For those readers that may not be familiar with the ShipCraft series published by Seaforth Publishing of the United Kingdom, it is a series of soft back volumes that examine a specific class or classes of warship in each volume. Each volume looks at the design history, operational career, and appearance changes of the ships of the class but also includes two additional sections with appeal to the modeler, Model Products and Gallery. I am currently working on my fifth volume in the series, on the topic of the Hipper class heavy cruisers. Only one manufacturer has models appearing in all four past volumes as well as the present one and that is Neptun. Indeed, how could Neptun be omitted in any volume which examines models of a WWII warship class. However, the format of the ShipCraft volume only provides a limited amount of text and photographic space of the products of any one manufacturer, too limited to fully examine all of extremely detailed models in 1:1250 scale of Hipper, Blücher and Prinz Eugen in different fits and camouflage schemes available from Neptun. This article examines just one of Neptun's models of ships of the class, the Hipper in her 1940 fit, Neptun Model 1032.
After World War One Germany was limited by the Treaty of Versailles to cruiser designs with a maximum displacement of 6,000-tons. With other countries allowed to build cruisers of up to 10,000-tons, German naval designers were hamstrung into producing limited designs of limited capabilities. They tried to be innovative but maximum displacement limit was always a killing restriction that always channeled them into producing designs inferior to the cruisers of all other navies. This restriction ended in 1935 with the Anglo-German Naval Treaty, which limited the German Navy to 35% of the displacement strength per class of the Royal Navy but ended the displacement restrictions of the Versailles Treaty and substituted the world displacement standards of the 1923 Washington Treaty and follow up 1930 London Treaties. With cruisers this was a maximum of 10,000-tons and maximum gun size of 8-inches. Germany already had plenty of low displacement 5.9-inch armed light cruisers hampered by short range, so instantly chose to build to the maximum per ship limit. Originally it had been intended to stay within the 10,000-ton limits but when it became obvious that all of the requirements of the new design could not be met within 10,000-tons, it was decided to lie about the displacement, rather than to pare down requirements.
The result was the Admiral Hipper class of five heavy cruisers. All five were built and launched but only three were completed, Hipper, Blücher and Prinz Eugen. The other two Lutzow and Seydlitz very far advanced in fitting out but lost construction priority with the changing war effort. The initial design called for the class to have almost a straight cutwater and no stack cap. However, tests of the Scharnhorst, which also had a straight stem as built, showed that this cutwater design made the forecastle too wet in open seas conditions and so the Hipper's bow was redesigned to include the "Atlantik" or clipper bow. One way to distinguish the three sister ships was in the design of their cut water as all three had different cutwater profiles. Hipper had the bluntest of the bows with substantially less rake than that found in Blücher and Prinz Eugen. Hipper also featured heraldic crests on each side of the bow, removed in time of war but with the base plate remaining.
Neptun Model 1032 represents Admiral Hipper in 1940, after she had received the "Atlantik" bow and addition of stack cap but before the numerous anti-aircraft additions or camouflages schemes applied later when she spent a great deal of time in the fjords of Norway. The next article will look at the short lived, tragic Blücher.