(The bulk of this article is the same as appeared in the review for the Admiralty Hamburg with additional text for late version of Schleswig-Holstein near the end of her career. (Click for review of Admiralty Hamburg)
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.
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.
The Schleswig-Holstein was the last of the class to be removed from service. The ship was laid down on August 20, 1959 and launched exactly one year later. Completion took some time as Schleswig-Holstein didnít enter service until October 12, 1964. In the early 1990s the four Hamburg class were removed from service and the ships stricken as the new Brandenburg ships arrived on the scene. Hessen, the newest of the class went first, as she was stricken July 1, 1989 while she was under overhaul. No need to spend money overhauling a ship that was going to be scraped. Bayern went next, as she was scratched from the Bundesmarine on December 6, 1993. Hamburg disappeared from the roles weeks later as she was stricken December 31, 1993. The Schleswig-Holstein hung on for another two years until her time came on November 30, 1995.
Admiralty Models Schleswig-Holstein
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 Schleswig-Holstein 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 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. With the Hamburg there are three oval openings at the top of the cutwater, one on centerline flanked by one on each side, which were openings for trainable torpedo tubes. These are gone for the Schleswig-Holstein. 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 one recessed rectangle is placed on the port side, which is another difference from Hamburg, which had three such panels. It probably is 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 of the Hamburg is a low coaming, which may be the cargo hatch through which mines and other munitions and supplies are lowered into the ship. This fitting is removed from the Schleswig-Holstein. Along the edge of the transom stern is a centerline closed chock flanked on either side by twin bollard fittings.
The 02 deck starts just aft of B turret. It runs down the ship until it merges with the 03 level just aft of the second funnel, before emerging again forward of X turret. Directly in front of the bridge is a centerline bulkhead, which divides the 02 deck between a port and starboard side and provided protection from the blast generated by the rocket propelled ASW mortars found on each side of this screen.. Additional 40mm/L70 Breda AA positions are found just forward of the first funnel. The Schleswig-Holstein has an additional three life raft canisters found at this level, not found on the Hamburg. The 02 deck is just a catwalk on either side of the 03 level before ending in solid bulkhead positions just aft of the second funnel. The 02 deck makes a brief appearance for the centerline sensor positions overlooking the X gun position on 01 deck. As with the 01 deck the Schleswig-Holstein again flares out dramatically for an angular platform, compared to the narrow deck of Hamburg at this point.
The bridge is a two-level affair, 03 and 04 levels, The bridge area is larger and differently shaped with Schleswig-Holstein from the Hamburg. The 03 deck starts behind the enlarged 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 on Hamburg are two more life raft canisters before and aft of the wings but these are not present on Schleswig-Holstein. Narrow catwalks project from the sides of the superstructure connecting the bridge 03 deck with the funnel 03 deck. With Hamburg the 03 deck ends here before resuming in front of the second funnel. With Schleswig-Holstein the gap in the 03 deck is filled in and the superstructure added, with no gap. The 03 deck in Schleswig-Holstein has differences at the end of the deck in that the aft sensor mount of Hamburg was removed and the superstructure ends in square superstructure. open where it terminates directly behind this funnel. 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
The one-piece twin 40mm mounts also get this same superb detail treatment. In fact superb is a pale adjective for these marvelously detailed pieces. These are open mounts surrounded by splinter shields and the guns are duplicated from the flared flash suppressors at their muzzles to detailed breach blocks inside the splinter shielding. These are different from the Hamburg in that these are longer Breda L70 mounts from the L58 Bofors mounts found on Hamburg. Further the gun shields are differently shaped in Schleswig-Holstein. At the aft edge of each 40mm platform are two structures, which are probably for ready ammunition storage. Other smaller resin parts include the ASW mortars, two ships boats, one sensor platform, ASW torpedo tubes, and all sorts of other domes, pylons, enclosed radars and assorted fittings. Both the ASW mortars and ASW torpedo tubes have the same high order of detail found on the gun position parts.
The Admiralty Models Schleswig-Holstein comes with a photo-etched fret of ship specific parts. This fret is relief-etched and includes two separate lattice masts. They are found immediately before each funnel. The ship already has a towering superstructure, so these two lattice towers further emphasize the very high and piled superstructure design. This is one less tower than in Hamburg. The foremast even has a second smaller lattice tower that starts from a platform half way up. Another good portion of this fret is devoted to the various radar arrays found on the towers. All of these require multi-piece subassembly and will provide excellent representation of the delicate and complex arrays. The numerous platforms found on these lattice masts are also found on the fret. Basically, take your time in assembling each mast, as they are complex but will be extraordinarily fine when completed. Additional 40mm AA gun detail is found on the fret in the form of panels that fit on each side of the resin breach blocks. Two depth charge racks are provided for the stern. Other photo-etched parts are the anchors, anchor chain, flagstaff, jack staff, DF loops, platform supports and three cable reels. No railing or ladders are found on this fret, so generic three-bar railing will be needed as well as some vertical ladder. From looking at the profile and plan drawings found in the instructions, it does not appear that inclined ladders will be needed. Some of the parts are only used for the 1985 fit of Schleswig-Holstein but some are for the Hamburg as originally built. Each part on the fret is designated by a letter, which is also used in the instructions to prevent errors in assembly.
A full decal sheet is provided with the Admiralty Models Schleswig-Holstein kit. Decals are provided for all four units in the class. There are multi-color ships crests located on each side of the bow of the ships immediately behind the anchor strake. Large shaded numbers are found below the bridge on each side of the hull with a smaller number appearing on the top deck of the bridge. The last decal is of the West German naval jack.
The instructions are very good and are significantly better than average. They consist of six pages printed only on one side. The first page has a short history of the class with technical specifications and a plan and profile used as painting guide and decal placement. Page two has a table with more historical information, short bibliography and general instructions. The next three pages present the sequence of assembly. These are presented in easy stages with the use of separate insets to show assembly of various subassemblies. There are drawings for resin parts but photo-etch parts are indicated with not only a drawing but also the letter found on the fret for those parts. The most complex subassemblies will be the three lattice masts, which are almost entirely made of photo-etch, although there are some resin domes on some mast platforms. These subassemblies are in module five and take up most of the fourth page. The last page is a large plan and profile, which repeats the painting guide with full color ship crests, decal placement instructions and color examples/swatches for those not using White Ensign Models Colourcoat paints.
As with Pavelís Hamburg, the Admiralty Schleswig-Holstein is outstanding. This kit is not just a repop of the Hamburg, the Schleswig-Holstein has significant differences in hull casting as well as the smaller resin parts. Now you can bring these ships into the missile age with their new Exocet missile canisters.