The Agosta, the first in a class of four French patrol diesel-powered submarines, was launched in 1974. This class of conventionally powered submarines proved to be a very successful design which featured innovative architectural elements and state-of-the-art equipment. As a result, the Agosta class was readily adaptable and upgradeable which extended their lives into the late 1990s and early 2000s when the Ouessant was decommissioned on July 13, 2001. In addition to the four submarines in French service (Bévéziers and La Praya being the other two), four were built for the Spanish Navy in Spanish yards with French technical assistance and two more that were originally to be built for South Africa were instead sold to Pakistan due to the anti-apartheid arms embargo. Three additional subs of the Agosta 90B class, which is a 1994 modernized version, were ordered by the Pakistani Navy. The most recent vessel, the Hamzaa, was constructed in Pakistani shipyard. The Spanish and Pakistani submarines remain in service today. The Agosta class submarines have operated world wide in times of peace as well as in crisis situations. They have proven themselves in a variety of missions ranging from anti-shipping and anti-submarine warfare to surveillance, intelligence gathering, mine-laying, special operations and training.

Agosta Class Specifications

Length

221.7 ft / 67.7 m

Beam

22.3 ft / 6.8 m

Draught

17.7 ft / 5.4 m

Displacement surfaced / dived (tons)

1,510 /1,760

Periscope depth

46.6 ft/14.2 m

Diving depth

984.3 ft / 300 m

Maximum dived speed

20.5 knots

Snorkeling speed/ Surfaced speed

10.5 knots / 12 knots

Range / Endurance

8,500 nm / 45 days

Armament

Missiles: Aerospatiale SM 39 Exocet launched from 533 mm tubes

Torpedoes: 4 21 in (533 mm) bow tubes. ECAN L5 Mod 3 & ECAN FI7 Mod 2

Mines: Up to 36 in lieu of torpedoes

Surface Search Radar

Thomson CSF DRUA 33

Sonars

Thomson Sintra DSUV 22

DUUA 2D

DUUA 1D

DUUX 2

DSUV 62A towed array

Sources: Jane’s Warship Recognition Guide, 2nd Edition
Net Marine Website (http://www.netmarine.net/eng/index.htm)
Global Security Website (http://www.globalsecurity.org/)

The Kit - L’Arsenal has earned a reputation for producing quality resin/photo-etch kits and detail parts. One of the niches that this firm produces kits and products for is the 1/400 scale market, which is geared to the French modeler or those who enjoy building models of French ships in the classic Heller kit scale. L’Arsenal’s latest kit offering in this scale maintains Jacques Druel’s commitment to this customer base but at the same time is a bit of a departure. To date, L’Arsenal kits are detailed offerings complete with full photoetch and decal sheets. The Agosta is kit is very detailed and is of the quality one has come to expect from L’Arsenal. Yet no photoetch or decals are provided since they are not required to complete any of the French subs in their later fit. This helps keep the price down and the simplicity of this kit is a plus because it makes for a great weekend project. If you wish to build an Agosta class sub in her as commissioned 1970s fit, you will need to use cut and paste decals from the Heller Daphne submarine kit for the pennant numbers and name that appeared on the sail.

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The kit is comprised of a total of 10 resin parts. The main part is the full hull and sail, which includes bow sonar dome and rudders. While it is difficult to see from the images, there is a lot of detail, such as the torpedo tube doors, hatches, vents and windows, engraved in to the resin casting. The plan and profile images provided in the kit instructions show this detail very clearly – what you see is what you get. The smaller parts include the diving planes, propeller, radar and the periscope, antennas and snorkel. The smaller parts are finely cast resin with the propeller blades paper thin. Great care needs to be taken when removing these smaller parts from the runners. In fact, I lost the tiny resin radar when removing it so I had to replace it with a bit of brass bent into proper curved shape. There was no clean up required on these parts with the exception of a quick pass with a file where the parts were moved from the runners. The kit instructions are very clear and come with excellent diagrams. While the text is in French, the diagrams essentially eliminate the need for grabbing a French-English dictionary. Since I claimed that this would be an excellent choice for a weekend project, I gave a try. So here is a brief log of my weekend project:

Friday night: I drilled two holes into the bottom of the hull for the brass rod stands. Then I removed the diving planes from the runners, did some light cleanup with a file and glued them into place. Once the glue was set, I washed the hull and the remaining small parts (still attached to their runners) with some warm water, dishwashing liquid and a soft tooth brush. I let the parts dry overnight. In the meantime, I made a base using some basswood boards cut to size. I drilled two holes again for the brass rod stands, sanded and then stained it and let that dry overnight.

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Saturday: The Agosta class subs in French service were overall black, above and below the waterline which makes painting as easy as it could be. I airbrushed the hull with Testors acrylic Aircraft Interior Black, which is really a very deep, dark gray that is close to black. I rarely use acrylics but since I wanted to make this a weekend project I needed the paint to dry quickly. The smaller parts I painted using enamels since they would dry quickly in any event. I painted the propeller Testors Brass and the snorkel, periscope and antennas Modern French Navy Gray from the WEM Colourcoats line. I also cut down some brass wire as explained in the instructions to be used as additional antennas and paint those as well. As noted above, I lost the resin radar and replaced it with copy made from some brass clipped from the frame of a used photo-etch fret. I let the painted parts dry overnight. In the meantime, I game my wooden base a coat of quick-drying polyurethane. I let that dry for several hours and then sanded lightly and gave it a second coat.

Sunday: I cut down two brass rods to use as display mounts and glue them into place on the wooden base I made using 5 minute epoxy. I put a little dab of the epoxy to the ends of the brass rod and then mounted the hull onto the rods. While that was drying, I removed the small parts from the runners and touched-up the paint as needed and let those dry for a little bit. I glued the propeller and the various parts to the top of the sail as instructed. I then used some Modern French Navy Deck Gray from the WEM Colourcoats for the camouflage splotches on the snorkel, antennas and periscope. As a final touch, I drilled a small hole aft, used a bit of wire as a flagstaff and applied the French Tri-color from the Gold Medal Models flag decal set and glued it into place. After letting the glue and paint splotches dry for a while, I masked the wooden base and applied an overcoat of Testors Dullcote from a spray can. Later that day, I removed the masking tape from the wooden base and voilà! - A completed, nicely detailed model.

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Slight Disclaimer: During the following week, I had a name plate made at a local trophy store and added it to the base. Technically the model was completed in a weekend but this finishing touch was an afterthought since I was already at the shop to have a name plate for another model I was completing. I took photos of my submarine model the following weekend. I would recommend this model as a first resin build due to the simplicity of the model and the relatively low price tag. I would also recommend it to French Navy (or Spanish or Pakistani) and submarine fans. I am not sure what is needed to construct one of the Spanish or Pakistani subs with this kit.

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