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Flyhawk Bismarck

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/700 scale ship kit with accurate details
RELATED TOPICS: SHIPS
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Flyhawk Models has departed briefly from its 1/700 scale line of rare or unusual ship models to produce the iconic Bismarck, a well-known subject from many model manufacturers. It’s a logical release though, as it follows the HMS Prince of Wales, reviewed in FSM’s July 2018 issue, and it certainly is far more accurately detailed than any previous Bismarck kits.

This baseline kit consists of 610 gray parts on 47 sprues along with four large hull/deck sections, carefully packaged to prevent damage. All were seamless and well detailed. A single photo-etched (PE) part and metal bar along with a four-page instruction sheet, decals for flags, deck markings, and four different Arado 196 aircraft complete the kit.

The kit can be built full hull or as a waterline model. Flyhawk smartly molds the internal sprue tree into the normally flimsy upper hull, making it an integral part of the support structure.

Steps 1 and 3 also start construction of the main and secondary armament and offer the first option of many. Gun barrels are slide molded and have openings on the end and may be mounted with canvas shrouds, or without, with the barrel cradled, allowing them to be elevated up to 30 degrees. Turret Anton was built with barrel bags while Bruno, Caesar, and Dora were cradled without. The lower hull appears to accurately depict the lower hull hydrophones, bilge keels, rudders, props and vent openings.

My sample deck included the first flaw I’ve ever seen in a Flyhawk kit. It appeared triangular debris was caught in the die, requiring some rescribing of the planks.

After placing the forward anchors’ windless and breakwater as well as turret Anton, the real work started, creating the forward superstructure as well as the multi-part 20mm, 37mm, and 105mm anti-aircraft mounts. Step 4 has an option to create and mount the bridge wing arms, with solid parts painted canvas or a simple platform for aftermarket PE railings. P-2 and P-3 are curved parts that you will need to fit carefully to make sure the alignment is correct for when you get to Step 10 and mounting to the second deck. 

Step 8, building the stack, is interesting as the searchlight covers can be mounted open or closed and gantry cranes mount snugly, allowing movement. Next you create the cranes; I held off mounting the booms until the forward superstructure was added to allow the cranes heads to cradle correctly.

In Step 12, the fit between the aft to forward structures is so tight the midship catapult return wheels required sanding. This also is a good time to add the single PE catapult coverplate instead of trying to fit it in at Step 17. Again, the flywheels prevent proper seating of the PE coverplate so some modification is required. Also note there are two mount holes for each cat. The second hole should be used if the cat is extended to launch an aircraft.

The balance of the structure is straightforward and adding afterdeck vents and details wrapped up the build. Checking the nearly empty sprues, I found the short vents O-93 and O-97 at the rear of turret Caesar were shown in finishing drawings but never listed on the instructions, so added them to the deck.

The two Arado 196 aircraft are 10- to 12-part mini-kits and include the option of folded wings as well as marking options for the four aircraft assigned to the Bismarck.

My references were varied but included data from Breyers Battleships/Cruisers 1905-1970, pp. 299-304, while a valuable online resource is kbismarck.com.

A 600+ parts kit does take time, so it was a perfect build during a cold January. It offers a special challenge of keeping track of hundreds of parts less than 1mm in size. Static cling, the bane of all modelers, caused parts to migrate to the back of tools, fingers, etc. So, I offer a helpful hint: use the tacky backing of a Post-it note to gently hold those micro bits until you are ready to place them.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2019 issue.

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