ICM 1/144 U-Boot Type XXIII

by Pappy



The Type XXIII was one of the most advanced subs of WWII. Unlike the previous generation of submarines which had to spend the majority of their cruises on the surface, the Type XXIII could remain submerged for as long as its fuel lasted. The use of a “schnorkel’ and better electric batteries along with a very quiet propeller meant that at 2.5knots, the Type XXIII was virtually undetectable.
 The designers dispensed with all the drag inducing external features such as FLAK guns as well, the resulting design was much more efficient underwater and could achieve a speed of nearly  13 knots submerged which was faster than most of the previous designs could make whilst surfaced. The boat could actually travel faster underwater than surfaced.
Design work began in 1942, however disruption to war production meant that the first deliveries were not until 1944. In total, of the planned 1000 units, just 63 Type XXIII were built, of which 6 saw action. One of these, U2336 scored the last U-Boat kill of the war.
Most of the Type XXIII’s were scuttled in 1945, however,  two of these scuttled boats were re-floated by the new FGR (West German Navy) in 1956 and re-furbished. Named “Hai” (“Shark”) & “Hecht” (“Pike”), these were used as training vessels.

The kit

ICM’s kit is supplied in a their usual side opening box that has an attractive painting of a submerged Type XXIII on the top and a colour painting profile on the back. The parts are supplied on two grey sprues with a very modest 23 parts count. The parts are very crisply moulded with little flash, though the surface texture was slightly pebbly. The flagpole and antenna parts for the bridge are extremely delicate and great care is needed to remove these without damaging them (I broke mine!). The instructions supplied are a simple affair and consist of a double sided A4 sheet with a brief history, parts map, painting guide and an exploded assembly diagram.

All colour suggestions are referenced to Testor’s Model Master paint range. The decals supplied include flags for the Kriegsmarine*, FGR and Soviet navy examples. The decals look very matt but behaved well with no silvering.

* The Kriegsmarine flags do not have any swastikas in their centres. The builder will have to ignore this or source their own.


Due to the simple nature of this kit, there is no detailed assembly sequence. I glued the two hull pieces together and cleaned up all the ancillary pieces. I left off the conning tower details such as the masts, periscope, radar and schnorkel to prevent damaging these items during handling. I also left off the propeller to ease painting. I managed to have the kit ready for paint after an evening’s effort.

There are some external ladder rungs on the front of the sail (arrow). I used very fine copper wire bent into a “u” shape to represent these and placed these into pre-drilled holes that I made with a pin-vice.

I also made some pre-drilled holes for the gangway railing that I would add at the end. My reference book also showed that there was a set of observer’s binoculars fitted at the front of the conning tower. I scratch built a very simple representation of these using some stretched sprue and scrap copper sheet.

The gangway railings are some very fine sections of copper wire set into pre-drilled holes. The railing itself is some ‘ezy-line’ stretched across the top and glued into pre-drilled holes. The rigging is also ezy-line, and the three electrical insulators are blobs of PVA (wood) glue painted white.



Painting and Weathering

I used Tamiya acrylics for most of the colours. The lighter grey is Tamiya XF 54 Sea Grey and the lower portion was painted with Tamiya XF 69 NATO Black. I used lightened shades of each to break up the large monotone expanses. The gangway was painted in XF 59 Desert Yellow and streaked with raw umber artist’s oil paint.  I used X 19 smoke and some raw umber oil paint for the dirt and rust streaks. The prop was painted in Testor’s  Mettaliser brass. The depth indicator decals on the bow were applied over a brush coat of Future floor polish and everything was sealed with several misted on coats of Testor’s Dullcoat matt varnish.

The tricky part was the Kriegsmarine ensign. I applied the flag decals to a piece of lead foil that was painted red. Once the decals were on and sealed, I decided to try and fold the flag a little. The purpose was two fold:

  1. To add a little animation to the kit
  2. To hide the fact that the swastikas are missing

Once folded, only part of the white centre would be visible. I touched in a partial swastika with a fine 000 brush.


A very nice kit, it went together without fuss. Small enough to display without taking up too much room but large enough to discern the details. The small delicate bridge details require some care, but otherwise, the kit would make an ideal entry into submarine kits for the novice builder.


Hot on the heels of the ICM kit, Trumpeter have released a 1/144 Type XXIII as well.

 The kit is a conventional injected moulded styrene kit that comprises approximately 30 parts, however some of these parts will not be required.

Predictably, the parts breakdown is similar in both kits, although there is one major difference (more on this later), but the nature of the subject means that this will be the case.

A nice colour painting guide is included with colour references provided for Gunze Sanyo, Tamiya, Model Master and Humbrol paint brands. I didn’t have any scale plans so I cannot comment on scale accuracy, but the dimensions are very similar to the ICM kit, so if they are wrong, so is the ICM kit!

The detail consists of very fine engraved details with raised panel detail for hatches, doubler plates etc. The plastic used is smooth and shiny, whilst ICM’s was a little rougher looking, no doubt due to the moulding technology emplyed ie spark erosion moulds vs machined steel dies.

The details seem a little better rendered on the Trumpeter kit and I think the parts look a little nicer on the sprue, but I cannot speak for how the parts actually fit together.

The instruction sheet consists of clear, exploded diagram style that are relatively easy to follow, however steps 3-5 can hold a trap for the unwary. Where the Trumpeter offering differs markedly from the ICM kit is that Trumpeter provide three subtly different conning tower styles. The builder will need to study the colour painting guide very carefully to choose the correct conning tower that corresponds to the marking option. I suggest that only the required conning tower parts are removed form the sprue.

It seems that step 2 corresponds to option ‘A’, Step 3 to option ‘B’ and step step 4 to option ‘C’

No painting guidance is provided during the course of assembly.
There are three marking options, U02326, U-2322 and U-2360, however there is very little difference between the three options.

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