Griffon Models

1/144 German U-Boat Type VII C
Metal Torpedo/Periscope/2cm+8.8cm Barrels
For the Revell of Germany kit
Stock Number: 144001
Reviewed By  Dave Morrissette, IPMS# 33653

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MSRP: $50.00
Distributor's website:

Griffon Models has produced a magnificent detail set for the Revell 1/144 Type VIII U-Boat. The set includes four photo-etch sheets produced in brass and stainless steel with relief etching (more on that later), several different sizes of wire, a turned-aluminum periscope base, both periscopes and a torpedo in turned aluminum, plastic stock and a full decal sheet and instructions.

The easiest way to look at this set is to break the build into sections and I broke it into the conning tower, hull, and torpedo loading chute/torpedo. Before starting, let me say from the start that this set is not for the inexperienced user of PE- there are lots of parts and some are less than 0.5mm in size. Bending is also required (I use a Small Shop bender- really handy) as is some scratch-building.

I started with the hull itself and opened the flooding holes and slots first and thinned the plastic. I know -- it isn’t for the PE -- I just couldn’t help myself. I took the deck and made the cut out for the torpedo loading chute (more later). The set contains many additions including new fore and aft deck sections, replacement bollards fabricated from plastic stock and PE, and new railings. One thing to note, all the railings are done in stainless steel and while a little harder to work with, they are sturdy and much better once complete -- excellent engineering. There are also replacement parts for the hatches and cleats -- many of which are multi-part. All the parts fit well and I started at the aft of the sub and worked forward, checking things off once done. I decided to put a net cutter on the front of the sub -- only due to the fact I haven’t built a sub with one- the parts are small but look great. I also decided to build the deck gun and there are ten or so pieces plus some scratch-building that is needed. The bottom and sides of the hull add covers for the saddles tanks, vents and reinforcements. All of these fit very well and things were going well and quick.

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[review image] [review image]And then I started the conning tower. Please understand that there are no fit issues but the modifications are more difficult. I first glued the plastic parts together for the upper and lower conning tower sections and sanded and filled things. There are small bits for the wood on the sides, compasses and the air intakes. All side railings and ladders are replaced again in stainless steel. One real selling point for the set is it includes a scale set of railings for the conning tower -- the plastic is way oversized. To get the alignment correct, they have included a jig that works by setting on the gun deck and then placing the stainless steel railing on it and attaching it to the top. The jig is removed and the uprights bent down where they fit into the original slots well. You then have to slide things up onto the uprights for the seats and glue it together. It is a little fiddly but looks great.

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To finish the conning tower, the periscope parts need assembled. There are two periscopes -- attack and normal. Both have several parts that need bent and added and are topped off by two perfect periscopes in aluminum that have correctly scaled top sections. They are truly wonderful. Last, I built the anti-aircraft gun for the gun deck and detailed it. Everything that was finished was stored in lined closed containers -- it is delicate and I didn’t want to lose parts.

[review image] [review image]Last, the torpedo-loading chute is dealt with and installed. In hindsight, I was too eager to get the deck attached and made things hard as I had to add this part from the top. It would have been much easier to add from the bottom and then detail once the deck was installed. I did have to do some grinding on the bulkheads included with the kit to get this to fit. As a quick background, when U-boats loaded torpedoes, they did so through a hatch and lowered them via pulley and winch down into the hull of the boat. Griffon Models replicate this by giving you the loading arm in about 20 parts plus a torpedo. First, you bend a tub that slides into the space you cut out in the deck- this is along lines already there but needs sized properly. Fits well if cut properly. Once seated, you need to construct the internal parts (four) plus another three for the hatch and you have the done. The cradle for the torpedo is very delicate. You form the cross-members and then add stringers. I used Silly Putty to position the cross-braces and then add the stringers in place with glue. I could not find one of the brackets called for in the parts and used the remainder and installed the whole shooting match.

Once the glue set, it was off to painting and I used WEM Colorcoat thinned with mineral spirits. I sprayed black first and then Schiffsbodenfarbe III Grau I for the bottom and Floquil Weathered Black for the decks. I painted the top Hellgrau 50. The inside of the torpedo loading hatch I wasn’t sure of but used a red oxide as it could have been primer. I never could find a picture. I used the decals for "The Laughing Swordfish" of the 9th Flotilla. They worked great over a gloss basecoat. I painted the torpedo to match the pictures I could find on the Internet.

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Last thing was the rigging. Griffon provides authentic rigging in that many of the connections echo the rigging of the actual sub. This is great but there are many tiny parts in this scale. Also, the main harness in the front is all photo-etch. I followed the directions and it proved to be fairly simple but I did simplify some of the connection points. All the turnbuckles and points are also photo-etch. I used thin, stretchable line for the cable.

A flat coat and some chalk to weather and we’re done. While not simple and definitely not fast (5-6 weeks of steady work), the end results are superb. For anyone desiring to upgrade the Revell kit- Griffon more than fills the order -- would love to see these details on for the 1/72 U-Boat….. a not-so-subtle hint to Griffon. Recommended to experienced PE builders due to all those small parts.

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