Fast and Dangerous
The German Schnellboot
Model and diorama by Bjørn Jacobsen
in this diorama
In the last days of the war, the 8th S-boot Flotilla
was ordered to join 1st S-boot Flotilla in
Egersund (South/West in Norway)
Both Flotillas were anchored in Egersund when
the war ended (picture to the right)
Among the S-boots in the 8th Flotilla was
the S-302 which is the boat I am building.
The S-302 was sold from the Americans in 1946
(as war loots) to the Royal Norwegian Navy
as KNM E-1 (later as B.91 “Blink”).
In 1951 she was sold to Denmark as P-656
"Falken" and in 1961 sold to private.
She was broken up in 1972.
The 1st Flotilla in Egersund in May 1945
MTB Falken in Copenhagen after she was
sold to private (note the removed torpedo tubes)
This is the only picture I have found of S-302
The German Schnell Boats were the best torpedo boat designs of the entire war.
They were incredible fast (maximum speed
48 knots (89 km/h; 55 mph), they performed very
well in rough seas, had great manoeuvrability
and was heavily armed with torpedoes and
They were a serious threat to all Allied ships.
They could emerge from the North Sea mist,
launched their torpedoes and disappeared just
During World War II, the S-boats sank 101
merchant ships totalling 214,728 tons.
In addition, they sank 12 destroyers, 11
minesweepers, eight landing ships, six MTBs,
a torpedo boat, a minelayer, one submarine and
a number of small merchant craft.
They also damaged two cruisers, five
destroyers, three landing ships, a repair ship,
a naval tug and numerous merchant vessels.
Sea mines laid by the S-boots were responsible
for the loss of 37 merchant ships totalling
148,535 tons, a destroyer, two minesweepers
and four landing ships.
But this was not archived without heavy losses,
especially in the later years of the war when the
Allied radars become more efficient, the S-boots
lost the surprise factor in their night attacks.
The speed and manoeuvrability combined with
the efficient flak cannons made it very difficult,
and dangerous for the Allied planes to attack
The Schnellboots were primarily used to patrol
the North Sea, and the English Channel to
intercept shipping heading for the English ports.
As such, they were up against Royal Navy Motor
Gun Boats (MGBs), Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs),
Motor Launches, frigates and destroyers.
As the War progressed the S- Boat flotillas were
sent to the Baltic, the Black Sea and the
Mediterranean and this Profile touches on all the
The Schnellboots were much sleeker than any
of the Allied PT / MTB Boats and unlike most
Allied boats were not based on a planing hull
design but were rather a deeper round bottom
design, more suitable for heavy seas
The S-boats were 114'10" (35 meters) long and
their three Daimler-Benz MB 511-V 2500 hp
diesel engine propulsion had substantially longer
range (700 nautical miles) than the gasoline-
fuelled American PT boat and the generally
similar British Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB).
At the outbreak of World War II, only 18 S-boats
were in service, but between 1940 and 1945
about 230 S-boots were build.
Although there were several classes of those
ships, all had the same basic design and most
of them were built at one single shipyard,
Lürssen in Vegesack, which continued to build
successful fast attack crafts after the war.
Captured German S-boots was used by many
navies after the war, to well into the 60s, among
them: the Danish, the Norwegian, the British. the
Italian navy the Spanish and the Greek navy.
They were even added to the new formed
Bundesmarine in 1957.
In recognition of their service, the members of
Schnellboot crews were awarded 23 Knight's
Cross of the Iron Cross and 112 German Cross
The S-boats which was operating in the North Sea was mostly engaged in night-time operations and was painted white or very light grey.
Disruptive schemes which were effective in daylight increased the visibility of the boats at night. Although it seems counterintuitive, the light shade tended to blend the boat into the sea's phosphorescent surface better than darker colours. The horizontal surfaces were painted grey to camouflage it from the air, as well as hide scuff marks on the deck. The horizontal surfaces of deck houses were often the same light colour as the rest of the superstructure. The wooden gratings on the decks were painted the same colour as the decks.
In other operational areas like the Baltic and the Black Sea, you could fine S-boats with disruptive colours, initiated by the individual commander.
Building the S-boot
The kit is the 1/72 from Revell, which was extremely pleasant to build.
Everything fitted nicely and to my eyes, the model turned our as close to the origin as possible by a 1/72 scale.
There are a dozen aftermarket products for this kit, but I chose to build it right from the box, without any extras.
The only change I made was to open the port torpedo door and make an opening of the torpedo tube, and I did not make the rudder and propellers because the model should be embedded in the base.
I wanted to display the S-boot in action and had to make an extra torpedo which the S-boot could fire at full speed.
This was made by a wooden brush handle and equipped with fins made of some old PE-material.
A brass rod was fixed to the torpedo. The rod could be inserted into a hole made in the boat’s torpedo tube.
The torpedo was pushed out of the tube by compressed air, thus making a white mist when leaving the tube.
I used a little white cotton to recreate this, and at the same time hide the rod holding the torpedo.
Building the Base
The "sea" was built on a Styrofoam plate 50 x 70 cm (20 x 33 in).
The S-boat in the diorama is going through the waves at full speed and I made the bow-wave by a two component crystal resin which could be bent into the right shape before it hardened.
In retrospect, I am not sure this was necessary;
I could probably have made the bow waves with paper Mache.
The sea and waves, on the other hand, were made entirely by paper Mache.
This is not difficult it’s only a question of creativity and a sense of how a speedboat moves in the seas - I hope it got a little bit right.
The pre-made bow waves by crystal resin were inserted in the Papier Mache and the S-boat was placed in the Mache to make it easier to sculpt the waves made by the boat.
The model was wrapped in a plastic bag while placed into the wet Papier Mache thus it could be removed without any damages or stain to the hull.
To create a believable sea spray was very tricky;
I tried to solve this problem by using a mix of “Water Effect”, cotton and “Natural Water” from Woodland.
I hope I got the sea spray to look a little bit like sea spray, but I am not entirely satisfied with the result.
The painting of the sea is most important because it creates the atmosphere to the diorama - and is most fun to do!
The S-boots operated mostly in the dark and the colours have to reflect this.
There is no blue sea in overcast and dark weather, the water is only grey and black (and maybe a little green), but the spray made by the boat and the wind is, of course, white.
All the painting was done by hand and with acryl colours
When I see the Schnellboot on the base surrounded by the dark sea,
it is easy to see how the light colours on the boat easily blend in with the seas.
After the fun of painting, it was time to wet the sea by using Natural Water from Woodland.
I only painted a thin layer of Natural Water on the whole base.
I needed a background which would go with the dark sea and painted (on a cardboard) dark clouds and a burning ship for effect - the S-boot was after all engaged in an attack on enemy ships.
Then it was just to place the S-boot on the base and the diorama was finished
in daylight and fair weather
When I had photographed the S-boat in the dark seas, I would also present the model in clear daylight with blue sky and blue water.
This was not the weather the S-boats liked the most, but I believe a beautiful boat as the S-302 needed to be seen in good weather.
I, therefore, let the wind calm a little (but not the waves), re-painted the sea and used one of my old backgrounds for a good-weather shooting.
The Schnellboot Diorama:
The S-302 in daylight and fair weather:
I hope you enjoyed this website!
Thank you for visiting!
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments
The diorama of the Schnellboot S-302,
painted with night colours
and painted with day colours
look like this:
Amazing how the colours can change the impression, isn't it?