Kit Review: Italeri 1/35 Scale Kit No. 5605; S.L.C. 200 "Maiale"; 68
parts (47 parts in grey styrene, 20 etched brass, 1 sheet of clear
styrene), one 36-page book, one box art reproduction on heavy card
stock; price US$33.00
Advantages: a kit of probably the most successful "midget submarine"
of WWII; figures give a museum-like presentation to the model; book
very useful to understand the purpose and function of the vessel
Disadvantages: seemingly very expensive for a small model (about 17 cm
long when finished)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: to 1/35 scale ship and naval item modelers and
dioramists as well as anyone wanting to do a totally different subject
The Second World War saw a new class of weapon introduced - midget
submarines, which came in different varieties based on national views
of the weapon. The British, Japanese and Germans saw them basically as
miniaturized versions of the larger vessels with crews of two to about
six men and some way to deliver their payloads by either drop charges
or actual torpedoes. While all were tried, only the British and
Japanese ones had any effect but for the most part it was minimal.
The Italians had a different approach, basically using a vessel
which was a cross between a torpedo with human guidance and what is
termed today a "swimmer delivery vehicle."
According to the very handy and useful booklet provided with this
kit, in 1935 the Italians began seeking a way to clandestinely attack
enemy shipping using what they termed a 'siluro a lenta corsa" or
"slow running torpedo" - the S.L.C. for short or "Maiale" (pig) to sum
up its handling qualities. Armed with a standard 230 kilogram 533mm
torpedo warhead, the S.L.C. was used to manually bring a warhead next
to its victim at a very slow speed while the victim was moored. The
crew of two was responsible for attaching the warhead underneath the
keel of the victim and setting the timers, and then leaving the area.
The S.L.C. was carried Japanese-style on the back of a "mother"
submarine and released when close enough to reach its target on its
own. The concept was successful and during the war (through 1943 for
Italy) three warships and twelve merchantmen were attacked and either
sunk or damaged, including HMS Valiant and HMS Queen Elizabeth. Since
only about 50 were built, this is a remarkable achievement.
Equally remarkable is the fact that the crew did not have modern-
style SCUBA tanks and had to use a rebreather device. These were less
sophisticated than SCUBA in some ways, but did have the advantage that
they left no trail of air bubbles to give away the swimmers.
I recall seeing a movie about these vessels as a kid in which the
heroes - the S.L.C. swimmers - attacked the two British battleships
and were being interrogated on board one of them when the warhead
detonated. Since I think it was a British film, obviously they were
impressed by the courage of the Italians for pulling this off.
Italeri's new kit follows several of their recent armored vehicles as
it is an effort focused more on the "home market" and as such seems to
be about two notches above many other recent Italeri kit efforts. The
inclusion of not only etched brass, figures and a "frameable" artwork
print but also a book on its subject is unique for them and a very
impressive way to present the model.
Based on the research carried out to produce the booklet, the kit may
be used to produce either a single-warhead "standard" model or a later
double -warhead version; a set of extension parts is provided to
increase the length of the S.L.C. The warheads are interchangeable so
no cutting is involved.
The kit is actually quite simple and even comes with a five-piece
display stand/rack for the S.L.C. when complete. This appears somewhat
conjectural as an actual dolly is shown in the book and perhaps the
kit would have been a bit better off to provide the dolly and a second
of handling track for the actual S.L.C. If you don't want to do that,
just leave the nameplate off the stand.
The kit consists of very simple components - the torpedo hull, the
seats and controls, and the air cables for pressure adjustment. The
instrument faces are provided by decals and there is a section of
clear styrene to create the waterproof covering for the instrument
panel with an etched brass frame.
Most of the rest of the assembly is pretty straightforward - seats,
combings, component boxes - but the propeller will take care and
forethought. The propeller and most of the other elements are etched
brass and very tricky to fit. For example, in order to ensure that the
crew does not do an "Isadora Duncan" there is a very sophisticated
guard around the propeller blades, which Italeri provides as a single
piece. It consists of a ring and four truncated cone sections which
have to all fit together, so it will take care and skill.
Also requiring some care are the four stirrup assemblies for the
swimmers which are also all etched brass.
The crew figures are quite nice but a bit statically posed, sort of
like museum mannequins. This appears to be due to the fact that
Italeri has done them up to show the use of their Modello 49/bis
rebreather suits. One has the suit on and the helmet off and the other
is fully suited for action. The first man has his helmet in his arms
and only requires the helmet (attached to his left arm) and oxygen
tanks to be attached. The other one has his helmet in place and
requires his fitment hose and tanks (with the man's right hand molded
to the tank valve) to be cemented in place.
A small decal sheet provides for the instruments and limited tactical
markings. Painting directions are slim but then again the color
"black" seems to be the main one used for the basic reason that
stealth at night was the goal. The only thing not provided is thin
wire or thread for the control cables running to the rudder/elevating
Overall this is a very impressive (if expensive) kit and a super
achievement for Italeri.
Thanks to Bob Lewen of MRC for the review sample.
- posted 14 years ago