Tamiya 1/700 Russian SSGN Kursk

KIT #: 31906
PRICE: 1200 yen
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Michael Dudek
NOTES: 2001 release


The Oscar and the improved Oscar II classes of submarines were developed during the Cold War by the Soviet Union for the purpose of attacking US aircraft carrier battle groups. These boats were among the largest submarines in the world, necessary to carry the 24 SS-N-19 anti-ship cruise missiles that were their main battery. An array of torpedo tubes provided self defense and secondary attack capabilities.

While most of the former Soviet submarine fleet was left to rust after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation expended many of their limited available resources to keep as many of the Oscar class subs operational as possible, and complete others. This was as they were seen as major deterrents to US power projection via aircraft carrier.

Hull # K.141, named the Kursk, was launched in 1994, and entered service in 1995. On August 12, 2000, the Kursk was participating in a Russian naval exercise that included the practice launch of a torpedo. Apparently there was a malfunction that caused this torpedo to detonate, followed shortly thereafter by a much larger explosion. The Kursk sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea, almost 100 meters below the surface. Most of the 118 personnel aboard were killed in the initial incident and flooding. However, there were up to 23 survivors in the aftermost compartments of the sub. How long they survived is a matter of debate, but it was at least several hours after the sinking from a note found later. However, they were killed in a flash fire before any rescue operation even got underway. In 2001, the wreckage was recovered and examined, and subsequently scrapped. The sail of the Kursk was ultimately saved, and since 2009 is on display in Murmansk, Russia, near the submarineís former base, as a memorial to those lost in the disaster.


This somewhat unusual kit was released by Tamiya in 2001, no doubt to capitalize on the notoriety of the sinking. I say unusual, as the Waterline series of kits is heavily World War 2 Imperial Japanese Navy focused. Not many modern ships have been released by Tamiya.

Inside the box is a single black sprue of about 15 parts, comprising the hull, sail, and various antenna masts. Mold quality is what you would expect from Tamiya, free of imperfections or flash. The kit is waterline only; no full option is provided. Instructions are a single small sheet, printed on both sides. They include a brief history and painting guide keyed to Tamiya paints. The usual Waterline series weight to give the hull a bit of heft is included as well. If having the ill fated Kursk in your collection turns you off, the necessary markings for two other Oscar II boats are included on the small decal sheet. They are the Omsk and Tomsk. Like most Tamiya decals, they seem well printed, but on the thick side.


Assembling the hull is the first step. A choice to be made here is whether to use the hull base plate and weight, or not. I like the heft it gives the model, but many of these plates in ship kits do not fit very well. Their shape seems to never quite match up to the hull, and when glued to the bottom of the hull, leaves a messy, visible seam along the side that needs cleaning and filling. Often times it is easier to just leave it off.

For this kit, Tamiya has worked around that issue by making the base plate and weight fit into the bottom of the hull, instead of along it. This recessed fit leaves the seam on the bottom, where it is not visible. Combine that with the good fit, and the kit is off to a great start. Add the upper part of the rudder, and you are done except for the sail and masts.

A choice also needs to be made here, before gluing the two halves of the sail together. The holes for the masts you are going to use need to be opened up on each of the sail halves. The instructions give some advice on possible configurations, as a couple of the parts cannot be in use at the same time. Once the holes are prepared, you can glue the sail halves together. With care, you can avoid the only potential visible seam on the kit. Glue the sail to the hull, and add the masts, and the kit is ready for the paint shop.


The color scheme is pretty simple, as it usually is for submarines, basically overall black. My paint choices were a little out of the mainstream. I had been a big player of miniatures wargames, particularly those of Games Workshop, and had a large collection of their paint on hand. It is good, if expensive, paint. Sadly, I do not get to play much anymore, so I use the paint for generic colors whenever I can so that it does not go to waste.

The kit was sprayed overall with their Chaos Black color from a rattle can. When it had dried, I picked out the small details with a brush. Leadbelcher, Averland Sunset, and Mechanicus Standard Grey were used on the masts and Stormhost Silver on the windscreen. After some touch ups, it was time for the decals.

An overall coat of Testorís Gloss Coat was sprayed on to prepare for the decals. The Tamiya decals are thick, and I have found they respond best to very warm to hot water. They like to fold up or stick in the wrong spot, so a good deal of patience is required. I used some Waltherís Solvaset to help some of the more complicated ones, like the bridge windows and circular hatch markings on the rear hull, to settle down.

When everything was dry, I did a bit of drybrushing with a dark grey called SkavenBlight Dinge to break up the monotone hull appearance a bit. It doesnít show up well in photos, but looks alright in person. To finish up, the kit was sprayed with Testorís Dull Coat from a can to seal everything in, and kill the shine.


This is a nice, simple kit that looks good when finished. I can recommend it to pretty much all skill levels. Only very young modelers might need some help opening up the holes and handling the small mast parts. If youíre having modelerís block and having a hard time getting anything completed, consider trying a sub kit. There are usually not a lot of parts, color schemes are simple, and there is opportunity to be creative with weathering. This kit would be a good one to try.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar-class_submarine  General info on these subs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kursk_submarine_disaster  Specifics on the sinking of the Kursk.

https://www.amazon.com/Time-Die-Untold-Story-Tragedy/dp/0609610007/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr Although a bit dated, a good English language account of the sinking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vihv_cQBawo  History Channel documentary on the incident.

Michael Dudek

2 January 2018

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