It was finding a 1/1250 Warspite for £9 (one of those magazine series models) that got me going on this, though cutting the hull down to a waterline nearly killed me! 1/3000 just lacked the feel for such a small action with mostly destroyers so I went for 1/1250. The gold standard are the Navis Neptun, beautiful but at least £20 for a destroyer (DDs). Lots of other makers are around but many are quite blobby, while making some of the kits is for masochists only. However, Hansa are just about right and £5-7 a ship. I also got lucky with some Airfix Tribal class DDs , 1/1200 but small for that so not out of place and anyway Tribals should be imposing alongside other DDs, nice simple kits too.
Painting the Kriegsmarine (KMS)
So WW2 ships are all grey right? But no… Also a warning that I am no painter. Below right to left are: S1936 Schnellboot in front of a 1935 class Torpedo Boat aka a small destroyer; Z1934 class DD; Z1936 class DD; a Z1936A class with a big 5.9in twin front turret.
There are some interesting pictures of grey/black/white shatter camo on German DDs which I thought would look cool. But sadly that is post 1942 when what are left of the DD forces is running convoys against the snowy coastal backgrounds of Norway and the Baltic. So in 1940 it is a dark grey hull with light ‘haze’ grey uppers. I consciously decided to make the difference in shades of grey more than in reality to show contrast on a small model. Warning if you research this yourself, some naval modellers are a bit obsessive.
In addition, portions of the decks or upper decks around gun mounts (no one seems to agree how much) had teak wood coverings to stop crews slipping: that’s the funny brown colour on the models. I decided to put it around gun mounts and torpedo racks to provide contrast.
The turrets have yellow tops for air recognition, a HQ directive for Norway after losing two ships to air attack from their own side. As an aside German channel forces in 1941 had bright red turrets, sides and tops, to make sure Eboats didn’t get them, while rest was still grey.
Lastly as another attempt to stop the Luftwaffe, all ships had big had a red stripe, with white circle and swastika painted across their transom (rear deck). I used a sharpee pen to make a black squiggly cross, deliberately made hard to see as everyone’s least favourite symbol.
Final job was to research and paint the pennant numbers, the big markings seen on most ships hulls. German DDs had individual numbers eg Z1 for Zestroyer 1 as well as being named after some WW1 naval hero. When war started they formed flotillas and added a flotilla number so that in the 2nd flotilla ship Z1 would be Z21. Only not necessarily. In some cases if say ship Z2 is designated as the 3rd ship of the flotilla it’s hull number is z23. Confused? I was but got it sussed for ship models I have. And then … I discover they removed all hull numbers at the start of 1940! Hrmph.
The excellent www.german-navy.de/kriegsmarine is the expert site for knowing your 1934 class ship from your 1934A. But in brief the 1934, 1934A, 1936 and 1936A were generally bigger than DDs in most other navies and increasingly slightly in size in subsequent models, but still failing to fix major issues ie unreliable engines, poor range, small ammo magazines and being very ‘wet’, meaning that in rough seas the front guns were mainly under water. As an aside this is why on the Bismark sortie it couldn’t keep its DD escort at sea, whereas the British pursuers had full DD screens.
The 1936A class did step up fire power with up to five single 5.9in guns, light cruiser weapons for other navies when most DDs are carrying 4.5in, 4.7 or 5in. The single mounts were only a stop gap though as the intention was fit a fully enclosed armoured turret with twin 5.9in guns on the bow, leftover secondary guns of a cancelled battleship, and about four ships were so fitted. Of course the extra weight did nothing to help all the previous mentioned problems.
Strictly speaking the 1936A, especially with twin turrets were finished post Narvik, but only by a few months in some cases, and as I’m short of 1934 class ships they allow a bit of ‘what if’. Anyway the Germans need all the help they can get….
I also play in some Eboats into my as variety as well as the torpedo heavy but gun light Torpedoboots.
This post was written by Philip Andrews