Among the many factors giving rise to World War I was
the naval arms race between Great Britain and Imperial Germany. However, that was not the
only European naval arms race. The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy were
in a race of their own for domination of the Adriatic Sea.
Except for the period
1862-1865, the army-controlled Austrian War Ministry oversaw naval expenditures. Not
surprisingly, the Austro-Hungarian Navy was a bit of an afterthought. The navys
problems were further exacerbated by the eleven different ethnic groups comprising the
Austro-Hungarian Empire. Officers had to speak at least four of the languages found in the
Empire. Germans and Czechs generally were in signals and engine room duties, Hungarians
became gunners while Croats and Italians were seamen or stokers. The Dual Monarchy of the
Empire, in which the Emperor of Austria was also the King of Hungary, was reflected in the
navys title, the Imperial and Royal Austrian Navy. K. u K. (Kaiser und Koenig). With
this background, the Empires warship designs were generally smaller and less capable
than those of other European powers.
The Radetzky and her two sisters, Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand and Zrinyi, were products
of this system. Erherzog Franz Ferdinand was the first ship of the class, laid down
September 12, 1907. HMS Dreadnought had been completed in 1906. HMS Indomitable,
Inflexible, Invincible, Bellerophon, Temeraire and St Vincent had already been launched;
and Superb and Collingwood were on the ways. Austrias naval designers were certainly
aware of the inevitable dominance of all big gun dreadnought type designs. But Austria
lacked the necessary naval infrastructure to build such a ship, another result of the
Imperial Navys political weakness. Alone, among the European States, only Imperial
Germany had the foresight to enhance her naval infrastructure, such as building new
dry-docks and enlarging the Kiel Canal. Even the Royal Navy, with its great political
clout, suffered from a lack of foresight. British warship designers labored under width,
length and tonnage constraints imposed by size limitations of existing facilities.
Radetzky was very similar in appearance to the eight British King Edward VII class
pre-dreadnought battleships. The Radetzkys were very handsome vessels with four
12" guns mounted in two centerline turrets and eight 9.4" guns in four wing
turrets. They also carried ten 6" casemate-mounted guns as well as numerous
lightweight quick firing (QF) weapons.
Laid down: Laid down: 26 Nov 1907 Completed:
Length: 429' 9" Beam: 82'
Draft: 26' 4"
Displacement: 15,000 tons (full load)
Armament: Four 12"/45 cal (2x2), eight 9.4"/45 cal (4x2),
twenty 4.1"/50 cal (20x1), six 70mm QF (6x1)
Torpedo Tubes: Three 17.7" (1 bow, 2 beam, all
Performance: 20,000 hp=20 knots
Range: 4,000 miles @ 10 knots
Other ships in class: Zrinyi,
Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand
The class saw limited action during WWI. In October 1914, Radetzky destroyed French
army artillery batteries supporting the Army of Montenegro against the Austrian army at
Cattaro. On May 24, 1915 all three class members bombarded the Italian coast. Erzherzog
Franz Ferdinand, with the main fleet, bombarded Ancona. Zrinyi shelled port facilities at
Senigalia, and Radetzky bombarded a railway bridge at Potenza. They then returned to Pola,
where they remained for the rest of the war. By October 1918, with the Empire
disintegrating, Austria prepared to transfer her entire fleet to the Yugoslavs in order to
keep it out of Italian hands. On November 10, 1918, one day before the armistice, Yugoslav
officers with scratch crews, sailed Radetzky and Zrinyi out of Pola. As they cleared the
breakwater at Pola, they sighted the appoaching Italian fleet. The two battleships hoisted
American flags and sailed south along the Adriatic coast to Castelli Bay near Spolato.
They appealed for American naval forces to meet them and accept their surrender. A
squadron of USN submarine chasers in the area accepted the battleships surrender.
However, under the subsequent peace treaty, the Yugoslavs were not able to keep the
battleships and all three were broken up in Italy in 1920.
The bulk of the historical data in this article comes from Austro-Hungarian
Battleships by Paul J. Kemp. This title's coverage of the Empire's capital
ships is excellent. It contains 12 pages on the Monarch
Class, 14 pages on Habsburg class, 16 on the Erzherzog Karl class, 24 pages for the Radetzky
class, 24 pages for Tegetthoff and 4 pages on the Improved Tegetthoff ships that were never laid down. The
book gives an historical narrative for every class, a general plan and technical
information. However, its great strength is in the number and quality of the large format
photos. Coverage of the Radetzky class is especially strong. There are very clear,
detailed photos of deck and main turret fittings.
This highly recommended book is available from Naval and Military Press (www.naval-military-press.co.uk).
The price is US$18 or 11.95 pounds sterling. (Book number 2935)
The NNT MODELL K.u K. Radetzky kit comes in an 10.75" x 4.75" x1.5"
box with an attractive cover painting of Radetzky. The hull is securely taped to the
bottom of the box and blocks of styrofoam packaging are inserted to minimize or eliminate
parts movement. The hull is enclosed in bubblewrap. Resin detail parts come in separate
bubble wrap. A separate plastic bag contains two lengths of cord for simulating the
distinctive anti-torpedo nets. It is clear that NNT has made an effort to minimize
The hull is cleanly cast with no hint of overpour. The only cleanup required is light
sanding along the outside edge of the waterline. Be careful not to sand the plates to
which the torpedo net booms are attached. They are located on both sides of the hull close
to the waterline and can be seen in the accompanying photo. On my sample I detected three
broken parts, all of which were deck ventilators (Editors note: Rob Mackie strikes
again. The kit was intact when received from NNT). All three are easily replaced using
resin scraps left over from assembly.
Many details and deck fittings are expertly cast into the hull. The ventilators have a
distinctive mushroom shape. There are also the common funnel shaped ventilators. I
compared the kits deck fittings to deck photos of the actual ship from the
above-mentioned reference. Every detail on the real thing is present on the NNT Radetzky.
Fittings are correctly placed and in perfect proportion. As is true with most WWI era
warships, deck fittings are in abundance, and NNT has done an excellent job of simulating
them. On page 62 of Austro-Hungarian Battleships you will see, among the plethora of deck
fittings, two very short mushroom ventilators. They appear to be about 18" high on
the actual ship. Even these are present and in scale - on the hull casting. The
torpedo net shelves on either side of the hull are delicately cast in situ. They even
include the notches where the booms pass through the shelf and attach to the net. In spite
of their delicacy, neither shelf was damaged in transit.
There was absolutely no hull warpage. NNT has included flexible fabric to simulate the
torpedo net. An aside, it appears that every major navy employed torpedo nets except the
USN and French Marine Nationale. NNTs treatment of this feature is of special
interest to me. I have built the IS SMS Seydlitz and have an unbuilt Steel Navy HMS
Dreadnought, both in 1:350 scale. Neither of these excellent kits includes torpedo net
material. The rolled-up nets must be scratch built. This is a bit tedious but fairly easy
in 1:350 scale. Doing so in 1:700 would be more difficult. Manufacturers of 1:700 scale
models have approached this problem in different ways. WSW includes the rolled up torpedo
net as part of the hull casting. I have not seen how the new Seals Mikasa injection molded
kit addresses this problem. I dry fit the cord to the resin shelf and can say that
NNTs solution is both accurate and pleasing to the eye.
Casemate gun locations are predrilled. This eliminates both guesswork and fumbling with
a hand drill. NNT also casts ladders integral with the hull. Since the PE also includes
ladders, the modeler has the option of retaining the cast ladders or replacing them with
photo-etch. Wood deck planking is pleasingly cast into the deck. Other noteworthy features
on the hull casting are the nicely proportioned capstans, unique square ports and
captains stern gallery.
Small Resin Parts
The other resin parts come in two styles, either cast into paper-thin resin sheets or
affixed to resin runners. The kit includes four sheets of parts embedded in a thin resin
film. They include main and secondary turrets; bridge levels, foretop control position,
searchlight and observation platforms, stand-alone searchlight platforms; funnel caps,
crows nests, rangefinders and platforms, conning tower platform; and boat cradles
for the elevated boat deck amidships.
Parts affixed to resin runners include seven types of ships boats, searchlights,
crane platforms and derricks, main/secondary/tertiary gun barrels, and both masts. The
barrels accurately capture both the taper and relative size of the actual guns. They are
neither thin nor spindly and have a satisfying substance. The funnels are separate
castings and are free of any casting blocks. They are very clean and the circumferential
bands are simulated with delicate scribing. The steam pipes are cast integral with the
funnels. The only casting voids found on any resin part were two pinholes on the underside
of one funnel, and obviously this would not show once the funnel is glued in place. My
only quibble is the inclusion of solid funnel caps. I prefer hollow caps with a PE cinder
screen. Overall, NNTs resin-casting quality control is superb!
The photo etch (PE) fret is by Eduard. Part numbers on the fret correspond to numbers in
the instructions. The PE fret is comprised of five two-piece anchors in three different
styles! (Parts 9,12,14,19) The bow has three anchors done in one style and the stern has
two anchors in completely different styles. I compared the PE anchors to and they appeared
to be accurate and in scale. There are 23 davits in four different styles. (Parts
4,5,7,8,11) The odd numbered piece (#11) is a stand-alone davit at the bow. The PE parts
for the two cranes are comprised of crane booms, lines and pulley, and ladders. (Parts
1,10,15) It should be noted that each crane is formed from eight parts, five in resin and
three PE. Six triangular support braces (part 13) for the foretop and two other platforms
There are six beautifully detailed 66mm L/45 K10 QF guns. (Part 16) One was mounted on
top of each primary and secondary turret. Lastly, the PE includes generic ladders (parts
1,2) two boat gangways (parts 17,18), runs of anchor chain (part 6) and a gangway ladder
to be used for stairways (part 3). The parts for the stairways and gangways do not have
safety rails. These are the only PE parts on which Eduard could have done a better job.
Ill replace them with GMM stairways. As is the case with Samek kits, no PE railings
are provided. Id like to see future NNT releases include them. Since 1:700 railings
are readily (and inexpensively) available from GMM, Toms and WEM, this is a minor
point. Photos appear to show the Radetzky using two bar railings, except for the bridge
wings, which had three bar railing.
The instructions comprise two sheets, printed on both sides. One sheet contains history
and technical information as well as a grainy reproduction of the ships profile, deck
plan, fore and aft silhouette. The other sheet has an exploded view construction diagram.
All PE parts are numbered, while resin parts, which are unnumbered, are indicated by
shape. Some parts must be scratch built using stretched sprue. They are all straight parts
and there is a template showing the exact length. The stretched sprue parts are shown as a
number inside a square within the instructions. These parts are jack staff, net booms,
bridge posts, flag staff, range director tube, top masts, yardarms and main mast boom.
Rather than stretched sprue, I will use .015 inch diameter wire for the net booms,
topmasts, yardarms and mainmast boom.
"WHO ARE THESE GUYS?"
I had seen the NNT link on the Warship homepage but didnt know anything about
the company or its products. When I first saw photos of instructions, parts and PE, there
was a striking similarity between Radetzkys presentation and Samek kits. I have
since learned that NNT is a German producer completely independent of Samek. K.u K.
Radetzky is its first release. I have also seen NNTs upcoming release
schedule. It includes vessels from pre World War One to the modern era. If they are on
schedule, there will be a major June release. If the exemplary quality of
NNTs Radetzky is any indication, this producer will be issuing 1:700 warship kits
with quality second to none.
In the run up to World War One, the European Powers launched ship after ship, with each
new hull improving on previous designs. A new naval race is taking shape in Europe. The
quality of kits from WEM and WSW is already well known among resin modelers. Samek has
launched a number of very successful and elegant kits. And it appears that NNT is a
new rising power, with a release schedule as ambitious as any of the more established
producers. NNT has shown that it is capable of providing the modeler with a top quality
kit at a reasonable price. The original naval construction race led to World War One. I
can only foresee the forthcoming 1:700th version as one in which all the
manufacturers will profit and modelers will be delighted. We should all say, "Welcome