S.M. Unterseeboot U-9

This submarine of the Imperial German Navy, under the command of Kapitanleutnant Otto Weddigen, went down in history for having carried out a sensational war action right at the beginning of the 1st World War.

In fact, on September 22, 1914 while patrolling a southern area of ​​the Sea of the North, intercepted a British naval squadron and managed to torpedo and sink three armored cruisers within an hour: the HMS Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy, of 12,000 tons each, with a total loss of 1,459 sailors and officers.

It was one of the most remarkable submarine actions of all time carried out by a single submarine and, upon its return to Germany, both the Commander and the entire crew were awarded by Kaiser Wilhelm II himself with the Iron Cross of first and second respectively. second class.

Twenty-one days later, while operating in enemy waters off the coast of Scotland, he sighted the 7800 ton protected cruiser HMS Hawke sailing without zigzagging: he had no difficulty in torpedoing and sinking her in a few minutes.

During the following period it sank a further 13 British ships, until April 1916 when it was withdrawn from front line duties to be used for training; after the war, it was handed over to the British and demolished in 1919.

No other submarine sank more enemy ships during the entire conflict, so much so that it was authorized to wear the Iron Cross medal as a coat of arms on its conning tower and only the light cruiser SMS Emden, for its exploits, received this honor during WW1.

The U-9, launched in 1910 as the first ship of its class (9-10-11-12) and the only one not to have sunk, was 57 m long, 6 m wide and was equipped with two 1000 hp for surface use and two 1160 hp electric motors for underwater use.

These engines powered two shafts, each with a 1.45 m propeller, giving a maximum speed on the surface of 14.2 knots and underwater of 8.1 knots, while the cruising range was 1800 nautical miles and could reach a maximum diving depth of 50 m.

The armament consisted of 6 torpedoes that could be launched via two bow and two stern tubes of 45 cm in diameter and 2 machine guns positioned on the deck, while the crew was made up of 4 officers and 25 sailors.

The model scales 1:72

The kit is from the German Das Werk and, having read up as usual, I became passionate about its singular war story described at the beginning of the article and I didn’t hesitate in purchasing it.

The model is entirely made of good quality gray plastic (164 parts) and everything is excellently detailed and precise, so I had no problems assembling everything.

Included in the kit are an instruction booklet, a deca sheet and a 100-page bilingual German-English book with lots of background information and pictures of the U9, its missions, the U-boat war in general in the 1st GM and above all how it was possible to create this model.

In fact, faced with little information on the submarine, a lack of reference data, as well as with a few drawings which were found to be inconsistent with the images found, in 2019 the authors commissioned some divers to explore the wreck of the twin U-12 which , which sank in 1915, was located since 2008 about 25 km from the Scottish coast lying on the seabed at about 50 m depth.

Accurate photographic surveys and measurements were carried out on the latter, so this first-hand data was useful for the feasibility of the project, for its subsequent development and finally for the production of this model.

I add another historical detail which, however, concerns only the U-12: it was the first submarine to transport a Friedrichshafen FF.29 recognition seaplane onto the deck and to make it take off after being partially submerged, thus allowing the plane to float and to float away.

On 6 January 1915 the aircraft, thus launched, flew along the English coast without being detected and returned safely to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, from where the U-12 departed.

I painted the hull, after applying the AK black primer, using two different shades of Tamiya acrylics, Light Gray and Hull Grey, plus a fair amount of masking tape and then I washed, wore and aged in a light form, given that the submarine was on its first war mission immediately at the beginning of the conflict.

Furthermore, I did not fail to purchase the related set of photoetchings, created by the Czech RCSUBS in collaboration with the German U-boat Museum and made up of 400 parts which above all add to and complete the basic kit, enriching it considerably.

Generally I don’t think that the photo-engraved parts are so important to create a good kit model, but in this case it is different: the various manhole covers, sheets, rings, handles, pulleys and the numerous other details, all very detailed, are essential and I would say necessary for this type of vessel.

I don’t deny that positioning these elements challenged me to the point of verbal and physical ostracism (KEEP CALM AND BUILD A MODEL), but in the end I was largely satisfied and, yes, entertained, even if you say it later…

After all, I wanted it, because assembling a submarine kit, in general, is quite simple and can be done in a short time, but adding all these details certainly increases the effort and difficulties, but the result is decidedly more satisfying and more realistic.

Conversely, I did not position the 40 single-hole candelabras along the edges of the bridge which, joined together by a passing rope, acted as a perimeter parapet, both because folding and joining the two photo-engraved halves would have resulted flat and not with a circular section as in reality, and because it was comforted by the vision of various period photos where they were not present (among other things, they are not even included in the basic kit).

Nonetheless, I had searched for them on websites specializing in naval accessories, but could not find them in the right size/section.

I also replaced the two plastic 8 mm MG machine guns included in the kit with the Schwarzlose 07-12 Naval resin ones from the Greek GasPatch models, which are more correct and detailed.

Also to give a sense of proportion and for better completeness, I included six figurines of sailors and officers of the Imperial German Navy, a specific resin product from Das Werk which I distributed on the bridge according to their poses and tasks.

The finished model, 80 cm long and 8 cm wide in the central part, is placed in a plexiglass case where it rests on two rods inserted into a white base, on which I have centrally positioned a brass plate engraved with the name flanked by the flag of the Imperial German Navy and on the side the replica of the U-boat crew badge of the Kriegsmarine WWI, found on the web by Filatelica Fiorentina.