Revell 1/350 SMS Emden

KIT: Revell 1/350 SMS Emden
KIT #: 05041
PRICE: $12.50 MSRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Kyle Bodily


No one really expected things to get out of hand like they did in World War One.  In fact it was such a surprise to the Germans that when war was declared the Germans had a scattered force of only seventeen cruisers to harass the British, Russians and Japanese.  The rest of the German High Seas Fleet was trapped in port by the British Grand Fleet.

 The largest concentration of German ships outside of the North Sea was Admiral Graf von Spee’s East Asiatic Fleet at the port of Tsingtao (now Qingdao) in China.  The British were tied up in Europe so she asked her ally Japan to take the Port of Tsingtao from the Germans and deny Germany a very strategic port from which they could operate from.  The Japanese landed in China on August 27, 1914 along with a small British contingent.  The German defenders held out for more than two months until the port fell on November 7, 1914.  As the victorious Japanese marched into Tsingtao, the Germans were ordered to turn there backs on the small contingent of British in the parade since they felt that the British had the Japanese do their dirty work and didn’t deserve their respect.  This enraged the British to the point that they lodged a complaint with the Japanese Commander.  To which the Japanese Commander said, “Well we can’t very well have the parade again because of that”. 

 The United States was not happy with this turn of events because they felt that Britain had empowered the Japanese Empire.  Since shortly after the fall of Tsingtao the Japanese demand territory from China and were quick to pounce on all the German Colonies north of the Equator.  At the same time Australia and New Zealand were quick to jump on all the German colonies south of the Equator.

 Because of this very thing the Kaiser told all of his Ships Captains that they were to train and learn to operate independently in the event of war.  The standing order was to inflict the maximum distraction on the enemy at all times.  The Germans produced excellent Captains that were superb sailors and had the instincts of pirates.   

 Far from neutralizing the German East Asiatic Fleet, all it did was to make the German presence felt all over the world.

 Prior to the fall of Tsingtao, Admiral von Spee took his fleet out to start the Cruiser Campaign against the British, Russians, Japanese and the French.  The Emden was already at sea and met up with Admiral Spee’s Fleet.  While Admiral Spee wanted to keep the fleet together he let Captain Karl von Muller take the Emden into the Indian Ocean to harass the British

 She disguised herself by adding a fourth funnel and so looked somewhat like a British cruiser.  This helped her slip past British picket ships, allowing her to began to pray on unarmed and unescorted Allied shipping.  The Emden captured seventeen ships, all British except for two which were neutrals and subsequently released. 

 Captain Muller became famous for making sure that all passengers and crew were safely off the ships before sinking them.  He noted that “the British were quick to retrieve all their whisky, not wanting to share it with the fishes”. 

 By September 14, 1914 Captain Karl von Muller single-handedly shut down all British on the Colombo-Singapore rout.  This had dire consequence since this caused great panic among the British and Allied shipping offices in the Indian Ocean. Insurance prices for merchant ships went through the roof and no captains would attempt to leave port. To say the least this was very embarrassing to the British and the other Allies that a single German cruiser could effectively shut down the entire Indian Ocean.

On 22 September the S.M.S. Emden silently steamed towards the Indian City of Madras.  She opened fire on the oil storage tanks of the Burma Oil Company setting them on fire.  She then turned her attention to some of the merchant ships anchored in the harbor.  The Emden turned out to sea as the shore batteries began to open up on her. All to no effect as she fired 125 rounds without a scratch.  Dawn of the 23rd saw the Emden one hundred miles out to sea and as the crew looked at the coming dawn they could still see the fires of Madras lighting up the sky like an eerie sunset.  The terror and confusion caused thousands of people to flee Madras and even though the damage was slight the blow to British moral was tremendous.  To this day an obnoxious and street smart person is called an ‘emden’ in the Tamil language.

 Between 25 and 29 September Emden sunk another six ships while being chased by HMS Hampshire and IJN Chikuma.  After slipping away from her would be attackers Emden sank another ten ships in October.  Now the allies made their main thrust in the Pacific the sinking of the Emden.  The British sent HMS Yarmoth the Russians sent the Askold and the IJN sent the Tokiwa and Yakumo to reinforce the IJN Chikuma and the Russian cruiser Zemchug that were already patrolling around the Bay of Bengal.

 This was not to stop Captain von Muller.  On the morning of October 28th Emden entered the port of Penang at full speed.  After entering the harbor she raised the German flag and fired a torpedo at the Russian Cruiser Zemchug.  She then fired a gun salvo followed up by a second torpedo that sent the Zemchug to the bottom as the Emden turned to make her escape.  When Emden left the harbor she was followed by the French destroyer Mousquet.  The Emden turned and quickly sank her.  The Mouquet’s sister ships the Pistolet and Fronde attempted to follow the Emden but soon lost contact.

 Now the Light Cruiser SMS Emden was arguably the most hunted ship in the world if not of all time.  No less than sixty ships from Britain, France, Russia and Japan were actively looking for the Emden.

 Captain von Muller now took Emden to the Cocos Islands where he planed to destroy Eastern Telegraph Company’s wireless station at Direction Island.  This he hoped would cripple communications in the Indian Ocean.  On 9 November 1914 Caption von Muller sent a raiding party ashore under the command of First Lieutenant Helmuth von Mucke to destroy the station’s radio tower.  But a wireless operator was able to send out a call for help.  The British asked von Mucke to not let the radio tower fall on the nearby tennis courts.  While the Germans politely obliged the British the HMAS Sydney steamed at full speed towards Direction Island.  Captain Muller had no choice but leave the landing party as soon as lookouts saw the Sydney.  Emden tried to escape HMAS Sydney but could not.  In the ensuing battle both ships suffered a lot of damage.  The Emden was hit over 100 times.  The Emden started to take on water and Captain Muller beached her on North Keeling Island so Emden would not sink and to allow the crew to get off as safely as possible.  At this point the Sydney left Emden to attack a collier that had been traveling with and had been supporting Emden.  The Sydney returned to the Emden some four hours and noted that Emden had not taken down her flag.  The Emden did not answer Sydney’s request that she surrender.  So she opened fire until her colors were taken down.  Out of a crew of 360, 131 were killed and 65 wounded.  The survivors were interned in Malta until the end of the war.

 Meanwhile the landing party saw the action and began to prepare to defend the Island Since it was now captured and in German hands.  However during the night and with the Sydney anchored just off shore First Lieutenant Helmuth von Mucke commandeered the three masted schooner Ayesha and made ready to sail.  When morning came the Sydney found that the Germans had slipped away in the night.  Over time the landing party made it all the way back to Germany.  But that’s another story.

 The Australians brought several of the guns from Emden back for war trophies.  The hulk of the Emden remained where Captain Muller had grounded her until 1950 when she was cut up for scrap.  I am told however that you can still find small pieces of her inbetween the rocks and in the sand of North Keeling Island

 Since the Emden was sunk, four other German vessels have been given her name.  She was also awarded the Iron Cross by the Kaiser the only other ship to be given such an honor was the U-9.  All crewmembers were given the honor of having their sir names hyphenated with Emden like Franz Joseph Prince of Hohenzollern-Emden who served on the Emden durring this time.    


The kit is packaged in the classic Revell of Germany end opening box.  The artwork shows the Emden in pre-war finish, with the yellow-gray upper structures that were standard for the East Asiatic Fleet at the time. 

On opening you will find two sealed bags containing the plastic parts, the instructions, decals, paper flags and the standard orange star holding rigging thread

 The detail of the plastic parts looks very nice.  With recessed panel lines open portholes, wood deck detail and funnels.  The hull is in four parts since the Emden was one of two Dresden class Cruisers.  The only outward difference between the two vessels is below the water line.  The Emden had two screws and the Dresden had four screws.  The Dresden was a very successful German Cruiser and was the only German ship to survive the Battle of the Falklands.  At one time Revell of Germany did produce a Dresden but it is now out of production.  The two kits are the same except for one parts tree that allows you to build the Dresden’s four screw aft end.

 If you want to build a SMS Dresden all you need to do is cut the hull at the waterline and build it as a waterline displayed model and you will have a Dresden.

 With such nice detail I would say that all the kit really needs are some deckrails and a dummy fourth funnel to build in wartime guise.  I think that you can get other after market stuff but I don’t know if that is necessary to build a very nice model. 

 The decals are printed spot on with a national flag, the nameplates and the city of Emden crests for the bow.  The kit also comes with a set of paper flags if you want to really say something with the signal flags.

 The instructions are printed on clean white paper and are very clear and readable.  They are multi-lingual with color call outs that don’t seem to show any particular paint brand.  The instructions guide the modeler through the different paint schemes that the Emden wore during her service.  The pre-war finish was a gray hull with yellow-gray upper structure and the wartime finish was all grays.  A really nice rigging diagram is included on the last three pages.  If you want to go a step further in rigging this model, I would look around at some photos because they show a little more complex rigging then is in the diagrams.


 Well it looks like this kit has everything that a modeler could want.  An incredible history, lots of detail, lots of parts, fairly simple construction and a price that is very affordable. 

 I think that almost anyone could build this model and I do recommend it.  If you have not built anything but aircraft, give this ship a try.  It is a nice change of pace, not to difficult and you could start a small library with the books written about this ship and crew.

 I myself like to build just about anything that strikes my fancy.  This is one of them and is one of the models that I am building right now.  Look for a full build in the future. 

 I hope that Revell of Germany will rerelease the Dresden again since all that is needed is to change one parts tree and a few decals. 

 You know, with a little weight in the hull you could build this kit into a bathtub cruiser.  Just be careful in the tub and watch out for the pointy parts or you may become the next victim of the Emden.


(The First World War)  by Professor Hew Strachan, now on DVD and it can also be seen as a ten part series on the Military Channel

(The Last Cruise of the Emden)  by Edwin P. Hoyt Lyons Press

 (Last Gentleman-Of-War)  by R.K. Lochner. Naval Institute Press

  (The Kaiser's Pirates)  by John Walter. Naval Institute Press

 A lot of looking and searches on the Internet.

July 2008

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