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1/350 Russian Nuclear Submarine ‘Kursk’

The K-141 Kursk was an Oscar-II class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine of the Russian Navy, lost with all hands when it sank in the Barents Sea on 12 August 2000. Kursk, full name Атомная подводная лодка «Курск», which, translated, means the nuclear powered submarine “Kursk” [АПЛ “Курск”] in Russian, was a Project 949A Антей (Antey, Antaeus, also known by its NATO reporting name of Oscar II). It was named after the Russian city Kursk, around which the largest tank battle in military history, the Battle of Kursk, took place in 1943. One of the first vessels completed after the end of the Soviet Union, it was commissioned into the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet.

The Kit: Let me start by saying that this model kit is BIG! At 1/350 scale, it almost hits 18” long  (44.5 cm). The kit is comprised of 28 parts and trust me, if you want to make the most out of this kit, this is in no way a weekend project. If I were to build this kit again, I would add more aligning tabs with styrene stock.

4 aligning tabs (with no locating points) are not enough considering the length of the hull halves. Be ready to fill and sand, the joint line is not perfect all around the hull more notable on a ‘black’ finish model. To see the scale of this submarine, I added a few 1/350 figures from Tamiya’s Detail-Up Parts Series.

The missile hatches are painted in Tamiya Dark Gray. The hatches bay received some structural detailing as I had planned to have one side open. I used .015 x .040” (stock #112) styrene from Evergreen Scale Models.

Painting and Weathering:

Here comes a little bit of a challenge. Submarines might be painted in flat black in dry docks, but the truth is that to our eyes they don’t look as black as we think. My reference pictures and videos show that the finish quickly turns into a dark gray. The only sections of black we can see, are those wet areas at sea. I could have played alchemist with my Testors or Tamiya colors. But instead, I looked in my local hobby shop at the shelf I seldom look, the Polly Scale Rail Road colors.

And there it was, after comparing a few shades of black from Polly S colors, the one that I found the most appropriate was F414110 Steam Power Black. Streak lines were achieved with medium to light gray. White is too strong *in my humble opinion*.

OK, where’s the red hull bottom? Good question if you’re wondering. I did look all over and consulted my references. At least on the Kursk submarine, there is no trace of Hull Red or Light Gray on those pictures of the recovered wreck. Because I’m not 100% sure, I decided to leave the bottom black until further research and confirmation. Painting this area if necessary, will be an easy task.

The weathering of the Kursk Submarine was achieved with Loew Cornell fine pigment pastels set 882. It is comprised of 12 gray tones (available at Michaels). From another color set I own, I used Brown, Orange and Light Blue shades. The model was not sealed before or after the weathering.

I want to have the rough finish of unsealed paint and believe me, at normal viewing distance, this model looks like is made of black cast iron / steel. The silver area on the hull was painted with Alclad 2 Airframe Aluminum. All decals were added on a ”puddle” of Microsol Decal Solution and went on without problems.

I know that Zvezda produces fine model kits in a great variety of subjects. However, I never came across a subject that called for Zvezda Models until now. As I write this, I’m about 30% from finishing Zvezda’s K-19 also in 1/350 scale.

I like their packaging system although parts come loose in the box, no plastic bag at all and your model sounds like a puzzle inside. The hull halves on both, the Kursk and K-19 are solid, but the other part trees are a little soft. No big deal but worth mentioning.

Decals, there is no attempt from Zvezda to be more clear on this area. The instructions only show an approximate decal placement on the conning tower. For the rest of the decals, we are pretty much on our own. The instructions in general are in Russian, but the illustrations are good enough.

I did put about 2 hours detailing the structure in the missile bays. Something that you don’t have to worry if you are planning of leaving them closed. Still, I believe that this is no weekend project. Most of the building time went towards weathering.

Weathering at 1/350 is totally different from my usual 1/48 aircraft and 1/35 armor.

The nice thing is that if you go overboard, you can always use dark gray or even black pastels to subtle things down. Even with its minor shortcomings, i.e. aligning tabs, no locating points and lack of decal placement guide, this model is highly recommended. I would dare to say that some model building experience would help.

George Collazo
George Collazo

George has been hosting review sites and blogging about toy collectibles, travel, digital photography and Nikon digital imaging since 1998. His first model kit build was a Testors 1/35 DODGE WC-54 in 1984.