An often overlooked aspect of the war in Russia during WW2 is that a part of it was fought on the numerous lakes and rivers of the Soviet Union. The Soviet navy played a significant role with their assistance in patrolling, reconnaissance, protecting, attacking and transporting. And the Soviets surely loved their speed. One of the boats they used was the NKL-27 Speedboat of which a multimedia kit has now been released in 1:35 by the Ukrainian company AMG
The war in Soviet Russia was not just fought on land. With so many lakes and rivers in occupied territory it meant a lot of traffic went over water. And being the one who controls those waters is in a very good position. It is a fairly easy way to scout the surroundings and boats can bring supplies and troops in big amounts to important places and that could just decide if you win a battle or not. The Soviets were well aware of this fact and part of the red army was just dedicated to that. Quite big flotilla’s moved through those waterways. One of the spear points of those flotilla’s was reconnaissance and where necessary provide assistance in battle. The need for fast boats was high. The NKL-27 “Poluglisser” (speedboat or Skimmer) was an upgraded version of the NKL-17, a wooden pleasure speedboat that was quite popular before the war. With the need for fast boats rising these were outfitted with a machinegun on a pedestal behind the drivers seats. The boat was not only used for recon purposes as it saw action on all waterways. It was used for communication, in the battle of Stalingrad as a water taxi for fresh troops, It served as a drop boat for commando’s. It attacked the Germans at the banks where possible. And with the capture of Berlin it patrolled the Spree River and was a quick means to get new troops to land.
The Arsenal Model Group (AMG
) NKL -27 Speedboat comes in a flimsy white cardboard box roughly 24 cm wide, 15 cm deep, and 4 cm high, and is of the slide top variety. The lid shows a painted box art of the boat with a Soviet Marine manning the machinegun. Further it shows the contents (Plastic, photo etched parts, white metal and wire... yes it is a multimedia kit). And a small yellow square with a black border telling you it is a limited edition of only 1000 kits. Inside you will find a Ziploc bag. And in that Ziploc bag you will find;
- 2 grey sprues containing 62 parts
- A hull in 2 parts
- 1 deck with 2 ribs attached to it that need to go on the hull
- One part to mount the speedboat on when it is finished
- 1 PE fret with 26 parts
- 8 parts in white metal
- 6 lengths of metal wire in several thicknesses
- 1 piece of string
- 1 transparent sheet with 3 parts (window
- Instrument gauges
- The searchlight lens) 3 small decal sheets (2 with numbers and 1 with 2 flags)
The plastic parts make up the bulk of the boat. All the other materials are for extra detail. Starting with the 2 hull parts and the deck; one thing I noticed at first inspection was that the deck especially has some blackish fluid in the corners of some details. It seems that this is leftover release agent residue from the molding process. This residue can also be found on the sprues. I have not cleaned it yet but I don’t expect to find many troubles there. The hull parts are well molded and good in shape as is the deck which fits on it perfectly. The deck comes with 2 strips attached to it. Don’t mistake these for sprue (I nearly did). They are ribs that need to go halfway down the side of the hull.
The sprues hold the drivers compartment with the seats and he engine bay with a neat engine. It might be a bit basic but with some extra work you can make this shine in the engine bay that can be positioned opened or closed. Further you will find the seats, the engine bay doors, The Maxim MG with the pedestal basics, the steering wheels and all sorts of bits and bobs that account for the smaller details. Among them 2 paddles for when the boat runs out of fuel or the engine malfunctions. On my sprue one of the paddles is bend so if you encounter this... carefully bend it straight and you should be ship-shape again. I also like the addition of the special stand to mount the boat on once finished. It consists of 3 parts and a PE nameplate.
The plastic is a bit on the soft side and here and there is some flash on the parts but nothing a quick scrape with a hobby knife can’t solve. The 8 white metal parts mostly make up the anchor, the other two parts are the clamps to hold down the engine bay’s access panels.
The PE fret is a really full affair. On it you will find the front and back parts of the front window of the speedboat, the transparent window part gets sandwiched between these two PE parts. Furthermore a load of details are to be found like the prop, several details to spice up the machinegun and the ammo bins, a really neat dashboard. Most of these parts need to be used as the kit either lacks those details on the faces of the plastic parts or there are no styrene alternatives as is the case with the front window. All of the PE should not prove too much of a problem. Take care when assembling the front window and be careful with glue, as any smears will be visible on these large windows. Another thing that is not directly straight forward is the very nice gun sight for the Maxim MG. The instruction sheet shows it already assembled so it is a bit of a puzzle on how to fold this correctly. Take care here and it should look pretty good on the gun
The several lengths of metal wire are used in several places on the speedboat. They are used for the prop shaft and the pedestal of the machinegun gets some wire added to it. Keep a good eye in the instruction sheets page 1 since that tells you which thickness needs to be cut to which size etc and it will also get a part number there which in turn will be a great help when installing it while following the instructions.
The small transparent sheet is quite straightforward. The big window part that needs to get sandwiched between the PE windowsills. It is outlined in black which is a great help for cutting that part. The instrument gauges for the dashboard are nice but since the sheet is only printed in black you have to paint the back of it in white otherwise the dials won’t show up. The only thing I don’t really like is the lens for the searchlight. Normally those lenses have facets, to spread the light, that are casted in the production process. In the AMG
kit these facets are made as black lines. It might be an idea to replace it with a self-made lens of transparent styrene scored at the back with a hobby knife.
The kit comes with three small decal sheets. Two of them are identical and both have two rows of numbers 0 to 9 and the abbreviation “NR” in front of it. This is pretty nice since it allows you to give your NKL-27 a different number than that the paint instructions show. The 3rd decal sheet has 2 flags of the soviet navy.
Despite the number of parts the whole build process is outlined on an A4 sheet printed in black on both sides and folded double to A5. The first page gives you a short bit of information on the NKL-27 Speedboat and below that an overview of all the parts. The build itself is outlined on the inside pages in 10 steps. Step 1 and 2 deal with building the engine radiator and transmission. Step 3 deals with the square thing the engine rests on inside the ship’s hull. Step 4 shows you how to assemble the Maxim machinegun with the pedestal and quite a lot of PE. Step 5 deals with the drivers compartment. In step 6 you will find how to assemble the hull and deck. Add all the subassemblies built in the steps before and add a lot of smaller details both in PE and white metal. Step 7 is the assembly of the windshield. Step 8 deals with the prop and driveshaft plus the rudder. Step 9 is the assembly of the mount for the boat to sit on once finished. Step 10 shows a side view and a top view that handily combines the addition of the last details with some paint instructions. The back page shows the paint and decal instructions.
The kit gives you 4 options in this.
- PG-7 Pinsk Military Flotilla, 1941, Berezina River
- PG-15 18th Frontier Unit, 1941, Pripyat’ River
- PG-44 and PG-1 Volga Military Flotilla, November 1942 – May 1943, Stalingrad
If you go online and search for NKL-27, PG 117, NKL Poluglisser etc. etc. you will find out you are not exactly flooded with information or kits for that matter. It is a bit of a dark area somehow untouched by the modelling companies. This is strange because quite a number of these boats were built and put into action on the rivers of WW2. So far the only option has been the MIG PG-117 and that was quite a hard kit to build; if I am to believe the build logs I read online and that was even besides the price since it was a full resin kit. AMG
apparently did their homework very well. Dimension wise the NKL-27 seems really close to the few drawings I have found. And the parts and items that are on the boat also match photographs and drawings. The combination of styrene with the white metal and PE really work well for this kit and it adds so much nice sharp detail and realism. And for the price of $36.62 it seems a steal as well if you see what is in the box. Highly recommended for those that are looking for something truly original and not often built. That said at the time of writing some shops still have it in stock. But with only a 1000 available you have to be quick otherwise the only place where you eventually might find it is Ebay.