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Dragon 1/350 scale DKM Scharnhorst 1943

The ship can be built as a waterline model or with a full hull including nicely rendered screws and rudders. The rest of the ship is crammed full of plastic and photoetched-metal details.

Kit:No. 1040 // Scale:1/350 // Price:$159.95 ($19.95 for Cyber-hobby photoetched-metal set)
Dragon, from Dragon Models USA, 626-968-0322
Stunning molded detail; good fit; nice photoetched-metal parts; impressive size
Poor instructions; microscopic pieces; shallow portholes
Injection-molded, 1,298 parts (356 photoetched-metal; 56 in Cyber-hobby set; 21 vinyl), decals
Commissioned in 1939, DKM Scharnhorst and her sister ship, Gneisenau, were an unusual combination of speed, heavy armor, and small main guns; they were battleship-sized and could make 33 knots, but main armament was nine 283mm (11") guns. Although Scharnhorst was considered a lucky ship by her crew, she met her end on December 26, 1943, in the Battle of North Cape against the British Royal Navy battleship HMS Duke of York and cruisers HMS Belfast, Norfolk, Jamaica, and Sheffield. Only 36 from a crew of 1,968 survived as the Scharnhorst fought to the very end and sank with her propellers still turning.

Dragon’s DKM Scharnhorst 1943 is a standard-setter. The one-piece upper hull is fantastic! The flare of the bow and the swell of the hull aft of the anchors are beautifully molded. The main deck has the proper camber. The wood-planked anchor ways are accurate, the splinter shields and bulkheads are almost scale thickness, and the DS-vinyl blast bags on the larger guns are beautiful. And all the guns, from 20mm to 11", have open bores! I used Cyber-hobby’s excellent photoetched-metal detail set on this review.

Parts fit is exceptional throughout, and there are virtually no ejector-pin marks, mold lines, or sink holes.

The Dragon and Cyber-hobby photoetched-metal parts were easy to work with and fit perfectly. The ship can be built as a waterline or full hull model; a stand is included. Detail is added to the deck after painting.

Nevertheless, the kit has a few drawbacks. Chief among these is the instruction sheet: There are nine pages and 19 steps with small diagrams to place 1,300 parts, nearly impossible to figure out due to the complexity of the drawings, with some items blocking important locating points. Parts appear on the assembly with no part numbers, and there are a few misnumbered, misplaced, or missing parts.

Among the errors in the instructions: The smokestack divider assembly has two misplaced parts and is slightly oversized; modifications will be needed to fit it into the stack and cap. The port and starboard boat racks should be mounted before the center boat rack, which attaches to small dimples on the sloped stack section. The smokestack assembly has to go down before vent parts K22 and K23. Part K73 is the splinter shield for the port, stern, dual 37mm gun station, but is not called out. Decking for the catapult operator is shown but not included. Extra care must be used to assemble the gun deck and hangar-deck houses or they will not fit into the main-deck recesses properly. The lower hull is devoid of any detail.

All of the weaponry is static. The 105mm high-angle guns have no positive barrel mounts and can’t be elevated without modification, the 20mm guns are slightly over-scale, and no shields are provided for the smaller guns. Aftermarket photoetched metal is required to complete the railings. The bow and stern jack staffs were not mounted in 1943, despite the instructions. The kit has shallow, indistinct portholes.

I consulted the instructions for subassemblies, but I built from the 01 deck up, bow to stern. I painted and camouflaged each level, placing whatever photoetched metal could be safely added.

My best reference website was Another useful site was, with CAD drawings of many details and their location. The model scales out to published dimensions.

This kit requires dedication, a large work area, and many hours for assembly and painting. But the end result is a one-of-a-kind, museum-quality model of a beautiful ship with stunning detail. I put about 160 hours into the build, about twice my average for a ship this size, but considering the parts count and detail level, even that was rushing it.

Were it not for the large number of parts and the lack of good instructions, this could have been a fantastic kit for any modeler beyond the beginner; as it is, I can only recommend it to experienced modelers. Your results will depend on your skill, tools, and dedication – not on the kit.


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