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Prinz Eugen WWII German Heavy Cruiser by rvchima - Aeronaut - Scale 1:200

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Prinz Eugen, WWII German Heavy Cruiser

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I am afraid that I haven't been on MSW since I finished my MS Bark Endeavour over a year ago. My wife and I moved from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, USA to Asheville, North Carolina, about 540 miles (870 km) due south. We found a beautiful old stone house in the mountains that has demanded some attention and kept me from building much. Now that we are all social distancing I have had much more free time, and have made a grand start on the Aeronaut kit of the Prinz Eugen (pronounced "Prints You-gen," pardon my German.)

 

I wanted to build a battleship model but there aren't many out there. There are lots of very detailed plastic models, and a few very large, 1:100 scale RC models. German company Aeronaut has several 1:200 scale models of German WWII battleships. They are pricey and there is almost no information about them online. I posted a query on MSW a few years ago and didn't get much information, but I decided to take a chance anyway.

 

I really wanted to build their Bismarck kit because that's the ship that everyone knows. But I had a built-in bookshelf that was 4 ft. (1220 mm) wide and the Bismarck is 1255 mm long, so I bought the Prinz Eugen at 1170 mm. And then we decided to move and leave the bookshelf behind.

 

I finally started the model back in March and am now well underway. This is not your typical MSW model so I wasn't sure if I would keep a build log, but I took some photos on the way and will try to catch up. And I promise to catch up on many of the other logs that I was enjoying in the past.

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What's in the Box

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The basic kit is sometimes sold separately from the fittings kit, but one is not too useful without the other. Most vendors sell them together. I got mine from Cornwall Model Boats in England.

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The kit includes an 8-page instruction manual, all in German, and half of which is a parts list. It's not too useful. The kit also includes 5 pages of full-sized plans. Two of those plans are hull sections in case you want to carve your own hull. They're not too useful either.

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The other 3 plans include nice 3-views of the ship and lots of details of all the components.

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A well-made vacuum-formed hull is included. Here it is, all 1170 mm of it. You get to trim off the excess. The kit includes prop shafts, plastic props and rudders for RC, but few details for doing that. I am building for display only.

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The framework for the deck was pre-cut but printed off center. You still have to cut the bulkheads out of the center with a scroll saw anyway. The decking material looked like it was printed but it turned out to be laminated light and dark strips! However, the scaled planks would be about 2 m wide and just didn't look right. I ended up planking my own deck. More on that later.559749728_PEkit06.jpg.4909ba7660996fb81663491400d966cd.jpg

There are several sheets of thin plywood parts for all the upper decks and fiddly pieces. The parts are stamped but mostly not die-cut. They are jammed together so closely on the sheets that they are very difficult to cut out. I found that the easiest way to cut them out was with heavy scissors.

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The fittings set include lots of beautiful plastic parts for guns, torpedo tubes, cranes, boats, etc. These parts are almost perfect.

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There is even a kit for an Arado 196 floatplane.

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Finally, the fittings kit has a lot of miscellaneous metal parts, and it's not always obvious where they belong. There are about 500 tiny eyelets for portholes, but I used up over 400 on the sides of the hull alone and had to order more. The railings are beautiful but I'm not sure that there will be enough for all the decks. There is a formed brass strip to use for ladders, but the only stairs are plastic and are way off scale.

 

Well that's what is in the box. It seems like a lot, but as I soon discovered there are lots of pieces to a battleship that aren't even addressed in the kit.

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Hull, Deck, Stand, and Propellers

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I trimmed the excess plastic off the hull with a razor saw, and glued wood strips to the inside edges to support the deck. I decided not to use the bulkheads.

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I shaped a piece of poplar and glued it inside the hull as an attachment point for a stand. The prop shafts were then glued in place.

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The kit includes red plastic props for RC . Later I replaced them with scale brass props.

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Portholes on a Battleship?

The plans for the Prinz Eugen show 209 portholes on each side of the hull. It seemed odd to me that there would be ANY portholes on the side of a battleship so I Googled "Portholes on WWII battleships?" Turns out that there are a lot of uninformed modelers out there with the same question as me. Here's a good discussion of the topic.

https://www.quora.com/Why-did-German-battleships-in-World-War-2-like-the-Scharnhorst-and-Prinz-Eugen-have-porthole-windows-all-over-their-hulls-like-passenger-ships

The short answer is that before the end of WWII most battleships had inadequate ventilation and no air conditioning, so they had plenty of portholes for crew comfort. The portholes were all above the heavy armor belting on the lower parts of the hull and had steel covers that could be closed over them during battle.

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The kit came with 10 bags with about 50 tiny eyelets in each, which I assumed were for portholes. I taped a side view over the hull, marked the center of each porthole with a pin, and started drilling. After 30-40 holes I realized that this wouldn't be accurate enough, so for subsequent holes I clamped a metal straight edge along the pin pricks and used that to keep the holes even.

 

I thought I could just pop the eyelets in the holes and glue them with CA, but they never sat flush with the hull. I ended up crimping each one across the hull with a smooth pair of pliers. In retrospect I should have bought a specialty eyelet crimping tool, but it's too late now. After I finished the portholes on the hull I realized that there would be hundreds more on the superstructure and I was down to my last bag. I ordered 500 more from a doll supply company on eBay. I think that the kit has enough eyelets for an RC model where you probably would not want 418 holes in the side of the hull.

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It seems that I didn't take any photos of the hull covered with brass eyelets, but this photo after painting gives you an idea what they look like. That leads me to painting the hull.

 

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Painting the Hull and Deck

The Prinz Eugen was painted with 20 different paint schemes over its 6 year lifespan. This web site has drawings of all of them.

http://www.kbismarck.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=470#p10532

I chose the dazzle camouflage scheme used in the Baltic in May of 1941. You can see it in the photo below.

 

I carefully chose all of my colors and went searching for paints online. Between the worldwide pandemic and the fact that there are few hobby shops left in the US, I had a terrible time finding what I wanted. After several disappointments with online shops I walked to my local hardware store and bought four rattle cans of Rustoleum - Colonial red, granite gray, black, and white.

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I painted the red and then the gray. Here I'm masking off for the white parts of the camouflage. Painting the superstructure is going to be a b****.

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I planked the deck using long strips of 4 mm lime (bass) wood left over from another model. That's still 5x too wide for scale but it looks much better than the stuff that came with the kit. I glued down long strips with CA, and then notched the strips every 30 mm with a chisel to show individual planks. I sealed the surface with Timbermate wood filler, sanded, wiped off a quick coat of dark stain, and airbrushed everything with 4 coats of orange shellac. Much of this was not exactly planned, but it came out pretty good in the end.

 

The ship had big swastikas painted on a red field on the deck for identification. I printed the swastikas on an ink jet printer, sprayed them with clear, and pasted them on.

 

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Rough Superstructure

Superstructure parts for the kit are made from sheets of limewood either 10 mm or 12 mm thick, plenty high enough for a 1/200 scale sailor to walk under. The parts are stamped about 0.25 mm deep, but you have to cut them out with a scroll saw, and then sand, sand, sand.1851456393_blocks01.jpg.378e1c96beaf461ca502afd09a085b28.jpg

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The superstructure layers are sandwiched between sheets of 1 mm 3-ply that constitute the decks. In some places the deck is flush with the structure below, and in other places it overhangs, often to hold a gun. The ply pieces are warped so it's hard to hold the sandwich together to sand the flush edges. I started gluing each layer to it's upper deck after this photo was taken.

 

 

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Great looking build Rod. You seem to be making excellent progress without sacrificing quality.

 

On the portholes in the hull part of the ship question, you are mostly right. Many countries included portholes in their warships up to WWII. Slightly before the opening of hostilities and soon after many or in some cases all of those portholes were welded shut based on reports that they were places where additional water entered when a ship was damaged in battle, adding to, or causing the more rapid sinking of the ship. 

 

I have no idea if the Germans followed suit on this practice but I do know that as a rule German ships were more compartmentalized than most ships of other countries at the expense of habitability. In most cases German crews did not live on board when in their ports but stayed in shore facilities instead.

 

One thing of note though is that the Prinze Eugen was not a battleship, but as you list her in your original posting, a Heavy Cruiser. Portholes were much more common in cruisers than in Battleships even further into the war. 

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Thank you for your comments Lou. I obviously don't know the distinction between a battleship and a heavy cruiser, but I'd like to learn. Mostly I just enjoy making things, and a heavy cruiser looked like a challenge. Please continue to correct me when I get the history wrong.

 

Rod

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2 hours ago, rvchima said:

Please continue to correct me when I get the history wrong.

You are doing just fine Rod. In other places in your build you refer to the Prinz Eugen as a cruiser. If you really want to get confused, The Admaral Hipper class of heavy cruisers were in many ways much more "Battleship like" than other cruisers in the world. They were almost a third heavier than treaty allowed, (secretly) and had fourteen watertight compartments making them very strong ships and with their 32 knot speed probably capable of taking on any other heavy cruiser in the world and being dominant.

 

I always like playing the "What if" scenario in my head. One of those scenarios is what would have happened if the USS Washington had come face-to-face with Bismark's sister ship the Tripitz? Which could have happened. My money is on the Washington unless something accidental happened and the Tripitz got VERY lucky. I feel this way for a number of reasons. On the other hand I cannot think of a single allied heavy cruiser that I would give the same odds against a Admiral Hipper class cruiser. Admittedly just speculation, and speculation by an amateur to boot, but I think the Hipper class was that much stronger of a ship.

  

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One of the 'Hipper' class got sunk by a single torpedo in one of the Scandinavian waterways. Several German warships lost their stern section in action; that looks like one of weaker points they had.

The Hipper and Bismark were confused  by their resemblance during the Hood encounter.

Of course the Admiral Hipper wreck still exists (largely intact), even though the Yanks threw an Atom Bomb at it!

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The ship lost in Norway was the Blucher.

She was hit about 30 times by 11" and an additional 13 by 5.9" shore mounted guns from point blank range, and after losing two boilers and having a severe fire started by these hits she also received two torpedo hits, again in the engineering areas. All of this damage was inflicted on the same side of the ship. The fires advanced and at least one 4.1" magazine also blew up causing even more damage and additional listing. Finally with virtually no power and a considerable list the Blucher rolled over and sank with considerable loss of life. While the Blucher took hits in the stern causing her to have to use her engines to steer due to her rudder function being lost but I do not believe she lost her stern.

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The other main ship involved was the Pocket Battleship Lutzow with 11" main guns, and while she also took considerable damage from the shore guns was able to escape. On the way back to Germany she was also attacked by a British Submarine and took a torpedo hit but was still able to make it home. 

 

The ship used in the atom bomb tests was the Prinz Eugene not the Admiral Hipper. That ship was scuttled by her crew after taking damage from RAF bombers in 1945.

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A Brief History of the Prinz Eugen

(gathered from several books - maybe I can post some references later)

 

The Prinz Eugen was laid down in April, 1936, launched in August, 1938, and commissioned in August, 1940.

He took part in the first raid of the battleship Bismarck in May, 1941 when the British battleship HMS Hood was sunk and the Prince of Wales was heavily damaged. (The German navy refers to ships in the male gender.)

He spent a lot of time in various ports with boiler and engine problems.

In early February of 1942 German battle cruisers Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, various destroyers, torpedo boats, and other ships made a dash from Brest, France through the English Channel to Kiel, Germany. A massive escort was provided by the Luftwaffe. On February 22 many of the ships departed for Norway.

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On February 23 the British submarine HMS Trident torpedoed Prinz Eugen. The stern of the ship was almost severed but the ship limped into Lofjord, Trondheim the next day.2114214641_PrinzEugenwithdamagedstern02.jpg.059116ab373bcf9e7c5ff240f9509420.jpg2077507958_PrinzEugenwithdamagedstern03.jpg.c1ff48fc46fcbb8543099b7a66f43584.jpg

A repair ship made emergency repairs by welding a blunt stern with twin rudders operated by the crew turning a capstan on deck. (This would make a cool model!)  Prinz Eugen returned to Kiel under his own power and was completely repaired by the end of October. After returning to service he served as a training ship in the Baltic, and provided artillery cover for retreating German troops.

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On October 15, 1944 Prinz Eugen was returning to Gotenhafen, (Gdynia) Poland at full speed in the mist, and rammed the light cruiser Leipzig which as adrift making a routine engine coupling transfer. The ships were locked together for 14 hours. Prinz Eugen continued to Gotenhafen under his own power and had a new bow fitted in less than a month. Leipzig was towed.

 

Prinz Eugen continued to provide artillery support for ground troops, and ended up in Copenhagen at the end of the war. The ship was decommissioned and taken by the British to Wilhelmshaven, Germany for inspection by engineers from all of the Allied Powers.

 

The ship was desired by all, but the USA won her by drawing lots from a hat. In January, 1946 a crew of 40 US navy sailors and 574 German personnel sailed him to Boston and later to Philadelphia, where he was hit by a US Navy tug. The tug was severely damaged. In March he was sailed to California via the Panama canal. In May he was sailed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and then to Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

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On July 1, 1946 Prinz Eugen and a fleet of other ships were bombed in an air burst test of a "Fat Man" atomic bomb like that used on Nagasaki, Japan. Prinz Eugen was 1200 yards from the center of the blast and received only superficial damage. On July 25 it was bombed again with an underwater detonation of a second atomic bomb. Prinz Eugen was 2000 yards from the center of the blast and again received minimal damage but high radioactive contamination. Occupation of the ship would be lethal, so it was towed to Kwajalein Lagoon nearby. A small leak went unrepaired because of the radiation. By late December the ship was listing, rolled over slowly, and sank on a reef with parts of the stern out of the water. It remains there still and is no longer radioactive. Search for "Wreck of the German cruiser Prinz Eugen" in Google maps and look at the satellite view.

 

In 1974 the German Navy League requested the removal of one propeller. It is now on display as part of the Laboe Naval Memorial in Kiel, Germany.

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Just a bit of trivia here on sinking of the Blucher.  The torpedoes that hit it were fired from stationary tubes build into the shore.  I believe (if I remember right) there was a large gun fort above them.  The Germans surprised the defenders and not all the defenders were at their stations.

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That was a great rundown on the Prinz Eugen Rod. I didn't know about the removal of the propeller and display. I read somewhere a few years ago that the natives of Kwajalein petitioned the US Government for permission to disassemble the wreck and sell it as scrap for Island income. They were denied under the claim that all of the dials on board were still radioactive because of the Radium used in their construction and would be a potential radiation hazard. I do not know how valid this story is as it seems that divers are swimming through the wreck all of the time these days.

 

I think the torpedo tubes were at a separate location than the main fortress guns Mark. They were not able to train on the Blucher while the ship was still in the firing angle of the fortress guns and did not fire their torpedoes until after the main fortress guns had stopped firing. I think I read that they were old WWI torpedos and had been fired in practice over 200 times over the years in training. They fired the first one and it hit forward with little damage because the officer in charge thought the Blucher was traveling faster than she was. The second torpedo hit amidships as intended and added considerably to the damage that had already been inflicted in that area.

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Forward Superstructure & Bridge

The kit came with wooden blocks to carve for the forward superstructure, but the main block was crushed. I used a balsa block and attached the various bridge pieces. The drawings show railings, doors, portholes and windows, but there is nothing in the kit to use for those things. I used thin sheet brass for the railings, eyelets for the portholes, and cut card stock for the windows. I had some photo etched brass doors left over from my Arleigh Burke build and attached them. I really wanted to see something completed so I glued everything together. Big mistake. I should have filled the balsa grain and painted everything before assembly.

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The kit comes with 14 very nice pieces of pre-made railings but I wasn't sure if there was enough for all the little fiddly pieces. More on that later. It also includes a bag of brass railing stanchions and I used those here. I have experimented with thread and several kinds of wire for the railings and am not totally satisfied with any of them.

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I primed the tower with dark gray spray paint. Here you can also see sheet brass rails on the lower deck. The drawings show lots of louvered air vents all over the ship. I tried to make some using thin balsa strips glued to card stock. Not bad but could be better.

 

The plastic modeling industry has some beautiful battleship models with very complex add-on detail kits. I couldn't find anything for the Prinz Eugen at 1:200 scale, but Pontos Models from Korea has an accessory kit for the Bismarck at 1:200. It looked like a lot of the parts would fit my model so I took a chance and ordered the kit on eBay from https://www.bnamodelworld.com/ in Australia. Their price beat anything in the US and they shipped immediately. Then, because of the pandemic, the box sat in customs in Melbourne for almost a month. Very frustrating but I got it.

 

Pontos 1:200 Detail kit for the Bismark

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The detail kit is nicely packaged - much nicer than the Aeronaut kit.

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The kit has five sheets of photo etched parts. Four are brass and include pipes, funnel parts, holders for the ships boats, doors, windows, and louvers.  One sheet is some silver metal and includes stanchions for the railings, oars for the ships boats, and antenna pieces.

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The kit has a bag of parts for the funnel, another bag of parts for the paravanes, and three props. Two of the props turn one direction and one the other way.

props.jpg.a8fee609280d37b06936f31ba7e10358.jpg

I attached the props first.

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Painting Little Parts

 I recently took a break from building and decided to paint a bunch of the plastic parts instead.1049282913_plasticparts00.jpg.975c6c3aaa89d68de4bb5338114463bf.jpg 

Here's a photo of my work bench and about 25 plastic parts. I started with a coat of Tamiya white primer from a rattle can, then used an Iwata air brush to spray the parts with AK International acrylic, color AK734, Dunkelgrau 51. I had one 17 ml bottle of paint and had trouble finding more anywhere online. Eventually I ordered 5 bottles from 3 different companies. Now it looks like I will enough left over to paint a (real) battleship.

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Here are the painted parts. The kit came with 9 sets of stairs that look OK until you realize that the steps would be knee high at 1:200 scale. I had hoped that the Pontos detail kit might have some scale stairs. It has 4 sets, not nearly enough. I'm using the plastic ones.

 

Rails & Chains

As I've mentioned, the Aeronaut kit comes with 14 lengths of nicely made rails. There are 2 problems, 1. they're silver, and 2. they're as tall as person at 1:200 scale. The Pontos detail kit has lots railing stanchions that would be about chest high at scale, but the pieces are microscopic and I don't want to deal with hundreds of them.

 

So now my deck planks, my stairs, and my railings are way off scale, but no one will ever know except you and me.

 

The Aeronaut kit also comes with 2 sizes of brass chains for the anchors and anchor hold downs. The links are probably way off scale too but I just don't care anymore. I blackened the rails and chains using Novocan black patina for stained glass, another hobby of mine.

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Hard to tell, but the top 2 rails are black and the bottom 2 are silver.

 

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Mast

The Germans expected their cruisers to be way out in the Atlantic raiding convoys, so they had very tall masts and lots of antennas for communication. Instead the ships spent a lot of time in Norway where the tall masts weren't as important.

 

The mast was fun to build. I started with a large diameter dowel, spun it in my drill press at top speed, and sanded the three sections to smaller and smaller diameters. Five minutes, tops. That's how I make masts and yards for sailing ships. The antennas are brass rod, soldered in a few places. There is a brass ladder up to the first platform. The other platforms should probably have ladders and rails too, but I think I'll just skip those details.

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The rectangular block is the aircraft hanger. The plane will sit on top of it. The large block was pre-cut, but the grain goes side-to side. I just painted it and the grain is too obvious, so I filled it with wood filler and will have to repaint.

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I probably should have sanded those X-pieces better before assembly.

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Deck & Rails

I glued the deck into the hull using E6000 cement. It's smells like a dry cleaning shop but it has a fairly long working time and makes a strong bond. It took a lot of clamps to hold everything together. Isn't my workbench colorful?

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Then I attached those railings and anchor chains that I blackened earlier. There was a tiny gap, < 1mm, between the deck and hull in most places so I just put a spot of epoxy on the railing stanchions and pushed them into the gap. The railing conveniently hides the gap. Pure luck.

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The kit came with some oval shaped eyelets (grommets?) for the anchor chains, but the chain wouldn't fit. I used some black eyelets instead. I made the breakwater on the bow from scraps.1042886790_deckrails02.jpg.e5139be34044b874ffcb5ab3a62f4053.jpg

Mid deck with cranes temporarily in place.

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Aft deck.

After the Prinz Eugen was torpedoed, a blunt stern was welded with twin rudders operated by the crew turning a capstan on deck. Capstan? Oh no, I forgot the aft anchor! I wondered why the kit had an extra capstan and anchor. I'll have to add those later.

 

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Doors & Louvers

I added the doors and louvers from the Pontos detail kit. The louvers were very difficult to make. They comprise a backing plate about the size of your little fingernail, tiny sawtooth rails that have to be bent 90 degrees, and 9 individual slats. They look sloppy here but I got pretty good at them by the last one. The heavy grid came with the kit in a long strip. I don't know what it's supposed to be but it resembles the drawings.

1512097566_Forestructure.jpg.85407395164cd4ce7de6470b3eeed620.jpg

louvers.jpg.58a055f84c47340f50a70743c9d8f683.jpg

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Funnel

The funnel is laminated from two pieces of 12 mm limewood carved to shape, with lots of little pieces added later. The Pontos detail kit had a brass ring and about 45 individual pipes in three diameters for the top of the funnel. The detail kit is made for the Bismarck but it fit the Prinz Eugen perfectly. Whew!

 

Various books show many handrails around the funnel. I only added three - enough to give the impression of detail while keeping my sanity.

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The Pontos box shows a complicated brass grid across the top of the funnel, but the kit does not seem to have those parts. I made a simpler grid from thin wood strips. The view in this photo is odd and my grid is actually aligned with the funnel.

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I've read through this with fascination. For one thing your model skills are fantastic and the ship looks incredible.

 

I worked on Kwajalein in 1973-74, did a lot of scuba diving during that time, including on the wreck of the Eugen. It was one of our favorite dive locations. I'm hoping you won't mind a couple of photos. The first one was taken before the prop on the right was returned to Germany, and the second shows one of the portholes that came up in your discussion. This one must be near the stern on the port side.

 

On the wall at my workbench I have a small brass porthole from the Eugen, but unfortunately don't recall the location it was from, possibly an interior wall. As I recall the large external portholes were aluminum (?) not brass, were corroded and not coveted by divers.

 

I have more photos if you are interested, but you can probably find better ones online.

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Hope you don't mind this intrusion.

Nelson

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References

Since the Aeronaut plans show very little detail, I've searched online for anything I could find on the Prinz Eugen.

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Ironically, the main thing that comes up is this scantly-clad anime character named Prinz Eugen, from a side-scrolling shoot-em-up game called Azur Lane. It's set in an alternate timeline of WWII where the characters are anthropomorphic versions of WWII warships. Enough said about that.

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The German Heavy Cruiser Prinz Eugen by Waldemar Goralski is the best reference I could find for the model builder. It has 27 pages of detailed B&W line drawings of every part of the ship.

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The Heavy Cruiser Prinz Eugen, also by Waldemar Goralski, has an eight-page history of the ship and about 80 pages of color images of various parts of the ship. Mr. Goralski must have an amazing CAD model of the ship. It takes a while to find the view that you need, but the images can be very helpful. The last 8-10 pages are 3-D images that require Red-Blue glasses. They're fun but less useful for reference.

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Admiral Hipper Class Cruisers by Steve Backer has a little bit of everything - history, B&W photos, reviews of plastic models, photos of completed models, and camouflage patterns for 5 ships. 64 pages. This is the book that got me searching for a photo-etched detail kit.

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Warship Pictorial Kriegsmarine Prinz Eugen by Steve Wiper has a brief history of the ship and 74 pages of interesting B&W photos.

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Heavy Cruisers of the Admiral Hipper Class by Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke is more of a reference book. At 205 pages it has a chapter on each of the five Admiral Hipper class ships, with technical specs, photos, and a few detail drawings.

 

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1 hour ago, rvchima said:

Is that you sitting between the props?

No, that's my friend Chuck. I was driving the dive boat. The woman in the second photo went on to become my wife, I guess known as The Admiral around here.

 

Great collection of books you came up with.

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Sure Rod, here you go. It's been in a box for quite a few years, but when I set up my workbench to get into this hobby recently I finally hung it on the wall. Now I'm planning to print that picture of the Chuck on prop and put it in there.

 

As mentioned above, I'm not sure where on the wreck this came from. Actually my wife recovered it. It's possible, even likely, it came from near a room we called "The Captain's Quarters" due to the nice table now hanging from the floor. I'll throw that photo in as well.

 

I had a really nice porthole from one of the Japanese wrecks in the Kwaj lagoon, but I donated it to the Pacific War Museum in Texas.

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Really amazing work you are doing on this model. Thanks.

 

Nelson

 

 

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