|Among the most
memorable of WW1 images is a photo of a capsizing warship, her sides covered with sailors
trying to save themselves before she goes down. The ship is the German battlecruiser SMS Blucher, battered into submission and sunk at
the Battle of Dogger Bank, 24 January 1915.
The largest naval battle of WW1 up to that time, Dogger Bank was the first clash between
Royal Navy and German battlecruisers.
Intended to be an improvement upon Scharnhorst
class armoured cruisers, Blucher possessed
neither the speed nor the armament of later generation German and Royal Navy
battlecruisers. Aware of the soon to be launched HMS
Invincible, thought to carry 9.2" main armament, the Germans fit Blucher
with their superior 8.2" gun. In the event, Invincible and the more
capable Royal Navy battlecruisers that followed carried 12" (and larger) main gun
armament, not to mention being faster than Blucher. The Germans immediately
recognized Bluchers limitations. Their subsequent battlecruisers were
faster, more heavily armed, and better protected.
Bluchers limitations may have doomed her at Dogger Bank.
Unable to outrun her opponents, she was stuck at the end of the German battle line, where
she was hit repeatedly by gunfire. A round fired by Princess Royal at a range of
20,000 yards penetrated her forward ammunition handling spaces, causing a disastrous fire.
Confused Royal Navy signaling enabled more valuable German targets like BC Seydlitz, severely damaged and afire, to escape
while Royal Navy gunners concentrated on the doomed Blucher. A flaming wreck, she
fought on, but hits from at least 50 high caliber shells and 2 torpedoes sealed her fate.
She capsized and sank shortly thereafter. 260 survivors were rescued by HMS Arethusa
and escorting destroyers.
(C) Michael Emmerich, German Kriegsmarine
Encyclopedia, a great site!
Laid Down: 21 Feb 1907 Launched: 11 April
1908 Completed: 24 March 1910
Fate: Sunk at Dogger Bank, 24 Jan 1915
Length: 530'5" oa Beam: 80'3" Draft:
26'3" Displacement: 15,590 tons normal, 17,250 full load
Armament: twelve 21cm (6x2), eight 15cm, sixteen 8.8cm
Four 45cm submerged torpedo tubes 21" tubes (4x3)
Performance: 24.3 knots maximum Range: 6,600nm @
12 kts, 3,520 nm @ 18 kts knots
Complement: 847 officers & men (1,036 when sunk at Dogger Bank)
The WSW 1:700th SMS Blucher
is typical of the high quality weve come to expect from this German producer. The
kit depicts Blucher subsequent to the fitting of a tripod foremast in 1913, the
first German warship to be so fitted. The flawless waterline hull has extensive
superstructure detail cast in situ, as well as anchors, chains, and rolled-up torpedo
nets. No additional deck levels need be added. As if this wasnt enough, fourteen
lengths of brass rod protrude from midship. These are boat-deck supports. Stronger than
resin, the integral brass rods are not only innovative but make for easier assembly.
Embedded in a paper-thin resin wafer are gun tubs, cross brace supports and the
elevated boat deck. Bulkheads and gun-tub walls, realistically thin and in-scale, are
sturdy enough to withstand normal handling without disintegrating. As in other WSW kits,
main guns are cast integral with the turret and nicely tapered. The two funnels are highly
detailed gems. I could go on, but suffice to say everything is sharp and designed for
quick and easy assembly.
Small resin parts embedded in paper-thin film
Guns, gooseneck cranes, masts, boats
So what are the kits shortcomings? The whippet thin resin mainmast and pole
foremast will inevitably bend. It is just about impossible to create a long, whip-thin
piece of resin that wont warp. So use these pieces as templates to fabricate
replacements from the included brass rod. This is an easy step, and a mandatory one if you
plan on rigging your Blucher.
The assembly instructions make no mention of torpedo net booms, though the profile
drawing shows them. There are locator plates just above the waterline of the resin hull,
so trim brass rod to the proper length, affix one end to the locator plate and the other
to the net. While on the subject of nets, there is no torpedo net shelf. I lack a set of Blucher
plans, but I assume the nets rested on a shelf. It would be difficult to see this shelf
under the stowed net in any event. But the more compulsive among you may want to simulate
this part with a very thin piece of plastic strip affixed beneath the net.
A "resin purist", WSW eschews
etched brass, and the Blucher kit is no exception. Etched brass railing enhances
any 1:700th kit, though a superbly detailed model like Blucher will stand on its
own without it. Nevertheless I plan on building my Blucher with railing from one
of the aftermarket suppliers. The resin cross brace supports would also look better if
replaced with etched brass or stretched sprue.
Directions consist of an illustrated parts list, two pages of exploded views, 1:700th
plan/profile views and painting instructions. They are almost entirely visual, with no
descriptive text. Though spare, they are adequate for such an easy kit, even for resin
I have a weakness for WW1 era warships. Something about the protruding ram bow and
black coal smoke speaks to me, as does this kit. I recommend the WSW 1:700th SMS
Blucher without reservation. It is easy to build and of high quality.
Beginners will appreciate its ease of assembly, experienced modelers will marvel at its
superb casting and detail. WSW kits are of such consistent quality that you can buy in
complete confidence that it is money well spent. Their current focus on WW1 era ships, a
particularly fascinating era in naval history, makes them all the more attractive.