KM Admiral Graf Spee “Back From The Dead”

Steve Nelson announced the “Back From The Dead” build challenge, I got to digging into my stash of models.  The Spee seemed to be my best candidate for this challenge.

I think I purchased the Aurora KM Graf Spee back in 1971 before going into the USAF.  I started the model in 1974 at Griffiss AFB, NY.  I assembled the hull, prop shafts, and rudder.  I painted the hull red.  Then I taped the waterline.  I used Pactra Paint to paint the hull a light gray and was going to paint the false bow wake on the bow.  I was very unhappy with how it was turning out, so I put it back into my wall locker.  I had other models I wanted to work on.  So it followed me to Grissom AFB IN, Pruem AS West Germany, Ellsworth AFB, SD, and finally in 1984 back home.

This is what I found in the basement.  It sure hadn’t gotten better with age!

And when I opened it after how many years, this is what I found.

I found a great many loose parts.  I sure hope they are all here!

I started with Goo Gone to remove all of the brown masking tape.  Even with tape this old, it works!  I had removed some before I took the pictures.  The old Pactra paint was the next problem to remove.  I see the dimples in the bottom of the hull.  So the red paint will go to!

I stripped the paint with Chameleon.  It is a gel and it works great.  You still need to do some tooth brush scrubbing and plenty of rinsing in water.  As you can see, the paint is gone.  Next was a large amount of Squadron Green Stuff to clean up the bottom of the hull.

After a lot of wet sanding.  It is starting to look better.

After priming the hull with Testors shaker can gray, I found spots that needed more filling.  I know this never happens to you!!!  So a bit more wet sanding!


I masked off the upper hull and painted the bottom Testors shaker can 04 dark red.  This is my favorite color to simulate red lead navy paint.

I thought a long time ago about painting the model as she went to war in 1939.  She had an interesting cammo scheme.  What stopped me is scratch building the fake turret and funnel.  So I decided to paint her for a pre-war scheme at the start on 1939.  I started painting the deck.  I used Tamiya Deck Tan for the wood deck.  I used Model Master Light Ghost Gray for the hull and steel parts of the deck.

Then I put the model away until just before the due date.  I got to work post haste.  I am sorry, no time for in work shots.  It was paint and glue time.  Sometimes it was glue and paint.  The fun was painting the KM flag on the stern.  As Steve noted, it is in scale, many feet thick!  I chickened out at painting the swastika in the center of the flag!  But you get the idea of the colors of the flag!

I did end up short one search light.  I found a OLD Spee that I built back in High School.  So I borrowed the search light and put it on the new Spee.

Here she is.  I finished it just a few hours before the contest.  I even did a paper for Steve on how I brought this kit “Back From The Dead”.   I guess I did pretty good.  Steve named the Spee the winner.  I think it was more story than build.

The kit was the only choice we had back then.  It is 1/600 scale.  The kit is very basic.  The anti-aircraft guns are of poor quality.  The Ar-196 float plane is even worse!  There are no floats.  That makes landing on the water a bit tough!  The kit had a lot of flash.  This is normal for kits of this era.  The good is when you see it, you know what ship it is.  Back then this was a “B” kit.  Today, I would have to give it a “D-“.   There wer no decals for the ship’s crest, name, or Golden Eagle crest on the stern.

Only the bottom required filling, a lot of filling!  The rest of the kit was modeled very well except for lots of flash.

Today, this kit is best left to collectors.  That is it’s real value today.  If you want a Graf Spee model, there are much better kits to be found.  But this one lives again.

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  1. Clare says:

    Your kit came out very good. Excellent article.


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