Type VIIc/41 U-boat
U-boat first appeared as the VIIA in 1936. While it was not the best submarine
in any particular aspect, in all its variations it was the most successful
submarine of the Second World War in terms of operational score, forming the
backbone of the U-boat force throughout the war.
became the main craft of the U-boat force for two reasons. The first was
technical. The Type
had the range, sea worthiness, armament, and maneuverability to conduct an
anti-shipping war in the
Additionally, the Type
was relatively cheap and could be built quickly using mass-production
techniques. Secondarily, naval
policy influenced the selection.
Under the 1935 Anglo-German Naval Agreement,
was allowed to construct submarines up to 35 percent the tonnage of the Royal
Navy submarine fleet, which was later increased to 100 percent. The Type
as a medium-tonnage boat, could be built in greater numbers under these
U-boats of all variants were built during the war, more than any other submarine
type built by any other nation. The U-boat appeared
in six main variants: VIIA, VIIB, VIIC, VIIC/41, VIID and VIIF.
The Type VIIC, which began appearing in 1940 with the launch of U-59,
became the backbone of the German U-boat fleet in the
It had greater fuel capacity and therefore longer range than the Type
VIIB U-boats which had been fighting the
to that point.
The Type VIIC/41 was introduced in 1943, in response to the changed
conditions that saw Allied anti-submarine forces finally achieve superiority
over the U-boats. The Type VIIC/41
had a stronger pressure hull and a rated maximum depth of 750 feet.
It also had increased anti-aircraft armament in the form of two twin-20mm
cannon and a crew-served Flak-37 37mm weapon; the 88mm deck gun was removed for
having no combat value. However,
with Allied anti-submarine aircraft now equipped with centimetric radar which
the Germans were not able to counteract until 1944, the U-boat that stayed on
the surface and fought it out with an airplane was more than likely to end up
sunk. There were cases, however, of
long range Liberators and Catalinas being shot down.
Once the Allied aircraft were equipped with rockets that could be fired
outside the range of the submarine’s flak defenses, it really was the final
The Type VIIC/41 was also equipped with a schnorkel which allowed
operation of the diesel engines at periscope depth in a calm sea, allowing the
submarine to recharge its batteries without having to surface and expose itself
to Allied air power. 91 Type
VIIC/41 U-boats were commissioned between early 1943 and late 1944.
They were responsible for sinking 38 Allied ships, with a combined
tonnage of a bit more than 100,000 tons.
For this score, 44 Type VIIC/41 boats were lost.
For those who do not have 4 cubic linear feet of storage space to display
the Revell 1/72 scale Type VIIC/41 U-boat released a year ago, this 1/144 Type
VIIC/41 is a good substitute. It has been listed in the Revell catalogue for
several years, but has never been available, so when I found one on the shelf of
the LHS, I grabbed it without a second through. The kit has excellent surface
detail, having been pantographed down from the larger model.
The raised rivet and weld line detail looks very effective, while the
deck is slatted correctly and the drain holes are deep enough to look accurate.
The conning tower railing would likely look better as photo-etch pieces, but the
plastic railing is sufficiently thin to look OK (mostly). The kit is relatively
simple, with a total of 102 parts on three dark grey sprues.
At an overall length of approximately 19 inches, the kit is large enough
to provide good detail, without requiring a modeler add a new room to their
house for display.
Decals are provided along with painting instructions to do two boats:
U-998 operating with the 5th U-boat Flotilla from Kiel in 1943, and
U-1004, operating with the 31st U-boat Flotill from Hamburg in 1944;
U-1004 was one of the more successful boats of this type, making her first
patrol in January 1944 and surviving to war’s end while sinking the British
cargo ship A. Kennedy and the Canadian corvette HMCS Trentonian.
U-1004 was eventually disposed of at sea on December 1, 1945.
There is one surviving Type
U-boat, a Type VIIC/41, U-995, on display at Laboe north of
A submarine is a good place to begin for someone returning to ship
modeling, or just starting out, due to their basic simplicity. During
construction of this kit, the only difficulty I experienced was cutting off
various of the smaller parts from the
without damaging them. Some are small enough that damage is apparently
inevitable. Even with all this, assembly of the hull took less than two hours.
The conning tower was actually the most complex sub-assembly, taking most
of an afternoon to accomplish.
I had decided to model U-1004, so I then painted the hull, using Tamiya
“NATO Black” for the lower hull. The steel decks were painted with a 50-50
mixture of Tamiya NATO Black and Tamiya Gunmetal.
The sides of the casing were painted with Xtracrylix “Light Camouflage
Grey” and “RLM 76” light blue, with the conning tower painted with “RAF Ocean
Grey” aircraft colors, in accordance with the instructions to portray U-1004 as
she appeared when serving with the 9th U-Flotille at Hamburg in 1944.
After everything was dry, I attached the conning tower, the flak weapons,
and other deck fittings. I gave the hull and the conning tower parts a light
coat of Tamiya “Smoke”, which popped out the detail nicely and left the model
with a “used” look. When everything
was assembled and detailed, the model was given an overall coat of Xtracrylix
I’ve always liked submarines, particularly those of World War II.
I think 1/144 is the perfect for submarine models, being large enough to
allow provision of good detail, without being so big as to create storage and
display problems once finished. The
model looks very good displayed with other 1/144 Type
and Type XXI submarine models.
While the kit looks good assembled out of the box, aftermarket sets for the
railings would result in an outstanding model.
With Revell having announced a 1/72 Type IXC, one can hope for a 1/144
Review kit courtesy of my wallet.
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