HMAS Collins is the leader of six of its class in an Australian initiative to create its own submarine-building capability. Modified from the Swedish Västergötland-class design, Collins was partially built in Kockum’s shipyard in Malmo, Sweden (hence the Swedish crown as part of its crest). The boat was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1996, but various technical difficulties kept it from being deployed until 2000.
The kit is quite simple with just 23 parts and a brass nameplate. Five of the styrene parts are clear, comprising the display stand and a single-piece conning tower; the rest are molded in gray plastic. The back of the box has a two-step construction sequence and a third step for decal placement. The Cartograf decals provided for each of the six boats are excellent. The box top and side panel are your color guides.
Fit is good with the hull halves lining up perfectly. The model’s hull has a scale texture consistent with the sub’s skin of anechoic tiles, and Tamiya liquid styrene cement closed the seam nicely.
Instructions are to paint the conning tower’s interior black. I chose not to do that because photos show the conning station windows clear through. After mounting the periscope/snorkel/radar masts, the dive planes were notch-fitted and glued together inside the conning tower to allow movement. The flat, lateral fin on the back of the conning tower is the snorkel exhaust diffuser. I masked the windows in preparation for painting, then mounted the assembly on the upper deck.
The stern planes are reminiscent of the research vessel USS Albacore; take care to create the correct X pattern. Also, at the stern are the pipe and brace for the Thales Karriwarra towed sonar array that clears the single, seven-bladed skew-back propeller.
Using Tamiya TS-6 spray-can flat black, I coated the sub lightly to avoid filling up the recessed panel lines and the Thales Underwater Systems Scylla active and passive bow sonar and passive flank, intercept, and ranging arrays. (The boat’s planar sonar array is constructed from flat panels of piezoelectric polyvinyl difluoride that provide bearing data to determine range using low frequencies up to 10kHz.) I highlighted these panels with raw umber PanPastel artist’s pastels and painted the propeller with Testors Model Master brass.
I applied decals using Pledge Future floor polish as an adhesive. The kit provides nameplates for each boat in the class, as well as commissioning bow decals and escape-hatch markings. I utilized the flag option, using stretched sprue as flagstaffs mounted on the bow and conning tower.
I left the base clear. The brass nameplate received a wash of black to highlight the lettering, which you will find has the truncated word SUBMARI.
Overall, this is a fun kit, engineered nicely with precise fits. The result is a fine addition to a lonely modeling region that’s undercrowded in the States. It took only four hours to build, but I spent a lot of time on interesting research, perusing Jane’s Fighting Ships 2003-2004, edited by Stephen Saunders (Janes, ISBN 978-0-7106-2546-5), the Royal Australian Navy website, www.navy.gov.au, as well as the regional www.asianmilitaryreview.com.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2013 FineScale Modeler.