The United States had already been in existence almost a century when in 1871, a unified Germany was created as the result of the Franco-Prussian War. The area of Germany had been a patch-work of duchies, principalities, small kingdoms and assorted other states, dominated by the large kingdoms of Prussia and Bavaria. As a result of the Franco-Prussian War all of these states were unified under the King of Prussia who became Emperor or Kaiser of the unified country. Prussia had always been a land power and although it did have a coastline along the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, Prussia had never had much of a navy. During the Franco-Prussian War, it was the German armies, which had won the war. The small Prussian Fleet had played no role, having been bottled up in their few ports by French warships. For a time unified Germany still had no desire for a major fleet but that changed with the arrival of two new figures. One was Admiral Tirpitz who dreamed of a large fleet for Germany and the other was Kaiser Wilhelm II, who had the same dream. Starting the 1890s each year saw large amounts of funds apportioned for warship construction. Germany, which had been viewed as friendly towards Great Britain, took on the form of a new challenger to the dominance of the Royal Navy.
For almost two decades there was a naval arms race between Great Britain and Imperial Germany with the Royal Navy maintaining a comfortable quantitative edge but with a qualitative edge on the side of Germany. Although German warships were designed for operations close to German waters, lacking the habitability of RN designs, they proved extremely well built, capable of absorbing huge amounts of punishment. With the end of World War One, the allies tried to hamstring Germany from creating strong military forces, through the draconian terms of the Treaty of Versailles. One of the first warships constructed by the Weimar Republic was the light cruiser Emden, designed as a training cruiser. All those terms did was create financial disaster in Germany and a seething hatred for the terms imposed upon a proud country and people. It created a fertile breeding ground for extremists, one of which, Adolf Hitler, rose to power through elections. When Germany rearmed under the National Socialist Party, the navy was included as well. Hitler conned Great Britain into signing a Treaty, which allowed Germany a fleet 35% the strength of the Royal Navy. This was directly contrary to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, however, it soothed the nervousness of the British politicians. At the same time it allowed Germany to openly construct new warships. Again German industry built ships of unparalleled toughness, although far fewer than were built before World War Two.
At the end of World War Two all of the major allied nations decided that Germany would again be restricted in what would be allowed for a future German military. For a future German Navy, warships would be no larger than 2,500-tons. However, as the 1940s turned to the 1950s, old allies became enemies as the United States and the powers of western Europe were confronted by the massive land power of the Soviet Union and the increasingly bellicose statements and actions of Joseph Stalin. NATO was formed and the western allies took a new look at rearming West Germany. A new Bundeswehr, Luftwaffe and Bundesmarine were created. For the German Navy, the old restrictions were removed and again Germany could go into the business of constructing warships. Training for personnel in the new German Navy started in 1956 and the first warships to commissioned in the navy were six old Fletcher class destroyers loaned to Germany on five-year leases in 1958.
West Germany was the last of the major European powers to get back into designing modern major combatants. Italy had new surface warship designs being built by 1950 with construction of new designs in both France and the Soviet Union delayed because of the extensive damage to their construction infrastructure sustained during World War Two. Following the pattern from the end of World War One, the first design was again for a training cruiser. This was the Deutschland, originally to have been named the Berlin. Displacing 4,800-tons, 5,500-tons full load, the Deutschland was 475-feet in length and carried a mixed set of armament. Specifically designed as a test bed for new weapons systems and new modern construction, the cruiser had armament and machinery of different types for training a new generation of German sailors. Ordered in 1956, she was launched November 5, 1960 but not commissioned until May 25, 1963.
The second warship design followed shortly thereafter. However, instead of a training ship design, this design was intended to be an operational warship from the start. These were the four units of the Hamburg class destroyer. As with the Deutschland the construction process was slow. The Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein were laid down in 1959 with the Bayern and Hessen following in 1962. Hamburg was launched on March 26, 1960, with Schleswig-Holstein following on August 20, 1960, both ahead of Deutschland. The first pair of Hamburgs had their completion delayed in order to incorporate the most modern level of technology into their design, so both went into service the year after Deutschland was commissioned. Hamburg was completed on March 23, 1964. The Hamburg class destroyers were 429 feet 8-inches in length, 44-feet in beam and had a draught of slightly over 14 feet. They displaced 3,340-tons standard and 4,330-tons full load. Initial armament was four 3.9-inch/55 (100mm) dual-purpose main guns (1x4), eight 40mm AA guns (2x4), five 21-inch torpedoes, two four-barreled 375mm Bofors depth charge mortars. Powered by four Wahodag geared steam turbines, 68,000shp powered the twin shafts for a maximum speed of 35-knots. Four Wahodag boilers used fuel oil to provide the necessary steam. Also known as the Type 101 destroyers, the weapons and sensors came from other European sources, although the propulsion systems were of all German design and construction. Since all of the traditional German yards were already at capacity in the construction of merchant ships, the contract was given to the firm of HC Stulcken & Sohn who had not built warships before this time.
Originally twelve destroyers were to be built to this design but this was cut back to four. Still, there was a wide gap between the completion of the first two and the second two. The ships, designed to serve in the Baltic, were top heavy because of their towering superstructure. They were nicknamed Hochhauser (tower blocks) because of their high superstructure. Although completed as a standard gun armed destroyers, the four units in the Hamburg class underwent a substantial refit from 1974-1977. Boilers were converted to burn light fuel oil but more significant changes were made to the armament and superstructure. The X 3.9-inch/55 gun mount was removed and two twin M 38 Exocet anti-ship missiles placed in this aft location. The lattice main mast was also removed as well as making changes to some parts of the superstructure. The original open bridges were enclosed for operations in extremely cold environments. Later the 533mm torpedo tubes were removed for four (2x2) shorter 324mm ASW torpedo mounts. The 40mm AA guns were replaced by more modern light AA mounts. The ships formed the 2nd Destroyer Squadron based in Wilhelmshaven. All four Hamburg class destroyers were taken out of service from 1990 to 1994 as the Brandenburg class frigates replaced them.
Admiralty Models Hamburg
When a new company releases its first model a modeler can normally expect a release that falls short in some measure if not most, to existing model production standards. After initial releases there is normally an increase in quality and production component quality. This was true with injected plastic companies such as the old Revell USA or the new Trumpeter from the PRC. It has been also true with limited run resin kits. If this is a truism, watch out for Admiralty Models because their first two kits are already at the highest industry standards for resin production kits. Every component in the Hamburg kit reflects an extraordinarily high level of quality. Whether it is the hull casting, smaller resin parts, photo-etch, decals or instructions, it is all first rate.
The Admiralty Models 1:700 scale Hamburg has most of the superstructure cast integral to the hull. This should not come as a surprise, as this was also the approach taken by JAG. As a consequence there is a huge level of detail integral to the hull/superstructure casting and yet assembly of the remaining parts is simplified. When you look along the waterline you would conclude that it is ready to go, with no clean up required. That is almost correct in that there is the very faintest of bur at the waterline that can barely be felt when you run your finger along the waterline. One swipe of a very fine sanding pad will take care of the job. When it comes to hull side detail, I normally cover hull and superstructure detail together. However, because there is so much superstructure, all of which is detailed, Iíll cover hull side and deck detail in the first section and superstructure detail in the second section.
The hull sides are dominated by the very prominent knuckle at the bow. The knuckle of course starts at the cutwater and is extraordinarily pronounced at first but then gradually decreases before terminating about 1/3 down the length of the hull. At the bow, above the knuckle, are a number of additional features. At deck edge are slanting grooves for the anchor hawse. Just behind these positions are small curved fittings or strakes, which appear to serve as guides or guards for protecting the hull when the anchor is raised or lowered. There are three curious oval openings at the top of the cutwater, one on centerline flanked by one on each side. Normally I would associate these for drainage for seawater taken aboard. They indeed may be for drainage but their placement is at the highest point of the corresponding deck. At appears that water would flow away from these holes, rather than towards them. However, whatever their purpose, they are very well defined and lend an interesting relief to the hull. After the knuckle disappears the hull sides are featureless until you get to the stern. In common with many modern designs, the main deck/weather deck is wider than the waterline. This outward flare is a design selection to reduce the amount of water that comes aboard ship during operations. There is a slanting transom stern on which three recessed rectangles are placed asymmetrically. They are more to the starboard side and are undoubtedly there for trailing cable or for mine laying, since as built, the Hamburg class was designed for that mission.
I donít know if the weather deck is called the upper deck as in the Royal Navy, or the main deck as with the USN, but weather deck is appropriate as it is the first deck exposed to the weather. With the Hamburg design this a flush deck with a prominent sheer at the bow and a slight sheer at the stern. Since the superstructure runs 2/3rd the length of the ship, there are only comparatively short forecastle and quarterdeck with only narrow walkways where the superstructure is present. One characteristic of modern designs is the lack of cluttered decks. Even before stealth designs became feasible, it was sought to reduce deck clutter to reduce the radar signature of a ship. The main feature of the forecastle is the curved breakwater immediately in front of A turret. If anything this may be almost imperceptibly thicker than scale but this is only my perception. As it is, I would leave it alone, in that it is more than fine enough without the need to slightly adjust its width. The breakwater has a nice set of support gussets on the rearward face. In front of the breakwater is the windlass machinery for the anchors. The anchor chain will run to the deck edge notches, rather than to hawses on the deck. On either side of the windlasses are deck edge twin bollard fittings followed by a closed chock. Aft of the breakwater is a feature on the port side of A turret base and additional twin bollards and closed chocks flanking the start of 01 level and B turret base. Three more pairings of the bollard/chock fittings appear on each side on the aft half of the weather deck. The quarterdeck is dominated by mine rails. As with the breakwater, these may be a trifle on the heavy side but I would leave them alone, as more can be lost than gained by slightly reducing their size through light sanding. The Y turret base is found on the forward portion of the quarterdeck. At the stern is a low coaming, which may be the cargo hatch through which mines and other munitions and supplies are lowered into the ship. Along the edge of the transom stern is a centerline closed chock flanked on either side by twin bollard fittings.
The bridge is a two-level affair, 03 and 04 levels, The 03 deck starts on either side of the square pilothouse. Solid splinter shield wings appear on each side at the aft face of the pilothouse and overhang the sides the superstructure. On each side of these wings are two more life raft canisters before and aft of the wings. The 03 deck ends here before resuming with solid bulkheads on each side of the first funnel. The 03 deck is open where it terminates directly behind this funnel. Narrow catwalks project from the sides of the superstructure connecting the bridge 03 deck with the funnel 03 deck. The 03 deck resumes after a brief gap until it reaches the aft face of the second funnel and reappears briefly for a centerline sensor mount. The 04 deck comes and goes because it is the top level of forward and aft superstructure except for one small portion of the forward superstructure where there is actually a fifth level. Superstructure side detail includes portholes, square windows, ventilation louvers, doors, and drainage vents. Casting for the hull part as well as smaller resin parts had no discernable errors or damage. It doesnít get any better.
Smaller Resin Parts
Where can Pavel go from here? The first release of the Admiralty Models 1:700 scale Hamburg class destroyers as built, is already at top line quality in the components provided. The design is spectacular with a very high superstructure topped by three lattice towers. The execution of the resin and photo-etch parts for the 1:700 scale kit is more than worthy of the unique design of these destroyers.