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Set KUK01

KUK Navy, Submarine Command

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2005
Contents 5 figures
Poses 5 poses
Material Resin
Colours Black
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)


One of the Central Power's most potent weapons during World War I was the submarine fleet, but most of that was the Imperial German Navy. Austria-Hungary only mustered six submarines in August 1914, and by the surrender had added a further 21 but had lost eight (not counting German submarines temporarily flying the Austrian flag). This meant their area of operations was limited to the Adriatic, but they still managed to sink Allied armoured cruisers, destroyers and submarines as well as damaging a French dreadnought.

This set is the first to portray naval personnel of any combatant of the First World War, and it forms part of a series from Nikolai depicting the KUK Kreigsmarine (KUK stands for 'Kaiser und Koniglich', i.e. 'Royal and Imperial'). This set shows the officers, apparently mostly watching events, as officers often do in all armies. The poses are very nicely done, but the impression is one of a relaxed atmosphere rather than the heat of battle.

Four of the men wear their normal service uniform of reefer jacket over a shirt and tie (either straight or bow). The fifth man is wearing the tropical-issue tunic, and is therefore rather more informal in appearance. All wear identical peaked caps, but we have chosen to paint some with the tropical-weather white cover to illustrate that the cap can be either with or without this cover. Equally, the white trousers were much the same cut as the blue, so again the choice is down to painting alone. All aspects of this clothing are accurate and well portrayed.

As always with Nikolai, the sculpting is impeccable. While these may not be the most complex uniforms ever worn, still they have been beautifully done with perfect proportions, realistic folds and good detail. The figures have only two small points where the resin entered the mould, and once these are easily trimmed there is no flash or excess material. None come with bases but this is only a minor inconvenience (we added bases to facilitate painting), and indeed some may choose to place them on board model ships and submarines where a base would be intrusive.

While there may not be any immense desire to model KUK submariners, it should be pointed out that the naval uniforms of most of the Western powers were very similar, both surface and submarine arms, and the uniforms did not change substantially for a long time, so these figures have many uses far beyond their simple label. Which is just as well, because these little works of art deserve to be in anyone's collection.

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