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To Weather or Not

Finishing Revell 1/72 Type VIIc U-Boot

n by Rafi Ben-Shahar

Submarines are interesting subjects because in real life, you observe only the above-water component that comprises less than a third of the total surface area of the ship, while the model that pretends to represent reality shows the entire ship! Therefore, the modeller has to find a way to please the eyes and somehow distract the observer from the un-realistic posture.

I chose the excellent Revell U-Boat to demonstrate two possible options.

First Approach: U-552

The first approach represented in U-552 is weathering the entire body. In life, little corrosion appears on submerged parts that are mostly adorned with algae and barnacles after staying in water for a long period. Having seeing reference photographs and other models presented in the net, I avoided the heavy streaks of rust (although they actually existed) and chose a lighter and faded form of rust as corrosion is visible after a month or so in the high seas.

Rust was created with highly diluted Siena Brown and a touch of red sprayed along drainage water paths on the sides of the vessel. The lower parts of the submarine were treated with condensed doses of matt coat that create an effect of salty crusts, as if the submarine was just pulled on a dock for maintenance.

U-552 became part of history on October 31st, 1941 when during the attack on eastbound convoy HX-156 it sank USS Reuben James, the first US Navy ship lost in hostile action in WWII. This took place roughly 6 weeks before war was declared between Germany and the United States.

Second Approach: U-82

The second example applied in the form of U-82 is an easier option where a vessel has undergone maintenance and received a fresh application of a new camouflage scheme. Here, the eye is attracted to the camouflage pattern and overlooks the non-real representation.

U-82 was another of the German boats participating in operation Paukenschlag, but its career was not so spectacular - it sunk "only" 9 ships. On February 6th, 1942 the u-boat itself was lost during an attack on convoy OS-18 while on its return journey to France.

The Revell kit is a gem and is highly recommended. In spite of its length, the model fits well within the small frontal area of book shelves and can be dusted in no time without the fear of breaking parts.


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