Revell Mini-ship IJN Yamato

KIT #: 06803
PRICE: $5.50 MSRP (Approximately)
REVIEWER: Jeff Simpson
NOTES: Sold as a toy but a great value for the money.


The Yamato and its close sister Musashi and the related Shinano aircraft carrier are well documented in print and on the web. Even so there is considerable dispute about what their precise configuration and colour scheme was at various points in WW2.


A Revell (Germany) plastic kit, it is 220 mm (8.7 inches) overall length, the scale is thus 1-1195, it looks very "toy like" out of the box. The ship is depicted encrusted with light AA guns, as it would have appeared in 1944/5. The general shape of the ship is well represented although there are five basic rectifications required. This kit first appeared as "Casadio" brand in 1973 and has since been re-issued by ESCI and, in the 1990s by Revell.

The kit comes in an end-opening box with a small assembly diagram and instructions on the bottom. The parts, in grey plastic, are all sealed in a plastic bag. Oddly the kit includes two spare main gun turrets (with extra AA on the roofs). There are no decals.
Revell market this same kit as Musashi in a different box, which is wrong as the two ships were never identical.

As an aside, it is nice to have a plastic kit in this scale. Worldwide, there are a large number of "cottage" manufacturers of metal and resin waterline ship kits, only Revell and "Lee" in China currently produce plastic kits in, or close to 1/1200 scale.


The plastic is flash-free the deck includes moulded in bollards, winches and light AA guns, which looks clumsy but is quite acceptable for a "wargame" model and entirely appropriate for a snap together toy. I found that the parts do not fit particularly well and it is necessary to trim them, including trimming the locating pins until they fitted snugly. It is possible that a bit of "brute force" could have persuaded them to "snaptite", I was not prepared to take the chance. I used liquid plastic glue applied with a brush.

I decided not to make the kit "out-of-box" but to model the ship as it appeared in 1941 and to improve the appearance to display model standard.

Basic Rectifications

1. Scrape or sand off the moulded in deck "planks" which are quite ridiculous at 1/1200 scale.
2. Reduce the hull freeboard (this step would not be necessary if you wanted to embed the hull in a "sea" diorama, however I prefer to display my models on a flat shelf and the kit sits far too high). Cut the bottom off the hull with a saw and trim and sand the hull sides down to 6mm at the bow and 4mm at the stern. It is a good idea to reinforce the hull with bulkheads made from scrap plastic, and to brace these to the deck with filler.
3. Make a main mast. It is quite a complex structure and it is a glaring omission from the kit, I have done a sketch to indicate how the main components fit together. I glued on the mast when the model was just about finished, so that it would not be handled too much.
I made the mast from thick (.6mm) wire. Drill three holes in the top of the superstructure so that the angles converge below funnel top height. Cut two short bits and glue them with superglue so that the pins are vertical in side view but meet at the top on the centreline of the ship. Then glue a long length of wire from the superstructure to the apex of the two short pins, this wire is the "spine" of the mast structure.
Cut other wires and glue them together with cross pieces so that they form a triangle. Then glue this assembly to the main mast, simultaneously fixing a "vee" shape of supporting wires, hooking them over the "spine" as in the diagram. Then glue in the rest of the bracing made out of cut pieces of toothbrush bristle and trim off any excess.

4. The rear superstructure needs to be modified so that the range finder is well above the AA gun mountings.
5. Make a jib for the rear aircraft handling crane

1941 Modifications

I decided to modify the kit to represent the Yamato as completed in 1941. There are plans and photos of the ship with 12 x 6” secondary armament and a very modest AA battery of 12 x 5” and 24 x 25mm guns.
Note: the book I used seemed to imply that both Yamato and Musashi had an identical appearance, but I suspect that Musashi never had the planned 6" side turrets fitted.

6. Scrape or sand off the large number of light AA barrels moulded into the deck.
7. Remove the plastic radar antennae from the main rangefinder.
8. Cut back the superstructure and built up the deck amidships. Smooth it all off before drilling mounting holes for the side turrets.
9. Obtain an extra pair of triple 6" gun turrets. Revell do not include spare 6” turrets, so my project involves making an extra pair. I cast duplicate turrets from the kit ones using resin material in a two-part mould in silicone rubber. This is not a recommended procedure for the novice to resin casting. The turrets have only a narrow “stalk” which is too narrow for the resin to flow down. Having said that the kit is sufficiently cheap that you could buy another one just for the turrets.

I made up one of the "Rufe" seaplanes included in the kit and made little tip floats out of plasticard - of course the Rufe is unlikely to have been seen on Yamato in 1941....


I used acrylic paints, applied with a brush. The instructions suggest "ochre" for the decks. I painted the decks Neutral Grey and the hull and superstructure Ocean Grey. The anachronistic "Rufe" provides a spash of colour in green and light grey, with red markings.

If you model the ship at any time in the 1942-45 period you can have lots of fun with extra light AA and radars. Making a hundred plus triple barrelled 25mm AA guns could be quite therapeutic! I have also seen suggestions that the decks should be black which would look quite dramatic. There are aftermarket Japanese seaplanes in 1/1200 scale under the brand name "CAP Aero" that would probably look better than the kit seaplanes.


Out-of-box the kit would assemble into a robust yet presentable looking wargame model or toy.
I can also recommend it for adult modellers. A slight amount of proficiency is required if you want to improve the appearance to a display standard and a bit of research is needed to depict a particular ship on a particular date.
Value for money: Tops, Enjoyment: High, Ease of assembly: Medium.


Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1869-1945 by Hansgeorg Jentschura and Jung and Mickel, 1999, Arms and Armour Press

Review copy: courtesy of the small change in my wallet.

It is worth noting that the "Miniships" series are not normally seen in hobby shops. They are more easily found in Maritime Museum shops, Toy shops and the Toy section of department stores or supermarkets: so if you want one keep your eyes open (actually it is a good excuse to go and have a look at toys).


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September 2005

Jeff Simpson

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