German Heavy Cruiser Admiral Hipper, 1941

hipperGerman Heavy Cruiser Admiral Hipper, 1941
Trumpeter 1/350, High quality injected model
Price -MSRP $139.95
Contents & Media– 418 parts, lower and upper hulls, deck, waterline plate, two AR-196 planes and display stand.
Advantages– Nicely engraved main deck, with seam hidden under superstructure.
– Nicely done superstructure decks
Disadvantages– Knock out pins underneath all the superstructure parts
– Poor test fit of the upper and lower hull
Recommendation– Recommended
Review by Martin J Quinn

If you are a ship modeler who is also a fan of the German Kriegsmarine, the last few years have seen an amazing number of new kit releases, especially in 1/350. Aficionados of German Heavy ships from World War II used to be limited to the old Tamiya Bismarck and Tirpitz in 1/350, or had to try and find one the increasing rare (and expensive) releases from Heller. While the Heller kits covered four different classes of ships and were very nice for their time, they were in an odd scale (1/400) and not up to recent standards. starting with Revell of Germany’s fine new renditions of Bismarck and Tirpitz, a whole series of new German ships have been released in 1/350, including the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper.

OPERATIONAL HISTORY

The Admiral Hipper was the lead ship in a 5 ship class of heavy cruisers built starting in the mid-1930’s. Of the five planned ships, only Hipper, Blucher and Prize Eugen were ever commissioned into the Kriegsmarine, with Prinz Eugen being built to a modified design. Additional sister Lutzow was sold to the Soviet Union in 1939 before being completed (the incomplete hulk and it’s one operational turret were used against the German during the war), while Seydlitz was very near completion when work was suspended and work to convert her to an aircraft carrier was begun (she was never completed in either guise).

While not as famous as her younger sister Prinz Eugen, Admiral Hipper had a relatively active career. In April, 1940, she was rammed by the British Destroyer Gloworm, before finally sinking her smaller tormenter. After repairs, she operated out of Brest, France as a commerce raider in late 1940 and early 1941. It is in this time frame that the Admiral Hipper had her greatest success, and is also the period depicted by the Trumpeter 1/350 kit.

After moving to the Norwegian theater in 1942, Admiral Hipper was involved in the infamous Battle of the Barents Sea on New Years Eve 1942, when she and Lutzow (formerly the Panzerschiffe Deutschland) were thwarted in their attack on convoy JW 51B by escorting British Destroyers and finally covering British cruisers. The action with the cruisers proved especially costly for Admiral Hipper, as the damage resulted in her being decommissioned for almost a year. The entire debacle resulted in the famous “Scrap the Battle Fleet” order from Hitler, and was the death knell for the Kreigsmarine’s heavy ships.

After spending some time as a training ship, Admiral Hipper did not rejoin the Kreigsmarine until January 1945, helping in the evacuation of troops and civilians trapped along the Baltic coast by the advancing Russian Armies. Caught in dry dock by Allied aircraft, Hipper was scuttled in her dock at Kiel Deutsche Werke yards on 2 May 1945. She as later raised and towed Heikendorfer Bay, where she was scrapped.

THE KIT

Trumpeter’s 1941 Admiral Hipper comes in the usual sturdy Trumpeter box with very attractive artwork of the cruiser moored near some unknown coast in the early war light grey over dark grey livery. Upon opening the box, there are 418 parts across 12 different sprues, lower and upper hulls, 2 pieces of deck, a waterline plate, two AR-196 planes and display stand, along with a color painting guide and an instruction booklet.

The kit is approximately 22 ½ inches long at the waterline, which means that the kit is either ½ short of the measurements I have for the real ship are overall length or my data is incorrect. The model is 2 5/16 in beam at the widest point, which, according to the dimensions I’m looking at, is just about spot on.

There are no problems with either the upper or lower hull, other than some mold lines that will need to be cleaned up on the lower (red) hull. A test fit reveals a common issue with Trumpeter kits – the upper and lower hull do not fit together well at all. It will take a little work (and probably a lot of putty) to achieve a nice smooth fit. I’ll probably go the waterline route, as a result.

The main deck – which is broken into two parts – is well done, with nice planking detail. The way the deck splits should mean the seam falls amidships and should be in a relatively inconspicuous area right behind one of the ships boats. The decking on the superstructure parts is also well done, especially on the part for the main bridge. Not as crisp as Dragon’s recent Scharnhorst, but well done nonetheless. The 01 level deck is one piece, and looks pretty good on the topside. It’s underneath that has some issues. While the attempt at bracing is okay, there are knock out pins galore down there, most of which will have to be cleaned up. I can’t understand how a company could allow that to happen in this day and age.

The superstructure parts a fairly well done, albeit a little “soft” in detail. Other sprues contain the ships boats, secondary guns and other assorted equipment like gun directors. These are decent and free of flash. The aircraft are clear plastic (not a fan) and appear to be decent as well.

There is a small photo-etch fret with railings that looks usable, though I’ve already bought the White Ensign set designed specifically for this ship. The large glossy color painting and marking guide show Hipper in one of her 1941 dazzle camouflage schemes. The ships camouflage patter changed slightly over the course of the time she was stationed in Brest, so if you want to build her to a particular time frame, you’ll need to do your research. Instructions are typical Trumpeter booklet style, and are clear and easy to follow. This is one area where Trumpeter surpasses Dragon.

The Admiral Hipper class is one of my favorite classes of warships, so I picked up both this kit and the 1945 version of the Prinz Eugen that Trumpeter released. Sitting them side by side you can see that Trumpeter captured the differences in the hulls correctly – Hipper has the shorter, blunter Atlantic bow, while her younger sister is longer and more graceful.

All in all, this is a good kit. While it is not in the same league as the Tamiya Mikuma, Hasegawa Yahagi or Dragon Scharnhorst, it’s an impressive looking model in the box, and one that looks it will, issues with the knock out pins and fit of the upper and lower hulls aside, build into an even more impressive model – especially with that camouflage! Recommended!