Czechoslovakia was a sovereign state that was created in 1918 after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and eventually was peacefully
dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993. Being landlocked, the idea of a Czechoslovakian Navy would appear to be an
oxymoron, but there was a small riverine force that patrolled the Danube and Elbe rivers. At first, this token navy was comprised of obsolete Austro-
Hungarian ships, but the weakness of these ships, in particular those of the Danube Flotilla, were apparent. Efforts to modernize the flotillas got
underway in the late 1920s, with plans to build two larger monitor-type patrol boats. In the end, only one was actually built, which was the
President
Masaryk
. Launched in 1931, according to “Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1922 – 1946”, President Masaryk measured 160 feet 9 inches
with a beam of 19 feet 8 inches and a draft of 3 feet 7 inches. She was armed with four 66 mm guns fitted in twin turrets forward and aft and four
7.92 mm guns in the same arrangement and could be equipped to lay mines when needed. She essentially had a very uneventful service career and
with the Nazi occupation in 1938, she was taken into German service the following year, renamed
Bechelaren and rearmed with German equipment.
In 1945 she was seized by American forces and returned to Czechoslovakia in 1947. She remained in service, in the end as a hulk, until she was
scrapped in 1978.

The Kit - Those who know me know that I have a fondness for unusual and rather esoteric modeling subjects and the President Masaryk certainly
fits that definition. To be honest, I didn’t know this vessel ever existed until I saw the Samek kit and then I had to have one. The kit represents the
ship as commissioned in 1932 with the option for a 1936 fit, which only requires the deletion of the aft mast. Being a river monitor, there really is not
too much to the actual ship, so the kit has an overall low part count. The kit is comprised of 22 resin parts, 32 photo-etch parts and a plaster cast river
base. The hull is waterline only, measures just about 5.5 inches in length and it is nicely detailed. The steel plating of the deck is reproduced effectively
and the bridge structure, barbettes, skylight and hatch coamings, the base for the funnels, mooring cleats and capstans are all integrally cast into the
hull part. The thin resin wall around the open bridge is supposed to represent canvas covers but it doesn’t really look the part and I plan on removing it
and replacing it with some photo-etch railings and thinned white glue. Doors and vertical ladders are cast into the bridge structure but the hatch
coamings have no detail other than being raised squares. Adding some photo-etch hatches will address this. The edge of the hull bottom requires a little
bit of cleanup to remove some stray bits of casting film, but overall the casting is clean and looks really well done.

The smaller resin parts include the twin funnels, 66 mm turrets and barrels, 7.92 mm turrets, two styles of cowl vents, stove pipe, searchlight and
boat. Most of the parts are attached to casting runners and will need to be removed and cleaned up along the joint. The 66 mm turrets each have a
casting plug that will have to be sawed off. One of the barrels on the 7.92 mm turrets was broken off, but I plan on replacing them with bits of brass
wire and also substitute brass rod for the resin 66 mm barrels. The small parts are pretty good but I am a bit disappointed that the funnels have a solid
cap rather than being hollowed out some and having photo-etch funnel cap grills. Correcting this will require some care.
As you can see, the photo-etch is produced by Eduard and it appears well done. The photo-etch fret contains railings with individual stanchion ends,
handling davits, anchor, ship’s wheel, platforms, life rings, searchlight grill, running light boards and brackets and stern mine laying ramp and a name
plate. I personally would have liked to have had some hatches included with the photo-etch and that the railings not have individual stanchion ends,
but the latter will do. Brass wire and rod are not included to make the masts and yards, so the modeler will have to use their own.

The plaster cast water base is a novel idea and is really well done with even the outline of the hull to place the model in. There is a spot here and there
were there is an air bubble that must be filled in, but as you can see from dry-fitting the hull to the base, the fit is exact. All you need to do is paint
the base and you have a waterscape for your model. There are no decals provided with the kit which would have been nice. The actual
President
Masaryk
had its name and a crest badge on both sides of the bow which could have been done on a small decal sheet along with the period correct
Czech flag, which is not common and is not on any aftermarket decal sets that I am aware of. Also, if you look at the hull, you will see the
rectangular plate on which the ship’s name appeared. Like I said, it would have been nice to have these as decals but sadly they are not.

The instructions are printed on a double-sided sheet of paper, with the front page having a small plan and profile drawing of the ship with a brief
history of the ship and technical specifications. The back side of the sheet has a rather rudimentary assembly diagram. Thankfully, this is not a
complicated build, but the illustration could have been a little larger and filled the page more. No painting instructions are given but based on images
on the Samek site of a built-up model, which would also help with construction, the ship was painted an overall medium gray with black funnel tops.
Admittedly, this is not a very attractive ship, but then again most monitors are not (granted beauty is to the eye of the beholder). Samek Models is
based in the Czech Republic, so it would make sense for them to produce a kit of what was the largest ship of Czech river flotilla and they did a fine
job. If you want to add something out of the ordinary to your model fleet, look no further. This kit is available from
Free Time Hobbies.
Felix Bustelo
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