U-Boat Laboratorium’s 1/350 German WWI Type UB-I submarine

KIT: Hasegawa 1/72 F-18C Hornet "VFA-131 Wildcats CAG"
KIT #: 350-01
PRICE: 15.00
REVIEWER: Kyle Bodily
NOTES: Resin multi-media kit


The UB-I boats were built to fill a need placed by the Imperial German Navy for a small coastal submarine.  It had to be maneuverable so it could operate in the unique shoals and sandbars in the English Channel.  The idea behind this design was to make a small boat that could be built in components that could then be easily transported by rail to whatever port or place of operation it would be needed.

Almost as soon as the war began, two shipyards began to build the type UB-I.  UB-1 to UB-8 were built at Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft in Kiel.  The UB-9 to UB-17 and three additional boats for Austria-Hungary were built at A.G. Weser in Bremen.  A total of twenty UB-I boats were built before production of the new UB-II type boats commenced.  The last in the UB line and the most numerous WWI German boats were the UB-III type.  This type become the bases for the German Type VII boats of World War II.

The first UB-Is went to sea in January of 1915.  They had some good points and some bad.  It could submerge in 22 seconds.  That is fast.  It had a range of 1600 nautical miles for a six-day autonomous cruise and a maximum depth of 160 feet/50 meters.  For armament it carried two torpedoes (45 cm type C/06 or C/06 Ds) and an 8mm machinegun (MG 08) on the forward deck.  The torpedo tubes could only be reloaded from the surface and the torpedoes had to be loaded directly into the tubes at that.  These boats just didn’t have the room to store their torpedoes any other way but loaded in the tubes.

These boats were small and the crews liked to refer to them as “Nähmaschine” or sewing machine.  Interestingly they were so small that the second a torpedo was launched the boat lost 1,786 lbs/810 kg of forward ballast.  The resultant aft CG shift was so drastic that the boat’s bow was in danger of braking the surface and giving away the boats location to the enemy.  To prevent this, the crew would have to all run forward the moment the torpedo left the boat to keep the CG as close to neutral as possible.  Its only other armament was one 8mm machinegun on the foredeck that could be removed before diving. 

The boat was not fast; it could make 6 knots on the surface and 5.5 knots submerged.  For power the UB-1s had a 60 h.p. diesel engine and a 120 h.p. electric motor.  I am told that this small power plant was the reason for the crewmen giving the type it’s nähmaschine nick name.

UB-I boats fought and operated pretty much everywhere shipping could be harassed.  They were stationed in the Black Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, Mediterranean and Aegean.  More then once UB-Is made the journey from Pola around Greece to Constantinople.

Many of these boats were painted like little seamonsters with eyes and a mouth.  The most successful UB-I was not one of these seamonsters but a plain nondescript looking boat.  It was the UB-6. 

The UB-6 was built at Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft in Kiel and commissioned on 8 April 1915.  She served in the U-boote des Marinekorps U-Flotille Flandern.  Based at Zeebrugge Belgium the UB-6 was active there from 19 April 1915 until 12 march 1917 when due to a navigational error she ran aground in Dutch waters.  She was interned at Hellevoetsluis and later scuttled by her crew on 18 march 1917.  Her wreck was surrendered to France in 1919 as war reparations and then broken up at Brest in July 1921.   

The UB-6 completed some 60 war patrols including participating in Admiral Scheer’s failed attempt to ambush the British Grand Fleet just prior to the Battle of Jutland.  The UB-6 sank 15 ships including the Destroyer HMS Recruit.  She damaged another two ships and captured a third for a total of 7,559 tons sunk or captured and 1,101tons damaged.

Three countries operated the UB-I type boats in the Great War.  Germany operated seventeen boats, AustriaHungary ended up with five boats and Bulgaria operated one.


Wow another really solid box.  Nice comprehensive instructions with well written histories for the basic boat and four individual boats to include pictures.  The instructions are quite useful since the model is a little over 3 inches long.  They show the boat with all parts in their proper place with nice big five view drawings.

Now for parts and WOW they are truly nice.  The resin hull is incredible.  I am always impressed to see how well some resin kits are cast.   These cottage industry type kits are hand made and mastered.  That means that someone sat down and hand made the original so a mold could be made to cast the run.  My kit is flawless, no matter how hard I looked and checked references I couldn’t find anything wrong with it.  The photo-etch parts look very well made and I’ve no doubt they’ll be very easy to work with.

 I count 30 parts for a kit no longer then the average car key.  It looks to me like the only thing that I will have to add is maybe some fishing line for rigging. 

 Man-o-man all I want to do is get started.


The first thing I did was to drill a hole in the center of the keel to place a piece of brass tubing to mount it on a stand.  I got a pre-shaped piece of wood for the base and drilled a hole in the center of it for another piece of brass tube.  The tube in the base is one size larger then the one on the keel of the boat, this allows the two tubes to telescope into one another.  Now I can build the sub with the stand out of the way and also not worry about getting the stand messed up.   The tube in the sub also gives you a nice little handle as you build.  That is something I find quite handy. 

Now we’ll get into the meat and potatoes.  I began by putting on the screw and building the rudder and planes. Next were the two torpedo covers and the forward dive planes.  The forward dive planes were fixed in a slightly downward angle.  This is shown in the instructions but until I read about them I was going to attach them in a level or neutral position.  Thank goodness for references, right.  Before I added the railings I drilled holes for the periscope and radio antenna mast.  Now I attached the helm.  These boats spent most of their time on the surface, so all had an external or exposed helm on the coning tower, and the railings.   

The most difficult part of the build for me was the VERY tiny 8mm machinegun and mount just in front of the bridge.  This thing is so tiny and my hands are so big that it took a lot of perseverance to get this done. When I finally completed this task I did think that all the concentration and effort was very much worth it.

Just before painting I added the little periscope and antenna mast. Then drilled two little holes for the rigging and sent the boat to the paint shop.  

After everything was painted, I added the rigging and radio antennas.  Lastly I weathered the whole thing.  I used the same weathering process for all the models I’ve built.  That is that I start out with a very diluted color like rust.  The paint is so diluted that only one coat is almost undetectable.  I just add coats to darken it as needed.  The cool thing about this method is that any one coat is really not noticeable.  So if you make a mistake you will not see it unless you make the same mistake several times.  It is the addition of coats that make things get slowly darker.

And that is about it.  Up she goes in the model display case.


Interestingly I found a lot of pictures on the Internet.  This helped me immensely.  The only problem here was that the only picture that I could find of the UB-6 was pretty grainy.  It was however clear enough to see that the UB-6 was at least at that time a plain boat without anything like eyes or a mouth on it.  Also the U-boat net had many good references.  Just keep in mind that the profile that is posted at the U-boat net of the UB-I class is that of the late war MINELAYER MODIFICATION.  All UB-I boats in German service that survived long enough were converted in to minelayers.  This kit is of the early war torpedo armed type of UB-I. This caused me much puzzlement while I researched the build until I found a reference that explained the conversion of the German boats.  I’ve not found any reference that states that the Austria-Hungarian or Bulgarian UB-I boats were given any such modifications.

The paint scheme was an overall coat of Silver gray.  After it had dried I masked off the upper horizontal surfaces and painted them a 50/50 mix of silver-gray and anthracite gray.  I touched every thing up with a paintbrush and added the rigging.  Lastly I weathered like I’ve already said and VIOLA, I’m done.


I can’t remember when I had more fun and felt that a kit was more rewarding.  This thing is little, that made it all the harder but everything was so nice and fit so well that I was able to enjoy the whole build.  The research that has gone into this kit is of the highest quality. Like I said earlier “My kit is flawless, no matter how hard I looked and checked references I couldn’t find anything wrong with it”.  I really looked since the profile of the kit did not mach up with the profile on U-boat net and I do consider them to be the best single reference site on the web.

I can recommend this little jewel to anyone that wants to try it. I think it is a good value and fairly simple.  In spite of its size I think it would make an excellent first resin ship kit.

I have found that U-Boat Laboratorium has other nice looking kits.  If this UB-I is any indication they should all be great kits.  Their site shows that they are scheduled to come out with a 1/350 scale SMS Scharnhorst.  The SMS Scharnhorst and the SMS Emden are probably my favorite ships from the First World War.  It, as you may remember was the flagship of Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee.  On the other hand it could be said that whatever I’m working on at the time is my favorite.

Now this is the first in a series of three builds of this kit.  I’ll be building them as three different UB-Is in the service of the three countries that operated the type.  This one is the first build and the German version. The second build will be of the Austro-Hungarian SMU-10 (ex-German UB-1) and the third will be of the Bulgarian Podvodnik No.18 (ex-German UB-8).


“U-boats of the Kaiser’s Navy” Osprey New Vanguard #50

“The U-boat net” www.uboat.net lots of information here.  I consider this site the single best reference on the web.

Kyle Bodily

March 2010 

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