Background - The naval arms race between Germany and England leading up and during World War I was intense and lead to major advancements in warship
development, especially in dreadnought design.
SMS Baden and her sister ship Bayern were the penultimate German battleship design of this era and were built largely
in response to the British
Queen Elizabeth class. The 32,000 ton Bayern class battleships were the first German vessels to mount 15-inch (380mm) guns, with eight
fitted in four twin turrets and were also the only German battleships with tripod masts. The
Queen Elizabeth class also displaced 32,000 tons and carried eight 15"
guns. The two classes had similar profiles, but the British ships were longer (645' vs 591'), narrower (90' vs 98') and faster (25 knots vs 22 knots).

Bayern-class design adopted the centerline, superimposed dual mount gun layout of the preceding König-class but without the amidships turret. Her secondary
armament consisted of sixteen 5.9-inch (150mm) guns fitted in casemates along the hull.
Baden’s keel was laid down on December 20, 1913 and launched on October
30, 1915.
Baden commissioning was delayed until on October 19, 1916, so she was not available to participate at Jutland. While Baden was made fleet flagship in
1917, she actually saw little action. For some unknown reason,
Baden was not on the initial list of ships to be interned at Scapa Flow after the armistice, but she did set
sail for Scapa Flow in January of 1919, a few months after the bulk of the fleet. On June 21, 1919, German crews executed a mass scuttling of the High Seas Fleet,
but British sailors managed to board
Baden and beached her before she sank. She was raised a month later and was used for various armor experiments before she was
sunk as a target ship in 1921.
The Kit - Combrig released their SMS Baden kit back in 2012, but I purchased the waterline version a while ago (like most Combrig kits, they sell two versions,
waterline or full-hull with a two part hull). Being an older release, the 1:350 scale
SMS Baden exhibits the strengths and weaknesses of other contemporary Combrig
kits. The high quality resin casting is certainly a strength but the lack of generic brass photo-etch parts and less than thorough instructions are a weakness.

The upper hull is hollow-cast, which is common for
Combrig kits of this size. Deck planking detail is good but lacks butt-end detail. Forecastle detail is very nice
with the standard smooth anchor chain run plates raised over the wood plank decking. The raised deck anchor hawse jump out and at the other end the fittings for
entrance of the chain locker are slightly hollow. A little work in hollowing the deck hawse and chain locker fittings would add some realism by giving the illusion of
the anchor chain coming out of the chain locker fittings, running around the windlass and then running forward and disappearing into the deck hawse. Twin bollard
fittings have the appropriate hourglass shape and there are a number of open chocks, deck access hatches and coamings and aft skylights with window detail. There
are numerous circular outlines on the deck and some are most likely to represent coal scuttles I do not which ones are and aren’t, so I need to do some research for
my build. The 5.9-inch secondary casemates are very nice with slab-sided oval openings for the barrels between a pair of gunner site slots. The armor belt lines good
and if you look closely you will see ringoles (eyebrows) etched into the resin above the numerous portholes.
Combrig provides locater outlines for the upper deck
superstructure level and an aft superstructure housing. Along the lower edge of the upper hull there are sections of excess resin that will need to be removed.
The next largest part is the upper deck superstructure, which covers most of the midship section of the battleship. This part has watertight doors and portholes
along the bulkheads and the deck has wood planking, again without butt-ends. This deck is the base for the superstructure and funnels and the locations for these
parts, as well as some smaller fittings, are outlined in the deck. Recesses are present to accommodate the aft citadel, 88mm gun mounts, cranes and tripod mast
legs. The smaller parts are cast in three different ways, which is usual modus operandi for
Combrig. The largest parts are cast as separate parts, some are on a
resin casting sheet and the smallest are on casting runners. In addition to the four turrets, there are six parts that are cast separately. These include the barbettes for
the superimposed main turrets, the bases for the funnels with those prominent louver ventilators found in German World War One designs, the bottom level of the
bridge structure and the aft superstructure housing mentioned above. That aft structure also has some louver ventilators. The casting of these parts is top notch
and clean-up is minimal.

Four of the larger structural parts come on somewhat thick casting plugs. Two of those are the funnels which are well done with excellent base aprons. The
aprons have locater holes for steam pipes, which will have to be scratch-built as they are not provided in the kit. The top of the funnels are hollow to a large
degree. The funnel castings are further enhanced by the bands around them. In reality these bands are foot rungs. For those modelers who wish to take accuracy
to the nth degree, the bands could be sanded smooth and vertical ladders cut in half lengthwise could be used to represent the foot rungs. The other two parts are
the base for a searchlight tower and a small conning tower with vision slits fitted abaft of the second funnel.
The resin sheet has thirteen parts. Combrig casts thin items such as platforms and decks on the sheet. There are three levels of forward superstructure starting
with the navigation bridge with the conning tower cast integral with the deck. The chart house and a pair of bridge wings for this deck are separate parts on this
sheet. The chart house has a small arrow etched into the roof to show which side faces forward. The next two levels are open observation platforms with smaller
deck houses. The decks have what appear to be splinter shields but in reality are canvas covered railings. Purists may wish to remove the shielding and replace
with suitable railings. The remaining parts on the sheet are comprised of a deck fitted to the top of the aft funnel base and various searchlight platforms and the
housings fitted to the tripod mast.
Baden was unique in that she had an admiral’s bridge mounted on her tripod mast and Combrig includes these parts. I
compared the assembly instructions for the
Baden and Bayern kits and the latter kit’s set excludes these parts from the assembly step. Kudos to Combrig for
noticing the differences between these sister-ships.

There are a multitude of boats and launches included. These are comprised of six steam launches, three with cabins in two patterns and three open launches in two
patterns. The cabins have window detail and the funnels for the two larger open launches are separate parts attached to their runners. The open launches have the
rudders cast into the hull but these are done as photo-etch parts for the larger trio. Oared boats with bottom planking and thwarts include two whalers, two mid-
sized boats and two small dinghies. The smaller parts come on standard casting runners and are comprised of the 15-inch and 5.9-inch gun barrels, parts and the
open backed shields for the 88mm deck guns, kingposts, bridge front and roof, cable reels, signal lamps, binocular mounts, main gun directors, anchor windlass
parts, small ventilators, davits, square life floats and a variety of other detail parts. Though this kit is the waterline version, the rudders, propellers and center
propeller shaft strut are also included. All of the small parts are well formed and detailed. The 88mm gun shields have resin film covering the openings for the
barrel and vision ports. A few of the parts are broken, which is almost inevitable, but the pieces should be easily reattached.
A single brass fret of photo-etch is provided with this kit and it is comprised of ship specific parts. As mentioned above, this release is several years old and like
Combrig kits from that time railings are not provided. The photo-etch parts are largely comprised on the various boat cradles in different patterns with
separate base plates. The cradles are identified by letters which correspond to the assembly instructions. Other parts include the funnel cap grills, aft searchlight
tower supports, inclined and vertical ladders, large lattice boat davits, pulley rigs, large steam launch rudders and propellers,  windlass top wheels , platform
support gussets, alternate bridge front and roof (if you wish to use in place of the resin versions) and another larger bridge front and other small parts. A source
for railings and other parts to add more detail to your model could be one of the aftermarket photo-etch sets available for the plastic
König class battleship kits.

The six-page assembly instructions are printed three double-sided sheet of paper. Like older
Combrig kit instruction, they are good but not great. The first page
has a plan and profile drawings that will help with some of the rigging and boat placement. The ship’s history is written in Cyrillic but the statistics are in English.
Page two has the standard resin parts laydown, which spills over to the top of page three. Page three also has an image of the photo-etch fret parts and the first
set of assembly diagrams, which cover the 88mm gun mounts, the main turrets and the large photo-etch lattice boat davits. Also included on page three are the
templates for cutting the masts, yards, booms and funnel steam pipes. The problem is that these “self made parts” are not uniquely identified and referenced in
the subsequent assembly steps, which could leave to some confusion. Page four has another series of assembly diagrams focusing on several sub-assemblies.
One of the diagrams attempts to show the layout and placement of the boats on the upper deck. Page five and six have the illustrations showing the placement of
the rest of the kit parts. Missing is an image of a fully assembled model which would be helpful in clarifying the placement of some of the parts.
Combrig provides a very good kit of SMS Baden, the pinnacle of German World War One dreadnought design. You get crisp clean resin castings but a limited
amount of photo-etch brass. This kit was released four years ago, so there are some shortcomings, like the lack of railings and assembly instructions that could be
better. I happened to pick up my
Combrig SMS Baden some time ago when Free Time Hobby in Blue Ridge, Georgia was having a sale. Free Time is the sole
distributor of
Combrig kits in the United States.
Felix Bustelo