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In-Box Review
Z-39 Destroyer
Dragon Models German Z-39 Destroyer
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by: Jim Adams [ GOLDENPONY ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights


Zerstörer 1936A-class destroyers were know as the Narvik class by the Allies. The ships were not named, instead being known by their number Z23-Z39. In reality these ships might have been classed as light cruisers in other navies due to their heavier than normal weapons.

Z-39 history...

Z39 was laid down in 1940 and finished in 1943. She was put into full service in 1944. Her first operation was mining operations with Z-25 and Z-35. She was damaged by bombs in June 1944 and was out of action until March 1945. She supplied gun fire support for German forces ashore and helped tow the old German battleship Schlesien out of danger when she hit a mine. She returned to provide support for German forces while they withdrew from the area around Peene River.

She spent the remainder of the war providing escort for steamers full of refugees and wounded soldiers. She made one last trip before returning the Kiel. On May10, 1945 she was decommissioned in the German navy and taken over by the British. After a short stop over in Plymouth she headed to the Boston Navy Yard. Once in Boston she was turned over to the US Navy. She was renamed DD-939 and would rename in US hands until 1947. After the US Navy had fully examined she was turned over to the French navy to be used as a parts hulk. She ended her life at the hands of the scrappers in 1953.


Displacement: 2,657 tons standard 3,691 tons full load
Length: 127 m
Beam: 12 m
Draft: 4.62 m
Propulsion: 2 × shafts 2 × Wagner geared turbines producing up to 75,638 shp
Speed: 35.5 knots
Range: 2,950 nautical miles at 19 knots
Crew: 330 men and officers
5 × 15 cm L/48 SK C/36 carried 600 rounds
4 × 3.7 cm L/83 SK C/30 carried 8000 rounds
10 × 2 cm MG L/65 C/30 carried 20000 rounds
8 × 53.3 cm torpedo tubes 12 × torpedo's carried
60 mines
The Kit...

The kit comes in a standard lidded box with a painting on top of the Z-39 in the foreground taking heavy seas. The remainder of the box is covered with CAD images of the assembled model.

Inside you find several bags full of sprues, instructions, decals, and three small fret of PE. So lets get into the parts now shall we?

Sprue A
First off we have the hull. The hull allows for either a waterline or a full hull build. The upper hull has the graceful shape of the real ship. Along both sides there are portholes and rain shields, eyebrows. The bow of the ship comes with a plastic shield to protect it during shipping.

Sprue B
Moving down just a little we have the lower half of the hull, main deck, rudders, screws, and break water. The upper hull and lower hull dry together nicely. My upper hull has a really small nick where the upper a lower hull meet. SO, be careful when you put your halves together.

The main deck is on one piece and has nice detail on it. There are sockets for the superstructure and weapons mounts. You will also find rails for mine laying molded into the main deck. But there are no mines in the kit. AM companies take note!

The breakwater is nice looking as are the screws. The underside of the hull has the bilge keels and also the sonar dome. The underwater portion even has one of the sea chests present on the hull.

Sprue C
Starting to move up from the main deck we have portions of the superstructure. The funnels are molded in one piece as are two of the deck houses. The deck houses have opening for watertight decks. The doors can either be PE or plastic. Also intakes are “hollow” so you can add the PE versions to give them more realism. The other parts found here are also nicely done with fine molded on details and thin wall when needed.

Sprue D
Moving up farther on the ship you will find the mast and yardarms. BE CAREFUL these are all very fine. When building use a very sharp knife when removing these parts. Some of these are the smallest parts I've seen on a ship model of this scale.

Sprue E
Up to the bridge with this sprue. Again some nicely done parts here. Detail on both sides that need it and once again some very thin sections.

Sprue F
There are two of these sprues in this bag. More tiny pieces here, so watch out for the carpet monster. The torpedo tubes are really nice as are the range finder and ships anchors. Some of the ships cable reels are present here. These are made up of two parts and really nice, almost as nice a PE pieces.

Sprue G
Once again 2 of these sprues. Here are the ships boats. The cabin launch is only missing its propeller. If you are good you can add one. Even the open launch is really nice. Hand wheels for the capstans are included too!

Sprue H
Another doubles up sprue. Here you will find 127mm single, twin Flak 38 LM43, 20mm Naval vierling, and 3.7mm twin anti-aircraft guns. You guessed it, they are nice too! Heck, even the barrels are hollowed out at the ends. Make sure to get the tweezers and magnifier out as well.

Sprue J
Moving to the main weapon, the double barrel 5” cannon. The bottom of the turret fits into the bottom of the top, so there is no seam. The barrels are also hollowed out. The double 5” mount replaced the single mount found in the previous models of the class.

Sprue K

Two sprues to make up the single 5” mounts.

Sprue Z
This is the typical Dragon stand for this size ship. With a little work you can jazz it up to make your build something special.

The Instructions...

The instructions are those typically found in a Dragon kit, a multi-fold out sheet. The first page shows the parts break down for the kit. One interesting note on this page. This kit follows typical Dragon style by marking those parts not used in blue. This one only shows 4 small parts not used in this kit, why do I mention this? It gives you a good indication that this kit would be a good starting point for other ships of the same class.

I went over the instructions a good deal to see how they flowed. They take you through a series of sub-assemblies for the entire ship. Then taking these assemblies and placing them on the assembled hull. Being a former Technical Illustrator I have no problem following the flow. However I think some novice builders might. So, make sure to have a firm grasp on what the instructions say before you start to glue, or you might en in trouble.

The painting instructions are again typical Dragon, multi-tone color, grey, black, blue, light blue. The colors are called out using Model Master and Mr Color.

The Extras...

There are three different frets of PE provided with the kit
MA carriers grills with shutter assemblies for the funnel intakes. The grills can be opened up or closed. Foot rails for the funnel are provided for those who wish to dress up their build. The ships radar antenna gives you an option, PE or Plastic.

MB gives the shields for the light A-A guns. There are also hand wheels and seats if you wish to add extra detail.

MC has watertight doors relief etched. There are two different styles of watertight doors.

Also included are two decal sheets. One provides Kriegsmarine flags and US Navy flags. You will have to assemble the swastikas if you want to use them. The other sheet holds the draft numbers, hull number, and other markings. One draw back is there is only the number 39 provided. SO, you have to supply your own numbers if you want to build a different ship.

You also get 6 really small figures to populate your ship, well sparsely would be more like it. They are really nice looking and will give you an added something to your build. Too bad there are not more.


Alright, for my final thoughts. Believe me I am oh so happy to have the Z39 in 1/350 and even more so with the announcement of the Z31coming. There has been much talk about over engineering of kits as of late. So, it all depends what type of person you are, a kit loaded with many tiny pieces and detail. Or a kit that is easier to build but is lacking in some ways. I cannot seriously answer which way I like to go. I do like detail, but I also like ease of build.

This kit is great, BUT! There are some drawbacks with how Dragon handles their kits. First, I really have never liked their painting guides. A color guide would be much nicer. Secondly, I not like how they, or others, lock you into one ship with the kit. Offering a couple of extra sets of hull numbers would be nice. Finally, like I mentioned before their instructions might confuse novice builders.

Overall I really like this kit. It is a little over engineered, but it will make you a nice project. If you are new to ship building and want to improve your skills this would be a good kit to get. You can get used to working with small parts and adding PE. Experienced builders will love this one, as will us mid level people. Oh, one more thing, it is a good value for the price.
Highs: Finally a German Destroyer in 1/350!!
Lows: Might be too much for a novice. Tiny parts and really tiny parts.
Verdict: Must have kit for any fan of the Kriegsmarine.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:350
  Mfg. ID: 1037
  Suggested Retail: $49.95
  Related Link: DRA-1037
  PUBLISHED: Mar 06, 2011

About Jim Adams (goldenpony)

Copyright ©2020 text by Jim Adams [ GOLDENPONY ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


After reading a review of Z-38 i suddenly saw, that they were talking about 15cmtwin and 12.7cm single mounts (obviously quoting the dragon ad). Checking older reviews i found the same statement for Z-39. This now explains , why I had to convert the singles on my model (see m previous comment) Seems, that that mistake is less a mismeasurement as a misunderstanding of the designer, as the ships had 15 cm twins and 15cm singles. and it seems to affect all Dragon german destroyers.
FEB 12, 2012 - 07:14 PM
Hmmm.. has anyone else tried to build this kit? First set of guns I am leaving off most of the tiny bits as there just isn't enough plastic to glue together. These parts are over-engineered to me. My opinion.
JAN 20, 2013 - 04:23 PM
I manged to "melt down completely one of the AA guns . At the end I replaced them by photo etch, just keeping the barrels. And replace the masts with brass or wire.
JAN 20, 2013 - 06:17 PM
Dragon over engineer a kit!?!?! That never happens.
JAN 21, 2013 - 10:54 AM
All I can say is that the mustn't test build their models after the moulds are made. Anyway, I am leaving off quite a few of the idiot parts and I don't believe it will be very noticeable.
JAN 21, 2013 - 01:15 PM
Hi Tom. I haven't been able to find the twin 2cm mounts anywhere. Any idea who make them as I have a few of these destroyers to build..
JAN 21, 2013 - 01:16 PM
Hi Warren I used the WEM Kriegsmarine AA set. I am not at home now, but if you like i can give you the ref. no. tomorrow evening. I know, that Lion Roar has a " Z-destroyer set" which should have parts for all kinds of destroyers from Z-24 to Z43, incl the different AA weapons. Best regards from Wuhan
JAN 22, 2013 - 01:49 AM
PE guns look OK from the side, but tend to disappear when viewed from the front or rear. It's too bad Veteran Models went out of business. He (forget his name!) had just started a fine Kriegsmarine weapons and accessories line. With this increased interest in Kriegsmarine models I'm surprised that no other AM company has stepped in to fill this void.
JAN 22, 2013 - 04:37 AM
Thanks for that Wuhan. I will see what the WEM set is like first. The LionRoar ones are a little expensive for me at the moment. Maybe I should just stop complaining and get on with it! Cheers mate Warren
JAN 22, 2013 - 04:38 AM

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