"The three Desaix class (Desaix, Kleber, and Dupleix) are altogether poor ships, even for their small displacement (7700 tons), though there is a pleasing simplicity in their armament." (All of the World's Fighting Ships 1903, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., LTD, London, edited by Fred T. Jane, 1903, at page 357)

Ship design can remain remarkably stable over long periods of time or rapidly evolve. Technology is the driving force behind the evolution in warship design. The frigate in the age of sail was little changed in almost two centuries. With a single gun deck, the frigate was designed to assist the battle line composed of ships of the line. The frigate's roles were many. They scouted for the fleet, provided for relay of signals in battle or as a courier of new orders to far flung squadrons. They served as commerce raiders, hunted commerce raiders and served as flagship on distant stations.   This status quo changed dramatically in middle third of the 19th century. The steam engine was technological father of all of the subsequent innovations. In addition to providing propulsion independent of the wind, a host of other revolutionary improvements opened their doors because of the steam engine. With independent power in ever increasing strength, hulls were no longer limited in length or displacement, by the use of wood as the construction material. At first hulls were still built of wood but were made longer through the use of iron supports. During the Crimean War both the French and British came up with the innovation of adding iron armor to a wooden hull, making the hull impervious to the shot and shell of the time. However, this was only done on a small scale. Only restricted use floating batteries, incapable of ocean movement, received this treatment.

After the end of the Crimean War France and Great Britain shed their unaccustomed role as allies and regained their centuries old relationship as rivals. It was France, which made the next technological leap. With the Gloire of 1857, France used the iron armor concept developed a few years earlier for practically immobile floating batteries, and applied it to ocean going ships of the line. Still the Gloire had a wooden hull, sheathed by the iron armor. Britain's response to the Gloire provided another great leap forward in the rapidly evolving arena of warship technology and design. In 1860 the HMS Warrior appeared, which used a stronger iron hull instead of a wooden hull.

The Warrior also introduced a period of experimentation in design and type classifications. Before Warrior the ship of line was the primary type of warship, consisting of two to four decks of guns. Frigates with only a single gun deck were rated as 5th rates, unable to stand up to the 1st through 4th rate ships of the line. The Warrior had only one gun deck and so by definition was a frigate and yet it was clearly superior and stronger to the multiple gun deck wooden hull ships of the line, even those with an iron armor sheathing, such as the Gloire. The names of the types changed, with ships of line becoming battleships and frigates becoming cruisers. The new type names reflected the ship's primary mission.  


Profile, Plan & Quarter Views
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For the next two decades there was a great deal of experimentation in design in both battleships and cruisers until around 1880 when standard designs for both types appeared. For cruisers the rate system again appeared with the cruisers typed 1st through 3rd rate. This system classified the cruiser based on armor and size. 3rd rate cruisers generally had an iron hull but no armor. They assumed the traditional frigate roles of scouting and sea control and subsequently evolved into the scout cruiser. Cruisers of the 1st and 2nd rate normally had an armored deck, which was turtle back in design, with the deck centerline above waterline but with the edge of the armored deck joining the hull below the waterline. In theory this armored deck protected the buoyancy of the cruiser, as well as protecting the machinery. With HMS Orlando, launched in 1888, the Royal Navy introduced a new type of cruiser called the armored cruiser. The Orlando incorporated a narrow wrought iron belt to provide additional horizontal protection. However, the Orlando was a failed design. Wrought iron armor was extremely heavy and accordingly only a narrow, thin belt could be worked into the design. Even with this limited belt, the speed of the ship was dramatically reduced to little greater than that of contemporary battleships.  

The French Navy, ever alert to employ technical innovation to overcome the numerical superiority of the Royal Navy, again stole a march on their competition across the English Channel. France became the innovator in the use of steel for armor. Steel armor was not only stronger than wrought iron, but was also significantly lighter. However, through the metallurgy of the time it was more brittle, significantly more difficult to manufacture and much more expensive to produce than wrought iron armor. Through the new Schneider process, France was able to convert to steel construction with all of her new warship designs. With the use of steel, a cruiser could be designed with a steel armor belt without the ruinous handicap of extreme weight imposed by wrought iron armor. France came up with a new steel belted cruiser design for the armored cruiser and inaugurated a decade of armored cruiser building in all of the world's fleets that approached a mania.  


Hull Detail
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The Dupuy de Lôme was launched in 1890 and was an instant sensation. Modest by armored cruiser standards later at the end of the 1890s, Dupuy de Lôme seemed to pack a lot into her 6,406-ton displacement. She carried two 7.6-inch, six 6.4-inch QF, twelve 2.5-inch QF guns and four torpedo tubes. Her armor consisted of a 4-inch steel belt, 4-inch armor on gun positions, and a 2-inch armored deck. Her machinery developed 14,000 ihp, which gave her a top speed of 20-knots. The French navy fell in love with the type and started building many more armored cruisers, only the subsequent designs were bigger, stronger and faster.  The French saw this as the perfect weapon system against Great Britain. In the event of war, they could be turned loose on the extended British shipping routes and were strong enough to overcome anything faster and fast enough to escape any ship stronger. Their design fit in perfectly with the prevalent Guerre de Course theory of the Young School, which embraced asymmetrical combat against the Royal Navy. Masses of cheap torpedo boats and submarines would atrit the British battleships, while numerous fast cruisers would tear into Britain's huge merchant marine.

It was not only the French who fell in love with the armored cruiser. Any salt worth his salt, fell in love with it as well. Looking at the design of the Dupuy de Lôme the reborn USN greatly improved upon the type with New York and Brooklyn, which became the most prestigious commands in the young fleet. It was no accident that these two American armored cruisers were the flagships at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba in the Spanish-American War of 1898. Their performance, especially of the Brooklyn, which overhauled Spanish cruisers with only half of her engines engaged, only heightened the world's navies' ardor for the armored cruiser. As for the Royal Navy, in a case of keeping up with the Joneses, or more appropriately keeping up with the Jeans, they entered the new armored cruiser race with fervor. In the time honored British tradition of not introducing innovation but once introduced, out-building the rival navies, the Royal Navy started building armored cruisers bigger than those of the French or Americans, and in far larger numbers. 

Hull Detail
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With their next design, the French dramatically increased the displacement. The one-off, six funnel Jeanne d'Arc displaced 11,270-tons with a main armament of two 7.6-inch guns and a secondary of fourteen 5.5-inch guns. Armor jumped to 6-inches for the belt, conning tower and turrets, while the casment secondaries received 5-inches of armor. Machinery was also increased, developing 28,500 ihp with a maximum speed of 23-knots. Although other navies had doubts about the design, French naval writers very, very enthusiastic. "The French have a high opinion of her, and a writer in the Yacht has expressed himself in the following terms: 'A comparison between the Jeanne d'Arc and vessels of the Powerful and Diadem classes shows that the English are less ingenious than ourselves in the matter of naval construction. To know how to unite a powerful armament with sufficient protection and high speed upon a small displacement, is a veritable tour de force, and from this point of view it cannot be denied that the Jeanne d'Arc, notwithstanding her defects, is a chef d'oeuvre of naval architecture."

Following Jeanne d'Arc, the French ordered three more classes of large armored cruisers in rapid sequence. Each of the first two classes were of three ships each with the last class of two ships and were of a very similar four funnel design with only incremental improvements. First came the Montcalm class of Montcalm, Gueydon and Dupetit-Thouars of 9,517-tons. The ships carried two 7.6-inch main guns in turrets and eight 6.4-inch guns in casemates. The armor scheme was the same of Jeanne d'Arc, except casmate armor was reduced to 4-inches. The machinery was less, developing 19,600 ihp for a top speed of 21-knots. The following Condé class of Condé, Sully and Gloire jumped to 10,000-tons with two 7.6-inch and eight 6.4-inch, this time all in turrets. The deck armor dropped to 1.7-inches. The machinery produced 20,500 ihp with a top speed of 21-knots. The last class consisted of two ships, Marseillaise and Amiral Aube, displaced 10,014-tons and was almost a repeat of the Condé class but the armored deck back to 2.5-inches.  


Lower Hull & Stand
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In addition to these three classes of large armored cruisers, they came up with a fourth, smaller class of armored cruiser. As with Britain, France also had a far flung colonial empire throughout the Caribbean, Africa, Indo-China and the Pacific. Just as in the age of sail frigates were used as flagships on distant stations, the French Admirals thought a smaller, cheaper armored cruiser design would make the perfect flagship for distant stations, while the large armored cruisers remained in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The Desaix class was designed just for this specific purpose. The class consisted of Desaix, Dupleix and Kléber. They were scaled down versions of the larger designs. On a displacement of 7,700-tons, they mounted eight 6.4-inch guns in four twin turrets, four 4-inch guns in casemates, ten 47mm QF, six 37mm QF and two above water torpedo tubes. The armor scheme reverted to a scheme similar to the original Dupuy de Lôme. The belt was 4-inches, armored deck 2.75-inches, conning tower 6-inches, and four inches for bullheads, turrets and turret hoists. Three vertical triple expansion engines produced 17,100 ihp for the same 21-knots of the larger cruisers. Desaix was the first to be laid down in 1897 at Penhoet at Saint Nazaire but was last to complete. Launched in 1901 and completed in 1904, the glacially slow building time was a handicap always faced by the French Navy. Dupleix and Kléber were both laid down in 1898, Dupleix at Rochfort and Kléber at Ch. de la Gironde at Bordeaux. Dupleix was the first of the three to launch in 1900 and completed in 1903. With Kléber the French tried something different. With the goal of speeding up construction time, the Kléber had her entire construction completed while on the stocks, instead of waiting for completion until after launch. The additional weight caused the hull to be strained during launch in 1902, nonetheless, she completed in 1903.

In All The World's Fighting Ships 1903, Fred Jane was very critical of the class. "These ships are virtually ordinary cruisers, with thin narrow belts instead of deck protection only, and some protection to big guns." (at page 357) However, his critique doesn't quite stand up to close scrutiny. Jane also panned the Royal Navy Good Hope class of 14,000-tons in the same 1903 volume. "The error, or whatever name we may elect to use for it, lies with the designing department, and apparently every department associated with the design. To begin with, the Good Hope has been found abominably 'wet'. It is stated on excellent authority that in any sea her waist is more or less full of water, while it seems beyond dispute that she cannot fight her main-deck casemates in any sea way." (at page 355) The County class doesn't get much better treatment. "The stability of these is questioned, and no one appears satisfied with them. The armour and armament are alike poor, and a comparison with the Japanese Asama indicates how much cause for complaint there is." (at page 356). Jane's criticism of both the Good Hope and County designs was proven at the Battle of Cornel in October 1914 when von Spee's Scharnhorst and Gneisenau easily sank Good Hope and Monmouth with the loss of all hands. If you compare the designs of Desaix with the Counties, the 7,700-ton Desaix seems to have significant advantages over the 9,800-ton Counties. The Counties have the same casemate placement disadvantages as the Good Hope. With a broadside of nine 6-inch guns, five of the main guns were in casemate positions with three of these on the lower deck, which as with the main deck casemate guns on Good Hope were unusable due to sea state. At that battle even the upper casemate guns were at a severe disadvantage due to the intake of water. In comparison the turret mounted 6.4-inch guns provides a broadside of six 6.4-inch guns against six 6-inch gun broadside of the far larger County in even a moderate sea state. A comparison of the armor schemes between the Desaix and a County with the same belt thickness with the belt of the County covering a slightly greater area. The armored deck of Desaix was .75-inch thicker than the Counties but the British design provided 5-inches of turret armor (4-inches for casemates) to the 4-inch turret armor of Desaix. The one clear advantage of the County class over the Desaix class was speed with the Counties having a two knot advantage over the Desaix.


Smaller Resin Parts
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Dupleix was sent to the Far East in 1910 and in August 1914 was attached to British Admiral Jerram's Far Eastern Squadron at Hong Kong. On August 21, 1914 Dupleix caught the German collier Senegambia and cargo ship Ferdinand Laeisz both on their way with coal and supplies for von Spee. Through the fall of 1914 into the spring of 1915, Dupleix provided escort for British troop transports between India and the Suez Canal, as well as searching for the Emden. By May 1915 Dupleix was in the Eastern Mediterranean and shelled Turkish positions at Boidrum. For the rest of the war she operated around the Suez Canal. After the war Dupleix was decommissioned in 1919 and scrapped in 1922. Kléber was the only one of the class lost. She seemed to be a hard-luck ship. First she was damaged on launch and had machinery problems in trials. At the Dardanelles, Kléber ran aground under Turkish guns from May 29 through May 31, 1915. After repairs, she was not long out of trouble. On July 7, 1915 she ran into a cargo ship at Mudros and was seriously damaged. Repairs took until October to complete. Kléber spent 1916 in the Eastern Mediterranean. In 1917 she was refitted at Bordeaux to be the flagship of the 6thCruiser Squadron at Dakar. On June 27, 1917 Kléber was returning to Brest from Dakar when she hit a mine that had been laid by UC-61. She went down but only lost seven officers and thirty-five men. Desaix had a fairly uneventful combat career. In 1915 she was guarding the Suez Canal and then patrolled the coast of Syria. In September 1915 she evacuated Armenians from Antioch. Sent to the 6th Cruiser Squadron at Dakar in 1916, her 4-inch guns were removed for remounting on merchant ships. In 1918 Desaix received a plum assignment, stationed in the French West Indies on Atlantic patrol. After the war she went to the Far East in 1919, until recalled to France in 1921. Desaix was decommissioned on June 30, 1921 but wasn't scrapped until 1927.


Smaller Resin Parts
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U-Boat Laboratorium Dupleix
For years modelers have been familiar with the outstanding models from the Russian Company of Combrig. Combrig is in Moskva, or Moscow as commonly spelled in English. But what about the city of Peter the Great, Peter’s Window on the West? What about Sankt Petersburg or Saint Petersburg? There has always been a spirited rivalry between Moscow, the ancient and modern capital of Russia, and Saint Petersburg, the capital of Imperial Russia since the early 1700s. Now Saint Petersburg has its own resin model warship producer with U-Boat Laboratorium. Run by Eduard Zhuravlev, U-Boat Laboratorium produces resin and brass models in exclusively 1:350 scale. So far, the company’s models have been on submarines, with this one very notable exception. The U-Boat Laboratorium Dupleix is not only the most ambitious model that they have released so far, but is also the only current model from any producer in the world of any French armored cruiser, although Combrig should have some 1:700 scale French armored cruisers in the new future. For anyone with an appreciation of the quirky French “Fierce-Face” warship designs and the end of the 19th and start of the 20th Centuries, the Dupleix has to be welcomed with open arms. “Fierce-Face” was the French design practice to exaggerate the aesthetic visual appearance of certain design features in order to emphasize their visually aggressive qualities. Some of these qualities were a very strong tumblehome, very small turrets with visually oversize guns, and multiple stack caps. You’ll never confuse a “Fierce-Face” aesthetic French design with a workman like British design with features designed purely for function with no concession to visual appearance. My favorite scale is 1:350 scale, as I love the size and majesty of the scale and have a preference for full hulled models. It seems that resin producers have shied away from this scale of majesty. In large part this is because of the prolific release tempo for Trumpeter Models in 1:350. There only has to appear a vague rumor that a kit will appear in plastic to kill off a resin ship company’s sale of models on that ship. Years before Trumpeter ever produced a 1:350 scale HMS Hood, just the mere rumor that ICM was going to release a 1:350 scale version killed the sales of the 1:350 scale resin versions from WEM and ISW. It didn’t matter that ICM never produced the kit, the
damage was done with the rumor. Therefore, I eagerly embrace any new releases in my favorite scale, as until now, only ISW consistently released new kits in this scale in resin. U-Boat Laboratorium certainly doesn’t have to worry about rumors of a plastic French armored cruiser Dupleix killing off the sales of their product. Does anyone really think that any French armored cruiser design will ever be released in injected plastic, much less the Desaix class?  

U-Boat Laboratorium clearly picks out “off the beaten path” designs for their models, as even the submarine kits are of unusual, little known designs. From the start, I really like the model of the Dupleix, just because of topic choice alone. I have some criticism of design choices but the quality of the resin castings is good. I didn’t find any voids, bubbles, malformed parts or broken parts and most of my gripes go to details on the hull casting, not quality of casting. The kit comes with both an upper and lower hull, divided at the waterline. So for the modeler, UBL (UBL for U-Boat Laboratorium, not to be confused with an individual with those same initials) provides great flexibility for those who like me prefer full hull models in 1:350 scale and for other modelers who like to build waterline models without the lower hull. 


Metal Parts
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The U-Boat Laboratorium Dupleix Hull Castings
As mentioned supra, the
Dupleix comes with separate upper and lower hull castings, separated at the waterline. Cast in almost a white resin the upper, the UBL design process displays an effort to simplify the assembly process for the modeler by making as much hull detail as possible integral to the hull casting. For the most part this philosophy works but there are details included, which I believe could have been made separate parts or omitted entirely for a better kit. This of course is entirely subjective on my part. The UBL Dupleix has a graceful compound curve cutwater. The Dupleix, in common with all of the designs at the time, has a ram bow but the compound curve at the top of the cutwater presents a more graceful appearance in contrast to the British “Just the Facts, Maam,” design of ram bows, which lacked the compound curve at the top. There is abundant hull sides’ detail integral to the upper hull casting. For one thing the bow anchors are cast on the hull, within their anchor wells. This is OK but seems too flat. I believe that it would have been better to have separate anchors to be attached into the wells to create a greater three-dimensional appearance, especially since it is 1:350 scale. Although the Dupleix had a comparatively this 4-inch belt, the belt is clearly discernable on the model. It is the inclusion of the anti-torpedo net as an integral part of the hull with which I have the greatest problem. At least I assume it is an anti-torpedo net but there are no booms appearing on the hull and booms for extending the net were part and parcel of such a defensive system. The net was of a mesh chain design and on the UBL Dupleix appears as a line of anchor chain running most of the length of the hull, slightly above the waterline. Additionally, there appear to be too many peaks, which represent net/boom connection points, along the chain. No producer has successfully modeled torpedo nets integral to a hull casting in 1:350 scale and I believe it would have made a better model for UBL to not even try. This can be removed with sanding but since there are relief strake lines running parallel above and below the nets, there is probably more danger risked in removing the nets than is justified by the end result. Detailed torpedo nets can be fabricated by scratch-building through a number of different mediums and attached atop the cast on nets without running the risk of marring hull detail. 


Metal Parts
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In addition to the armor strake lines on the hull near the waterline, another thin strake line can be found at the level below the forecastle deck. It should be called the main deck because there never really is a drop from the forecastle level until you get to the very stern where you find a drop to a very short quarterdeck. That lower level does have separate external deck space amidships where the hull sides above the level gracefully curve inward for a short distance for the wing gun turrets before going back out to be flush with the hull sides until reaching the deck drop at the stern. The UBL Dupleix features the characteristic square ports on the hull sides of French designs of the period, in an era before they switched over to only port holes. Each window has its square cover with port hole in the middle of the plate, closed. This clearly was a sensible design choice. Although indented square windows with separate covers would have perhaps been more visually appealing, it would have complicated the master design process and increased the assembly process considerably. These large openings provided more ventilation for the ship than standard portholes. As it is, these square window covers running in two rows, the length of the hull add to the visually appealing impact of the Dupleix. Along with the square windows there is an occasional hull door from which gangways could be run while moored alongside a pier in port. There is a noticeable tumblehome but as extreme as found in other French designs. However, because of the tumblehome there are sponsons on the hull sides for the wing gun turrets. Other detail cast integral to the hull sides are boat booms forward and retracted propeller guard and Dupleix name plate aft. Under magnification you can clearly read Dupleix on these name plates. However, as a design choice I would have preferred to have photo-etch propeller guards in order to present the option to have the guards lowered to their horizontal positions. 

The hull plan is very elegant with the graceful inward curve for the wing turret placement and a sharply tapered stern. The Dupleix designer clearly had nothing to do with the British rounded stern. Since the French invented the barbette for protection of gun systems, there are no half way measures with them. They stand much higher than the barbette tops of British designs. This further allowed an emphasis on abnormally small turrets, which was a characteristically French design feature. It fit the French “Fierce-Face” philosophy and though the small turrets provided a smaller target, this choice must have imposed operational constraints upon the gun crews who had to be cramped in those small turrets. Other major deck features integral to the hull are the 01 levels of the superstructure forward with square window and door detail, as well as a bulkheads flush to the hull sides  and the smaller ventilation fittings running along the centerline. To supplement the major structure and fittings, there are abundant smaller details cast as part of the hull. At the forecastle are open chocks and unusual chock/bollard fittings. The anchor chain fittings depict a significantly raised anchor hawse fittings and chain guide fittings, as well as an open and indented deck access coamings. UBL chose to cast the deck boat chocks integral to the hull and this certainly speeds up assembly. Also near the stern are three peaked skylights. There are two boat chock positions forward and five aft. Amidship and along the centerline are a series of deck access coamings all of which are open with indented inclined ladder wells. There are also a whole line of locator indentations for the fitting of the separate large ventilation fittings and funnels. Before the drop to the quarterdeck you’ll find more deck edge fittings with traditional twin bollard, the unusual bollard/chock and open chock fittings. The aft bulkhead at the deck break is rounded with quarterdeck access doors. The very small and short quarterdeck has an additional skylight, open chocks and a deck plate. The lower hull piece has a large amount of resin to be removed but is very cleanly cast with no blemishes. Even with something as normally featureless, the lower hull of UBL Dupleix has interesting character. Again there is the pointed stern with a nice centerline skeg. The rudder is cast in place. There is a heavy centerline keel and well executed bilge keels. 


Box Art & Instructions
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Smaller Resin Parts
There are plenty of the smaller resin parts, which pick up the unique French design appearance to add further emphasis to the uniquely French “Fierce-Face” design philosophy. The four stacks have unique double caps of their top hat design. There are three levels to the top of each stack. The bottom level goes straight up like any conventional funnel but near the top there is a flared apron extending outwards and the sides of the funnel narrow. This is interesting enough but then higher up there is another apron and further narrowing of the funnel. Conceptually, I can understand the narrowing of the funnel, as designed to improve engine performance. Any ship with a funnel shot away drops in engine performance due to the loss of pressure. Narrowing the funnels near the top would seem to increase pressure and I imagine that the fumes would almost shoot out of the top most impressively due to the exhaust fumes being confined in ever decreasing space near the top. Perhaps the flared aprons had something to due with heat dissipation as extra heat generates upon compressing gas/fumes into a smaller area. Regardless of the design reasons, for the modeler the funnel design presents a wonderful visual treat and one that is very bizarre and very French. More very French parts come in the turret design. The French were well in advance of the Royal Navy and most navies of the era by placing their guns in turrets whenever possible. About the only other power that did so was the USN, which placed secondary guns in battleships in turrets, rather than casemates. The four main gun turrets are low in design because of the high barbettes and have rather small gun openings. They are curved all around and feature very large and prominent cowlings on the turret crowns. Another set of fittings also is characteristically French. While the British, Japanese and Americans used traditional cowled deck ventilators, the French opted for ventilator lovers. For the most part German designs incorporated ventilation ducking and intake louvers as part of the superstructure. French designs on the other hand used free standing ventilator towers with louvers at the top. Like miniature funnels, except for the intake of fresh air, French designs didn’t shy away from loading their ships with the ventilator towers. The UBL Dupleix has a great number of these louvered ventilator towers and they are very well done. Each one seems slightly different and the locator holes on the hull deck are sized to fit specific ventilators. Each one has square access doors on the top with finely executed louvers. The Dupleix did also have a handful of J-cowled ventilators, which are found with the kit.  


Dupleix with Major Parts Dry Fitted
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  There are four other larger parts for the superstructure. The forward superstructure piece has cast in place ventilator towers and a nice circular conning tower with individual vision slits. However, the bulkheads are thick. This may have been a design feature as the hull piece shows that UBL can easily replicated thin bulkheads. Also cast in place is a small cabin with square windows and access door. There are rectangular opens for inclined ladder placement. Clean the edges and reduce the thickness of the deck by gently sanding the bottom, as this part seems to have been cast on a sheet. The aft superstructure park is an arcade with a number of arches. Resin flash is found along the edges of these arches but is easily removed. There are also two small deck cabins with window and door detail. Other deck fitting detail comes in very small louvered ventilators, some solid QF bases, a large selection of ship’s launches and boats, deck machinery, anchor windlasses, search lights, stream anchors for amidship and aft, propellers, shaft supports, mast platforms with four armed starfish and some parts whose purpose eludes me.

Metal Parts
The UBL
Dupleix comes with turned metal gun barrels, rods and photo-etched fret. The main guns have very strong muzzle flare. I haven’t found a close up of the French cruiser gun muzzles but these babies have the flare of a blunderbuss. The actual muzzles are hollow. There are two frets of photo-etch. The brass is OK with some relief-etched. The larger fret has boat thwarts, anchor chain, inclined ladders, accommodation ladders, jack and ensign staffs, D-shaped QF bases and railing. The inclined ladders have trainable treads and weight saving voids in frames. Railings do not have a bottom runner, so you’ll need to place a tiny amount on almost each pole. Anchor chain is relief-etched. The platforms on the accommodation ladders have an open waffle pattern. The smaller fret has twelve QF guns in two sizes, boat davits and mast yards. An interesting feature of the davits is that there are actual openings at the top of each davit that can be used to rig the rope fall to the boat.


Dupleix with Major Parts Dry Fitted
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Instructions
At first glance the instructions seem rather simple. However, after study one can see how UBL layed out the instructions to show where each part is placed. Although I prefer a blow-up it show exact placement location, UBL has numbered each part and the specific part numbers shown for attachment are show in the assembly sequence in the instructions. There are 11 pages to the instructions. Page one has performance and design characteristics and a short history of all three ships in the class. Pages 2 and 3 have the brass and resin part laydown in which each part is numbered. Page 4 has subassembly construction for turrets, QF guns and masts. Page 5 continues with the subassemblies with ship’s boats and superstructure. Page 6 starts the attachment of parts to the hull with QF, ventilators, under water details and other fittings. Page 7 concentrates on deck railing. Page 8 focuses on superstructure and stacks. Pages 9 and 10 follows up with ship’s boats, davits and masts. Page 11 has three components, one of which is a barrel and brass rod lay-down. Color profiles for 1904 in black and cream livery and 1914 on over all light gray are shown. There are two CAD quarter view drawings, which are really nice to have to spot specific parts attachment locations.


Dupleix with Major Parts Dry Fitted
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Verdict
You can go to any four star restaurant on the Champs d’Elys
ée and you won’t find a dish as tasty as the U-Boat Laboratorium 1:350 scale French armored cruiser Dupleix. Although not perfect, the Dupleix is a very commendable first effort at a large kit for U-Boat Laboratorium.

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