Radetzkybuildup.jpg (28634 bytes)
Austro-Hungarian Battleship
1:700 Scale
NNT Waterline Resin Model

Steven Backer

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 navy’s 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 navy’s title, the Imperial and Royal Austrian Navy. K. u K. (Kaiser und Koenig). With this background, the Empire’s 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. Austria’s 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 Navy’s 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 Radetzky’s 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.

Vital Statistics
Laid down:
Laid down: 26 Nov 1907 Completed:  Oct 1910
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 submerged)
Performance: 20,000 hp=20 knots

Range: 4,000 miles @ 10 knots
  Complement: 880

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 battleship’s 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.

Worthwhile Reference

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). (Email order.dept@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 shipping damage.

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 (Editor’s 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.

Radetsky quarterdeck.jpg (15405 bytes)

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 kit’s 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. NNT’s 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 NNT’s 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 captain’s stern gallery.

NNT Radetzky
Expand.gif (1054 bytes)
Radetsky hull.jpg (22742 bytes)
Plan/Profile View
Radetsky forecastle profile.jpg (11377 bytes)
Forecastle Profile
Radetsky forecastle plan.jpg (15710 bytes)
Radetsky resin parts.jpg (55312 bytes)
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, crow’s 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 ship’s 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, NNT’s 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 are included.

Radetsky PE.jpg (36269 bytes)

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. I’ll replace them with GMM stairways. As is the case with Samek kits, no PE railings are provided. I’d like to see future NNT releases include them. Since 1:700 railings are readily (and inexpensively) available from GMM, Tom’s 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.

NNT Radetzy Instructions
Expand.gif (1054 bytes)
Radetsky exploded view.jpg (73328 bytes) Radetsky inst.jpg (29706 bytes) Radetsky plan profile.jpg (42103 bytes)

I had seen the NNT link on the Warship homepage but didn’t know anything about the company or its products. When I first saw photos of instructions, parts and PE, there was a striking similarity between Radetzky’s presentation and Samek kits. I have since learned that NNT is a German producer completely independent of Samek. K.u K. Radetzky is it’s first release. I have also seen NNT’s 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 NNT’s 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 aboard, NNT."

  Home copper.jpg (2701 bytes)