AFV Club 1/350 U-boat type VIID

KIT #: ?
PRICE: 2,000 yen (approx $24.95) at HobbyLink Japan
DECALS: Several 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, it was the most successful submarine of the Second World War, 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 seven main variants: VIIA, VIIB, VIIC, VIIC/41, VIIC/42, VIID and VIIF.

       One of the most successful weapons in naval warfare was the mine.  While the smaller U‑boars could deliver mines through their torpedo tubes, only the XB U‑boats, which were specifically designed as minelayers, could deliver the SMA cable anchored mines. The XBs were large and unwieldy, and could only be used as minelayers since their only other armament was two stern‑mounted torpedo tubes.  Because of this, only eight XBs were built and commissioned.

       However, the SMA was the best type of mine, so the Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine directed that the Type VIIC U‑boat be modified to enable it to deliver SMA mines while maintaining the full offensive capabilities of the Type VIIC. The result was the Type VIID, designed to lay SMA type mines in British coastal waters. Using the basic Type VIIC, a new hull section was inserted aft of the control room, containing five vertical mine launchers which could each carry three SMA mines, which increased overall length from 217 to 250 feet. The saddle tanks were also lengthened, which provided a larger load of diesel fuel, giving the Type VIID greater range than the Type VIIC.  However, due to its increased size and weight, the Type VIID had marginally poorer maneuverability, and a slower top speed and diving time. Six Type VIIDs ‑ U‑213 to U‑218 ‑ were built by the Germania Shipyard in Kiel and commissioned between August 1941 and January 1942.

       Of 31 patrols carried out by Type VIIDs between the Spring of 1942 and the end of the war, only nine were minelaying missions.  On October 10, 1945, the British trawler “Kned” fell victim to a mine laid by U‑218 on August 18,1944. The six Type VIIDs sank ten ships for a total 42,622 tons.   

       After May 1943, the remaining Type VIIDs were stripped of their 88mm deck guns and given a second flak platform over the first two mine silos. In 1945, U‑218 was fitted with a snorkel. 

      U‑213, which made 5 patrols and sank no ships, was sunk off the Azores on July 31,1942 by depth charges from HMS Erne, HMS Rochester and HMS Sandwich with loss of all hands. U‑214 made 11 patrols and sank 3 ships before being sunk on July26, 1944 in the English Channel by HMS Cooke with loss of all hands. U‑215 made one patrol, sinking one ship, before being sunk with all hands in the North Atlantic while on a minelaying operation.  U‑216 also made one patrol and sank one ship before being sunk on October 20 1942 by a Liberator off the southern coast of Ireland.  U‑217 made three patrols and sank three ships before being sunk in the North Atlantic on June 5, 1943, by Avengers from USS Bogue.  U‑218, the most successful of the class, made ten patrols between the summer of 1942 and the end of the war, sinking three ships.  The U‑boat sailed into Bergen, Norway, to surrender on May 8, 1945, and was lost in the North Sea while under tow by HMS Southdown during “Operation Deadlight” on December 4, 1945.


     AFV Club's 1/350 Type VIId follows their earlier Type VIIB and Type VIIC U-boats, and joins the Revell 1/350 Type VIIC and Hobby Boss 1/350 Type XIB and Type IXC to bring the grey wolves of the Kriegsmarine to this scale.  The AFV Club kit is extremely petite, with fewer than 35 parts, but many of these parts, like the railings, are so well done in such small detail that they are superior to the photoetch parts that are provided.  Decals allow the modeler to make any one of the Type VIId U-boats to see service.


            When one builds something that is only about 6 inches long, with lots of really small detail parts that are ‑ in 1/350 scale ‑ really really small detail parts, it's a good idea to have a nice swing‑arm magnifier lamp available.  I did almost all the work on this tiny model under the light and with the visual aid of that lamp.

             I have done the AFV 1/350 Type VIIB, and this differs only in adding the bit of superstructure over the mine compartment and the fact the hull is a bit longer.  The nice thing is that, as is true with most submarine models, it is easy to assemble even in this scale, due to the relative paucity of parts compared to any other ship model.  The instructions are clear and concise.

             I first assembled the hull, then attached the diving planes, the screws and the rudders.  This hull is more fiddly than the Revell kit, but the result has better detail to my mind.  I then assembled the conning tower, with the plastic railing, at glued it to the hull.  I left all the small deck parts off until after the model was painted.


             The hull below the waterline was painted with Tamiya “NATO Black”, with the upper decks painted the same color and then having the bow and stern painted with Dark Sea Grey.  The hull above the waterline and the conning tower were painted German Kriegsmarine Grey.


             I attached the various parts. I used the plastic railings, which are among the most delicate plastic moldings I have ever seen, and which look great on the finished model. When all had set up, I gave the model an overall coat of Xtracrylix Flat Varnish.


             Wow!  U‑boats were really small!  Being able to put this model near other ships made in the same scale, one is amazed to discover how really small this most important weapons system of the Second World War ‑ the German weapon that came closest to winning the war for Hitler ‑ really was.  You don't get this with the larger scales, since there is nothing really big to compare the model with.  I think I may put some photoetch figures on the conning tower deck, so others who see this can get an idea of just how small these ships were, and how brave a man had to be to go to war in them.

Tom Cleaver

November 2010

Review kit courtesy of HobbyLink Japan. 

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