Soviet WWII Shchuka (SHCH) Class Submarine.Советская подводная лодка “Щука”. Zvezda 1:44.

Looking very shark-like, the Shchuka is wonderfully streamlined. This is Shch-402 of the Northern Fleet 2nd Division 1937. The background is my own artistic creation! It is supposed to depict somewhere in the far frozen North of Russia or off the Norwegian coast where this submarine operated during WW2.

This is a very rare venture for me into the world of nautical modelling but when I saw this recent release by Zvezda, I knew straightaway I wanted to make it! Besides, it makes for a refreshing change from the usual aircraft and tanks and a chance to try out a different style of weathering. Overall, I was very impressed with the fine detail and quality of this offering by Zvezda.

According to Zvezda:’ The Shch-402 was part of the most numerous class of medium sized Soviet X-type submarines during WW2 called ‘Schuka’ (‘Pike’ the name of the fish in Russian). With a length of 57m, it featured improved underwater streaming and increased surface speed. Built in Leningrad, after crossing the White-Sea Baltic canal in 1937, it joined the submarine division of the Northern Fleet. During WW2 it participated in 16 raids, commanded by the captains N.G. Stolbov and A.M. Kautsky. In 1942 it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Battle, and in 1943 the rank of Guards. Shch 402 disappeared without trace in a military campaign, presumably sunk in a minefield off the coast of Norway at the end of September 1944′.

However, according to one Russian source I came across on the net, it is believed she was sunk by one of their own Soviet aircraft!

The build was quite straightforward with very little in the way of interior detail apart from some bulkheads. However, there were quite a lot of tiny parts on the exterior which required a lot of concentration and patience to affix. I noticed that the submarine depicted on the box top has certain details lacking in the model such as hand rails and a railing around the forward gun. I decided to add these details myself using ultra fine photo-etch wire and thin elastic thread. The kit comes with a long piece of ‘string’ to make the rigging but its well out of scale and not much use so into the spares box it goes!

The tiny parts under the deck of the conning tower
As this is a full hull model, it wouldn’t really be possible to set it in a seascape. Besides, I have her with the periscopes in the raised position which a sub on the surface would be unlikely to do! However, see below for my ‘artistic’ effects!

There are four attractive schemes for this sub and I have to be honest I was rather torn between all of them! The Black Sea boat with green hull looked very appealing but in the end I opted for the red hull instead.

The version below is for the 2nd Division Northern Fleet 1940
Top: Shch-209-3rd Division, Ist Submarine Brigade Black Sea Fleet, 1936. Below: Shch-209-3rd Division, 1st Submarine Brigade, Black Sea Fleet, 1940

In its naval aspects, Stalin’s Five-year plans during the 1920s and 1930s laid the foundations for a modern shipbuilding industry and also envisioned a new navy, to be created as rapidly as the expanding industrial base would permit:

‘By far the greatest attention was given to submarines. As late as 1933 League of Nations sources credited the Red Navy with no more than 16 submarines. This number may have been too small. It is certain that thereafter the undersea fleet increased in numbers very rapidly, to the point where the Red Navy with an estimated 175 submarines in 1940 was regarded as numerically the strongest in the world.

As to quality of construction, the Soviet Union could make no such impressive claims to progress. The first new submarines were coastal-defence craft of about 215 tons, with very limited cruising radius and offensive capability. Further, they failed to give good service within these limitations. The next group of boats, built from 1934 to 1940 and intended for somewhat wider activities, were of the Shch class-about 500 tons with six 21-inch torpedo tubes and 13 knots surface speed. There was also a larger (800 to 1000-ton) class which resembled British submarines of the same size, in addition to World War 1 vintage boats ranging from 350 to 650 tons and a few of miscellaneous types. The latter included a small number of 1,200 boats of the Pravda class, and some of the 650-ton Nelim class, laid down in 1937′.

From: ‘A History of Russian and Soviet sea power’ by Donald W. Mitchell 1974.

During the war, the Soviet subs sustained very heavy losses, especially to mines.

The naval campaign was very closely related to the one on land and the Soviets conducted a very active war of attrition both in the Baltic and Black seas (the Pacific region was relatively quiescent due to the treaty with Japan).

A bit of computer magic!

The lovely box art which first caught my eye


Fokker E.III Eindecker. Airfix 1:72

The first half of 1916 had led to the development of the Fokker Eindecker (‘monoplane’) and during the second half of 1916, it became the dominant factor in aerial warfare. This was the time of the ‘Fokker Scourge’ as the propagandists on both sides called it.

Although this is a tiny model (just 5 1/2 inches across), it represents one of the most famous and influential aircraft of all time, the Fokker Eindecker (‘monoplane’) of the First World War.

Only my second venture into First World War aircraft in about thirty years of modelling and if you know anything about rigging model aircraft, you’ll understand why! It is a very fiddly and time-consuming operation but I believe worth the effort. I used a stretchy clear nylon thread (which looks like metal) and fine wire attached with superglue to represent the bracing wires. The major attraction in my opinion of the Great War aircraft are all the wonderful and exotic colour schemes, especially on the German side, the most famous of course being the all-red scheme of Baron von Richthofen’s Fokker Tri-plane.

This is a new tooling by Airfix and I have to say they have done a very good job. Everything fit well and despite its fragility, the model is quite sturdy when everything is glued in place.

Flown by the famous ace Ernst Udet, Kampfeinsitzerkommando, Habsheim, France, March 1916. The pilot figure appears to be wearing a standard blue uniform. The choice of flying clothing was conditioned by time of year and the altitude at which the pilot expected to fly. In winter or at height the cold is intense, and privately purchased fur lined clothing was warmer.
The period of the ‘Fokker Scourge’ lasted six months during the winter of 1915/1916 when an inferior pre-war, underpowered aircraft, the Fokker Monoplane, dominated the skies over the Western Front solely because it was armed with the most famous of German ‘secret weapons’-a machine gun (7.92mm LMG 08/15 ‘Spandau’) synchronised to fire between the blades of a revolving (wooden) propeller. However, the interrupter gear gave perpetual trouble and instances of pilots shooting away their own airscrews were very frequent. Remember also pilots didn’t wear parachutes in those times!

The original Fokker E1, 80hp monoplane underwent several changes. With clipped wings and a 100-hp Oberursel it was known as the EII; redesigned with 31′ 2 3/4″ wings this became the most famous Eindekker of all, the Fokker E.III.

The yellowish area just aft of the engine represents leaking oil! The usual Fokker method of attack was in a dive; it is uncertain whether the famous ‘Immelmann turn’ (see below), in which the pilot pulls up into the first half of a loop to gain height then stall turns to face his adversary again, was Immelmann’s own invention or that of the Bristol Scout pilot Gordon Bell.
The ‘Immelmann Turn’

The introduction of this new weapon naturally led to counter tactics on the part of the Allies. These were the beginnings of the ‘dogfighting’ techniques and its protagonists, the ‘aces’. Meanwhile the less glamourous but basically more important tasks of spotting for the artillery and reconnaissance were developing rapidly, as were the embryonic bombing forces of the belligerent powers.

Internal construction. 1. Oberursel U 1 100hp rotary engine. 2. Wooden prop. 3. Forward fuel tank. 4. Undercarriage ‘Bungee’ rubber cord suspension bar. 5. Prime pump. 8. Built-up ribs 16. Welded steel tube fuselage structure. 17. Doped linen covering.18. Rear fuel tank.

Until January 1916 air warfare was a very personal matter, not only in the dropping of messages over the lines but in some of the quirky and colourful incidents: Guynemer, the famous French ace, one Sunday morning after shooting down a German over Compiègne , where he lived, spotted his father coming out of church, landed beside the road and asked Papa to ‘please find my Boche’!

The lovely box art
Painting guide on rear
Classic account really gives you an idea of what it was like to fly and fight in the Great War