Now I only needed a ship to mount on the base.

 Building the model

In fact, I had a ship to mount on the base at that point, as I had made progress as fast and smooth as ever. The kit parts needed but little cleanup and were easily removed from the thin resin wafers and mounted on kabuki tape. I use tape from the German manufacturer kip (#308) which is available at some model shows (my main supplier being the Dutch Airbrush Services Almere). Itīs equal to Tamiya tape but WAY cheaper. I use pins to fix pieces of tape to styrofoam blocks and mount my parts and subassemblies to them for painting.

 Soon I had virtually all the parts prepared. The main job was painting the hull, which was primed in a light grey after being washed with lighter gasoline. The hull sides were sprayed Vallejo ModelAir Pale Grey Blue. The wooden deck was sprayed  a brown acrylic and then a light layer of tan was added. A wash from Humbrol thinner and dark ochre artistīs oil paint brought out the planking quite nicely. A number of touchups by brush followed, but nothing serious. The delicate PE tracks for the torpedo mounts and the carts used for recharges were glued to the deck using matt varnish.

The superstructure parts were also sprayed pale grey blue, with the platform decks receiving a brown shade for a linoleum covering, and the wooden decks of the bridges a similar treatment as the main decks, but a shade darker to add some variety. The canvas-covered railings on the wheelhouse roof were simulated by applying PVA glue to the railings and painting them in a lighter grey than the rest of the ship.

The boats were painted in hull colour for the outsides, and a rich brown with a black wash for the insides. The mouths of the vents were painted black. Care was used to apply dark blue paint to the skylights and bridge windows, with some drybrushing with hull paint for the frames.

The masts were built from my dwindling stock of BMK tapered brass, plus brass and steel wire, using the kit parts as hints. They were glued with CA gel. 0.2 mm brass wire was also used for the funnel steampipes. The larger gun barrels were replaced by Master Modelīs 1:700 German 105 mm barrels, suitably shortened.

The various subassemblies prepared, I was able to start assembling the model. Working from the center to the preriphery in order to minimize damage, the superstructure was added, then the bridges, guns, masts, railings and davits. The davits were made from 0.2 mm brass wire, bent to shape.

 Rigging the model

 Rigging ship models is my personal least popular task in such a project. Over the years, I have tried various techniques, and this is what I have arrived at and what suits my limited abilities.

I use flyfishing thread almost exclusively. The Canadian company UNI makes a large range and has the incredible Caenis ultra-fine thread to offer. This stuff is virtually as thin as stretched sprue, but much stronger, so your lines wonīt snap at any inadvertent touch. In this project, I used UNI 8/0 black for the stronger lines and Caenis for the rest. Signal lines, which I would do in tan material in larger scales, were also done in Caenis.

The brass masts and yardarms give enough strength to work as I currently do: Any given line will be glued to its start point using CA gel. That takes some time to set, but gives a strong bond and works way better than thin CA for me. Then I lead the line to its end point; in many cases you can lead the line around something and add a small weight to it to make it taut. I use clothes pins. Then the end point is also glued, here thin CA works fine. I leave it to set for a while and then carefully cut off the excess using a scalpel that sees no other work. There will be some issues with excess material, though, and hence the technique (and result) is inferior to master rigger Jim Baumannīs approach, but mine works way better for me and my sanity. I use an optivisor at 3.5 x magnification, and make sure I have a lot of light at my workbench. The Lumie desk lamp Jim recommended to me last year was a big step forward. Its bright light at 1,250 lux is originally aimed at countering seasonal affective disorders, so I think my modeling sessions as affective therapy ;-)


 The model received some paint touchups once rigging was completed. Acrylics are much more forgiving in that respect than enamels in my experience. A number of PE figures from Lion Roar were added at that stage; they were glued with CA gel. Boat booms were added from tan stretched sprue which was druybrushed with reddish-brown artistīs oils. The model received some limited weathering with highly-thinned artists oils, after which an overall flat coat sealed and blended things in nicely. Vallejo ModelAir Matt Varnish works well for me in that respect. Windsor & Newtonīs acrylic flat medium has been recommended to me, and I have a bottle in my possession, but havenīt had the chance to try it yet.

After the flat coat was cured, the model was glued to its base using CA gel; the remaining gaps between the model and the base were filled with gloss clear  heavy acrylic gel, applied from a salve syringe - not the one you stick into people, but the larger diameter and blunt one to apply salves. Some more structure was added to the waves with the gel, too.  That cured, the final work was highlighting the waves with white artistīs oils. I havenīt found another paint yet that is as white and will remain like that.


 This was a delightful and fun project, just what I needed after five months work on one big model. I started it the afternoon of 29 September, 2012, and was halfway through the rigging the tuesday after. I then had a short holiday, taking the unfinished model with me to display it at a model show. Some more work was done beginning Sunday, 7 October, and I was done on tuesday. This probably was my fastest build and I can recommend this little and nice kit wholeheartedly.

Frank Spahr

November 2012

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