Robert Delpizzo's Reviews

Gunnar Sillen's Hajen

Last Spring I purchased Gunnar Sillen's Hajen. The Hajen, which means shark in Swedish, was that country's interpretation of the Holland class submarine. The Holland class was the first world-class sub, and was in service in several navies of the early 1900's. Due to stability problems of the basic design, these subs were primarily limited to coastal duty.

At first glance, I was surprised that the kit was not a computer-aided model, given that the kit was designed only a few years ago. The parts are hand-drawn, and although they do not appear to be precise, they fit surprisingly well. The coloring is heavily weathered. Gunnar was kind enough to translate the instructions into English for me, but I think that someone with a small amount of paper modeling experience could build it based on the illustrations alone.

Gunnar's kit offers the option to build the Hajen in it's original 1904 design, or it's modernized 1917 form. I opted for the original design purely on aesthetics. The skeleton of the ship is composed of two lengthwise halves (top and bottom), upon which semi-circular bulkheads are glued perpendicular to them. The halves may be built up separately, or glued together and then built up. I chose the first because it allowed me to lay the halves on a flat surface and build both at the same time. Before adding the bulkheads, temporarily affix the halves together and trim any excess or missaligned edges.

The bulkheads have slots that radiate from their base to the edge, in which lengthwise stringers are installed. These stringers have a depth proportional to the particular depth of each bulkhead slot. The structure is somewhat akin to a balsa and tissue aircraft fuselage. The instructions issue a warning to apply glue only to the bottom edge of the stringers. This allows the stringers to 'float' and makes it easier to plank the structure. Unfortunately, I somehow got glue on the side of one stringer, and was then called away. When I returned a few minutes later, the glue had hardened, and the stringer did not completely sit in the slots.

Thin strips are then attached to the stringers to allow a larger gluing surface for the planks. I made wider strips as a safety precaution. The planks are alternately double-lapped and went on easily. It was here that my stringer carelessness reared its ugly head. The high-sitting stringer effectively altered the diameter of the bow and stern enough that the I had to fabricate several parts at each end to accommodate the larger circumference. The propeller guard in particular took a bit of fiddling. Fortunately, the weathered finish made it easy for me to match the new parts to the rest of the sub.

Once the sub was completely covered, the deck parts were attached. I left off the optional sail mast. The only difficulty was rolling the small parts for the periscope lens and the cleats. The railing was made from the the kit's parts and stiffened thread, though I think wire stanchions would look more in scale.

Overall, the Hajen was fun to build and looks good in spite of myself. Since the model can be easily modified for a specific navy, it should be a nice complement to the early twentieth century surface ship models that have become so prolific.

Model: Hajen
Kit: Bildrum
Scale: 1/100
Number of Parts: 130
Diagrams: Good
Difficulty: Easy (2 out of 5)
Fit: Good
Coloring: Good

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This page was created by:
Saul H. Jacobs M.Ed.
Avionics Specialist, United States Air Force (Retired)
Microcomputer Technology, Pima Community College (Retired)
Tucson Arizona