Aoshima 1/700 Seaplane Tender Chitose
| KIT #: || 001233 |
| PRICE: || around $35.00 SRP |
| DECALS: || one option |
| REVIEWER: || Scott Van Aken |
| NOTES: || Waterline kit |
Chitose (千歳) was a light aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. First laid down as a seaplane tender in 1934 at Kure Navy yard, the ship originally carried Kawanishi E7K Type 94 "Alf" and Nakajima E8N Type 95 "Dave" floatplanes. Although it has been speculated that Chitose also carried Type A midget submarines, only her sister ship, the Chiyoda had that capability. Chitose saw several naval actions, taking part in the Battle of Midway though seeing no combat there. She was bombed by B-17 Flying Fortresses off Davao, Philippines on 4 January 1942, sustaining negligible damage. She covered the Japanese landings in the East Indies and New Guinea from January–April 1942, and was damaged in the Eastern Solomons in August 1942.
In January 1943, her conversion started to turn her into a light aircraft carrier. This was completed in January 1944 and she was sunk at the Battle of Leyte Gulf later that year.
Back when the waterline series first came out (which would be the late 1960s for many of you), four companies were producing ships; Aoshima, Tamiya, Fujimi and Hasegawa. To be honest with you, of those older releases, Aoshima's were not the top choice. However, as each manufacturer chose a certain line of ships to produce, if you wanted a specific ship, you had to pick what that company produced. Things have changed a great deal over the intervening decades and Aoshima now produces some the best quality kits on the market.
While the Japanese waterline kit production went into hiatus for a while, there has been a slow increase in the kits being produced. In some cases, a company retools an older kit or adds in new sprues to upgrade it. In other cases, it comes out with a totally new tooling of a type not yet produced. Such is the case with a pair of seaplane tenders, one of which is the Chitose.
For whatever reason, this ship has been one that has stuck in my mind since I first read about the Midway battle back as a pre-teen. I don't know why, but there it is. Now we have a very nice model of it. As is the norm with these kits, there is a large weight that will fit between the waterline plate and the hull of the ship. No longer is the waterline plate in dark red plastic, but then we now paint our kits, something that was not always done by those of us in the past.
As a tender, the Chitose has ample space amidships and aft to handle floatplanes, which was it major task. Forward was where the defensive armament and the ship's bridge was located. It was not expected to get involved in battle, but it was thought that having some defensive weaponry wouldn't be a bad idea. This consists of a pair of dual 127mm paired guns in tubs and a dozen 25mm anti-aircraft guns, also in paired mounts.
Fast she was not so you get a single stack which is split into left and right sides with a cap and four steam pipes. Amidships is a raised section used to store and launch float planes. This area has on the edges four cranes. The forward cranes are single mounts, while the aft ones are a dual mount. The aft facing cranes are for the rear deck area which is lower than the main deck. Completely aft is a single, lighter crane. There are also four catapults, two in front of and two aft of the main raised flight deck section. All of the catapults and cranes are solid pieces. I'll bet that there is a photo etch set for this ship that has among the bits, replacement cranes and catapults. In addition to these bits are the usual masts and small boats, some of them on davits.
All this is to take care of aircraft. Depending on what time frame you wish to model the Chitose, you have a choice of Dave and Alf planes for an early verion; Pete and Jake planes for the later time frame. You have one of each with folded wings and two of each with the wings extended. The kit comes with handling dollys for the folded wing planes. Interestingly, the tree with the extended wing versions is not shown on the parts diagram so it may be that you are not supposed to use them.
Instructions are well done with the usual Gunze paint references. The ship is basically dark grey with many of the deck areas being wood. There are no fewer than five small decal sheets (not shown), all for aircraft insignia with one sheet having a large insignia for the raised deck.
Measuring about 11 inches in lenght, this is not a small ship so you can see why it was later converted to an aircraft carrier. The kit has very nicely detailed parts and thanks to the addition of some generic sprues for some of the parts, you'll have some spares to help spruce up some of those older kits you may have in your collection. One thing for sure, this is a rather unusual looking ship and one that will add some interest to your collection.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local retailer.
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