The Brandenburg is one of four Klasse 123 frigates built for the Germany Navy. As first of the class, she was laid down on February 11, 1992 at the famous German yards of Blohm + Voss in Hamburg . Three more frigates, Schleswig-Holstein, Bayern and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, followed in different yards in 1993. They were built to replace the Hamburg Class destroyers. Each ship took about two and ˝ years to build. Brandenburg was launched on August 28, 1992 and placed into service on October 14, 1994. She received pennant number F215. The four ships in the class form the 6th Frigate Squadron based at Wilhelmshaven .

  This class represents a remarkable improvement over the Bremen (Klasse 122A) frigates, which went into service between 1982 and 1990. Although longer, wider and 650 tons heavier than the preceding Bremen Class, the Brandenburgs only present a radar cross-section/footprint of 10% of that of the Bremens . The design was developed by a consortium led by Blohm + Voss and used their MEKO modular outfitting concepts. Another remarkable feature of these frigates is the strength of their hulls. There are six double-walled bulkheads over 80% of the length of the ship and make the ships’ hulls far stronger than those of your typical frigates.  

The ships are armed to engage targets in different combat environments. For surface targets, Brandenburg carries eight RGM-84C Harpoon missiles, as well as a 76mm/62 OTOBreda gun system. For anti-aircraft fire missions Brandenburg has a Mk 41 Mod. 3 vertically launched Sea Sparrow SAMs with 16 RIM-7M missiles. There are also two Mk 49 point defense SAM launchers, two 20mm/90 Rheinmetall Rh-202 AA guns as well as the dual purpose main guns. Anti-submarine missions use the four (2x2) 324mm Mk 32 ASW torpedo tubes as well as the Lynx or Super Lynx helicopters carried aboard the ship. The ships use a combination of diesel as well as gas turbine engines. Two diesels, rated at 5,535shp each,  are used to give the ship the maximum range of 4,000nm at 18 knots. When speed is required, two G.E. gas turbine engines at 25,840shp each, can be kicked in to increase the maximum speed to 29 knots. The ships are 3,6000 tons standard and 4,490 tons full load. Length is 138.95m (oa) with a beam of 16.7m and mean draught of 4.35m (6.3m at sonar dome). (History from Combat Fleets of the World 2000-2001, Compiled by A.D. Baker III) 

Profile, Plan & Quarter Views
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The NNT Brandenburg
The resin casting for the NNT Brandenburg is done by Samek and is of excellent quality. A search of the hull for casting defects was unsuccessful in uncovering even one casting defect on the NNT Brandenburg hull. The hull sides of the Brandenburg reflect an unusual architectural feature, a double knuckle. The knuckle, popularized by RN cruisers of World War Two, was designed to deflect water with a reduced top weight. The hull below the knuckle was flared at a greater angle outward than the hull above the knuckle line, so that the lower hull would force water outwards and the hull went more vertical above the knuckle. However, the Brandenburg has two clearly delineated knuckle lines. They both start at the bow and run all the way aft. The top knuckle ends at the helicopter deck, as the knuckle line becomes the edge of the deck. Likewise the lower knuckle line starts at the bow and runs all the way aft to the very low, short quarterdeck. The lower knuckle line becomes the deck edge of the quarterdeck. Even with the two knuckles the hull is widest at the level of the top knuckle, rather than the waterline.

Hull Detail
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Although most hull sides have little detail, the NNT Brandenburg is the exception to that rule. The stern has two planes/angles meeting in a centerline vertical ridge. The ASW torpedo tubes are mounted within the hull, rather than on the deck. They launch their torpedoes through oval openings on the hull sides. NNT has not only the openings but also reflects a portion of the fittings behind the openings, inside the hull. They certainly didn’t have to go to this length but that is reflective of the quality built into this kit. At the bow there are the two side recesses for the anchors, plus a notch in the upper cutwater for a bow anchor. In accordance with German naval tradition, each of the four frigates in the class have a coat of arms displayed on each side of the bow. The hull sides have the shields cast on the bow. The sides of the superstructure also reflect a lot of detail, as there are various doors, windows and fittings cast on their sides. The two doors at the helicopter deck, that access the hangar are especially well detailed. There are also four exhaust vents near the waterline on each side.

With metal decks, modern warship designs can have less deck fittings than found in earlier designs. With the NNT Brandenburg deck detail comes in clusters at the very bow and stern of the model. The bulk of the deck detail is found on the forecastle.  There are four sets of twin bollards running along the deck sides. There are chain access cowlings at both ends of the chain run, one set for the deck hawse running outwards and one set for their entrance into the chain locker. Other anchor fitting detail include chain run deck plates and twin windlasses on a raised deck plate. The gun turret is on a raised deck plate, which is actually raised to three levels with the third level being the circular mount plate. The flight deck has two scribed lines, which is apparently used for moving the helicopters out of the hangar. The very short quarterdeck also has a cluster of detail with four sets of twin bollards, one windlass, three deck plates and four other fittings. The bulkhead forward of the quarterdeck also has plenty of detail with hatches and square windows. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to see a lot of this detail as it is obscured by the aft extension of the flight deck that rests above the quarterdeck.

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The superstructure also has some interesting architectural detail. At the bow edge is half-height structure that serves as the base for the forward RAM and is higher than the platform for the gun mount. This platform is much narrower than the main superstructure level so there is a pleasing flare from the platform to the main superstructure. The forward superstructure (01) level is not just one bulkhead running half the length of the ship but instead is a series of angular facets, which pinch inward towards amidships. Even the corners are not squared but have small facets of their own. These are deliberate semi-stealth, design choices that dramatically reduce the radar image/footprint of the design. The forward face of the main superstructure has a blast shield that angles back from the forward RAM deck and rises above the 01 deck. This is apparently designed to shield the VLS position. The VLS position itself is also on a raised platform and has 16 individual missile hatches. There are two more nice raised platforms located here, right in front of the bridge. Aft of the bridge are platforms for the Exocet canisters, as well five small raised plates and two deck side mountings. The top of the hangar is dominated by the aft RAM platform. There are also some other deck details found here, such as at the aft edge of the hangar roof and a couple of other deck side fittings. 

Smaller Resin Parts
Other than the hull, the largest resin parts come cast on very thin resin film sheets. There are three of these resin sheets in the kit. The largest sheet contains five parts, two for the forward superstructure, the aft superstructure and the two funnels. Each part needs to be removed from the casting film and will need a minimum of amount of clean up. The bridge piece is quite large. The bridge windows are square and are raised rather than incised. The upper bridge slants forward as it goes up vertically. Each bridge wing has a very fine splinter shield bulkhead, which is cast very thinly and delicately. Every side of this two level structure has detail in the form of windows, hatches and piping. On top of this piece is placed the radar tower. This is a pyramid shaped structure that has detail and platforms cast into its four faces.  The aft superstructure is similar in shape to the larger forward superstructure. It is cast in one piece with a pyramid shaped radar tower as part of the main piece, rather than separately. This tower has a very thin half-moon platform cast at the top. Like the forward superstructure, there is a great detail cast into the piece. The two funnels are of interesting design. Each one is of an elongated six faceted shape as to break up their radar return. Although the ship runs on gas turbine and diesel instead of steam, the funnels still serve to cool the exhaust, decreasing the heat signature. The funnels are located side by side and canted outboard. This also serves to decrease the heat signature as well as to vent the exhaust away from the aft part of the ship. In addition to their unusual shape, the funnels gather extra attention because of the three fittings cast onto the top of each one. 

Helicopter, Boats & Fittings
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The next larger resin film sheet contains the aft extension of the helicopter, deck, bridge upper deck, gun turret, and exocet canisters. The flight deck does not end with the deck break between flight deck and quarterdeck on the hull casting. There is an extension platform that fits over the short quarterdeck. Six support columns extend from the lower face of this deck to fit with the top of the quarterdeck. The plan provided in the instructions shows that the entire flight deck has tie down points but they are not represented in either the flight deck on the hull casting or the separate resin flight deck extension. The small turret has an access door cast aft end and the exocet canisters fit into photo-etch cradles. The part for the upper bridge deck or bridge roof and has its own surface detail with a large raised panel and satcom or antennae base. The smallest of the resin film sheets has an assortment of odds and ends. The largest two parts are the two RAM mounts, which are very nice with delicate cradle arms. Also found on this sheet are various pylon mountings, and deck fittings. 

The other weapons and fittings are found on one of the 17 resin runners found in this kit. Two of these runners contain 11 life raft canisters each with individual canister bands being clearly visible. Two contain boat davits for Brandenburg and two additional runners with optional parts for the boat handling equipment of the three sisterships. Two more runners RAM canisters, fire control radars and assorted fittings. There are single runners that contain the helicopter, two ship’s launches, more pylon fittings, mast, aft deck-edge platforms, satcom platforms, and various other fittings. All of these smaller resin fittings were well done except for one life raft canister which was malformed. 

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Photo-Etch Fret
The NNT Brandenburg comes with a stainless steel photo-etch fret made specifically for the model by Eduard of the Czech Republic . Eduard has made extensive use of relief-etching in this fret. Although the fret does have some generic items such as vertical ladder, anchor chain, and accommodation ladders it does not include deck railing. Eduard has done some very nice work on this fret and it is packed with items.  There are 26 safety nets for the flight deck edge. These are not solid pieces but have an open waffle design. The four exocet platforms really make use of relief etching in that you can count the bolts on the mounts. Instead of just attaching life raft canisters directly to the superstructure, NNT supplies 44 canister brackets as each resin canister fits into two of the photo-etch brackets. Main and tail rotors are included for the helicopter. The surveillance radar on the aft pyramid pylon makes use of a number of the photo-etch parts. Not only is the radar array itself relief-etched steel but also brackets with counter-weights and other attachments come from the fret in probably the most complex subassembly of the model. Other photo-etch parts include satcom platform rails, DF loop, anchors, 20mm gun shields, and small mast platforms. Each photo-etch part is assigned its own number on the fret, which is the same number within a circle used in the assembly instructions. 

Included with the model is an extensive full color decal sheet produced by Tally Ho! Of the Czech Republic . Most noticeable is the inclusion of optional decals to allow the modeler to replicate any of the four frigates in the class. The frigate will have four pennant numbers found on the hull sides, stern and bridge roof, flight deck letters at the aft end of the flight deck and different coats of arms found on the raised shields on each side of the bow. Brandenburg uses F215 pennant number, BG on the flight deck and sports a red eagle on a white shield. Schleswig Holstein has F216, SH and half red/half yellow shields. Mecklenburg Vorpommen has F218, MV and half white/half yellow shields. Bayern has F217, BY and two different shield designs. One design features the traditional Bavarian blue and white checker design and the other has an intricate design on a yellow background. This last design looks more like a bridge insignia because it is not in the shape of a shield. The largest of the decals is the intricate flight deck pattern in white but this is contrast by red deck warning patterns around the forward gun mount, multipurpose rocket systems and VLS position. Providing that last bit of color is the red, black and yellow German flag with black eagle at the stern. Given the quantity of the decals and their variety of colors, whichever of the frigates you build should stand out from less colorful ships. 

Box Art & Decals
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NNT provides two back-printed sheets for instructions. Page one has information about the ships. This includes building history for each ship, as well as vital statistics and detailed equipment listings. The text is in German but almost all of it is easily recognized. The rear page has a detailed line drawing plan and profile and separate equipment location profile. The line drawing is very useful in that it is used to determine the exact location for attachment of some of the fittings and equipment in the model. It also functions as a decal placement guide as there is a separate matrix, which indicates which decals go with which ship. The fittings and equipment profile is in English and indicates the various main systems found on the ship. 

The second sheet contains the assembly instructions. One side has 15 subassemblies for various systems as well as drawings of the smallest resin film sheet and the resin parts runners. Each resin part is assigned a number in a square, which is the same number used in the assembly drawings. As mentioned previously, photo-etch parts are shown by their fret number within a circle. The subassemblies are main gun: exocet mounts: 20mm guns: Brandenburg boat arrangement: other three boat arrangement: helicopter: satcom platforms: RAM launcher: mast: surveillance radar: fire control radar and a few other subassemblies. The main instructions use the subassembly number in a square for the multi-part subassemblies and individually numbered resin parts in a square and photo-etched parts in a circle. On the whole the main assembly drawing works very well using this numbering system and NNT shows the exact location where deck levels or equipment are placed on a deck with cross-hatching. In looking over the parts and instructions for this review, the only area of instructions which puzzled me was the aft surveillance radar assembly, which is confusing.

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The Deutsche Marine, as the Bundesmarine was renamed, maintains frigates as their largest surface warships. The Brandenburg and her three sisters are now ten years old but they still pack a wide assortment of combat systems on a semi-stealth hull. The 1:700 scale resin and photo-etch kit of this frigate from NNT includes all of the detail and craftsmanship that a modeler could want. The model is further enhanced by the full color decal sheet and optional parts, which allow any of the four ships of this class to be built. 

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