Tirpitz always seems to be the poor relation when compared to the searing brightness of the meteorically short career of Bismarck . Like a homely wallflower sister of a great beauty, Tirpitz is always in the background while attention centers around the glamorous Bismarck . The Anglo-German Naval Treaty signed on June 18, 1935 allowed Germany to build up to 35% of the strength of the Royal Navy. Further Germany was bound to follow the restrictions of the 1922 Washington Treaty and 1930 London Treaty. These of course limited battleships to 35,000-tons. The naval staff wanted a design mounting six 15-inch guns in three twin turrets but Hitler did not want to antagonize the British and mandated that the new ships continue to mount 11-inch guns. The new ships were to use armament, equipment and fittings already ordered for the fourth and fifth panzerschiffes. Specifications and plans were prepared but the start of construction was delayed until after the Anglo-German naval treaty was signed and the ships were Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The next pair, Bismarck and Tirpitz, upped the size of the main gun artillery had used a new design. The Bismarck 380mm/47 guns had a range of 36,520m with 30 degrees elevation. Krupp designers had also developed a 16-inch (406mm), which could have been selected for the Bismarck but selection of this gun would have lengthened construction time for further development of turrets and gun trials. In interest of a speedy completion, the 380mm gun was ordered for the pair. German designers did consider triple and even quadruple main gun turrets but the traditional twin gun turret was selected for simplified ammunition stowage and delivery.

A new London naval limitation conference finished in March 1936 and the agreement not only retained the 35,000-ton maximum displacement, but also added a new wrinkle, that new construction was limited to a main armament no greater than 14-inch guns. The new Bismarck battleship, which would be laid down four months later, would clearly violate the terms of the new London Treaty, once completed on grounds of displacement and main armament. However, the Treaty had an escalator clause, which stipulated that maximum displacement could jump to 45,000-tons and main armament to 16-inch guns if Japan and Italy had not signed the treaty by April 1, 1937. The German admirals felt confident that neither power would sign the proposed treaty and accordingly gambled that the Bismarck would be legal when completed under the escalator clause. There was the standard deception about the true displacement of the ships but since the escalator clause went into effect long before the guns were mounted or the ships were completed, the Bismarck did not violate any international treaties. It is ironic that the German ships, which actually violated international treaties were the panzerschiffes built under the Weimar Republic , while the Scharnhorst and Bismarck designs built under Hitler’s National Socialist regime fell within treaty limitations. While Germany gambled that the treaty would not be signed, Great Britain went the other way and gambled that the treaty would be signed. The new British design for the King George V class went with the lighter 14-inch gun on a 35,000-ton design, although as completed they came in at around 37,000-tons standard. Bismarck was laid down on July 1, 1936 by Blohm and Voss at Hamburg with the start of Tirpitz following on October 20, 1936 by the Wilhelmshavn Navy Yard. 

The two sister ships did have differences. The area of the shelter deck was one area in which the Bismarck and Tirpitz were easily differentiated. The difference was in the area of the catapult. On the Bismarck the edge of the shelter deck stopped short of the hull sides. On any overhead photograph or plan, one can readily ascertain a strip of weather deck running between the edge of the shelter deck and the hull sides. This is not so for Tirpitz. On that ship the shelter deck in this area was expanded to run up to the edge of the hull. This expansion runs from just aft of the second 5.9-inch turret on each side to just aft of the catapult. With the Bismarck the second 4.1-inch AA mount on the shelter deck was partially masked by the large aircraft/boat cranes that were mounted outboard on the weather deck to the rear of the AA mount. The extension of the shelter deck on Tirpitz allowed the second 4.1-inch to be mounted further outboard. The large cranes were moved from the weather deck to the shelter deck and further it was moved inboard of the AA mount. With this new arrangement these 4.1-inch guns were no longer masked by the cranes. A new addition for Tirpitz were torpedo tubes on each side just behind the shelter deck extensions because these extensions also served to house torpedo reloads. In the summer of 1941 the Tirpitz received her quadruple 21-inch torpedo tubes at Kiel .

Another area for difference between the two sisters was in her tertiary armament. The pair had a new heavy AA gun installed in the form of a 4.1-inch/105mm twin mount. However, the gun was developed before there was a mount designed specifically for it. As a stop gap measure the mount for the smaller twin 88mm AA gun was used for the heavier ordnance (C/31). As the Bismarck was fitting out, the forward four 105mm mounts were installed first. These mounts were of the modified 88mm variety. Tirpitz also had two of these makeshift mounts installed as the aft most 105mm mount on each side. The new mount developed for the twin 105mm guns was the C/37. The aft four 105mm positions on Bismarck were equipped with the new mounts at Gotenhafen during trials and Tirpitz received the new mounts for the forward six positions. For the Tirpitz the aft two gun positions with the modified 88mm C/31 mounts were subsequently removed and replaced by C/37 mounts. However, the Bismarck never did replace the forward older modified C/31 mounts with the C/37 mounts specifically designed for the 105mm guns. Although the mounts were superficially similar to each other, they can easily be distinguished one from another. The C/31 is smaller and shorter. It has raised conical fittings on each forward edge and has open breach blocks. The much heftier C/37 is larger and higher with sliding vision ports replacing the conical positions of the older mount. Instead of angling backwards at a constant angle the sides of the newer mount veer upwards sharply 2/3rds back from the front of the mount. Most noticeably, splinter shielding is provided over the breach blocks on the newer mounts. Dragon is right on the money with the correct mix for Bismarck and additional C/37 mounts for Tirpitz. On the other hand, both the Trumpeter and Skywave kits provide four C/31 and four C/37 mounts in both the Bismarck and Tirpitz kits. This is correct for Bismarck but this combination was never mounted by Tirpitz and you’ll be short two C/37 mounts in her Baltic appearance and four C/37 mounts for her Norway deployment.  

Main Deck - A Sprue
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The completion of Bismarck had been little effected by British air attacks but for Tirpitz it was a different story. Early in 1941 before ship was completed, Tirpitz became a prime target in intensive aerial attack by the RAF. In five separate attacks between January and March 1941 359 RAF bombers attacked the Tirpitz at Wilhelmshaven . The attacks were by two engine medium bombers at night. Since Wilhemshaven was a heavily defended port, these night attacks had no impact on Tirpitz. On February 25, 1941 the Tirpitz was commissioned. With the shafts disconnected, turbine tests were conducted at the Wilhelmshaven basin from February 28 to March 6. Finally on March 9, 1941 Tirpitz edged out of city of birth to traverse the Kiel canal . Her destination was Gotenhafen (Gydnia) in the eastern Baltic, where she would undergo her trials. During the trip she hit 29 knots. For almost three months the Tirpitz was in the eastern Baltic testing all of her systems.

In late May it was decided to send her back to Kiel to receive more fittings. When the ship had left Wilhelmshaven in March, she had steamed out of the range of the RAF but upon reaching Kiel , she again became a prime target of British aerial attack. In May, June and September raids were conducted against Tirpitz but as in the earlier attacks no hits were scored. On September 23, 1941 Tirpitz again sailed eastward but this time it was assigned a combat mission. In June 1941 Germany had invaded Russia and the mission of Tirpitz was to head the Balttenflotte North Group. The mission was to prevent the Soviet Baltic Fleet from breaking out into the Baltic. On September 24 she took on a Finnish liaison officer to help the ship traverse the tricky approaches to Kronstadt, the Soviet anchorage just west of Leningrad . Tirpitz and Admiral Scheer were going in after the Soviet fleet. However, after battle damage assessment of the Luftwaffe attacks on the Soviet fleet conducted between September 21 and 23, it was realized that the Soviet fleet was already neutralized. The Tirpitz attack was called off and the battleship returned to Gotenhafen. Through the fall Tirpitz continued to run exercises in the Baltic. On November 13, 1941 Hitler met with Admiral Raeder who suggested the movement of Tirpitz to Norway in order to attack the Murmansk convoys as well as protect against a British invasion of Norway, for which there were numerous rumors. Hitler granted the suggestion with the caveat that the ship not attack any convoy escorted by an aircraft carrier.

Operation Polarnacht was the movement of Tirpitz to Norway and was well named as indeed Tirpitz moved into the realm of polar nights, long in the winter, short in the summer. On January 15, 1942 Tirpitz left Germany for the last time. She pulled into Faetenfjord near Trondheim . Camouflage measures were immediately taken in hand in order to make the anticipated British air attacks more difficult. The British knew of the deployment through Ultra intercepts but because of the successful camouflage and short days could not initially find the battleship. For the RAF only four engine heavy bombers had the range to reach Trondheim . The first attack was launched on the night of January 29, 1942 and in the course of the spring five attacks with a combined total of 155 Halifax, Sterling and Lancaster bombers, all with no damage to Tirpitz.

Tirpitz Specific Shelter Deck - B Sprue
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Operations of Tirpitz out of Norway were hampered by low fuel supplies. Tirpitz planned to attack convoy PQ8 in late January but this was cancelled for lack of fuel. In February Tirpitz was placed on alert to support Operation Cerberus. This was the channel dash of Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen from France , through the English Channel, back to Germany . If the British fleet came out of Scapa Flow , Tirpitz would support the older battleships. The British were caught flat-footed and only responded with air attacks, so Tirpitz stayed in Norway . On February 24, 1942 Tirpitz raised the flag of Vice Admiral Ciliax as commander of Group North, initially consisting of Tirpitz, Admiral Scheer and Prinz Eugen, although the later was not operational due to a submarine torpedo hit on her journey to Norway .

In early March 1942 Tirpitz and three destroyers sortied to intercept convoys PQ-12 and QP-8. Ultra intercepts informed the British of the operation so the convoys’ courses were moved and Tirpitz just missed contact. Steaming back to Trondheim Norway Tirpitz was attacked unsuccessfully by torpedo bombers from Victorious. It took until June for enough fuel stocks to be accumulated for another sortie. This time the target was convoy PQ-17. Thirty-four merchant ships had left Iceland on June 27, bound for Russia . Tirpitz, Scheer, Lutzow, Hipper and destroyers sortied to intercept. The British knew of the large German movement and an anxious Admiral Dudley Pound, First Sea lord, prematurely ordered the convoy to disperse. Although Tirpitz and other surface ships were recalled on July 5, U-Boats and the Luftwaffe picked off 21 of the now defenseless merchants. The very threat of Tirpitz at sea was the proximate cause of the destruction of the convoy. That summer Tirpitz moved her base of operations from Trondheim to Narvik, further north and out of RAF range. The ship needed an overhaul but Hitler mandated that she stay in Norway , so Trondheim was slowly equipped for this process. In late October, with the shortening days, Tirpitz was rebased at Trondheim . At this time the British launched an attack upon Tirpitz with a Norwegian fishing cutter carrying two Chariot human torpedoes. They were lost in a storm and the boat was scuttled before they could close Trondheim . The overhaul was conducted in stages, so Tirpitz would be immobilized only for short periods of time. With work completed on December 28, 1942 Tirpitz started a series of trials reaching into January.

Superstructure & AA - C Sprue
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Scharnhorst joined Tirpitz and since there were no Russian convoys in the first half of the year, the pair was ordered to attack allied facilities on the island of Spitzbergen . On September 8, 1943 Tirpitz fired her main guns at an enemy target for the first time and all land targets were destroyed. Another RN underwater attack on Tirpitz was scheduled for 20 to 25 September. In Operation Source ten X-Craft midget submarines were towed to Norway by ten submarines to attach two-ton mines to the hull of Tirpitz. On September 22 two of the craft, X-6 and X-7, penetrated the anchorage and laid four mines underneath the battleship. Damage included hull tears, some warpage, intrusion of 1,500-tons of seawater and significant equipment damage. Dora had lifted off its roller track and came back down off the track and jammed. Damage to the turbines and their foundations immobilized the ship. Now it was impossible for the Tirpitz to return to Germany for repairs and these undertaken at Trondheim by the repair ship Neumark. Repairs were started in November and not concluded until February 1944. Tirpitz underwent a new series of trials to validate the repairs in March and April.

The Royal Navy had watched the repair work on Tirpitz and when the Neumark left, scheduled a new attack of Tirpitz by the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) in Operation Tungsten. On April 3, 1944 a combined strike of 40 Barracudas from Victorious, Furious, Emperor, Searcher, Fencer and Pursuer was launched in two waves. The aircraft caught the Tirpitz unprepared. Escorting Corsairs and Hellcats machine-gunned the ship as the Barracudas dropped 1,600-lb bombs. The operation was one of the best-executed missions of the FAA during the war. Fourteen bombs hit the ship, causing serious damage. Further FAA attacks during the late spring were cancelled because of cloud cover, or else were unsuccessful because of the smoke screen over the ship. The culmination of the carrier assault on Tirpitz came in late August. Operation Goodwood called for attacks on August 22, 24 and 29. Two further hits were scored but on the whole the operation was foiled by smoke screens over the target. It was decided that the ordnance carried by British naval bombers were just not powerful enough to put down the Tirpitz. Something bigger was needed. 

Superstructure & AA - C Sprue
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  Actually the Avro Lancaster heavy bomber was first used against the Tirpitz in attacks in spring 1942. In 1942 the aircraft had no more success than other aircraft types used against the battleship. However by 1944 a new weapon was available. This was the 12,000 lb “Tallboy” bomb filled with Torpex. The Lancaster was the perfect platform to carry this oversize ordnance. In the summer of 1944 Tirpitz was still anchored at Kaafjord and was just outside of the combat range of the Lancaster carrying the new ordnance. It was decided to use a Russian base to stage the first attack upon Tirpitz utilizing the new weapon. This meant that all aircraft and ordnance would have to be ferried to Russia first. The base selected was at Yagodnik just south of Murmansk . The 9th and 617th Squadrons were selected for the mission and 38 Lancasters and 5 reconnaissance Mosquitoes left on September 11 for Operation Paravane. One turned back and six crashed on landing. The raid was set for September 15. Twenty Lancasters carried Tallboys, while seven carried mines. The attack was detected before the bombers arrived over the Fjord and smoke generators quickly obscured the target. Seventeen of the Tallboys were dropped but only one hit the target. Nonetheless this one bomb proved the power of the new weapon. It passed through the bow of Tirpitz and detonated on the floor of the fjord. The pressure wave generated by the explosion tore a 55-feet by 35-feet hole in the lower hull of the battleship. The entire bow of the ship from Anton barbette to the cutwater suffered severe structural damage. The forecastle was warped, fuel tanks were cracked, machinery was knocked of the mounts and forward compartments were flooded. This one hit basically ended the operational career of Tirpitz. With the extensive bow damage, she could not safely exceed 10-knots in speed. Since most of the damage was internal or below the waterline, follow up British reconnaissance missions failed to detect any significant damage from this raid.

Tirpitz could not be adequately repaired in Norway so her career as flagship of Kampfgruppe 1 ended and Rear Admiral Peters lowered his flag from the masthead. The hull received a temporary patch and October 16 the Tirpitz put to sea her last time.  She limped northward at 8 knots until she reached Tromso, where she anchored next to Haakoy Island in shallow water. Since the Admiralty still considered the Tirpitz fully functional, a new strike was planned. With new overhauls for all engines and stripping the aircraft of all excess weight in a manner similar to Doolittle’s B-25s, the Lancasters could barely reach Tromso from a base in Scotland, which was a far better solution than the previous attack from a Russian airfield. On October 29 Operation Obvite kicked off with 19 Lancasters sent out. Low cloud cover obscured the anchorage but the aircraft bombed through cloud breaks. Although there were no direct hits, the anti-torpedo nets were shattered and several bombs landed close enough to Tirpitz to further damage the battleship. One propeller shaft was damaged and the shaft housing was flooded. Still, externally the damage was not apparent. Two Tallboy raids and there still was no obvious damage that could be discerned by the British, even though in reality there was severe damage. There had to be another go at the Tirpitz. On November 12, 1944 32 Lancasters of the 9th and 617th Squadrons headed across the North Sea in Operation Catechism. Weather was good and the bombing accuracy was spectacular. Hits were registered on the forecastle, quarterdeck, aft of the stack, catapult, bridge, Bruno turret, starboard hull side as well as several near misses. The Tirptz was shattered but still afloat, however, she was doomed. Twenty minutes after the attack the magazine for Caesar turret exploded. A hole 117 feet in length instantly appeared below the waterline in a matter of seconds thousands of tons of water entered the ship. There was no way for damage control to manage something this catastrophic. Tirpitz was listing at 40 degrees to port in minutes and abandon ship order was issued. In another two minute the list reached 70 degrees. She hit the shallow fjord bottom as she was still turning over. The hulk was leisurely dismembered after the war.

Secondary & Tertiary - D Sprue
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Dragon Premium Edition Tirpitz

Sprue A - Main Deck and Lower Hull
– These are the same parts found in the Dragon Bismarck kits. There are only four parts on this fret but they are large. Included are the forward main deck, aft main deck, starboard underwater hull and port underwater hull. I used the 1:400 plans in the AJ Press Bismarck/Tirpitz volumes to compare the details on the plastic parts with the detail on the line drawings. There was a pretty close match, but not quite. On the forecastle the forward tip comes to a sharp point whereas plans show the tip had a slight rounding at the top of the cutwater. Bollard placement appeared to match but the kit did not have deck edge open chocks. Deck detail on the kit is nevertheless good. On the kit the deck edge hawse are nicely done. The kit does have the metal plate chain bases and the anchor chain is part of the detail included. Some may want to sand this off and add their own metal anchor chain. One thing you will instantly notice are the breakwaters. There are two forward, a flat base V in front of A barbette and two wing breakwaters flanking each side of B barbette. Both of these are equipped with the same features. These breakwaters have great detail with all of the numerous support gussets on the rear face and various fittings abutting the forward face. As with any plastic part, the plastic detail is on the thick side. Plastic will never achieve the ultra thin appearance of such features, as can be achieved with resin or photo-etch. Boat chocks are on the deck on each side of the forward superstructure. As with the breakwaters, they are a little bit thick but most modelers will place ship's boats on top of them. The DML forecastle did not have quite all of the fittings on the forecastle before and aft of A barbette as shown in the plans but did have most of it. The molded on cable reels are too thick and some may wish to replace these with photo-etch versions. On the quarterdeck piece there are many details, although as in case of the forecastle, more fittings are shown on the 1:400 plans. Bollards match number and locations but again, there are no deck edge open chocks. There are five cable reels between the turrets, which conforms in quantity with the plans but doesn't conform in exact locations. It appears that most of the deck fittings left off are access hatches, which of course can be added with brass photo-etch.

When I looked at the hull halves, I immediately noticed numerous plates and fittings on the lower hull, which surprised me. I in common with any others always assumed that lower hulls were relatively smooth and featureless, except for the occasional underwater torpedo tube opening. However, the DML Tirpitz had quite a number of slightly raised plates of all types of sizes included as part of the molded on detail. The 1:400 scale plans did confirm the presence of those fittings, although I still don't know their purpose. From the slant of the underwater portion of the cutwater to the graceful curves of the centerline shaft housing the lines of the lower hull matched the plans with one possible exception. The centerline curve at the aft end of the lower hull appears to be a tad more gradual than that shown in the plans. As is true with any plastic kit, the bilge keels are too thick.

Sprue B - Shelter Deck and Forward Superstructure - Sprue B actually comprises two sprues both labeled B and is Tirpitz specific. Dragon took a different approach than other producers. DML produced a one piece shelter deck specifically as carried by Tirpitz with shelter deck extensions to deck edge in front of the torpedo tubes. Since the Revell Tirpitz kit, other producers have included the same shelter deck as their Bismarck version with the addition of deck extension cutouts. The Tirpitz specific shelter deck from Dragon eliminates this aggravation. The long shelter deck piece is nicely done. The presence of metal none slip grid plates was immediately apparent as the grid pattern is molded on detail. However most of this piece has the same deck plank detail as found on the forecastle and quarterdeck. For the various gun positions, curved metal plates extended beyond the deck edge and overhung the main deck. Dragon has really captured these, including the tread pattern. Another item that will instantly grab your attention is the catapult. This feature was an open lattice grid and of course plastic molding shows this as solid. The lattice detail is there but of course a solid plastic piece will never be as nice in appearance as the open lattice appearance of photo-etch. Many modelers may wish to remove the plastic catapult and add photo-etch. There are AA positions behind B barbette and in front of Y barbette. These were surrounded by solid splinter shields. These shields, although too thick, match the shape of the forward positions but not the aft positions. There are some nice details on the barbette sides but minimal detail on the bulkheads of the shelter deck sides. There are no portholes, no doors, no ladders, no piping, and no louvers. There is a reason for this lack of detail on the plastic parts, Dragon has included superb brass bulkheads in the included photo-etch fret to attach the plastic bulkheads.

Superstructure & Turrets - E, F, & G Sprues
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The pieces for the base of the forward superstructure/tower are just the opposite. They are covered with detail. Louvers, doors, portholes and other detail is present. Incredibly, the portholes even have molded on eyebrows. This may be a first, as I don't recall ever seeing a mass produced injection molded ship in 1:700 scale have this item of detail. The stack platform, different than Bismarck , is included on this sprue which is nicely done with grid tread platform on the top and support ribs on the bottom surface. The Tirpitz specific stack top is also included. This has nice piping but the open clinker screen pattern is too thick. The aft upper superstructure, small vision devices, vision tubs, main mast and torpedo tubes and other Tirpitz specific pieces are included.

Sprue C - Upper Superstructure & Light AA Guns This sprue is identical to that in the DML Bismarck kits. Some of the upper structure parts are on this sprue. They include the 02 level for the aft superstructure, roof for the main mast deck house and two levels of the forward tower. All of these superstructure parts have very good detail. The aft 02 level has square windows, ventilation louvers, ammunition boxes, and inclined ladders molded into the bulkheads. I personally would remove the plastic inclined ladders and use photo-etch. The deck house roof upon which the mainmast attaches has framework and chocks for four of the ship's boats. Both levels of the forward tower have commendable upper and lower detail. They feature intricate supports underneath the platforms and nice detail on top. Almost all of the light AA guns for the ship are included on this sprue. These include the 4.1-inch twin barrels, twin 20mm guns and single 20mm guns. The 4.1-inch barrels are good, the twin 20mm are OK if somewhat plain and the single 20mm guns are too thick. Oddly, the twin 20mm barrels are thinner than the single barrels. You may wish to consider brass 20mm replacements, especially for the single guns. Other parts included on the sprue are nice range finders, propeller shafts, open cranes, bridge wings, stack platform cranes, rudders, director covers, and foremast. Although the cranes are not blocks of plastic and have open lattice work, it of course can not be as fine as photo-etch. One error on this sprue is providing Bismarck design navigation wings for Tirpitz. These wings would extend outward when in use and fold flush with the superstructure sides when not used. The pattern varied between Bismarck with solid support ribs and Tirpitz with an open lattice supports. DML provides the Bismarck pattern. You can cut these off but then you would have to add the lattice supports. However, these are found on some third party photo-etch releases in 1:700 scale.  

Clear Parts, Stand & Hull - H, I, & J Sprues
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Sprue D - Armament & FittingsIdentical to the Bismarck kits. The 15-inch gun barrels, 5.9-inch secondary turrets and guns and 3.9-inch mounts are found on this sprue. The 15-inch barrels are separate and are designed so that each barrel can be fixed at different angles. The secondary turrets are nice with guns in pairs, so unlike the main guns, they cannot be trained separately. There are an assortment of other fittings included here. The search lights might have over-scale shudders but I rather like the detail. The crane bases show the lattice detail incised to a high degree but are not open. Windlasses, as with the searchlights have fine detail. Anchors and propellers are found here and the propeller blades are all of the same design instead of have port and starboard blades canted in opposite directions. The anchors can be further augmented and enhanced by additional brass parts found on the included fret. Also included are a number of solid accommodation ladders. Don't use these. Replace them with photo-etch.  

Sprues E & F - Superstructure and Stack - Sprue E seems to be the same as the Bismarck Premium Edition. These parts are shown on the side of the box as new tooling for the Bismarck Premium. There are nine parts to sprue E. The biggest is an extremely nice aircraft hangar with a very fine level of detail on the door. The hangar sides are separate pieces with slide molds so that the bulkheads can have a higher level of detail than a one-piece molding. The halves to the upper forward tower are included an feature open portholes. Sprue F contains newly designed parts for this release. It includes the main bridge with separate slide mold bulkheads, stack halves, peaked deck houses with separate end doors, and two separate boat frames. New parts include new director cupolas with shielding. As with sprue E parts, these parts are excellent with a universally high level of detail.

Brass Photo-Etch
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Sprues G, I & J - Main Turrets, Upper Hull & Stand The main gun turrets have one difference from those of the DML Bismarck, B turret has the AA gun platform carried only by Tirpitz. These turrets are rather nice and although the rivet heads are over-scale, they certainly add a level of extra detail and interest to these turrets. There are also access doors on the rear face of each turret, as well as molded on vertical ladders going up the sides of the turrets. The upper hull is listed as sprue J. The upper hull appears to follow the 1:400 scale plans very well with one major exception. A count of portholes starboard forward confirmed that the quantity and location of these on the model corresponded with those on the plans. However, the port side lacks forward portholes. I first noticed this on the DML standard Tirpitz release and thought that I had just gotten an error. However, with this same glaring error in the Premium Edition release, I can only assume that it is present in all of the DML Tirpitz kits but not their kits of Bismarck . The portholes can be drilled with a pin vice but the modeler shouldn’t have to resort to this. I can only hope that Dragon cures this defect on their mold. The hull sides at the aft end are especially busy. There are numerous portholes, a stern anchor well on the port side, as well as other detail. DML includes cross bracing to maintain the form of the hull if the model is built full hull. However, these must be removed if the model is built in waterline format. Sprue I is simply the stand for the full hull model, as well as nameplates.

Sprue H - Clear Plastic Parts for Arados and Ship's Boats - Sprue H is of clear plastic. I really like the use of clear plastic for these parts. It adds an extra touch to have clear canopies on the aircraft and clear windows on the ship's boats. There are two Arado floatplanes with each plane composed of four pieces, One is the combined fuselage and wings, with two floats and a propeller. There are 14 ship's boats on the sprue. Four are open boats with no glass but ten have cabins or windshields. Six paravanes round out the parts found on the sprue.

Brass Photo-Etched Fret - If you have any of the previous Premium Edition Dragon kits, you'll have noticed that one of the upgrades that DML provides in the upgraded kit is a brass photo-etched fret. With the DML Premium Edition Tirpitz, the parts on this fret make a big difference. As mentioned, the sides of the shelter deck were smooth, with no bulkhead detail. The reason for this is found on the brass photo-etch fret. Dragon provides four absolutely gorgeous brass bulkheads for the shelter deck sides. These parts are extraordinary. Not only do the open portholes have eyebrows but also you can see the hinged porthole cover below the opening. There are cutouts for the parts to fit over any side fittings, pipes, life rings and ladders. These parts are fully relief-etched and are fully equal to the best in the industry. Since brass and plastic will expand and contract at different rates with changes in temperature, it might be best to attach the brass bulkheads to the plastic with a glue with some flexibility, White glue would probably provide more flexibility than super glue. The roof of the forward end of the bridge is also provided in brass and has detail not found on the plastic bridge. This part differs from that in the Premium Bismarck in that it has the deck pattern for the quadruple AA gun mount carried by Tirpitz over the bridge.  

Decals & Instructions
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I didn't like the molded on cable reels as I thought that they looked too chunky. Well, Dragon has thoughtfully provided delicate brass reels as substitutes. There are actually 22 of these in three different sizes vs 18 in the Premium Bismarck . Simply cut off the plastic reel and attach the brass version at the now vacant position. There are substitute brass forward anchors of double thickness with separate cross piece for each anchor. There is a main mast yards piece that will be far better than the plastic one in the kit. Three brass radar arrays are provided. DML provides railing but it is not sufficient for the entire ship. No railing is provided for the main deck. However, there is a full set of railing in different patterns for every deck and platform from the shelter deck upwards.

Decal Sheet - Dragon provides a full decal sheet, as well as two other paper items. The decal sheet is Tirpitz specific. Instead of the large white deck circles for Bismarck there are two sets of deck flag markings, one set for centerline placement and one set for deck edge placement. Which set you use depends upon the camouflage scheme worn by the Tirpitz at the time. When you look at the decal sheet, you are struck by omissions. The white circle within the flags do not have swastikas and the naval ensigns are equally lacking the swastika, just a vacant white circle in the middle of the red flag. Since some countries prohibit decals with the nazi emblem, Dragon does not have it directly on the main decal. However, the swastikas are there, they are just deconstructed to black L shapes and straight lines. To add these onto the flags or deck circles, you have to assemble the design, piece by piece. The sheet winds up with black crosses for the wings and fuselages of the Arados but the swastikas for their tails have to be pieced together from the separate small L-shaped arms found on the sheet. Another sheet is a label sheet with two adhesive labels for the nameplates.

Instructions - The Dragon Premium Edition Tirpitz comes with the standard DML instructions. There is one large, back printed sheet that folds to give eight pages. Page one provides a schematic of all of the plastic and brass parts. Almost all parts are used but there are a few that are not used. They are shaded in blue and is for the Bismarck model. Pages two through six provide assembly of the kit in eleven steps. Optional parts are indicated with brass parts designated as a "MA" part in the instructions. Page seven and eight simply shows the camouflage scheme worn by Tirpitz in September 1943 with plan and profile Tirpitz sported many other schemes but you’ll have to find the other schemes elsewhere.  

Box Art
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The Dragon Premium Edition Tirpitz in 1:700 scale is an excellent kit but one that is marred by one significant omission. With Tirpitz specific parts and inclusion of all eight C/37 4.1-inch gun mounts, Dragon got the specifics right but omitted the portholes on the port bow.