These are photos of my Revell 1/144 scale Albatros/143 class (built as P6112, Falke) and Gepard/143A class Bundesmarine fast attack boats. Since they are closely related, I made both kits simultaneously to show in contrast. They were originally built as shallow-water craft meant to contest mastery of the Baltic. The 143 Albatros Class is already out of service in the Bundesmarine, although some of them have been sold to other navies, most notably Tunisia. The 143A is still in service, but is currently being replaced with a more ocean-capable corvette that will be capable of more extended support for Germany’s NATO peacekeeping missions. However, some of them are currently on patrol off Lebanon.
Both kits are now out of production, but are still relatively easy to find. These are very nice kits right out of the box, the only drawback by today’s standards being the lack of a dedicated photo-etched set. To their credit Revell, went to considerable efforts to distinguish the differences between the two classes in their molds, even though the kits share some common parts, such as cannon, missile tubes and lower hull pieces. The only difficulties involve some routine filling and sanding around superstructure parts and on the two deck sections. Although both kits contain what is probably the best injection molded railing ever included in a kit, I only used it in areas where there was solid railing, and substituted Tom's 1/144 scale photo-etched set for the chain. However, this did not quite scale out to the Revell rails and was too wide between links, so I cut off the lower part of the stanchions and substituted plastic rod. This allowed for a real 3D appearance, but made the railings a little unstable when mounted. Other improvements included additional vent grills, electrical wiring on the Exocet tubes, some changes to the masts, back rests to the "picnic table" using the infamous Heller ship rails, non-skid pads on the deck out of model railroad photo-etch, scratch-built gang planks, and additional hand rails. The netting on the upper part of the 143A is unpainted nylon mosquito net. On the 143, the molded canvas-covered rails were replaced by Revell parts with paper substituting for the canvas. This allowed me to make a ribbing effect into the exterior side, and show it clearly on the interior. I also built small extensions for small craft machine guns, which came from the parts box. The windshields are made out of bits of file folder tabs, but are a bit frosted over after I sprayed the overall dull coat on the model. The hull color is Tamiya Dark Ocean Grey, lightened considerably with flat white at a ratio of about 1:4. The deck color is Tamiya Neutral Grey, and the anti-fouling red paint is a home-made concoction designed to give it a little more faded appearance than is generally found in "pre-mixed' paints. The rigging is stretched sprue. Although there were about 10 ships in each class, each kit contained decals for four separate boats.
Much thanks to Lance Johnson (Wisconsin) for finding me the Albatros kit, Frank Ilse (Hamburg) and Brett Morrow (Sydney) for reference pictures and Guido Hopp (Hilden) for quality review during his visit here earlier this year.