Airfix A04211V Admiral Graf Spee German Pocket Battleship WW2 1/600

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The Battle of River Plate was fought on 13 December 1939 between the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee and the Allied Naval task force. The location of the battle was off the South American River Plate. The Graf Spee, captained by Hans Langsdorff, had proved an effective commerce raider. It had left Germany at the start of the war accompanied by the supply ship Altmark, and succeeded in sinking nine Allied ships in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

It had become necessary for the ship to return to Germany for repairs, but before doing so Langsdorff chose to intercept a convoy that he knew to be in the River Plate area. However, Langsdorff had been second-guessed by Commodore Henry Harwood, commanding an allied cruiser squadron of 2 6in light and one 8in heavy cruiser. Intent on pursuing Graf Spee and anticipating Langsdorff being tempted by the shipping in the River Platte area he lay in ambush. The Graf Spee sighted the Allied ships and cruised straight for them, Langsdorff expecting a convoy rather than a cruiser squadron disregarding his standing orders from Berlin to not engage enemy warships.
Harwoods strategy of splitting his force into two units in turn forced Langsdorff to split his main armament, engaging the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter while trying to deter the light cruisers HMS Ajax and HMS Achilles from closing and continually being forced to manoeuvre to evade torpedo attacks which the Royal Navy cruisers used to force Graf Spee to turn off her best defensive course.
In a 80 minute running battle Langsdorff disabled HMS Exeter, putting 2 of her 3 turrets out of action, destroying her communications system and wounding or killing most of the bridge crew and command team. However under emergency steering and commanded by messenger chain Exeter's remaining Y turret guns were being fired under local control as Ajax and Achilles moved into position so threatening Langsdorf had to abandon finishing Exeter to engage them with Graf Spee's main guns.
Despite her damage, internal fires and flooding giving her a 7 degree list HMS Exeter aggressively re-engaged, steaming at full speed and demonstrating her intent to ram Graf Spee, forcing Langsdorf to disengage to save his ship. However Exeter had delivered a decisive blow, one 8-inch hit having penetrated Graf Spees' machinery space and destroyed her fuel processing system, leaving Langsdorf with just 16 hours fuel and preventing him from escaping into open ocean or being able to return to an axis-held port without extensive repairs. The then neutral port of Montevideo was the only refuge in range and Admiral Graf Spee turned away under a smoke screen to head for port, shadowed by Commodore Harwoods' two light cruisers.
So far the battle had been something of a score draw, both Graf Spee and Exeter were heavily damaged though still steaming and as Graf Spee entered the River Plate for Montevideo Exeter was detached to the Falkland Islands for repair. Due to the expenditure of ammunition neither side was equipped for a further engagement, however it was the Royal Navy who held the trump card. The two light cruisers patrolling onshore were joined by Commodore Harwood's second heavy cruiser, HMS Cumberland which, with two extra 8-inch barrels, was an even more powerful opponent than Exeter.
The damaged Graf Spee could not undertake the return journey to Germany. Langsdorff had been given three days in harbour by the government of Uruguay to make repairs sufficient to make his ship seaworthy. British reinforcements were not due to arrive in the area until the 19th December, but Langsdorff supposed that the British were prepared again for battle. He had been duped by false signals and by the assertion of his gunnery officer that a British cruiser was in the vicinity. He had the order to scuttle his ship if he could not fight his way to freedom. With the time-limit imposed by the Uruguay government due to run out on the 17th December, he chose to sink his own ship in neutral waters and commit suicide.

Technical Specification & Details
Scale 1/600
Skill 3
Flying Hours 2
Number of Parts 124
Dimensions L 310m X W 36mm
Age 8+

Glue and paints are required to assemble.
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