"This inbox review takes a closer look at Special Navy's, 1:72 German type XXIII submarine kit."
In the review of Alanger XXIII you can read more about the background and the type XXIII submarine, and I will refer to that instead of repeating myself:
Actually I haven’t bought the Special Navy kit myself, but one of my friends got so desperate over the dimensional problems in the Alanger kit, that he gave it to me, and bought the Special Navy kit for himself.
It has given me the opportunity to photograph measure and fondle the Special Navy kit and also given the basis for this review.
Special Navy have produced some interesting subjects, which includes a German Type IIA and a “D” minelayer update for the Revell type VIIc. We are talking about short run kits, mixed media and with a somewhat “garage feeling”.
Special Navy belongs in the company group as CMK and MPM, which is promising when it comes to research and accuracy. But let’s take a look in the box – which unfortunately doesn’t belong to me!
What's In the box?
You get a large box that for the most part is empty; the empty place is filled with a piece of foam to protect the contents of the box.
On the box you get a nice appetizer to the contents and the subject including a nice box art and painting suggestion.
The box contains 2 styrene frets, one, which holds the two hull halves, and one with turret and other parts. You also get a sheet of photo etch, a little sheet with clear styrene for the navigational lights, and a zipper bag with resin parts.
Aside for the photo etch there is no metal parts as seen in Special Navy’s Type II A and there isn’t any turned periscopes either.
The kit contains no decals.
The instructions are sufficient and are broken down to small and logic steps, except that I would attach the turret before adding the details on it.
Moulding quality is ok, but a little soft in places and with more flash than we are used to in today’s releases, probably a testament to the fact that this is a short run kit from Eastern Europe.
The level of details is otherwise quite fine, with a lot of the originals weld seams and other features depicted and the acoustic sensors in front are also included.
Special Navy have decided to do the hull and turret as separate parts, which have given the opportunity to open the small flood holes at the base of the turret.
The different flood holes are generally present, but some could do with being opened up, and enhanced with the photo etch from the kit or with the update set from Eduard. As always with building submarines; check your references, flood holes and other details vary from boat to boat.
The hull comes in two halves, there’s no pins or other means to get a straight and true fit, so I would suggest gluing the hull in steps, to ensure a tight and precise fit.
Some kits reportedly have warped hull halves, this is not the case with this sample, but check your sample and be careful. Assembly of the hull will undoubtly be a somewhat difficult task requiring some care.
A number of the more prominent features on the hull are supplied in resin; this is items like the balcongerät at the front, the deck vent in front of the turret and the exhaust on the port side of the turret. These parts do lift the quality of the kit and provides a much more accurate representation of these prominent details, but the balcongerät do display a number of air bubbles that will need a pass with some putty and sandpaper.
The turret structure comes in 3 styrene parts; 2 halves and a top for the rear casing containing the exhaust. The floor, periscopes and turret top comes in resin.
As the resin is still on the casting blocks and the styrene is still on the fret, I haven’t test fitted the parts, but I have the suspicion, that care is needed to ensure a good fit.
Detailing is generally nice, weld seams are present on the turret sides and the resin parts are well cast and in this case free of bubbles. A week point is the moulded on inspection hatches on the turret sides, the details are soft on the outline and hinges.
Even if the resin top of the turret is well cast, I would have preferred one in styrene, as the resin part is a huge chunk of resin, and hollowing it out to be able to see trough the holes on top, will be very difficult.
The hatch in front of the turret for rescue equipment has the right shape and there is both photo etch parts and resin for a detailed representation of the bridge.
The supplied photo etch is well made, but there is a lack of locating marks so good use of the instructions and reliable reference is vital.
Dimensions and accuracy
Putting the ruler to this kit is a good feeling – already looking at the parts on the frets shows the proportions and dimensions on the kit to be correct. The ruler and the measures from my references “Vom Original zum Model – Uboot Typ XXIII” by Eberhard Rössler and Fritz Köhl, confirms this as measures are within the tolerable.
Aside from that, and perhaps more important – the overall look of this kit is very accurate and captures the long bow section and short aft of the original.
Overall the impression is good, and this kit should build as a good representation of the real boat with a reasonable level of details.
When it comes to the details, let’s take the usual stroll from front to aft:
these are a good representation, but as with all submarines build before and during WW II, these vary from boat to boat, either from the slip or as later modifications during service at the yard. If you are building a specific boat, you better check you references for the specific layout for said boat.
Some holes are moulded shut and other open and will all profit from being opened up.
These are moulded shut, so a lot of scratch building will be necessary to open them up should you wish so.
The steps leading to the tower is better replaced with some crafted in wire as they comes in photo etch and a lot of great things can be said of photo etch, but it just can’t be made to look like round steps.
Turret hatch is moulded shut, which is ok for a submerged boat, but on the surface this would be open and it will take some good nerves to separate the hatch from the rest of this resin cast.
Aft Lantern is missing.
A lot of etch goes into the bridge, again – check your references, but in general you get a good representation of the small but crowded bridge.
Periscopes are cast in resin, they are straight in this sample, but would have been nice in turned aluminium.
This is a very nice kit that out of the box will build an accurate and detailed representation of the XXIII in 1:72, but be prepared for a kit that will be demanding and which due to the mixed media involved will be best handled by the more experienced builder.
This will not be a “over night” build due to the need for cleaning up flash etc., the challenging hull and finer details in photo etch.