"Another Revell Type VII"
Richard ( aka Bunkerbarge)

As there seems to be a number of Revell U-Boat models here I thought I would copy my build thread from the forum where I originally posted it.  I have reworded bits and checked it but apologies for any inconsistencies in the writings!!

Well I fancied a bit of a break from gluing bits of wood together on the bridge of the Ben Ain so I went out and got myself a kit that I have fancied ever since it came out and that is the Revel 1/72nd U-Boat. I also fancied a bit of plastic modelling, which I have not done now for a long time.

A superb kit in its own right but my imagination was fired up with the March 2005 issue of Model Boats magazine where they motorised one as a surface running model. I was actually involved at one point with buying that very model but the guy backed out at the last minute which was the final push I needed to get my own. Since then they have also run an article showing a dynamic diving version but, for this to work, the model has to be ballasted to the deck level so no-one ever gets to see so much of the boat when it is in the water. I wanted a surface running boat at its normal de-ballasted water line.

I also wanted to improve the basic kit as much as possible so I purchased a laser cut wooden deck set for it and a brass PE set from White Ensign models. Both these items arrived the very next day so off I trot to buy the model from my local model shop.

The wooden deck is superb but to get the best out of it the steel deck ends should be cut from the original plastic deck. This requires a bit of care and attention but the effect is well worthwhile. I have also arranged the RC components to ensure that the minimum amount of deck requires removal which means the shafts are a lot longer than the arrangement in the magazine but my model will require only the centre section to be removable and the aft steel section. This is a big improvement on the magazine kit which had two additional hatches cut in the deck.

I will post a few pictures of the construction later so that members can see how I have converted this kit to a working RC model.


The wood deck is a vast improvement over the plastic original. It fits well, has better detail and looks superb. When used with the original plastic steel deck ends the effect is very realistic. I am not going to bother with any of the other detail sets as they are very much more diorama orientated and not suitable for a working model.

One main advantage for me is that I will varnish it with matt clear, then overcoat it with matt black, as per Kriegsmarine practise, then I will scuff it away carefully with wire wool. This will let the wood show through and I am hoping will look very effectively weathered.


Just a couple of pictures showing the progress of the Sub. The wooden deck is not going to be fitted until the ballast has been secured and the back of the deck requires sealing off to prevent the ingress of water. I think I am going to use varnished brown paper for that.

I am extremely pleased with the wooden deck set and the PE set from White Ensign models which have all fitted perfectly and have made a vast improvement on the stock kit.


As with so many of these bright ideas it has taken quite a bit longer than was anticipated to do this model.

On the second picture you can see the brass rudder bushes fitted with araldite which are a nice sliding fit on the brass tube used for the rudder posts.

I have now manufactured a base to mount the two motors and steering servo inside the centre section of the sub. I have installed an additional bulkhead to seal off the radio compartment at the aft end, just in case, and I now have the basics of the running gear installed.

I used brass shaft tubes for the 2mm steel shafts and aircraft control wires for the rudder servo linkages. I added supports for the servo wires and made a lead in to ensure the piano wire enters the rudder horns at the correct height.

All in all it is coming along nicely but, as I said, is taking a lot of time to do. I am now turning my attention to the rest of the electrical installation before getting the underside painted and the rest of the model completed. I have hacked around an aircraft battery to make a 7.2 V Ni-Cad pack which should assist will ballasting nicely and give plenty of run time for the two small motors.

Ballast is going to be a total of about 12-1300 grams minus the radio gear and running gear so I am anticipating requiring about 900 grams of lead sheet in the bottom of the model.

Well the sub has progressed nicely but, as always, has taken a lot more time than was anticipated.

I now have all the workings installed and tested after a lot of messing around and fiddling. I wanted to make sure that the deck had the minimum of openings so I have arranged for one main access through the deck in way of the centre section around the tower. Either end of the deck I am going to glue in place with the far aft steel section being the only other removable piece to allow access to the rudders.

This required the motors to be in the centre section and so the tubes were 10" long with 12" long shafts. As these were 4mm tubes with 2mm shafts the fit had to be spot on as any slight misalignment would cause interference. I also checked with the shaft manufacturer what lubrication I should use and he assured me that silicone grease would do the job. I had asked as I was concerned that such small shafts, so long and connected to very small motors might be a bit of a struggle.

As it happens I was correct and after installing the shafts and filling one with grease I discovered there was no way the motor was going to turn it. So all the grease had to be removed, remember pipe cleaners?, and I retried with light oil. It worked fine but leaked from the end so I realised I needed an oiling tube and grease on the bearings.

The pictures show the set up as it became with two oiler tubes fitted to the shafts, not easy after they were installed, and the motor and coupling set up. The motors are mounted in a piece of wood, drilled with two 16mm holes on 31mm centres then cut in half to form a clamp. This holds the motors nicely and the only concern I am left with is the very poor quality couplings which are so far out of balance as to cause vibration. They will be replaced in the future but will do for now.

The rest of the installation includes a micro receiver from Hightec, a nice solid state 1 amp speed controller with switch and a battery pack made from one of my old 9.6 volt aircraft packs. I removed two of the cells to make a 7.2 volt pack which fit very nicely in the front of the boat.

All this lot was installed in a tray manufactured from plasticard on the workbench, before fitting into the hull.

Ballast was made from lead sheet cut into thin strips, which fit into the keel very neatly and wider lead strips laid over the top of those. All the ballast was secured in place by pouring resin over the top of it in stages to reduce the heat build up when curing.

The pictures show the various components as fitted in the tray and after the final sea trials in the domestic test tank.

The hull has been sprayed with Tamiya acrylic spray tins which proved to give a superb finish. The only problem seems to be that there is not a great deal in each tin, which very nearly caught me out. The dark grey has had three coats and the tin was empty when I finished. I hope I will have enough of the lighter grey for the tower and deck fittings and I have a pot of very dark grey for the decks.


Well I have now had a go at the first two deck pieces and I have to admit to being quite pleased so far with the results.

First I glued strip wood to the underside of the deck to give it strength and to seal the holes against the ingress of water. I then gave it a coat of satin yacht varnish top and bottom making sure that the coat on top of the deck remained quite thin to prevent hiding the detail.

When that had dried I gave the upper side of the deck a coat of Tamiya acrylic German Grey, once again making sure that the detail wasn't covered. The weathering will be done later when I bring out the detail with some shadows, scuff some of the grey away to reveal the bare wood underneath and add salt efects with some pigments. This will then be coated with a final covering of sprayed matt varnish.

The two deck pieces will be glued onto the hull next leaving the centre section with tower, deck gun, railings and hatches as removable to enable access to the RC gear.

Well after a period of settling in at home I decided to turn my attention to progressing the Revel U-Boat.

I had, of course, made a rod for my own back by using a PE set and a wooden deck set for the model, both of which ideal for a static model but both presented their own challenges for a working model.

The PE set proved to be very intricate but did enhance the detail tremendously on the bridge. It also meant that I had to then be extremely careful when handling the pieces during construction.

The wooden deck was a whole different ballgame though. Firstly I decided to use the original plastic deck ends where the original is steel as painted up the plastic would be far more realistic than the wood. Then the wooden deck was split in the middle however the arrangement I had gone for required the ends to be fixed to the hull and the centre section, complete with tower, would need to be removable. I arranged this by fitting the centre section with a tongue at the aft end and used a screw below the 8.8 cm gun to hold down the front. The other main consideration with the wood was that the laser cut holes had to be sealed at the back so that water washing over the decks would not enter the hull. I did this by fitting lengths of stripwood to the back, glued in place with waterproof PVA, and varnishing the surface with yacht varnish. The backing had to go close enough to the edges to seal all the holes yet leave a small step and enable the deck to locate in the step in the hull.

The next stage was to start the weathering process. I wanted to use a wash so first I painted the entire hull and tower with a coat Future. Once that was dry I applied a wash of pigment mixed with water and a spot of washing up liquid. Unfortunately the majority of the detail is raised and not recessed however washes can still be used to give a degree of shadow to raised detail. When the wash was dry I removed it with a dry paper towel, taking care not to remove too much around the raised detail.


The next step in the process was to try to simulate paint chippings, which I did on the light grey finish only.

Unfortunately I still feel that I have a lot to learn with this technique and I am not happy with the finished effect. When I look at how they do it in Tamiya Model Magazine International I think I need to use an even smaller brush than I did. Modelling is a continuous learning process and this is something I need to do a lot better with.

Anyway it stands as I it did as a part of the learning curve and I moved on to adding some rust effects. I am a lot happier with this and decided, based on the scale, to use a dry brush technique. It is very difficult to decide just how much to do with rusting, particularly with U-Boats, which seem to range from freshly painted to absolute wrecks in my photo archives. I went for something that I hope is somewhere in the middle and I hope it doesn’t look too much.

Anyway after the paint chipping was done and the rust added it was time to coat the entire hull and tower with a matt clear topcoat. I used a large spray tin on a waterproof Acrylic matt varnish and put three coats on. Taking care to get the varnish into all the recesses where the wash was residing.

The next couple of pictures show the hull at this stage before moving on to adding the remaining detail to the tower.

Well today I worked on getting all those little bits and bobs finished and getting the deck looking as I wanted it.

The whole idea of the expense of the wooden deck was so that the laser cut holes would look neat and the wood texture would look far more realistic than the plastic original.

After the original coat of matt dark grey was applied, the real decks were coated with a matt black paint, I made up a wash of very thin brown enamel paint. This was painted over the recessed detail and then immediately wiped away with my finger. This left the wash in the detail and it also shaded the deck colour nicely.

When that was done I then dry brushed matt white in patches over the deck surface. Being a wooden deck regularly submerged in sea water just about every picture I can find of a U-Boat deck shows very clearly white salt deposits on the deck. I have never seen this simulated on a model yet so I particularly wanted to show this effect.

The final effect on the deck was a gunmetal dry brush over the areas of the footholds around the 8.8 cm gun and the capstan, which was actually scuffed pieces of metal on the real boats. I made these out of stretched sprue and plasticard.

I then added a soot deposit in way of the diesel exhausts with an airbrush, which is really the only way to generate such a softly shaded paint effect.

When this was done I have to say I was really pleased with the overall effect of the deck. The detail looks crisp and the weathering looks quite realistic and nicely contrasts with the steel areas of the deck and hull.

The rest of the day was then spent adding bits of detail and attending to the rigging. The rigging was a bit of a challenge, as it has to be removable to allow the removal of the centre section. I incorporated a section of rubber cord into the forward wire and a hook so that the rigging can be released quickly and easily. The centre section will still be attached by the aft wires but it can be conveniently sat on the aft deck when removed.

The final couple of bits remain to be completed such as the hand rail wires and the making of the stand, which should be completed tomorrow and the final touch of a few crewmembers may well be done during my next trip away. I am hoping that my flag (including Swastika!) from BECC will arrive soon to finish off the detail of the bridge.

I actually got the flag from BECC today so that was the last peice to be fitted. It certainly is a vast improvement over the original, and it has the correct Swastika on it of course.

The only remaining thing now is to paint and fit the figures but I think I will do them on the ship next time.

Apart from that it is now finished, had her sea trials and will be going with me to the pond tomorrow.

The finishing touch was a stand which was made from a couple of peices of mahogany, cut to the original stand verticals, two brass bars with turned down brass screws to hold them into the uprights and a base of yet another 95p surplus kitchen drawer from from a garden centre.

So a couple of finished pictures to end the project. I can't remember the last time I actually started and finished something, scary!!

Well the Grey Wolf has been out on her first patrol and I have to admit she behaved very well.

The speed was above scale without getting silly, the turning circle was far better than I expected and she floated bang on at the correct draught.

She also proved to be quite stable and battery life was still doing well at 45 minutes when rain stopped play.

The final chapter in the U-boat saga was to add some figures to the bridge.

Painting small items is one of the few things I can do on the ship in what bit of spare time I get to myself so I usually try to tae one or two things with me and a selection of paints. This time I took some figures for the Envoy class tug to put a bit of life on her and I took some superb white metal figures for the U-boat.

They were Heckler and Goros items, purchased from Historex, and the level of detail is staggering. Obviously I did not have the luxury of a magnifying lamp so it was up to the Mark One Eyeball and a steady hand. Now that I have taken a few shots with a very good camera I can see how the figures do not exactly set any standards and the painting leaves a lot to be desired but they do enhance the bridge significantly and they do look good when placed in the bridge scenario.

They also do some very nice gun crew but I particularly wanted my boat to be in an "entering harbour" mode with the kill pennants flying so gun crews would not be maning the gun during these times. I also have one figure left but I am not sure whether I will fit him or not. He is wearing a complete set of Sou'westers which doesn't look right somehow amongst the other five who are not and I also don't want it to look too crowded so I am still undecided.

Anyway here's a couple of shots of the finished beast. I took her out on the pond again last week and she once again behaved perfectly. The only issue I had was turning her in a pretty fresh breeze when she took a bit of water over the deck and some got inside. I am not going to make any modifications as the deck kept the majority of the water out and I won't be sailing her in such conditions again anyway. She really is a fair-weather vessel but with just a bit of a swell she looks amazing at speed and makes a perfect wake.