Here are some build up and post completion photos of my 1:700 scale Tamiya Prinz Eugen. I choose to model Der Prinz, the famous Kriegsmarine Schwere Kreuzer, not to mention bane of the Royal Navy, as per the Denmark Straits battle of May 24th 1941 where she played an important role in the destruction of the HMS Hood. As such the camouflage and general fit of the model are specific to this date. I needed no motivation in choosing to build this particular ship. I did however, need plenty of motivation to actually finish it. I bought the Tamiya kit shortly after seeing Melvin Tung’s astounding and awe-inspiring build of the model in late-war fit on and Melvin’s work was actually my inspiration for this earlier version. Notwithstanding though, in my opinion the DKM Prinz Eugen was perhaps the most handsome warship ever built. The ships of the Admiral Hipper class were actually very advanced, powerful and heavily armed designs for their day. But the single factor that made Prinz Eugen the most attractive of the class of three to build was her illustrious WWII career.

 No other Kriegsmarine heavy unit had participated in so many embarrassing defeats and slaps-in-the-face of the Royal Navy than this ship. From the period of May 1941 till the end of the war, the Prinz Eugen witnessed and probably contributed to the destruction of the HMS Hood and was the first of the two ships to land shells on her. Then Prinz passed perilously close to the HMS Ramillies en route to France afterwards, evaded and humiliated the RAF and RN during the daring Operation Cerberus channel dash, survived a Royal Navy submarine attack in port - having her stern blown clean off, survived a collision with another Kriegsmarine cruiser - having her bow torn off… and finally, halted the unstoppable onslaught of an entire division of Soviet Red Army troops, allowing for the safe withdrawal of German forces during the closing moments of the war in Europe.

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I used the Tamiya model as the base for my build, as it is in my opinion the best model available anywhere of this ship. The Tamiya kit is nothing short of superb even out of the box – frankly telling how other 1/700th plastic kit manufacturers really have a lot of catching up to do. I fitted my Prinz mainly with photo-etch parts from White Ensign Models and some scratch built bits and pieces to fill in the shortfalls of the WEM fret. The WEM Admiral Hipper class and WWII KM AA frets were the guts of what I had to do to make this model into what it is now. I should add that I did also add crew figures and cable reels that came from Gold Medal Models.

 The major changes I made to the ship via scratch-building were: to the fire-control stations flanking the bridge – where the four hooded cover-versions were incorrect for the May 41’ sortie, and needed to be changed to the open configurations. These cylindrical shields I actually made from tubular plastic lollypop sticks, and the director booms from photo-etch fret off cuts/borders. I also hacked off the very heavy boat deck motor-launch racks, and replaced these with thin strips of brass that I cut off my WEM fret borders. I constructed my own paravanes after coming to the conclusion that all of the plastic spares I had looked terrible. Does anybody actually make these for sale in good quality I wonder? To do this I took brass pin nails, and used the points of the nail to model the taper. I cut off the heads and rounded the stump into a nice round bulb with my file and emory-paper. The brass was soft enough to work with and the fins were easy enough to cut out from photo-etch fret borders again.

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Other than these changes, the remainder of the numerous alterations to the model I made were a lot subtler and perhaps harder to notice. I scratch-built the optical apparatus placed around the bridge decks from stretched sprue and plastruct-plasticard. I used WEM 1-bar handrails to create the horizontal railing around the funnel and bridge decks. I drilled extra portholes and made covers from a thick piece of stretched sprue. I added extra scuttles and deck fittings from brass border scrap and plastic off cuts etc. The searchlights I eventually patterned with the three horizontal spars by painting them black, then affixed stretched sprue using Gunze-Sanjo matt acrylic varnish. Rigging is stretched-sprue… but to be honest, given the length of time it took me to build this model – I can’t actually remember everything else that I have done to it.

As for guns, guns always mean a lot to me – especially when they needed to be accurate for the Denmark Strait battle, I took special interest in them. I used the plastic kit 28cm barrels, but bored out the ends carefully with my trusty x-acto instrument. The blast bags I made from Tamiya epoxy putty, and [open] visibility slits on the turret faces from 1/700 photo-etch ladders. All of the C-38 Verlinden AA are from the KM AA WEM fret. The single 40mm mounts included in the Tamiya kit were left out, being that this extra armament was only added to the ship after docking in Brest in June 1941. The 105mm HA artillery looked good enough just out of the box – the only change I made was to add the hatches on the sides of each turret. I didn’t change the torpedoes and launchers at all – I only added some crew to each mount. I know that during the Denmark Strait battle the final actions of the Prinz Eugen before the action was broken off were such that she attempted to close for a torpedo attack on the HMS Prince of Wales. Hence I thought that manning these launchers was reasonable enough. 

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Further armament detail specific to the Denmark Straits battle included the quarterdeck depth charge rack. Several photos taken aboard Prinz Eugen, looking aft across the deck clearly show that the rack was used, and that charges were either dropped into the water – or taken off the rack, disarmed and stowed. From my research I could come to no conclusions as to what the Prinz Eugen was doing with her depth charges. It is almost inconceivable that the ship had spotted a hostile submarine, being that such an attack would have been a very daring undertaking for any sub skipper; the ships were traveling at speed with destroyer screen in clear visibility and frequently altering their courses to evade incoming British salvoes. It did occur to me however, that perhaps the Prinz Eugen was dropping charges in the water just to confuse the British gunners; as a charge explosion in shallow water would look just like a shell splash – and would have fooled the British gunners into thinking that their ordinance was landing much closer than it really was. That possibility was certainly the most vivid and exciting; I always knew das Kriegsmariners were really cunning sailors! Of course I may have this wrong but this was the theory behind the depth charge rack. I was only having some fun with it after all.

I tried to be realistic with the placing of my crew figures, from what I have read about the Kriegsmarine, during any surface engagement there would be very few crew standing about aimlessly on the decks. I do know however, that the ship would have had “intensified lookouts” and crew manning every other gun position. You will notice a photo of a signalman in the bridge-wing basket with two orange flags, again I was really just having a little fun with this one as well, there is a well known photo taken from Prinz, where the signalman is waving to the Bismarck – I know that there were escorting destroyers that were off to the starboard side of this ship, so I am assuming that they are being signalled to, to warn of a course change – or perhaps an imminent torpedo run. I painted the model with airbrushed coats of WEM colours; Hellgrau 50, Teak etc, and then weathered these with thin hand-brushed washes of Tamiya and Citadel acrylics.

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As for the photography, I hope these shots will suffice. I don’t put my models into sea-bases because the big kid in me still likes to sail them across the living room floor and into battle. I photographed my model with my Cannon A300 digi-cam, together with my ever-expanding collection of interesting Kriegsmarine junk. I have varied lighting in the photos, it is mostly natural – only two of the close ups were taken under artificial light and flash. The cap tally is from the daughter of a former crewmember. I am told that these “Kreuzer Prinz Eugen” tallys were only issued for the last time the ship ever sailed, to be handed over to the Americans. It should have been handed over to New Zealand – because we’d probably still actually have it! So this is not really a Denmark Straits artifact. 

As an honest confession, this model has taken me two and a half years to build – but this is really because I am a full time student, and I do have other, mostly less moral, hobbies as well. I am currently under serious pressure from my friends to build Bismarck to go with Prinz – so I guess this one I’ll work on in the near future, time and money permitting. This was also the first model I ever put photo-etched parts on; but I have been building model warships since I was about four. I hope this has been an interesting and enjoyable article and photo shoot. Thanks for reading and watch out for the next project!

Joseph Reindler
Auckland New Zealand

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I would like to thank the following friends and acknowledge their help in this project; that included research materials and their kind words of encouragement: 

Helmut Hager – Hamburg , Germany
Joseph Lavender – Ohio , USA
Melvin Tung - Taiwan
Sergej Fedchuk – Auckland , New Zealand
Craig Walker – Athens , Greece
And anybody else I left out by mistake