Kriegsmarine´s first blood – Panzerschiff Admiral Graf Spee 1:350

Gentlemen this will be my new ship build here and I hope I can awake your interest in my choice of this speciic ship. Aside from the Bismarck this is one of the most iconic and known german battleships of the Kriegsmarine. I don´t want to bore you with the known facts of its short career as a merchant raider in south atlantic and indian ocean and the mauling of the cruisers Exeter, Achilles and Ajax before her own captain scuttled it before an expected overwhelming british superiority lurking outside of the River Plate estuary.

I collected some maybe lesser known facts about the ship and its chevalric captain Langsdorf which may be of interest to the audience:

  • Keel laying was at 01.October 1932 as the last and most modern ship of the Deutschland Class.

  • Commissioned at 06.01.1936 with training missions in the north sea and baltic sea followed

  • The ship showed up to 150 mm thick armor over the entire length, width and sections oft he ship (average 60 mm) – a novum for its time and already a concern for the british navy.

  • 8 MAN engines with together 56.800 HP (76.240 together with the other auxiliary and electro engines) were considered the most modern propulsion system in the world at its time and gave max speed up to 28,5 knots per hour

  • The ship´s coat of arms shows the family crest oft the „von Spee“ family. It symbolises a striding red rooster in a white field and three red rhomboids with golden background

  • Admiral Graf Spee was the fleet´s flagship until commissioning of the Gneisenau in late May 1939

  • The ship had, of course, an own hospital, a caboose with three cooks, a hairdress shop, a shoemaker´s workshop and a laundry service, operated by six chinese civilians

  • there was an own board currency, The „Reichspfennig“, mintage aluminium coins which could be used to buy different things of need aboard.

  • The ship´s main bridge turret carried an emblem with the letters „CORONEL“ on it. It was a remembrance plate to the battle between the german and british naval squadrons at the end of 1914 near chilean waters where german forces defeated the british navy without own ship losses. This was the first serious defeat to the british navy since 100 years. Both triple gun main turrets of the Admiral Graf Spee therefore also carried each one of the two coat of arms of the SMS Gneisenau and SMS Scharnhorst which have been so successful once at Coronel.

  • Kriegsmarine High command operations order at 26. September 1939 said that „The focus is on „obstruction and impediment of enemy supply by all available means. Combating enemy warships, also inferior ones, is only to be executed if the main task is requiring it“. This means that the Admiral Graf Spee was intended as a pure commerce raider.

  • Graf Spee was one of the first four ships of the Kriegsmarine which got supplied with the newly introduced improved version of a trial radar system which operates 60 cm wavelength (500 MHz). The „Seetakt“ called radar of Graf Spee was able to locate shipping objects at up to 25 km distance and also used it during its time as commerce raider. Therefore thanks to the initiative of some foresighted officers the Kriegsmarine also had radar technology similar as the Royal and US Navy.

  • The sinking of Admiral Spee´s first victim, the steamer Clement, proved to be a more difficult task than was initially envisaged. The boarding party set scuttling charges aboard Clement and opened her seacocks, but this failed to achieve the desired result. Two torpedoes were launched, but failed to find their target. Following this Graf Spee opened fire on the Clement from a distance of approximately 300 yards[8] using some of her secondary armament of 15 cm (5.9 in) SK C/28 guns during the course of which she fired 25 rounds. Finally Graf Spee resorted to using some of her main armament of 28 cm (11.0 in) SK C/28 guns and after having expended 11 rounds from her primary guns the Clement finally sank. It was later said that this high ammunition consumption for just one enemy ship will not acceptable in the future.

  • Kapitän Langsdorff aftermath got iconic because of this spoken words „I don´t let us get gunned down out there by a superiority. I like one thousand alive young people better than one thousand dead heroes“

Well so far for the facts, lets see what we do have for this build:

base kit of course

Very Fire extensive detail up set for the base kit

Eduard etched set and VerFire etched portholes

WULA´s excellent 3d printed rangefinders

WULA´s 3d printed mounts for 10,5 cm SK C/33 (L/65)

wooden veneer deck

3d printed armored torpedo launchers from shapeways

Flak guns, fire control and observation equipment from Veteran

appropriate colors from Life Color

and finally the needed literature

Don´t leave me all alone with this pile :sweat_smile: :raised_hand_with_fingers_splayed:


No way will you be alone mate. I and a lot of others will be following along again Thomas. I love watching these big 350 ships get built up … looking forward to it !!


Ticket booked, I hope the food is good on the cruise…



definitely won’t leave you alone on this on! Looking forward to your build log! And lots of good and interesting stuff you’ve there - you always find extras that I have never heard of before, like WULA this time. I’m really curious to see how they turn out for you!


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Permission to come aboard, sir? I’m definitely in for this one! :grin:

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I’m very interested. I’m currently (very slowly) building the same ship, but the Academy version. With Eduard PE, wooden deck and, interestingly the same Veteran Models extras. Have fun at it!


Not a ship modeller myself but very interested in this one, thanks for sharing! (history facts are welcome as well)


Not entirely pertinent but there was recently on TV a documentary about the finding, in 2019 (four days before the 105th anniversary of her sinking), of Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee’s last resting place, the wreck of the armoured cruiser SMS Scharnhorst off the Falkland Islands. There are hopes of locating SMS Gneisenau, Leipzig and Nürnberg at some point in the future.

If I recall correctly when I first started wargaming in the 1960s we used the variant of Fletcher Pratt’s rules in Donald Featherstone’s “Naval Wargames”. A sample scenario was included in which KzS Hans Langsdorff had emulated Wilhelm Souchon in WWI and sailed the Graf Spee to Buenos Aries and been interned there, and after the fall of France presented his ship to Argentina and persuaded them in the prevailing situation they were strong enough to take the Falkland Islands…
Given the ancient nature of some Argentine vessels in the 1982 conflict (e.g. the “General Belgrano”, launched only four years after Graf Spee), I have long contemplated what an ARA Graf Spee might have looked like had she still been in service at that time, and toying with the idea of a 1:700th depiction.
In my timeline, the ARA Graf Spee’s 15cm and 10.5cm guns would be replaced with a uniform battery of U.S. 5"/54 caliber Mark 16 guns as donated to the JMSDF, perhaps some 3-inch/50 caliber Mark 22 guns and a US sensor suite in the early 1950s, followed by a rolling series of upgrades and refits which would see her torpedo mounts, hangar and catapult removed in favour of a helicopter landing platform over the quarterdeck at main deck level, updated sensors, Exocet launchers and a short-range SAM system. I’m still undecided about a remodelled bridge replacing the armoured command tower.




Sorry guys for not starting it until now. I did catched a cold last week and was weak and had no power to modelling. This week I am busy in the company as almost all workers were off duty during sickness. I will surely start this blog when my christmas holidays will start coming weekend, promised :crossed_fingers:


Well this is the starting shot for my Graf Spee build. I am overwhelmed how much are joining and watching here, you are all heartily welcome aboard :blush: :raised_hand_with_fingers_splayed:

At first I glued the hulls upper and lower parts together. You have the choice here to select full hull or just surface hull. I do plan to depict the ship at a sea diorama but the flat hull isn´t appropriate for me as you will always see some lower hull at open sea.

First fix will be the wrong angled anchor stowing “place” at the hull´s stern (as a bloody landlubber I don´t know the right word for this :sweat_smile:). As you can see at my Kagero book Trumpeter did it wrong here. I drilled around the part and fixed it with Putty at the correct angle. Now I just have to wait until the Putty is completely dry to sand it even

Meanwhile I did started at the stern deck sanding down some small details and begun to glue on the first etched parts. The wooden veneer deck is just attached to see if everything fits - it will be glued on after the superstructures are painted later

Cheers :saluting_face:


Great start :+1:


I was pretty productive today. I drilled out all portholes at the ship´s hull; The kit´s portholes are actually not bad so I decided to avoid the tears to apply these etched portholes - they will be used at another kit where they will be more useful

The etched anchors were next to attach at the hull

Turned brass bollards, etched fairleads (wright word?!) and smaller details were added at the ship´s deck. I started at the breakwater - a very fragile job and Very Fire´s instructions are rudimentary at some details…

Enough for today :sweat_smile: :raised_hand_with_fingers_splayed: :beers:


Lovely detailing Thomas. The PE parts make such a big difference to it all. :+1:


Looking like a fascinating build, long for the ride. Greatly appreciate the historical details & background provided.

Looks like you’re off to an outstanding start! A+++

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finished the breakwater and started with some deck details, armored torpedo launchers and miniscule etched parts. One missing stairway building at the quarter deck was provided as an etched part from VeryFire but was lost off the micro tweezers. During the search and rescue mission I accidently drover over it with my chair and damaged it beyond repair. I had to build it from scratch again. Here are the pics of the tiny work

:blush: :raised_hand_with_fingers_splayed:


Fantastic details - and I thought 1/35 tool clasps were small. :wink:

Looking forward to follow this build. :slight_smile:

Looking good, Thomas! A similar experience to yours is exactly why I got rid of the rolling chair at my modeling bench! :confounded:

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Jesper believe me these 1:35 tool clamps are indeed small. I regularly fail with these so I bought these new 3d printed one from Eduard and they really are a pain relieve :innocent:


Have to dump this damned rolling chair…


Did find some time in the old and the young new year to tackle the ship´s hull colors. First I did prime all surfaces with Mr. Surfacer and after soroughly drying time started to paint the black water pass. The fake bow waves were covered with selfmade masks. Looks very promising to me so far. Lifecolor´s Silvergray looks spot on and represents the original light grey color very good