Provisions of the Versailles Treaty severely restricted the German navy to a fleet of obsolete warships. Germany was allowed to keep 12 destroyers and
12 torpedo boats that were all built prior to 1914 and the Treaty further stipulated that new destroyers must displace less than 800 tons. During the
1920s, the major naval powers were building significantly larger destroyers and in 1930 an agreement was reached to limit destroyers to a maximum of
1,850 long tons, with the majority not exceeding 1,500 long tons. Germany, however, was still expected to comply with the Versailles Treaty
limitations. The Anglo-German Naval Treaty of 1935 relaxed size restrictions on German destroyers and limited total tonnage for German destroyers to
52,000 tons. However, the treaty also classified cruisers and destroyers in the same class which penalized the Germans.

In November 1932, plans were underway to design ships to defy the treaty restrictions and counter the large destroyers being built by Poland and
France. The realization that the Germany navy would remain numerically outnumbered by her potential enemies, in particular Great Britain, was also
taken into account. To that end, the decision was made to design destroyers that would be individually superior to those of other nations and this soon
pushed displacement closer to the 1935 Treaty limit of 1,850 long tons. The initial sketch designs were similar to contemporary destroyers in other
navies – they would displace 1,500-tons and be armed with four 5-inch guns and two triple torpedo tubes. However, this design did not meet the
criterion of building destroyers with significant qualitative advantages over contemporary ships, so Admiral Raeder mandated a new larger design that
would have five 127mm guns and quadruple torpedo tubes. This new design would also use a new high pressure steam power plant that would
generate more power but require less space and weight. The savings in space and weight would allow enhancements to other areas of the destroyer that
theoretically would further increase superiority over foreign designs.  

The Type 34 destroyer (Z1 – Z4), was the result of this effort. They were well-armed, with five 127mm (5x1) guns, four 37mm AA guns (2X2), six
20mm AA guns (6x1), eight 21.7-inch torpedoes (2x4) and 60 mines. The Type 34 ships were completed with a round bridge and straight stem. Sea
trials soon proved that the design of the bow, which made the forward part of the ship very, left a lot to be desired. As a result, Z1 – Z4 were
eventually refitted with an angled cutwater, raised forecastle and bow sheer and a square bridge, which added more space for bridge crew. The next
twelve (Z5 – Z16) were built with these modifications and designated Type 34A. Due to Germany’s lack of design and operational experience after
World War I, these ships suffered from a number of problems. In addition to the ones already mentioned, the Type 34/34a had a lack of structural
strength, which led to hull cracks, and poor sea keeping and stability due to high top weight and narrow beam. The new power plants also proved to be
problematic, as the high pressure caused frequent failures and breakdowns.
The next design was called Type 36, which was basically an improved Type 34a design with reduced top weight achieved through the reduction in
height of the forward funnel and amidships superstructure. The hull was lengthened and beam slightly increased with better underwater hull lines
making the class better sea boats than the Type 34/34A ships. Although new boilers were fitted which produced steam at a lower pressure than those
on the previous class, they were still plagued by failure and breakdowns. There were six ships completed in the class, with the first three (Z17 –Z19)
completed with a bow design of the Type 34A and the last three (Z20 - Z22) a clipper bow which increased their length. The only change in armament
over the Type 34/34a ships was the addition of a seventh 20mm gun. All 16 ships of the Type 34, 34a and 36 were also named ships with each vessel
named after German navy personnel killed in World War I.

Z17 Diether von Roeder - Z17 was the lead Type 36 ship and was named after Kapitänleutnant Diether von Roeder, who was a senior officer of the
13th Torpedo Boat Half-Flotilla during World War I. He died on July 11, 1918, along with 76 crewmembers, when his ship, S66, was sunk by a mine
while attempting to rescue survivors of S62, which was also mined. Her hull was laid down on September 9, 1936 at the Deschimag A.G. yard in
Bremen, launched on August 19, 1937 and commissioned on August 29, 1938.

At the beginning of the war,
Diether von Roeder patrolled the Skagerrak alongside other German destroyers. She was among the destroyers that laid
down mines off the Humber Estuary on October 17–18 1939. These mines resulted in the sinking of seven ships totaling 25,825 tons. During
Operation Weserübung, the German invasion of Norway,
Diether von Roeder was assigned to Group 1 which attacked and occupied Narvik. On April
10, 1940, she was the picket ship stationed warn of any British attempt to enter Narvik harbor. While she was away refueling, five British H-class
destroyers entered the harbor and took the Germans by surprise. In the ensuing First Naval Battle of Narvik,
Diether von Roeder was heavily damaged.
During the Second Naval Battle of Narvik, April 13, 1940,
Diether von Roeder managed to hit and damage HMS Cossack, but she suffered additional
damage and was scuttled after the battle.
Zvezda Z17 Kit - Zvezda is the third brand name to produce an injection-molded kit of a World War II German destroyer. Dragon and Trumpeter have
set a rather high bar with their own offerings of war-built types, but Zvezda has already made a good impression with their
HMS Dreadnought and
Russian battleship
Sevastopol kits. This kit portrays Z17 in her pre-war fit out of the box but a wartime fit will require very minor alterations.
There are approximately 178 parts on five sprues and a separate display base. The main parts are the full-hull halves done in the traditional port and
starboard halves. The first thing that strikes me is the numerous portholes on the hull and just how over scale they are. In addition, the number and
pattern of the portholes do not match photos of the actual ship. There are openings for the anchor hawse hole forward and locator holes for the plastic
propeller guards aft. On the inside of the hull halves there are deep grooves that are where you are to cut the parts if you wish to build the model as a
waterline version. The inside of the hull halves also have four slots each to fit some bulkhead/stiffeners, which will help strengthen the hull regardless
whether you will build a full-hull or waterline configuration. The bulkheads also look like they will provide some support for the deck parts. The
bottom aft section of the hull where the running gear is fitted is a separate piece which makes it easier to cut the hull down for a waterline but will
require a little more effort and possibly some seam filling and sanding if you build full-hull.

The next parts sprue has the main decks, bridge and superstructure bulkheads, upper decks and gun platforms, funnel halves and some vent piping,
parts for the masts and the bottom aft section of the hull. The main deck piece contains mine rails, which look a tad over scale to me. The bulkheads
have some decent molded on detail, such as recessed watertight doors and windows, vents and vertical ladders. I personally would remove the molded
on ladders and replace them with photo-etch. The bridge face has recessed windows and the German eagle crest. The crest looks good for being
molded on but it is missing the swastika. To build the model in a wartime fit, you’ll have to sand or scrape off the crest as these were removed from
ships at the start of hostilities. If you wish to build a pre-war version, you can remove the molded on crest and replace it with a more accurate photo-
etch version from the North Star Models set. The other large sprue contains a name plate, hull bulkhead/stiffeners, more superstructure bulkheads and
decks, foc’sle break bulkhead, a motor launch and boat and associated cradles, propellers, shafts, struts and rudder and small parts like the
breakwater, jack and flag staffs, searchlights, prop guards and other fittings. The biggest sin here is the Aztec-style steps on the bulkhead parts. In this
day and age of plastic kits, there is really no excuse for this. If you are going to have these clunky type steps, then at least mold them as separate parts
so you don’t have to perform some surgery to remove them. The boats are molded in port and starboard halves, which also harkens to the old-school
days of plastic models.

The two smaller sprues are identical and contain the destroyer’s main and anti-aircraft armament, anchors, davits, more boats, cranes, torpedo tubes
and mines. These sprues also contain numerous bridge and smaller deck fittings, such as the bollards. The main 127mm guns and housings are not too
bad and leave room for some detailing with photo-etch hand wheels if you so desire. The guns are molded with blast bags, which is a nice touch, and
with little effort you can replace the plastic barrels with turned brass versions. The twin 37mm and single 20mm are also acceptable. The torpedo
tubes and mines are pretty good. Now my reference,
German Destroyers of World War Two by M.J. Whitley, states that Type 36 destroyers were
fitted with a total of seven single 20mm guns, but the kit only has four. Problem is that Whitley does not have any drawings of a Type 36 nor a good
enough photo that shows where the seven 20mm guns were fitted. Oddly, the boats on this sprue are molded as one piece. The last part is the rather
bizarre “Rock of Gibraltar” style display base that is common in Zvezda ship model kits. This, in my opinion, is not a very attractive way to display a
full-hull ship model, but some may like it – to each their own. A small decal sheet is included with a pre-war hull number for only Z17. Since you
could also build Z18 and Z19 with this kit, it would have been nice to have markings for those ships as well. The decal sheet has basically useless
Kriegsmarine flags since they have no swastikas. You will have to get accurate flags from another source. Assembly instructions are provided on six
pages that are in a pretty much standard format. The first page has the box top art and a brief history of Z17 in Russian and English, and some general
tips/warnings in several languages. Page 2 has images of the kit sprues, which labels them A through E, and the decal sheet. Though the actual sprues
do not have a letter IDs stamped on them, the part number references in the assembly diagrams do use them to label the parts. The remaining pages
have a series of clear and logically laid out assembly diagrams. The bottom half of the last page has decal placement and painting instructions with
Humbrol color references. The painting instructions say to paint the hull and superstructures the same color, but I think that this may be incorrect as
these ships were most likely painted in a two tone scheme of Dunkelgrau 51 on the hull and Hellgrau 50 on the superstructure, which was the standard
German livery pre- and early-war.
Overall this is kit is good but certainly not great. Compared to Dragon and Trumpeter German destroyer kits and Zvezda’s own Dreadnought and
Sevastopol, it falls short and is more comparable to older style kits like those from Heller. However, like those vintage Heller kits, you do have a fairly
solid foundation to build an earlier version of a Type 36 and right now this is your only option in either plastic or resin. You have plenty of after-market
parts available to detail and improve this model, but be prepared to do some work. My thanks to Dragon USA for the review sample.
Felix Bustelo