- Published on Wednesday, 17 November 2010 13:13 Robin Jenkins
1/700 BATTLESHIP BISMARCK
Kit number 05098
Available from Wonderland Models for £15.29
Having just reviewed the Kagero Super Drawings in 3D book on the Bismarck, it is appropriate that the next kit to hit my desk for review is Revell's all new 1/700 model of the famous German battleship.
Bismarck's short career was touched on in the previous review, so I will not repeat myself here. From a modeller's point of view,unlike her sister ship Tirpitz, Bismarck had very little modification carried out to her in her career. She also only carried 3 colour schemes.
The model is provided as a full hull vessel, the hull being just over 14" (35.5cm) long. Having checked it out against the Kagero plans, it seems to be very close to scale in length and width. The head-on view, with the flare of the bows, is particularly good. I am not convinced, though, about the "underwater" part of the hull; it appears a little shallow in draught and some of the detail e.g. the strakes are not quite in the right location. Having said this, I am a confirmed waterline or seascape fan, so this would not be important to a modeller like myself. The portholes on the bow are correct; those at the stern are correct in number but the spacing is incorrect.
The rest of the model parts come on 10 grey sprues, 9 for the ship and one for the stand. Thankfully there is a single piece deck provided which fits well to the hull (time for another personal grouch: the hardest thing in modern ship modelling is disguising planked deck joins and I loathe kits in any scale that make you do this!). The planking is finely executed and my example showed no shrinkage spots. One thing I noticed from the Kagero book, confirmed by a photo I found on the internet, is that the anchor tracks on the forecastle should be planked, not bare metal, so these will need rescribing. The main superstructure seems fine, unlike the funnel which, as well as being a touch short and narrow, also has a truly horrendous funnel cap which looks like something from a 1960s kit. Sadly, the hangar is only provided as a closed item.
At this point I started examining the smaller detail parts and many of them were found to be overscale or a touch crude.
The Japanese and Eastern European ship manufacturers have made big steps in providing fine detail pieces in their modern kits. Unfortunately, many of Revell's parts are not up to modern standards; for example, in the photo above, the masts and propeller tube supports can be seen to be overscale.
Also, the base for the finished model can be seen; this could best be described as "functional".
The mass of smaller parts are shown above. Ships boats and the main and secondary armament are good, but much of the rest would need thinning down or replacing. The lighter armaments are poor and, worst of all, the Arado 196 seaplanes are almost unusable.
The instructions are provided as a booklet and there is a larger than usual decal sheet for a ship kit like this - which poses a very large conundrum. If the model is listed as a Level 5 kit (hard to make), why would decals be provided for the hull striping, the black boot topping, the false bow waves and the red and white part of the deck flag marking? These would be the usual contents for a kit aimed at younger, inexperienced modellers in order that the model have some "colour" if it were not to be painted. Very puzzling.
Of course, no swastikas are provided for the flag or deck markings.
There are 2 marking options, the famous "striped scheme" (complete with suggested carmine red turret top for Turret Anton [the foremost turret], the colour of which could be carmine, yellow, dark or light grey - there is still no definitive answer) and the earlier 2 tone grey scheme which does make a refreshing change for Bismarck models. Unfortunately the painting diagrams would have been much easier to follow if they had been printed larger.
So what do we think?
In all honesty, I found it difficult to get enthusiastic with this model. Most of the shapes appear pretty good; if only the toolmaster could have been a little less heavy handed when it came to the detail then it would have been so much better. Having visited a modelling friend who is a German naval nut, I have had the chance to compare this new kit to most of the others in the market. It is much better than the old Revell 1/570 kit, the Airfix 1/600 kit, the matchbox 1/700 model and the older version of the Aoshima 1/700 kit. It is also better in my view, than the recent Dragon 1/700 offering, being closer to the scale plans in the Kagero book. However, I think it is beaten by the newer Aoshima 1/700 offering, which has better finesse and, definitely, by the best of the bunch, the Trumpeter 1/700 kit, which I feel is a little gem (though around 20% more in cost and difficult to find in the UK). Obviously, the addition of etched brass from White Ensign, Gold Medal, Voyager or one of the other brass companies will improve the basic kit, but I had to keep convincing myself all along that this was a brand new tooling. It could be argued that every plastic warship kit built by serious modellers will have brass, rod and sprue lavished on it, but that is not the point here. Trumpeter have provided a kit that allows an easier route to a good finished item; the Revell option is sadly some way behind it.
Of course, due to Revell's excellent distribution system, this model will be on sale at many more outlets than their opposition and so it will probably become the best selling 1/700 version in the marketplace - but, as I have said, that does not make it the best. Therefore, in conclusion, I have to admit a feeling of mild disappointment with the kit. Revell have also released a new 1/700 model of the Tirpitz, complete with different fittings appropriate to that vessel, and I will be looking at this model in the near future.
Our thanks to Revell Germany for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.