The submarine is, without any doubt, the main protagonist of the diorama. The starting point for its construction was a 1/32-scale conning tower manufactured by Andrea Miniatures, to which some modifications were made. The size of this piece served as reference for determining the dimensions of the model: a length of 197 centimeters, a beam of 18 centimeters and a height of 39 centimeters.

Type VIIC submarine model - Conning tower

Once the dimensions were set the construction of the hull began. The procedure, albeit laborious, was easier than it might seem at first. The profile silhouette of the hull and the numerous ribs of different shapes were drawn in a plywood board and cut out. Then the ribs were pasted to the main structure to create the proper hull shape, before filling the spaces between ribs with flexible wooden strakes. This constructive method allowed to build a reasonably lightweight hull. Once the structure was finished, the external surface was completely painted with white mastic to cover any small cracks, and when the mastic was completely dry it was sanded to smoothen the surface.

Type VIIC submarine model - Hull structure
Type VIIC submarine model - Hull lining

Later, by following proper documentation about the shape and location of the different metal plates which composed the hull of the Type VII C submarines, a scheme was outlined by pencil on the hull. This allowed to place correctly each of the welding strips and the ten thousand rivets. The welding strips were imitated by means of plastic rods, which were heated for working with more ease, and the countless rivets were imitated by cutting tiny circles out from a plastic plate to later paste them to the hull. Of course, this work required a lot of patience.

Type VIIC submarine model - Hull details

Later, industrially manufactured photo-engravings were used for creating repetitive elements, such as the hydrophones of the sonar, and the intricate details that characterize the surface of the deck. Once every element had been applied, the hull was completely painted with primer, which allowed to spot with ease any possible defect before painting the model. During the construction of the hull the work progressed as well in the conning tower and the deck and other elements, such as the propellers, the rudders, the hydroplanes or the anchors, were being modelled. Generally, in the construction of this kind of elements only one piece was manually crafted for each different item, being the rest of them duplicated through resin molded in a silicone matrix. Unlike what it may seem, the deck gun was manually crafted, by means of plastic plates and metal rods; some details were made from modeling paste and rivets were created following the same procedure used in the hull.

Type VIIC submarine model - Photo-engravings
Type VIIC submarine model - Conning tower and cannon
Type VIIC submarine model - Rudders, propellers and anchor

Eventually, the hull was ready for being painted by means of airbrush. Separate elements such as the anchor or the hydroplanes had not yet been incorporated to it. A base color was applied to each different zone before, applying diverse lighting and shadowing effects for achieving an increased realism. Also by means of airbrush some basic effects of oxide and dirt were applied. Finally, with the help of a brush, they were added the final touches, additional effects of wear and tear, oxide, dirt or chips, as well as the badges of Adalbert Schnee and the city of Remscheid.

Type VIIC submarine model - Hull painting

Regarding the conning tower, the only element added to the ensemble was the box for the long-range telescopic antenna located at larboard side, for the original kit did not include it, like many submarines of this type. Once the submarine was almost finished, missing only some pieces, such as the cannon and the accessories of the conning tower, as well as details such as the flags, which had been painted separately to ease the work, the painting process was started. Being such large the surface of the submarine, it had to be painted by means of airbrush.

For the upperworks it was chosen a camouflage scheme of two grey tones, different to the dark grey used in the underwater body. Firstly, a base color was applied to each of the different zones and then different shadow and light effects were applied to achieve the appearance of a submarine which has spent several months navigating the sea. At the same time, this allows to highlight certain parts over others, thus rendering the tedious work of placing rivet heads throughout the hull more visible. Also by means of airbrush some rust and dirt effects were applied to those areas which required them and, by last and by means of a brush, additional tear and wear effects, such as chipping, grease stains, rust and dirt, were added throughout the whole submarine.

As final touch, the snowman, badge of Adalbert Schnee, was painted at both sides of the conning tower and in the center it was glued the coat of arms of Remscheid, a Ruhr city, which the U-201 displayed as well. Once the painting process was finished the last step was to assemble the elements which had been previously left apart, such as the cannon, the wires and the flags.

Type VIIC submarine model - Conning Tower
Type VIIC submarine model - Conning Tower

In the conning tower there are diverse accessories, such as the 20-millimeter cannon installed in the rear platform and the 7.92-millimeter machine gun fixed to the bulwark of the bridge, as well as the two periscopes (used for observation and attack, respectively) and the circular antenna of the radio direction finder.

Type VIIC submarine model - Conning Tower
Type VIIC submarine model - Cannons

The 88-millimeter deck cannon and the 20-millimeter anti-aircraft cannon. Both weapons are installed in complex photoengraved decks. The deck and the hull were populated by numerous holes to facilitate a quick immersion, but this design greatly increased the noise signature and the hydrodynamic drag of the submarine while in immersion.

Type VIIC submarine model - Deck cannon
Type VIIC submarine model - Deck cannon
Type VIIC submarine model - Prow with anchor and hydroplanes
Type VIIC submarine model - Propellers and rudders

The prow has an anchor at starboard side and there is an array of acoustic sensors (hydrophones) placed on both sides of the hull, next to the protection arms of the hydroplanes. The T-shaped device on the deck is a direction finder sonar. The propellers, the rudders and the rear hydroplanes form an interesting ensemble in the rear part of the hull.

Type VIIC submarine model

In this starboard view of the U-201 it is visible one of the ballast tanks, which filled with water were used for effectuating the process of immersion. When the submarine had to return to the surface, compressed air was used to expel the water out of the ballast tanks.

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