Hobby Boss 1/700 Akula Class Submarine

KIT #: 87005
PRICE: $7.15 from GreatModels  
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Includes a stand


Project 971 Щука-Б (Shchuka-B, 'Shchuka' meaning pike, NATO reporting name "Akula"), is a nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) first deployed by the Soviet Navy in 1986. Akula ("shark") is also the Soviet designation of the ballistic missile submarine class designated by NATO as the Typhoon class submarine.

There are three sub-classes or flights of Shchuka, consisting of the original seven "Akula I" submarines which were built between 1982 and 1986, five "Improved Akula" submarines built between 1986 and 1991, and two "Akula II" submarines built from 1991. The distinction between the Improved Akula and the Akula II class is debated by authoritative sources. The Russians call all of the submarines Schuka-B, regardless of modifications

The Akula incorporates a double hull system composed of an inner pressure hull and an outer "light" hull. This allows more freedom in the design of the exterior hull shape, resulting in a very hydrodynamic submarine compared to western counterparts at the time.

The distinctive "bulb" or "can" seen on top of the Akula's rudder houses its towed sonar array, when retracted.

All Akulas are armed with four 533 mm torpedo tubes which can use Type 53 torpedoes or the SS-N-15 Starfish missile, and four 650 mm torpedo tubes which can use Type 65 torpedoes or the SS-N-16 Stallion missile. These torpedo tubes are arranged in two rows of four tubes each. Improved Akulas and Akula IIs have an additional six 533 mm torpedo tubes mounted externally, however it is unclear whether these are fully functional external tubes, or if they are only capable of launching Mines and decoys. The external tubes are mounted outside the pressure hull in one row, above the 'Normal' Torpedo tubes, and can only be reloaded in port or with the assistance of a submarine tender. The 650 mm tubes can be fitted with liners to use the 533 mm weaponry. The submarine is also able to use its torpedo tubes to deploy mines.


This kit is simplicity in itself. It has nine parts plus a base and two of the parts are optional so when you get around to building it, there will be seven bits. The optional parts are for a conning tower with the periscopes and antenna raised or lowered, and the diving planes extended or retracted. The hull in split horizontally to accommodate the installation of the diving planes. A small display base with the sub's class already painted on it is included. Decals include common data markings. The builder will need to paint the white waterline.

Molding on the sub is quite good and this has to be very much a weekend build including painting. It may take a day or two longer for taking care of the seam and masking to paint the white waterline, but regardless, this should be a build that any age group old enough to know what glue is for to handle.


Whenever many of us reach a point where we can't stand to add another fiddly bit onto a fiddly kit, we go for a nice, relaxing build that is as close to a snap-tite as our ego will allow. Over the last few years, that means a Hobby Boss kit. These kits are designed for those who want to build a model about as quick as one can, and yet do not want to spend the money on a well known Japanese model maker to do so.

Hobby Boss aircraft are quick and simple with few parts. This submarine kit is equally as quick with even fewer parts. As I was looking at missing another deadline last week, I pulled this one out of its box and began what little work there was to assembling it.

The hull upper and lower halves were glued together, trapping the diving planes. You have a choice of retracted or extended on this and I chose extended. Naturally, the hull seam needed filler and that was one of the more time consuming tasks. If you aren't concerned with that, it will halve the building time. After the usual two applications of Tamiya putty and the requisite sanding and smoothing, I installed the other optional part, the upper bridge structure. For this, I chose the one with all the stuff extended, though I could have picked the optional 'stuff retracted' piece. But this just didn't look right. Subs are supposed to have these things popping up from the bridge so they were added.

It would have been nice if Hobby Boss had provided a white stripe decal for the waterline marking. But they didn't. This means paint. Using some Mr. Color white, I painted all around the waterline area and left it to dry. As Mr.Color is lacquer, a day was all that was needed and actually, I probably could have started masking within hours. Using what looked like an appropriate thickness of JammyDog tape, I applied the waterline mask. This tape bends nicely and sticks well so is perfect for this type of job.

The next step was the black. Again using Mr.Color lacquers, I painted the entire boat. This took two sessions as I did one side then when dry, did the other. I also painted the little stand pieces at this time. Once the black had dried, and this was hours, not overnight, I removed the tape and was pleased that I didn't screw up too much.

The kit decals are nicely printed, went down well and didn't have any problems with Solvaset. I did find at least one of the water depth decals silvered and it didn't seem to make any difference when I added more Solvaset. An application of Polly Scale matte clear acrylic was sprayed on as these submarines are not glossy when they are not wet. Though it doesn't seem to stand out at all, I dry-brushed the sub with Floquil weathered black.

Not much to this. It was simply installing the little mounts into the base, and then gluing on the prop, which had been painted gold prior to this. The sub sits on the stand nicely and makes an interesting addition to any ship collection (though a sub is considered a 'boat').

These kits are a very nice diversion from the norm. The end result is pleasing and they certainly do not take up a ton of space. This one measures out to about 6.5 inches in overall length.


November 2009

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