Introduction - The Hermes was an ocean going tug that was built at the Norderwerft Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in 1922. She measured about
133 feet long and 23 feet at the beam.
Hermes was part of the Bugsier-, Reederei- und Bergungs-AG fleet of Hamburg and operated out of Cuxhaven.
Prior to World War II,
Hermes operated in the North Sea and Baltic Sea conducting routine tug duties as well as rescue missions. When the war started,
she was seized by the Nazis in 1940 and used as a Kriegsmarine tug stationed in St. Malo, France. She fell victim to an Allied air raid on July 19, 1944
and was sunk in the harbor. After the war, she was raised and modernized. In 1949 she was transferred to the French Marine Nationale and
rechristened Tenace (A669). She was eventually decommissioned in 1971 and broken up the following year.
The Kit - The Hermes is the latest model kit from the German based SSN-Modellbau, which appears to be focusing on interesting auxiliary ship
subjects. In 1:350 scale this is a small model with the hull measuring about 4.6 inches. The kit is comprised of a small number of resin parts, some
laser-cut styrene parts, photo-etch, a pair of turned brass masts, plastic rod and decals. This model gives you the option of building either the civilian
version of the
Hermes or the armed Kriegsmarine version. If you prefer to build the Tenace, you will need to do your own research to determine what
you will need.

Naturally the largest resin part is the one piece waterline hull with all of the deck housings and a number of fittings integrated. The smaller parts
include the funnel, boats, winches, searchlight and compass. The small parts are on casting runners, from which they need to be removed from.
There are a couple of parts that are not used, as indicated in the assembly instructions. The casting is generally good with only a few pinholes to deal
with. There is a good amount of detail present, such as skylights on the rear section of the deck housing, but based on my references there should
also be skylights on the coamings on the foc’sle deck and at the aft of the main deck. Of the small parts, the searchlight and compass are sadly not
that well done, appear more like bits of rod.
A small sheet of 0.5mm thick styrene with laser cut boat davits and tow rope beams is included. These parts require some light sanding, especially
along the edges, to smooth out some of the roughness. These parts would have been difficult to cast in resin and too flat in photo-etch brass, so I
think that this is better way of producing them. According to the instructions, the “X” bracing is not required for this model, but my references
show that they should be fitted.

The small but complete photo-etch fret is designed by
Peter Hall, which was a pleasant surprise. The photoetch provides the basics to build the
model, which includes railings, vertical and inclined ladders, anchors, anchor chains, ratlines, towing gear and bridge fittings. Parts to add a 20mm
Flak gun and its platform are provided if you wish to build the Kriegsmarine version. The photo-etch is well done, which is expected given Peter
Hall’s reputation, with very good relief etching. A pair of very nicely done turned brass masts are provided, which is another pleasant surprise. Quite
frankly I wouldn’t normally expect turned brass masts in a kit of such a small subject. Some bits of pre-measured plastic rod are provided to use as
the booms on the main mast.
Two small decal sheets are included, with one having “Hermes” in white lettering  for the hull markings and the other with several flags: the German
Flag in use during 1920s, the Hamburg flag and the house flag for  Bugsier-, Reederei- und Bergungs-AG. A Nazi flag, sans the swastika, is also
included for the Kriegsmarine version.

The instructions are printed in an 11-page booklet, with color drawings and photographs illustrating the different stages of assembly. The cover page
has the SSN Modellbau logo and a color profile drawing of the
Hermes. The second page has a brief history of the tug, some acknowledgements and
info about SSN Modellbau and general tips and instructions about working with resin and photo-etch. Page 3 has a photo of the resin, plastic and
turned brass kit parts keyed to a table below. The photo-etch fret is given the same treatment on the following page. On the top of page 5, the decals
are assigned identifying numbers and the first of the assembly photos appear on the bottom. Pages 6 through 10 contain the rest of the assembly
photos, each with a caption explaining the image. The photos are very clear and are a great aid in constructing the model. The bottom of page 10 has
a drawing showing decal placement. Page 11 has two sets of color drawings showing the civilian and Kriegsmarine paint schemes with references to
Vallejo Model Color paints. The Kriegsmarine camouflage paint scheme is hypothetical and is based on what was used on other military tugs at that
time.
I decided to build the civilian version of this tug with large lettering on the sides of the hull. I couldn’t find too much on-line regarding reference
materials other than several build-ups of a large scale paper model and a couple of scratch-built RC models. However I was able to find a pdf scan
of a magazine article in German that had a pair of grainy images of the
Hermes which I found helpful, especially for some details on the masts and
rigging.

The hull required very little cleanup, just some spots here and there. I did make some additions and replacements to improve the model a little bit.
One of the first things I did was add some photo-etch skylights I had to the coamings on the foc’sle and main decks, as you can see in the photo. I
also removed the cast on vertical ladder next to the pilot house and the cable reel that is on the side of the aft skylight coaming and replaced these
with photo-etch versions. I also replaced the cast on doors at the base of the bridge structure on the foc’sle deck with photo-etch to make the stand
out a little more. Finally, I replaced the kit’s searchlight with one from the spare parts box and the compass with a Paper Lab white metal version.
During assembly, I found that “X” bracing for the davits were too short to fit properly, so I made my own using plastic strip stock. The laser cut
parts required a bit more sanding down than anticipated to remove the roughness along the edges. The photo-etch is very fine but easy to work with
in general. The only trouble I had was with the inclined ladders – I found it difficult to bend the steps and that little bit of railing at the top into
position without distorting and mangling the ladders a bit. The turned brass masts are really nice and I used thin brass rods for the booms and yards
to complete the masts.

The model has very few parts in total, so the overall assembly is rather simple and straight forward. More effort was actually spent painting and
rigging the model. After applying a coat of Valspar white primer from a spray can, I used the suggested Vallejo paint colors for the metal decks and
superstructures and masts. For the hull, I found that Testors Model Masters Euro Gray was a good match for the suggested hull color and I used
Testors Model Masters Wood for the compass and searchlight decks. Testors Model Masters Black was used for the funnel and some of the
fittings. For the rigging, I used .005 inch Nitinol wire cut to size. Before using the decals, I applied a coat of MicroScale Micro Liquid Decal Film to
seal them. They went on without any problems and reacted well to MicroScale Micro-Set and Micro-Sol solvents. I finished the model off in an
acrylic gel seascape and added a few figures from
L’Arsenal.
I was very pleased with model and I found it to be a joy to build. I really liked the subject matter and it makes a colorful addition to my model fleet.
I am also impressed with how much SSN Modellbau has evolved in terms of their product offerings. Their first kit, the TID tug, was good but
naturally very simple given the subject. The
Hermes is a relatively more complex and larger kit and while it is a modest leap between the two, it
shows that SSN is progressively gaining experience and, as a result, producing better kits. This is very promising for their future and I am looking
forward to seeing what is next from SSN Modellbau. You can purchase this kit from
Free Time Hobbies or directly from SSN Modellbau. My
thanks to
Sven Schönyan for the review sample.
Felix Bustelo
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