Wednesday, March 21

In-Boxed Italeri's BIG Schnellboot "S-38" In 35th scale

Italeri has launched their new whopping S-38 Schnellboot in 1/35th scale, and our mission is to build it up for you in a helpful construction guide. We want to see how it builds and what the quality is and to maybe even get some enjoyment out of this little boat in a large scale. This new S-Boat in their range is packed with interesting features, parts and decals. See what's inside in our inbox review...

Schnellboot Typ S-38 Armed w/4.0cm Flak 28 (Bofors)
From: Italeri
1/35th scale
Product Number# 5620
Model Length: 99.9cm
Upgraded moulds with more than 600 highly detailed parts
Instruction sheet with colour profiles
Nuts, bolts, screws and string included
Photo-etched parts
Clear sheet for transparencies
Decals for 3 versions: S-105, S-51, S-46.

December of 2017: we were sent some new details about the upcoming release of a new version of Italeri's 1/35th scale S-38 Schnellboot. Italeri has been teasing this kit for a long time now...It does say on the kit "New Moulds" (it is in fact upgraded and not new) but we now understand it was an update of their older #5603 kit.
After growing up hearing about the actions int he English Channel between the British Navy's MTB (Motor Torpedo Boats) and the German "E-Boats" we had always been inclined to make one of these kits from Italeri. Comics like "Buccaneer Bob RN" gave me an interest in these fast and destructive boats and their actions.

Required reference reading as a child for this kit
The S38 Schnellboot in History:
Identified by the British sometimes as an "E-boat" (Enemy boat), the German Schnellboot, or S-Boot, differed considerably from it's Royal Navy counterpart the MTB (Motor Torpedo Boat). The S-boat was built mainly from wood upon metal frames and received a round-bilged hull form. The hull was based on an advanced design principle of the time called the  Lürssen effect. This was a design that reduced the wave-making resistance of the boat when at speed. In the case of the Schnellboots, this effect was provided by two small rudders mounted on each side of the main rudder and turned outboard. These rudders force the water under the hull outward, lifting the stern, thus reducing drag, and lowering the wake height, which “requires less energy, allowing the vessel to go faster.” The effect was discovered by the German shipbuilding company Lürssen Werft based in Bremen-Vegesack. 

A picture showing the controllable-pitch-propellers, main-rudder, and "wing rudders"
Guido Hop's diagram of how this worked in real life
An S-boot at speed showing the low profile and relatively low nose height.
Over 200 S-boats had been built, of which about 50% made it to the end of WW2.This famous fast attack craft was used by the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) during the Second World War with some great successes that often outshone the larger ships of the German Navy. 
The S-boats had their two fore torpedo tubes positioned forward from the wheelhouse, providing room for two more skid-mounted torpedoes to sit on rails aft them, ready to be loaded. It had been then a minor design move from S26 onwards to increase the forecastle by 1 m (3.28 ft). Quieter, faster and with a lower water profile than their British counterparts, the S-boats also were built with a profile which was difficult to spot without radar. 

The development of the S-Boats here simplifies things a little for the uninitiated
Between the two World Wars, several of the world’s Navies launched programs to develop fast sea craft able to perform both patrol and attack duties. New engines and technological solutions were able to give improved performances and better operational efficiency over the boats that saw action in WWI. The German Kriegsmarine developed the famous fast attack craft Schnellboot or “S” Class during the 1930's to meet this fast attack need for their Navy.
The most famous of these Schnellboots was the S-38 version. Although the Kriegsmarine only produced in 100 boats of this type, it captured many ship-loving and modeller’s imagination with its sleek lines, torpedo armament and deadly rear mounted 4cm Bofors guns, it had a length of 35 meters and a displacement, full load, of over 100 tons. Thanks to its 12 cylinders Daimler Benz engines the S-38 was able to reach a speed of 39.5 knots.“E-boats” as the British called them, were the RAN’s designation for these little ships, the popular theory suggests that it was the RAN simply using the letter "E" for Enemy and now that name was synonymous with the Schnellboot.

Here are two Schnellboots in their Lair...
These Schnellboots were primarily used to patrol the Baltic Sea and the English Channel in order to intercept shipping heading for the English ports in the south and east. As such, they were up against Royal Navy and Commonwealth Motor Gun Boats (MGBs), Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs), Motor Launches, frigates and destroyers. They were also transferred in small numbers to the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea by river and land transport.
In recognition of their service, the members of Schnellboot crews were awarded the Knight's Cross on 23 occasions, and the German Cross in Gold on 112 occasions. At the end of the war. The S-Boat's armament had constantly to be improved to keep up with the needs of war, the additional weight becoming balanced out to a large degree by enhanced weight saving methods of hull development and machines of greater power in smaller engines.
from its two torpedo tubes, these boats could launch a total six torpedoes, two in the tubes and four stored along with the side of the hull on sliding rails that allowed fast reloading. The main feature of the secondary armament saw some of the S-38’s add captured WWI vintage heavy hitting 40mm Bofors guns for self-defence. This gun proved to be a very effective and powerful naval weapon that was favoured over even the German guns of the time. It was on this reliable and effective platform of these S-38 series that the S-100 was developed later in WWII.

The Bofors gun is a feature of this kit...
About 34 S-boats were surrendered to the British. Three boats, S-130 (renamed P5230), S-208 (P5208) and S-212 (P5212) were retained for trials. The only surviving S-boat no left in the world is the S-130. Built as hull No.1030 at the Schlichting boatyard in Travemünde, S-130 was commissioned on October 21, 1943, and took an active part in the war, participating in the Exercise Tiger attack and attacks on the D-day invasion fleet.
Post World War 2, she was taken on by the Royal Navy, who used the ship during the Cold War to annoy the Soviet navy and land spies behind the Iron Curtain. Recently this boat has been under restoration, and work continues to bring it back to running order.

S-38 Schnellboot Specifications
Length: 34.9 m (114 ft 6 in)
Weight: up to 120 t
Speed: 43.8 kn (50.4 mph; 81.1 km/h)
Engines: Three 20-cylinder Daimler-Benz MB501 Diesel engines, 2,000 hp (1,500 kW; 2,000 PS) each; three propeller shafts.
2 × 53.3 cm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes (four torpedoes in total) 
1 × 40 mm Bofors (on the S-38-class boats onwards) 
Other armament carried on different models included two or more pintle-mounted MG-34s, 3.7 cm Flak 42 (S-100) and 8.6 cm RaG M42 (S-100) or, rarely, one quadruple 20mm Flakvierling mounts.

The new kit from Italeri...
This kit is the daddy of Italeri's older #5603 Schnellboot Typ S-100 kit although it is claimed to be all new moulds. This boxing has lots of new features, decals for three versions plus of course photo-etch parts and clear transparencies.

As for the difference of the S-38"b" class (later the S-100 Class) that has already been released by Italeri? Well firstly the designation 'b' is not Kriegsmarine nomenclature, it originated in a post-war American hobby publication we have been reliably informed. The Well that kit had the additional armoured bridge called the ‘Kalotte’ (skull cap) along with various armament changes including 40 mm Bofors or 20 mm Flak 28 aft, an MG34 Zwillingsockel midships.

The main difference in this kit to the earlier kit is the Kalotte armoured bridge in the earlier release.
Kit Contents...
This new version - an alteration of their previous kit contains in one box:
450 plastic parts on 9 sprues (plus about 50 unused parts)
130 photo-etch parts on 1 sheet
33 nuts & bolts
2 x lengths of string for
1 decal sheet
1 clear parts sheet with 40 parts for the transparencies
Instruction booklet
Painting & decal guide for three versions of the S-38 boat

Here are some pictures of the test kit made up from the Italeri website, with a walk around the kit from many angles. I thought I would include this so you can better identify the parts for yourself when we look at the sprues. You can pick out the details of the kit and where additional photo-etch has been added to the model to enhance scale detail...
The BIG box...
The size of the box was a little shocking for me at first, the looong shape of it made me really quizzical on where I could even photograph it. Lovely artwork on the front, and several helpful pictures of the kit together (the ones above) are there as a bit of a guide for the modeller. The kit certainly makes an impression when you see it.

Measuring in at just over one metre long - you will need some space for this kit. 
On opening the box up (the cat jumped right into the empty box the kit came in for her own fun...) the insides house the two hull halves which take up the whole box length, these two halves wrap around the other sprues that make up the internals and decking, while a box holds some of the more delicate parts and the instructions, photo etch, building materials and decals. 

A smaller box inside housed some delicate parts, photo-etch, screws and bolts, string, decals and instructions.
The Plastic.
The light grey plastic in the box is moulded fairly competently, with several raised rivets and a detail level that I think could be enhanced with some textures from the modeller. The wooden decks are in need of some wooden patterns and I will rough mine up a little when I build it.

The two halves have some meaty connectors to the parts at some delicate places which will lead to perhaps yours breaking off the sprues. The modeller will have to do some delicate removal or repair work, nothing huge though as you will see by the few fixes I did in my forthcoming build article.
Now let's go through them sprue by sprue and pick out the areas of interest.

Sprue A - the hull. (X2)
The two halves of the hull are just on a metre long each. Curved in that familiar way that these hulls were from is hard to replicate - we have a few pictures of the hull from different angles and aspects showing the curves.

The raised rivet detail on the sides of the hull is seen here in the brightest part of this photo. It shows the raised detail, which isn't as perfect as I would like but close to it. You can also see on this shot the extra sprue connector near the torpedo tube that needs to be very carefully removed and possibly something that could cause damage on removal or handling.

Located just below the waterline on the centre of the hull with the upper, larger, engine exhaust holes that ventilated through the water. the smaller holes which were cooling water intakes,

A picture of the intakes on the later S-100 model

The rear of the hull with the keel being the lowest part of the picture. The holes right along this part of plastic are screw holes for the 30 odd screws to secure this large hull together.

Sprue B The top rear Deck
This rear deck is the third largest part of the kit. Here you see the front end to the left of the picture below. this deck screws into the brackets that keep the shape of the plastic large halves of the hull together, simple but effective engineering on Italeri's behalf.

Although the rear deck is pretty bare in features, the rear of this upper deck has many holes that the extra parts and details can be secured on to.

Sprue C
This very long sprue houses the fore-deck and the rear upper doors to the cabin and engines below. The two odd shaped plastic shapes on the lower right are the top of the wheelhouse roof.

The front arrow shaped deck surface has the hole for the anti-aircraft gunner's weapon and position on it, the two cutouts either side of that are cut off for the openings of the torpedos. Holes for the railings are in place around this position.

The upper top of the rear deck is here with several hatches to enter the insides of the S-Boat - none of these are able to be opened as they sometimes were to cool the boat down when stationary in a hot place or moving under the power of the engines...

Sprue D (X2)
Another large sprue of identical parts with a lot of pieces from all around (and some not even on the boat) on it. This sprue houses the stems from under the hull for the propeller shafts, the brackets that keep the boat in alignment in construction, the circular depth charges, two torpedoes each and the large nameplates of the stand are here amongst LOTS of other parts.

Here you see some latticed wood decks which have has no wooden texture which is a shame, the life buoy and one of the large engine propellers (screws) on this sprue.

There are two The standard G7a torpedoes on this fret, in real life, these were 53.3cm (21 inches) G7a. Some 7.2 metres in length and weighing 1,530 kilos, this weapon was steam driven. Its single propeller drove it along at a maximum speed of 44 knots, giving it a range of 6,000 metres. In the nose of the torpedo was the warhead, typically with 280 kilos of mixed explosive. Into this was set a detonator with a small propeller. This propeller was in effect a timing mechanism, which charged the detonator whilst spinning, as the torpedo sped through the water. The detonator would not fully charge until it had covered about 30 metres, ensuring against premature detonation damaging the boat that had launched it. The detonator on the G7a was a contact type, activated by physical contact with the target.

Around half the length of the torpedo was taken up by a compressed air cylinder. This was followed by a fuel tank and a combustion chamber in which the air and fuel mix was ignited, driving a small four-cylinder engine that in turn powered the torpedo’s propeller. Exhaust gases were vented through the hollow bore of the prop shaft.

The torpedo was fitted with a gyroscope controlling its rudders to ensure it kept on course, and a depth gauge that controlled its dive planes. The visible stream of bubbles caused by the vented exhaust gases could be problematic in the use of the G7a by U-boats, giving a sharp-sighted lookout an approximate bearing on the submarine which launched it, but such considerations were of little significance for their use by surface ships. The more advanced, electrically driven G7e, widely used on U-boats, was not carried by E-boats.

The G7a torpedo being loaded onto an S-Boat during the war.

Sprue E
This large sprue houses lot of larger bit of the boat again, the covers of the launch tubes for the torpedoes and the doors over the front of them, the mounts of the stand that is included with the kit and several other smaller parts.

These tube covers are secured to the sides of the hull and almost buried in the smooth shape of the forward hull.

A photo showing the tubes (and the G7a torpedo) and their shapes here...

The mounts for the 20mm forward gun and the gun and ammo clips are here on the sprue. Notice the open-ended barrel on a separate part (Part E67)

Sprue F
This sprue mainly contains the parts for the wheelhouse and wooden decking. The raised bolts on the sides of the wheelhouse are nicely captured here, with the tallest of these edges being added to with photo-etch panels.

Wooden slats on the walkways are not provided with the grain effect we might expect in this scale, it is easy to add a little roughness and some scribed texture for your weathering accessories to fall into though...

The steel sides of the wheelhouse - I notice that there were two windows on the side of the house but one here on the plastic - but after investigation, I realized of course -t eh door is OPEN in the picture - so there are two windows included as in the kit.

Another view of the front of the wheelhouse and a picture below... I will check in the build to see the angle of these two side windows if they are like that in some other reference pictures.

Then I found this picture that shows the windows looking a little more square, again Italeri has it right on the bridge.
Sprue G
This is another medium sized sprue housing some of the more important parts, like the ship's wheel, the prop (or screw), the large pit for the front gunner, more long engine ventilator cover with circular holes and several other parts of the boat that populate the top mid-deck.

The third of the ship's screws (propellers) are on this sprue, lots of bolt details and tidy enough details on some of these parts suited this modeller just fine.

The pit for the front 20mm gunner is here - wooden textures are not on the floor but you will not see them anyway, lucky, as there are some shallow ejector pin marks here. Nothing too serious though.
Sprue H
The top of the deck and the wooden lattice deck are here on this, a smaller sprue.

No wooden textures on this deck, I will add my own "extra texture"...

The lumpy texture of the rubber boat bulges convincingly here...

Sprue I
The bottom and the paddles of the rubber inflatable dinghy are here on this sprue.

Sprue L
More of the larger secondary armament on this sprue, with some parts that are also not needed for this kit as one of the new parts on it, is the .40cm Bofors gun and its ammo and mount along with the gun for the previous release which is not needed here.

The Photo-Etch Sheet.
The Photo Etch Sheet covers a lot of the thinner parts of the wheelhouse, the grates from some of the vents and several small thin parts of the ship that plastic cannot replicate in scale thickness. Eduard makes a complimentary set also if you want that extra detail over and above what is here.

Transparencies sheet
The windows of the wheelhouse are here in a thin plastic that sits neatly inside the windows of the plastic and also the photo-etch. Careful fingers are needed to secure these together at their edges!

Nuts, Bolts & Screws...
There are Thirty-three (33) nuts, bolts and screws in this kit, more specifically seven 2.3mm X 4.5mm screws (2 spares), ten 2.3mm X 6.5mm screws (2 spare again) and eight bolts that are 3mm X 30mm with the accompanying eight nuts. These are for securing both of the long halves of the boat together and then the top deck down on to the hull. I will show you just how these go together during the build article, but they work plenty fine for me. Of course, I whacked some glue in there anyways...

Stringing it out now...
There are two lengths of string here in the kit to make up the rigging and any rope to go along with the kit. "Thin rope" 2800mm and "Thick Rope" at 2500mm. You had better get your knots right!

There is a fifty-six-page instruction booklet printed on black and white paper. This landscape format instruction guide suits the looong nature of this kit. The pictures are simple enough to follow here and since I have already started construction, I can say that I am having no problems so far with following them. The paints you need to colour your kit are called out in the instructions by name, FS number and Italeri colour paint numbers.

Some sample pages. I will go through all of them one by one with you in the build guide.

Three Colour Choices There are three S-Boats picked out here and lucky for you cats I have found (small) pictures of them all. They are schnellboots S-105, S-51 & S46. The colour and decal placement guides for these are printed in colour.

Version A: S-105, 2. S-Flotilla English Channel, 1943
Seen in this photograph, the gey and red-bottomed hull "S 105" the 2nd SFltl with the ace of hearts is seen here in this close-up picture of the decal.
The unit's heraldry here complete with horseshoe.
Tied up at the dock you can see "S 105" with the ace of hearts and "S 80" with the ace of diamonds
Version B: S-51, 1. S-Flotilla, Black Sea 1942
In the 1st SFltl, some boats carried coats of arms. The "Squirrel" was on on the boats "S 27", "S 51" and "S 47"

A close up of the decal - gobbling those soviet nuts...
Here is S-51 emblem on the hull - I think Italeri captured it pretty well.
...and a picture of the boat
Version C: S-46, 2. S-Flotilla, English Channel, 1941, she was under the charge of Kptlt. Hermann Büchting

The decal in close up of the hull emblem.
"S 46" the 2. SFltl with "Acorn" "S 51" was sunk on 29.08.1844 before Varna. Here it is on the slipway
The Decals
Lastly, this decal sheet (a bit of it in the boat markings you have already seen) is printed by the well known Italian decal maker Zanchetti, and as per usual with these guys, it is perfect in register, and like I said, the artwork is well reproduced. The markings do not include a Swastika for the centre of the Kriegsmarine flag which is a bummer.

What is nice, however, is the inclusion of the placard decals for the kit in black and gold. along with the decals for the pilot's control panel.

OK - so what do we think about the kit?

It could do with some finer detail, but there is enough here to make this into a great base for super detailing. Pretty much anyone who makes this will crave just that little more detail with some of the parts, and there are aftermarket decal choices available for this boat also. The inclusion of the stand and the photo-etch and clear parts was nice, and the sheer size of this thing makes it a challenging build but also a real attention seeker on your (large) display cabinet or at a model show.

The possibilities are endless with this thing, and I like it a lot. Construction has already begun, and we hope you will tune in as we give you our build guide in the near future...

Adam Norenberg 

Thanks to Italeri’ for sending this kit to us to review for you. If you want to know more about this kit check out the Italeri Website