Friday, April 5

We build the largest nuclear sub of the 1960's - in 1/72nd scale - the Revell Skipjack

Revell has just new kit of their 1/72 SKIPJACK class Submarine. Indeed all of the class are covered in this release and this very large kit has decals to match all of the ships in her class. We look at this large kit in today’s review and wonder where we can put it afterwards!

Revell 05119 US Navy SKIPJACK-CLASS Submarine

Scale 1:72
Release date 03/2013
No. of parts 60
7 different marking choices
Length 1067 mm
Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit

An interesting subject – the Skipjack class was a true submarine in the way that her then breakthrough nuclear powerplant allowed her to stay submerged for the whole mission duration. Everyone seems to know the Nautilus very well but it was the long serving Skipjack class of six subs that truly made the breakthrough in submarine technology that most would take for granted now-days.
There were six subs in this class – the Skipjack being the lead ship who’s hull was laid by the General Dynamics Electric Boat company in 1956 and launched to sea on the 26 May 1958 –It saw service at the sharp end of the cold war and this, the first of the six boats saw service until 1990. So it was a long serving sub that is popular with model makers and naval enthusiasts – a smart choice - If you would like to know more about this sub start at Wikipedia, but I want to talk about this massive kit!
Before we go anywhere you may realize that Moebius released the exact same kit last year. Well it is the same kit, changed here are the Instructions, decals and packaging. Otherwise the plastic is the same which has received some rather good press from “Naval Gazers”, submarine fans and large scale builders since. It may be a very good thing for this model because it is rumoured to be very good – but many people do not have access to Moebius kits. Here we have again Revell taking it to pretty much every toy shop and model shop in the world. Even if you cannot buy paints at your local toy shop they will have some Revell models it seems! The very good thing about this is that the shape was perfected by the team at Moebius before Revell took on re-boxing this kit – so they could not have chosen better. The verdict already out there has unanimously stated that this is a kit with all the dimensions down pat. I am not going to argue with that because against the small drawings I have found I have noticed nothing out of place. I’ll go on to what comes in the box.

The Instructions:

The usual Revell Comic book style instructions in black and white – there are only two and a half pages of instructions coming to a grand total of twenty four steps the construction time of this kit shouldn’t keep you from your day job. The instructions are easy to follow and not too cluttered – There really aren’t any traps or different options for these boats until you paint them, so it’s a painless looking build.
The Colour guides are one page a piece – laid out in landscape form, Revell gives their colour numbers for all of the painting schemes – so if you do not use their colours - if you want to use your usual brand the actual colours aren’t mentioned – so do your homework and look them up I suppose – the main colours are a dark red, black and grey.

The instructions are good – competent – but I have seen the Moebius instructions in a comparison and they look like an old fashioned instruction booklet. Some modellers will like this a lot more – and some who just want to know how to make the kit. There are many different types of modeller – millions I am sure – and I am not going to tell them what to like.

Clear Plastic?
The four dead-lights and stern light on slip neatly into the conning tower without too much drama – the actual parts  - the sprues are clear and settle into the kit without protruding which some small windows do on some model kits.

The Main body of the model:
A note quickly before we get going with the main body of the kit. Ours came in a really long box – about a metre long, and to Revell’s credit the kit itself was well packed in bags with padding between each hull part. But being long and the parts being so narrow but only at the longest half a metre long the hull slipped around inside the box. Even though the nose is packed up the centre section must have been bashing and scratching all the way to my place as there are plenty of scratches on that part of the kit – here I have held the two worst parts to the reflective part of the light to show you – the conning tower was also scratched.

I can fix this Revell – half the length of the box – it will stop things sliding around laterally and so make postage cheaper. This is a REAL long box and with postage becoming a massive expense as we all switch to buying cheaper overseas (or not at your local LHS) it will cut postage costs which on this kit come down to length. I could forgive it if the completed kit fit into the box lengthways but it doesn’t. I know a large box looks cool and builds expectation but please sort it out.
The good thing is that these scratches can be sanded out. The recessed detail of the kit on the grey/green plastic is pretty deep, so after a heavy and then lighter sanding grades these scratches and any seams – which there are some long ones along the body – come out easy enough.

The kit itself is divided into only sixty large parts – four bring the front and aft hull sections divided in half horizontally. The upper and lower quarters go together with guide rails on the seam as well as pin and hole locating tabs. 

The sprues including the (very large) hull

Recessed panel detail

The inside is a strong cone and with troughs and pin/hole system to properly locate the parts

Thought the parts had some packing this was only one end - and led to the plastic scratches you saw earlier

The rest of the sprues - the rudders and splanes are all moveable

The SONAR and antenna array and top of the sail

The spinning 5 bladed screw and rear planes

The conning tower - or as it is actually called the "sail" I must remember
Before you put his altogether you will need to install the shaft for the propeller inside the rear two halves of the fuselage. This socket and spinner attaches to the five bladed screws (underwater propeller) – and thankfully this thin delicate item can be attached later on after all the sanding has been done – there is a lot of it coming! There are some slots that the screws literally twist into – these fit well but there is a gap between each blade that will need some filler.

Nice each front and rear quarter is together you will have to use some rather irregular clamping to keep the long seam as small as possible. I use many rubber bands all along the elliptical superstructure to keep her together as evenly as possible. Then I applied glue once and then again so the four quarters all went together even more – there was still some sanding to do though – and I used a nail polishing block to get rid of not only the long seams but the scored plastic from transit as well.
While all of this was sanding I used the time to make the conning tower (it’s called a sail Adam). This was a simple procedure that requires just a little pinching of the halved together especially on the trailing edge of the tower. The glass also goes into the front of the conning tower and the V-shaped strip on the trailing edge goes in before this can all be sealed up. I used rubber bands again to keep from making too many seam gaps – though you will have to clean up the seams here as well. Inevitable on such a big kit really.
The dive sail then attaches through a hole in the sail/ tower that a rod travels through to connect them so they can be posed up, down, neutral or any angle in between. The rear stern planes (the rear horizontal steering surfaces) can be posed as well and are a two part affair. They have though a large seam where the top and the bottom meet – I can’t tell you why it needn’t be there. The rudders (the rear vertical control surface) move from side to side and are both joined by a rod as well. All of the control surfaces on this sub can be posed which is good but all are a bit loose. So once you have them posed then glue them in place. That is unless you want to make this into an RC sub of course.

The sail planes after they are in position showing off range of movement

These two halves of the hull, front and rear then go together and again there is a large gap around the teardrop circumference of the hull – the nature of such a large kit again. There are two locating guides so that you don’t make a schoolboy error and install the halves with one side upside down! This slots in nicely and there is a large storage area inside if you want that – he he
I cannot lie but I spent about a working day – eight hours eliminating the seam and perfecting the shape of the hull where I had joined all four parts of the hull together. It took ages to get rid of any gaps, then fill with superglue to keep the seam strong – and then to eradicate the bump left by the superglue. I went to the tool shed for a house grade sanding block after I found I was getting nowhere fast using my puny modelling sanding block.

The picture on the left shows the left hand side of the hull sanded and the right hand side unsanded  - a big difference - as well you see the gap I started with in the middle
This pic shows the four quarters together seamlessly - the line thru the centre  horizontally is a seam line that should be there. Super-glue is the best filler for heavy work like this and it keeps the halves rock solid as well

After a relaxed day – just me and my right arm getting some RSI (I know what you are thinking) the shape was perfect. The sail was ready to be added - Before I could do that I added the array of antenna and sonar equipment to the top of the sail. This is a nifty little easy step as all of the parts can only go on the one way – so there can be no mistakes on the modeller’s part – Ohh I wish the rest of life was so easy.

It sure is a busy forest once all of them are up.

The Photo Etch:
Silver looking photo tech is provided is the seawater intake and outlet vents – these were an easy job to install. The securing of the Photo etch metal seawater intake and outlets. These I added some superglue to and they went straight on to the position clearly marked out.
Lastly I glued on the movable 5-blade propeller. This was an interesting interlocking solution that in theory fits easily but leaves some gaps once on. And it is a bugger to fill and sand between delicate propeller blades. Use an easy to remove filler and thin sanding sticks and you will see it through no problems.

A stand? Yes this sub has a stand – it attaches to the fore and aft sections through the hull in which a hole is already been moulded. I like this though I would like the choice to have a plug there instead if I wanted to mount the kit another way. This stand will need some glue to be rock solid, or some blue-tac if you want to take it out will do nicely.
The decals:
Printed in Italy – with Revell means Cartograf – the industry leading team are behind these decals. I found them strong in their colours – mostly white and fire engine red – and sharp in register in their print – wither you would like to use masks on kit of this size is up to you but it is nice to have all of the boats in the Skipjack class covered..

The decal held to the light to show you carrier film volume

The decals for all six submarines of the Skipjack Class in the box are:
- U.S.S. Skipjack (SSN-585),US-Navy, Groton 1968

- U.S.S. Scamp (SSN-588), US-Navy, Vallejo, 1966+
- U.S.S. Scamp (SSN-588), US-Navy, Vallejo, 1966 

- U.S.S. Scorpion (SSN-589), US-Navy, Groton, 1960

- U.S.S. Sculpin (SSN-590), US-Navy, Pascagoula, 1961

- U.S.S. Shark (SSN-591), US-Navy, Newport News, 1961

- U.S.S. Snook (SSN-592), US-Navy, Pascagoula, 1961
Revell have marked a mixture of their colours - 8 9 30 36 37 43 56 76 77 90 92 99 301 371 – it would be nice to have a straight equivalent in other though as I said earlier.
The last thing that should be mentioned about this kit is that It can be made into an RC sub – there are several on the market and I found one to suit pretty easy to match this sub. The Skipjack class is quite suitable because the clean finish with not too many fiddly parts make this a rugged choice.
It is BIG - at over 1meter long I thought the 1/32 B17 was big - not anymore

So conclusions – a great kit that Is esay to build and once built is impressive in size and nice and colourful marking choices compared to drab grey subs. A bit of sanding work aside this was an easy an pleasant kit to build and you sure get a lot for your money – a nice job!

Next to paint it - but until then it's new home on the bathroom windowsill...

Adam Norenberg
Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit