Pit Road 1/700 JMSDF D.E. Chikugo
One glance at the news will tell Japan is a very strategically
located island these days, what with a rising China, a resurgent Russia, the
DPRK missile program, and disputes over the air and sea space of north Asia.
So it was, too, all through the Cold War. Japan has the deep blue Pacific
and the USA on one side, and on the other, two superpowers and one rogue
state just a very short distance across the water. No surprise, then, that
anti-submarine warfare is near the top of the countryís military priority
Apart from its around 100 P-3C Orion ASW patrol planes - a fleet
roughly the size of the United Statesí fleet covering a far larger coastline
- it has 18 attack submarines and a large surface fleet which now includes
four large helicopter carriers with good ASW capabilities.
The little Destroyer Escort Chikugo fits into that heritage. Eleven
of these diminutive craft were built, entering service in 1971. The last one
retired as recently as 2003. These were the first Japanese destroyer escorts
(these days usually referred to as corvettes, an even smaller ship than a
frigate) to mount the ASROC weapon. Thatís a missile that then drops a
homing torpedo, allowing a quick strike against a suspected submarine up to
20 kilometres away (at which distance a torpedo is a bit too slow to catch
Chikugo and her sisters were quite literally built around ASROC, which is the box shaped fitting just behind the funnel. There were also two triple tube launchers for more torpedoes, and then a twin 3-inch/76mm gun up front and a little twin 40mm Bofors at the back. These ships were very lightly armed against air attack - the twin Bofors being a relic from the early days of WW2. Most of these ships served until the late 1990s and a few into the 21st century. Good luck defending yourself against air attack in that era with those weapons!
This is one of the great series of 1/700 kits of Japanese Maritime Self Defence Forces (JMSDF) made by a few different manufacturers, in this case Pit Road. It's nicely moulded and well detailed for the scale. Impressively, if somewhat strangely, it also comes with a few extras: an F-104, and F-86, and an S-2 Tracker. Even more oddly, given this is an ASW corvette, you also score some JGSDF (Ground Self Defence Force) vehicles, notably three different kind of tank, a SAM launcher, and a howitzer and a big truck.
This is a small kit so construction was fairly straightforward. Like most small ship kits of modern types, you can build up the hull and superstructure quickly. It went together well with limited need for any touch up. I followed the instructions and there were no tricks. Once I had the basic ship together and painted (see below), I went ahead and attached most of the (pre-painted) smaller parts like guns, radars, etc.
For final construction, I decided to add the antennae and the long line between the front and rear masts. These I made from stretched sprue. They look ok to me - I note that the photos are considerably larger than life, and therefore you see more blemishes than are visible with the actual eye. This includes the fact that some of the antennae are at a funny angle. They're just sitting there on a tiny dob of glue. Likewise, i think the line between masts is probably attached to the wrong point of the front mast, but when I did it with tweezers and a magnifying glass, I was just glad to get it to actually stay in place.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Well, naval ships are grey, but it's often next to impossible to decide precisely what grey to paint. I looked at a lot of pictures, but most of what I could find of this ship class were in black and white which didn't help much. In the end I just decided to go with the colours you see here. They're Vallejo acrylics but I can't recall which of the many different shades of grey I ultimately used.
The decals are very simple and I applied them in the normal way using Mr Mark Softer at the end. The round marking on the ASROC launcher is a whole decal, so I needed to cut out the film in the middle of the circle.
Well, this was a fun build and didn't take long. It looks good - to me - without the need for a truckload of PE. I can recommend it to anyone who, like me, doesn't have much experience building ships. For those who do, I am sure one could also go to town on the details.
5 February 2018
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