Figurehead 1/1250 T1 Type LST Japan 1944-45

KIT #: CJ 41
PRICE: 7.50
DECALS: none
REVIEWER: Jeff Simpson
NOTES: OOB build

HISTORY

The ship: The T1 type LST was a novel 1943 Japanese design of landing ship where landing craft and cargo was launched down a sloping deck over the stern of the ship. 22 ships of this type were launched before the end of the war, of these 1 was scrapped incomplete and 5 survived. The reference book I have does not give any details of operational use, other than to say that they were often fitted with depth charges and used as escorts (which indicates the desperate state of affairs the Japanese military were in). Obviously with a cryptic name like "T1" your standard search engine is going to have difficulties getting the sort of match you want.

The manufacturer: "Figurehead" is a line of waterline miniature ship models made by a wargames manufacturer "Noble Miniatures". Unusually for metal wargames kits in this scale they come with a large number of small metal parts on sprues, most of these are overscale optional single and triple mount guns.

THE KIT

The metal parts come with a paper slip inside a ziplock clear plastic bag. The paper slip has no building notes, it gives brief historical details of the real ships. In this case there was no twin mount AA gun included. I assume this was a packing error, but I decided to make the kit anyway, before I got a response by email from the UK supplier. Fortunately I had a "spare" twin mount gun from a scratchbuild project of my own and I adapted this. The hull is the correct length (77mm gives 1/1247 scale) and it looks like the only photo I have seen of these ships.

CONSTRUCTION

You really need a sketch profile and plan to decide where to put the parts, and if you are going to fit any optional AA mounts. You also need to decide if you are going to use the overscale parts provided or make up substitute masts, derricks, guns etc.

I decided to fill the slight flaws in the hull. I trimmed the moulding line around the hull sides and then applied  fine grain Milliput (white tube) filler to smooth any remaining ridge, very small amounts of filler were also applied to the superstructure sides and the stern.

This was lightly sanded once set. I painted the filler with neutral grey just to check it looked ok, as a sort of primer, with the benefit of hindsight I should have worked in primer paint overall, the "finished" photos show the odd metallic gleam for crevices that I did not paint.

The funnel assembly was a very poor fit, the casting was distorted and the locating pins were too big to fit in the holes in the deck. A considerable amount of time was spent bending the part with pliers and cutting and filing away the pins, and drilling out the holes in the deck until it fitted, when it was glued with superglue.

I decided to substitute thin brass wire for the tripod mast and discard the supplied bipod white metal casting, I used the supplied large crane, but substituted nylon bristles for the king posts and the derricks. I fitted 3 of the provided single mount AA guns to the mounting holes in the aft deck, even although strictly speaking they are overscale, with barrels that scale up to be something like 200mm or 8inches, whereas a real 25mm gun has a maximum external diameter of perhaps 75mm.

COLORS & MARKINGS

I used Testors acrylic paints applied with a brush. I painted the decks "Panzer grey" and the sides and superstructure "Ocean grey".

 Options:

A deck cargo could enhance this model. Daihatsu landing craft, amphibious tanks or Kaiten miniature submarines could be used. A German firm called Trident used to make such accessories in 1/1250 scale and it is possible that they may still be stocked by some internet sellers of models in this scale. Figurehead do list a product called "Axis deck cargo" but I have no idea what that looks like, almost certainly European theatre.

I took a photo of the model with some Trident small craft alongside, including a Japanese amphibious tank and a Kaiten minisub, however one would need a full hull version of these craft to use as deck cargo.

CONCLUSIONS

The Figurehead kit is difficult to make and relatively expensive, on the other hand it does allow a unique type of ship to be modelled without scratchbuilding, so it is worth considering. As it happens I recently made a Hobbyboss plastic kit in this scale, for much the same money, including add-on photo-etch, which illustrates the big leap in value for money between high volume injection moulding and low volume metal casting.

REFERENCES

Jentschura, Hansgeorg and Jung and Mickel, Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1869-1945, Arms and Armour, 1977, p227

Kit provided courtesy of my wallet, obtained from waterline-ships.co.uk

 Jeff Simpson

May 2009

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