Zvezda Shchuka- class submarine
Zvezda’s 1/144 scale Shchuka- class medium single-hull submarine can be built in one of two versions, either a Northern Fleet (400 series) or Black Sea (200 series) submarine. Shchuka is Russian for pike. The Shchuka- class was one of the Soviet Union’s leading submarines in World War II. The Black Sea (200 series) had 88 built between 1933 and 1945. No fewer than 32 were lost during operations, including 11 of the 16 assigned to the Black Sea Fleet. Most of those 11 fell victim to minefields laid by the Romanian navy, a threat that lead to the unusual modifications to Shch209 as depicted in this review.
The kit comprises 117 flash-free parts on three trees, plus a rocky base and thread for rigging. The comprehensive decal sheet includes both pre-war and wartime for a pair of subs, one from the Northern Fleet, the other the Black Sea Fleet. A color guide references Zvezda and Tamiya colors. The four-page instructions show 11 steps and nine subassembly items.
At Step 3, you decide whether to build the Northern Fleet Shch-402 or the Black Sea Fleet Shch-209, fitted with the unique bow mine-net cutter. Since the Black Sea Shch-209 did survive the war, I chose to build it in its 1940 camouflage. This option highlighted a unique feature with both the bow and stern having cover plates to close the seam between the vertical hull halves. Be careful mounting the cable supports (parts C33) inside the hull before adding the one-piece deck.
With internal supports, the bow and stern planes as well as the rudder can be built but left movable. I did so but found the propeller supports too fine to not attach to the stern planes. In Step 4, you also add the 20 deck supports for the walkway around the conning tower, probably one of the more detailed aspects of the build.
Several options are available for the conning tower, including extended and retracted search and attack periscopes, hatches, drop-down sides for the 45mm aft antiaircraft gun, cable braces, and two 12.7mm guns.
Seven cable cutters are added to the bow in Step 11. These must have made a great deal of noise underwater but saved Shch209 from the multitude of minefields laid by the Romanian navy’s NMS Amiral Murgescu.
The final step — rigging — proved the most challenging whichever variant you build. Without a firm attachment point to start from, I anchored the provided line with white glue and tape. That worked OK, and I extended it to the stern with patience and time. But, as a modeler with a quilter spouse looking at the final overall effect, it was obvious the original cable was far too large for the supports. Using a micrometer, I determined that the thread measured .025-inch. Multiplying this by 144, made the cable 3.6-inches in diameter. Painting it with Testors Model Master Metalizer Gunmetal reduced the diameter to .01-inch or 1.44-inches. It was a minor issue but you may wish to substitute the cable for something finer.
Shchuka- class submarine fits are good, the assembly logical, and the build quick; it could even make a nice weekend project. It is a unique subject and, due to the secretive nature of Stalin’s Soviet Union, references can be difficult to find. Submarines of World War Two by Ermino Bagnasco (Arms & Armour, ISBN 978-0-85368-331-5) provided good information.