BossBronco 1/350 HMS Vanguard SSBN

KIT #: 5014
PRICE: $34.98 SRP
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


            Introduced in 1994, the four “Vanguard” class SSBNs were the result of the decision to replace the previous “Resolution” class SSBNs, armed with the old Polaris SLBM with the Trident D-5. The class includes HMS Vanguard (S28), commissioned in 1993; HMS Victorious (S29), commissioned in 1995; HMS Vigilant (S30), commissioned in 1996; and HMS Vengeance (S31), commissioned in 1999. All were built by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd. at Barrow-in-Furness between 1986 and 1999, and are now based at HMS Neptune), 25 miles west of Glasgow, Scotland.

            In 1998, all WE.177 free-fall nuclear bombs and all other nuclear weapons were removed from the British Army, the Royal Air Force, and all surface ships of the Royal Navy, with the result that the Vanguard/Trident SLBM system is the sole nuclear weapon system for the UK. Each Vanguard carries 16 Trident-II D5 missiles, each equipped with eight MIRV warheads, with a yield of 100-120 kilotons.

            The ships were designed as unlimited-range nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines, unlike the Resolution class which had been adapted from the earlier Valiant class and American Lafayette class of nuclear powered SSBNs.  They are the third largest submarines ever built - with a length of 492 ft, and a by displacement of 15,730 tons submerged displacement when surfaced - after the Russian Typhoon and American Ohio classes, and are roughly twice the size of the Resolution. This increase in size is due to the much larger size of the Trident D-5 missile as compared to Polaris.

            HMS Vanguard arrived at Devonport Naval Base in February 2002, to begin a two year refit including a new reactor core, which was completed in January 2005. Following sea trials, which included test launching of Trident II D5 ballistic missiles, the vessel has returned to the fleet.      

            The Vanguard’s nuclear powered propulsion system is based on the second-generation Rolls-Royce PWR 2, developed specifically for the Vanguard Class. The current generations of PWR will allow a submarine to circumnavigate the world about 20 times, while the latest development could allow circumnavigation 40 times without refuelling.

            In September 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced to the UN General Assembly that the UK was ready to reduce its Vanguard submarines by one, the offer being made to encourage other nuclear-powered countries to move towards a nuclear weapons-free world.


            Bronco Models announced this kit, the first British nuclear-powered submarine to appear in injection-molded plastic, this past summer.  Previously, the only other 1/350 kit of a “Vanguard” class SSBN was the resin kit from White Ensign Models. The kit has 30 parts in grey plastic, and a base.


            As with most modern submarine models, and submarine models in general, the kit is the essence of simplicity.  All the parts fit very well, and I only had to use filler along the seam for the upper and lower hull halves.

            The kit provides two of the missile hatches separate so they can be posed open with a Trident missile installed.  I chose to close them up, which was the only difficult part of the project, since I had to trim them to fit and then rescribe the area once they were glued in position.



       I followed the painting instructions in the kit.  The lower hull and the vertical rudders were painted with Tamiya “German Grey,” while the upper hull was painted with Tamiya “NATO Black.”  The deck walkway area was masked and painted with Tamiya “Flat Black,” while the bow was masked and painted with Tamiya “Semi-Gloss Black.”  I then gave the model an overall coat of Xtracrylix Flat Varnish and applied the very simple decals, which are the displacement measurements.


            This is probably not a kit I would have bought had I seen it on the shelf at the LHS, but that would have been my loss.  Modern submarines are the essence of modeling simplicity, but they can be impressive when completed.  A measure of just how big one of these SSBNs is was demonstrated when I placed it next to my 1/350 USS San Francisco heavy cruiser, which is only about an inch and a half longer than this submarine.  For submarine modelers, and ship modelers in general, this is an inexpensive kit (relatively speaking) that is accurate and nothing that can’t be completed as a weekend project.

Thanks to Stevens International for the review copy.

Tom Cleaver

September 2009

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