History - The Austro-Hungarian U-Boat U-14 was originally the French submarine Curie ((Q 87), a member of the diesel-powered Brumaire class.  She was built at the Arsenal de Toulon and launched on 18 July 1912. On 20 December 1914, the Curie attempted to infiltrate the Austro-Hungarian naval base at Pola, only to be caught in the harbor defense nets.  She was forced to surface and was sunk by gunfire. She was raised February 1915, refitted and renamed U-14. In 1916, U-14 was fitted with new engines, given a German-style conning tower and had an 88mm deck gun mounted forward.  These changes not only dramatically changed her outward appearance; it also significantly improved her fighting capabilities. Under the command of Lieutenant Georg Ritter Von Trapp (of “The Sound of Music” fame) the U-14 was one of most successful submarines in the Austro-Hungarian fleet. In 1919, the French reclaimed U-14 (again named Curie) and she served in the French Navy until 1928 and stricken in 1929. For more information on the Brumaire class submarines please refer to Steve Backer’s review of the U-Boat Laboratorium kit of the Curie.

The Kit - The U-14 kit is the latest submarine kit from the St. Petersburg, Russia based U-Boat Laboratorium.  The Curie and U-14 kits obviously have some common parts but there are plenty of unique parts to model the late-war A-H version of this submarine. The hull is the one major part that is common to both kits and it is very well cast with lots of details.  What are striking are the wafer-thin braces used to support the deck.  As with the Mariotte kit (for which I wrote a build review) there are numerous depressions/holes used to indicate the location of various photo-etch parts.  The other resin parts include the German-style conning tower, the low housing structure that fits on the main deck and forms the base for the conning tower, a display cradle, hatches, bollards and a capstan.  The latter small fittings are cast in a thin wafer which will require removing them carefully with a sharp Xacto knife. The photo-etch fret is quite extensive given the relative size of this model.   Again there are some parts that are common to both the Curie and U-14 kits but this kit is provided with a dedicated photo-etch fret.  The common parts include the decks, rudders and diving planes and associated guards, prop guards, propellers, torpedo collars, railings and other fittings.  A photo-etch version of the low deck structure is provided to give you an option – I opted to use this version because the details were better than the resin version.  Unique to the U-14 are the base to the 88mm gun, the net cutter, masts and lookout platforms.  The main deck provided with this kit differs from the Curie in that section where the 88mm gun is fitted is wider.  The relief-etching is very well done and really makes the details pop.

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A real treat with this kit are the brass parts, some of which are turned brass.  Since this class of submarine carried its load of torpedoes in external drop collars, they are visible.   So a set of 6 outstanding turned brass torpedoes are provided.  Also provided are a pair of turned periscopes and the 88mm deck gun.  As with the Curie and Mariotte kits, turned brass propeller assembly components are provided: two each of the propeller nose cap, tube bearing and shaft tube which need to be sandwiched together with the photo-etch blades to make a pair propellers. The 4 page assembly instructions provided with the kit are very well done.  The cover page provides a brief history of the U-14, some specs and a photo of the actual sub.  Two pages of blow-up computer generated assembly diagrams are provided which clearly shows where all the parts go.  The last page has a color plan and profile views provided as a painting guide. 

The Build - I am not going to go through each and every step of my build but rather focus on important points, provide a couple of tips and mention some caveats.   As I mentioned above, a number of depressions/holes are cast into the hull to indicate the location of various photo-etch parts.  The corresponding photo-etch parts have tabs extending from them to fit into these openings.   I used a micro drill to make these a little deeper so that they would accommodate these tabs. In some cases I had to trim the tabs a bit because I hadn’t drilled deep enough.  The hull casting needed only a little sanding along the keel to smooth it out a bit. The photo-etch decks have support columns along both edges which need to be folded over to make an inverted U shape.  There are creases etched into the back of the parts to facilitate folding and I would recommend using a bending tool such as an Etch-Mate.  The forward deck part (part 6) folded easily but I had some trouble with the main deck part (part 1).  First off, there is a notch about ¾ of the way aft where the deck is to angle down a bit.  In my kit, this notch was not etched through so I had to cut it myself.  Where there are actual support columns (basically the forward ¼ section of this part) the etch tool was able to grab onto them.  As you move back to where the notch where is just a narrow band to fold over – it was here that I had trouble as this part kept slipping out from the tool’s clamp.  The brass is a bit thick which made it a little harder to bend.  I eventually ended up using some pliers to help finish off the bending towards the back.   The back section which slopes down folded without any issues but you have to fold it separately from the forward section due to the slope.   Having the tabs extending from deck parts helped with securely attaching them to the hull.

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It is important to note that you must glue into place the forward pair of torpedoes before attaching the decks since they are fitted underneath the deck behind the support columns in this section of the model. Assembling the propellers was a bit problematic with this kit.  The manner in which the props have to be assembled is identical to the way it was for the Mariotte kit and of course the Curie.  While a bit daunting, I was able to assemble them rather easily on the Mariotte.  However, with the U-14 I found that the opening in the photoetch propellers (part 26), the bearing nut (part 33) and shaft tube (part 34) were not wide enough to fit over the shaft of the nose (part 34).  I had to carefully bore them open a little more using a micro-drill bit.  In doing so, I lost both nuts to the black hole underneath by workbench and I ended up using plastic tubing cut down to size as a substitute. Once I got past these hurdles, the model went together extremely well.  I especially liked the way the photo-etch version of the low housing structure (part 27) looks when compared to the resin version.  The placement openings in the main deck for the railings and housing structure line up just right and help the assembly process.  Part 27 also has openings in which to fit the lookout platforms (parts 14) and the aerial masts (parts 25).

Painting - The late-war scheme presented in the color plan and profile illustration agrees with Erwin Sieche’s article “Austro-Hungarian Submarines” in Warship Quarterly Issue No. 5 with the exception of the red boot-topping which was not mentioned.  Photos of Austro-Hungarian submarine models (including one of U-14 prior to new conning tower) that are on display at the K.u.K. Marine Museum in Croatia can be seen at their website (http://www.kuk-kriegsmarine.at/) and show the different schemes worn by submarines at different times during the war. The instructions do not provide paint suggestions and unfortunately WEM’s Colourcoats do not have a selection of Austro-Hungarian colors, so some leg-work needed to be done. For the green and blue I looked at the Humbrol paints (which are available to me at a couple of local hobby shops) suggested on the instructions for the Wiener Modllbau Manufactur SMU 5/6/12 kit (again reviewed on Steel Navy).  Humbrol 101 (Mid Green) is recommended for the green, but Humbrol 23 (Duck Egg Blue) looked too pale to me for the blue.   Revell 56 is suggested as an alternative to Humbrol 23 and based on Urban's Colour Reference Charts at the IPMS Stockholm site (http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/colorcharts/colorcharts_2.asp)  Humbrol 25 is a match.  For the gray, I used Testors Model Masters 1728 (Light Ghost Gray) based on article on A-H Battleship Colors by Falk Pletscher that was published in Plastic Ship Modeler 1997/2.  Granted the article focused on battleships but this looked like a good match to me. To me, a model is not complete without a flag.  I download an image of the Austro-Hungarian naval ensign from the Flags Of The World website (http://flagspot.net/flags/), resized it and printed it on thin vellum paper.

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Conclusion - Overall this is a good model and is a bit challenging in a couple of areas.  I would recommend this kit to more experienced modelers due to the tricky propeller assemblies and the stubborn photo-etch deck sections.  I am a big fan of ships from this era and the colorful paint scheme is helps it stand out on shelves filled with gray and dark blue models.  I am looking forward to tackling the Curie kit and any future kits from U-Boat Laboratorium.  Spasiba Eduard Zhruravlev!

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