The Imperial German Navy had shown how effective a concentrated submarine offensive could be. It was so effective that the Treaty of Versailles denied possession of submarines. German naval designers had built a handful of submarines in yards in the Netherlands, Finland, Spain or Turkey but the German Navy had none. With the Anglo-German Naval Treaty of 1935 Germany was back in the submarine business. It is somewhat odd that the German Navy did not emphasize the U-Boat even more from the start instead of spending great sums on surface ships. Eleven days after the naval treaty went into effect, U-1 was fitted out at Kiel on June 29, 1935. However, during her seventeen years of denial of submarines, through the construction of submarines in foreign yards for other navies, all types of submarines had been built. The German admirals knew the types of submarines that they wanted to build. These included small coastal boats, medium ocean-going boats and large cruiser boats, as well as mine-laying variations. Although the Naval Staff wanted large boats, the commander of German submarines, Karl Doenitz, wanted medium boats, in order to maximize the quantity under available tonnage. Doenitz was preparing tactics, which centered around the medium size boat.
The medium size boat became the Type VII U-Boat. Although classified as a medium size boats, the Type VII was really rather small in size. The boats were really cramped but German designers sacrificed habitability in order to maximize the offensive capabilities of the boat. The Type VII boat was the backbone of the German U–Boat offensive in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Type VII was a single hull boat with external ballast tanks. Between 1935 and 1945 over 700 hundred of these boats were built in a number of variants. Although branching from the same tree, each variant was centered around specific performance characteristics or combat functions. The original Type VIIA derived from the Type UBIII of WWI and further refined through boats built in Finland in the 1920s. Ten of these were built from 1935 through 1937. The Type VIIB increased the size and dimensions of the boat, added more powerful diesel engines, increased fuel capacity and added a stern torpedo room, as the Type VIIA only had external stern tubes. From 1936 to 1924 twenty-four Type VIIB boats were built.
The Second World War had already started when the first Type VIIC entered service on April 18, 1940. With the arrival of this boat, U-69, the most dominant type of German submarine arrived to the battle. In the course of the war 661 Type VII U-Boats would be built. As allied ASW efforts became more effective, the Germans needed to improve the defensive characteristics of the Type VIIC design. The Type VII C-41 was designed to increase the maximum depth at which the submarine could operate, 472-590 feet (150-180m). U-292 was the first Type VII C-41 to enter service on August 25, 1943. Of course by that time the Germans had already lost the Battle of the Atlantic. After the war several of the Type VII C-41 that had survived were brought back into service in the Soviet Navy.
Flagman is a new Russian model company that has produced an injected plastic kit in 1:350 scale of the Type VII C-41. Flagman is a Russian term for Admiral, as an officer denoted by his own flag. This term came about in the early era of the Soviet Navy as flagman did not have the autocratic ring of admiral. Molded in a dull black plastic, the kit is full hull with divided along the centerline with separate deck parts. The hull has good limber hole detail with anchor recess and the bulges for the external ballast tanks. There are a couple of very slight dimples caused by the injection process, which may require some minor filling. Deck detail is well done with a finely defined grid pattern and depression for the snorkel. Flagman provides two different variants of the conning tower. Most of the smaller parts are good with a great emphasis on various armament fits. Flagman provides deck 88mm, single 37mm, twin 20mm and single 20mm weapons. The included decal sheet is rather nice with the individual U-Boat conning tower artwork for ten specific submarines and also decals for the Soviet versions. Instructions are laid out in a modular format with text in English.
Flagman presents a good kit of the mid-war Type VII C-41 U-Boat in 1:350 scale. With optional conning towers, armament and decals, the modeler has a lot of choices among ten German U-Boats, as well as the Soviet boats after the war. The Flagman Type VII C-41 kit is available from Bill Gruner of Pacific Front.