Revell 1/144 Type VIIc/41 U-boat
KIT #: ?
PRICE: $31.00 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


            The Type VII 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.

             The Type VII became the main craft of the U-boat force for two reasons. The first was technical.  The Type VII had the range, sea worthiness, armament, and maneuverability to conduct an anti-shipping war in the North Atlantic. Additionally, the Type VII 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, Germany 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 VII, as a medium-tonnage boat, could be built in greater numbers under these restrictions.

             709 Type VII 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 Battle of the Atlantic.  It had greater fuel capacity and therefore longer range than the Type VIIB U-boats which had been fighting the Battle of the Atlantic 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 curtain.

             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 VII U-boat, a Type VIIC/41, U-995, on display at Laboe north of Kiel, Germany.


             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 sprue 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 Flat Varnish.


            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 VII 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 kit also.

 Tom Cleaver

January 2013

Review kit courtesy of my wallet.

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