Aoshima 1/350 IJN Light Cruiser Isuzu

KIT #: 002872
PRICE: 8800 yen
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES:

HISTORY

Isuzu was the second of the six vessels completed in the Nagara-class of light cruisers, and like other vessels of her class, she was intended for use as the flagship of a destroyer flotilla.

Isuzu was completed at theUraga Dock Company shipyards on 15 August 1923. Shortly after completion, Isuzu was assigned to patrol duty on theYangtze River. As the war situation with China continued to deteriorate, Isuzu was sent to patrol the coasts of central China, and to cover landings of Japanese troops in southern China.

At the time of theattack on Pearl Harbor, Isuzu was participating in the invasion ofHong Kong, as part of the 15th Escort Squadron inVice Admiral Kiyoshi Hara's Second China Expeditionary Fleet. Isuzu remained based in Hong Kong after its capture by Japan from the end of December 1941 to April 1942, returning briefly to its home port ofMako, in thePescadores to escort reinforcements for theJapanese 25th Army toSingora, Thailand andCamranh Bay,French Indochina.

The 15th Escort Squadron was deactivated on 10 April 1942 and Isuzu was reassigned to Rear Admiral Kenzaburo Hara's CruDiv 16 under Vice Admiral Ibō Takahashi's Second Southern Expeditionary Fleet. It was joined by the Natori and Kinu and was assigned a patrol area in the Dutch East Indies extending from Makassar, Celebes to Balikpapan, Borneo and Surabaya, Java, becoming flagship of CruDiv 16 from 1 May 1942.

On 28 June 1942, Isuzu returned to Yokosuka for repairs and overhaul, which was completed in time for Isuzu to participate in the Banda Sea Operation on 26 July 1942, where Isuzu supported landing operations on the Tanimbar Islands.

In August, 1942, the Isuzu was reassigned to the Indian Ocean theatre, patrolling between Singapore, Mergui, Burma, Sabang Harbor, Sumatra and Penang, Malaya; however, on 24 August 1942, Isuzu was reassigned back to Makassar.

On 16 September 1942, Isuzu and Kinu were assigned to escort the first wave of transports with Lieutenant General Masao Maruyama's 2nd Infantry Division from Batavia for the Solomon Islands (Rabaul, New Britain and Shortland Island and Bougainville). From Shortland, Isuzu was ordered on to Truk, in the Caroline Islands, where it replaced the damaged Jintsu as flagship of Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka's DesRon 2's DesDivs 15, 24 and 31 (9 destroyers).

From 1112 October 1942, it led DesDiv 31 against Guadalcanal, accompanied by the battleships Haruna and Kongo and aircraft carriers Junyo and Hiyo, CruDiv 4'sMaya, and CruDiv 5'sMyoko. Isuzu provided cover with DesDivs 15 and 31 and also fired on Marine batteries on Tulagi Island during the Bombardment of Henderson Field, Guadalcanal by theKongo and Haruna.

On 2425 October 1942, Isuzu participated in the Battle of Santa Cruz, but was not damaged. On 35 November 1942, it escorted transports with reinforcements for the 38th Infantry Division to Shortland.

Isuzu also participated in the second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November 1942. Isuzu sustained two near misses from Marine SBD Dauntless dive-bombers. Her No. 3 boiler room flooded and her speed was reduced to 15 knots (28 km/h). She was assisted by the destroyer Asashio and returned to Shortland for emergency repairs, probably by the repair shipYamabiko Maru. Additional repairs were performed at Truk on 20 November 1942, but Isuzu was forced to retire to Yokosuka, arriving 14 December 1942.

At the Mitsubishi Yokohama shipyard, Isuzu was repaired and modified with the installation of a Type 21 air-search radar. The No. 7 140-mm mount was replaced by an unshielded twin 12.7-cm/40-cal HA-gun mount. The No. 5 gun was removed. Two triple 25-mm mounts were added bringing the light AA suite to ten 25-mm AA mounts and one quadruple 13-mm in front of bridge.

On 1 April 1943, with repairs and modification yet incomplete, Isuzu was assigned to Rear Admiral Kenzo Ito's new CruDiv 14 with the Naka. Isuzu was finally able to depart Yokosuka on 21 May 1943, returning to Truk with supplies and troop reinforcements on 21 June 1943. It was then assigned to ferry troops for the occupation of Nauru on 25 June 1943. Isuzu continued to be based out of Truk to 15 October 1943, when it was recalled to Tokushima and (together with Naka) re-assigned to ferry troops to Shanghai. On 23 October 1943 Isuzu was attacked in the East China Sea by the USS Shad, which fired ten torpedoes, but failed to hit either Isuzu or Naka.

Isuzu returned to Truk on 28 October 1943 and was assigned to escort a convoy of troops for Kavieng, New Ireland. The convoy was attacked 60 miles (97 km) north of Kavieng by 13th Air Force B-24 Liberator bombers, andIsuzu was damaged by a mine laid by the USS Silversides, suffering hull damage forward disabling two gun mounts. Isuzu returned to Rabaul for repairs and was thus in Rabaul harbor during the 5 November 1943 American Carrier Raid on Rabaul. However, the planes from Task Force 38's USS Saratoga and Princeton did little more than strafe Isuzu, which later returned to Truk for repairs.

On 20 November 1943, the United States launched "Operation Galvanic" to retake the Gilbert Islands. Isuzu ferried troops from Ponape to Kwajalein and Mili (Mille). While at Roi, on 5 December 1943, Isuzu was attacked by SBD Dauntless dive-bombers and TBF Avenger torpedo-bombers from TG 50.1's new USS Yorktown and the new Lexington. Repairs were conducted at Kwajalein and Truk, but Isuzu was forced to withdraw once again to Yokosuka on 17 January 1944.

While back in Japan, Isuzu was converted to an anti-aircraft cruiser at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. All of her 140 mm (5.5 in) gun mounts were removed and two twin 127 mm (5 in) guns were installed. The number of Type 96 25 mm AA guns was increased to 38 barrels. The catapult and seaplane equipment were removed. Type 13 air-search, Type 21 air-search and Type 22 surface-search radars were fitted or modified. Sonar and depth charge rails were added. On 20 August 1944, Isuzu became flagship of Rear Admiral Heitaro Edo's CruDiv 31 (antisubmarine), and Isuzu was declared combat ready again on 14 September 1944.

On 20 October 1944, Isuzu participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf as part of Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa's Northern Mobile ("Decoy") Force. In the Battle off Cape Engano on 25 October 1944 26 October 1944 Ozawa's force was attacked by TBM-1C aircraft of VT-21 from TG 38.4's USS Belleau Wood and VT-51 from the San Jacinto. The Chitose was hit heavily and Isuzu unsuccessfully attempted to take it in tow. After Chitose sank,Isuzu rescued 480 survivors. Later the same day, Isuzu attempted to protect the Chiyoda, which was damaged by a second strike by aircraft from the Lexington and the Franklin. However, a force of four US cruisers and nine destroyers appeared on scene and sank Chiyoda with all hands. While rescuing survivors, Isuzu itself came under fire from the American units and 13 crewmembers were killed.

Isuzu returned to Okinawa on 27 October 1944, and from there to Kure, where it was assigned to make a troop transport run to Manila and Brunei. On 19 November 1944, 55 miles (89 km) west of Corregidor, Isuzu was attacked by USS Hake and hit by one of six torpedoes fired, with severe damage to its stern and destroying her rudder. After at-sea emergency repairs, Isuzu, limped into Singapore for temporary repairs.

After temporary repairs, the Isuzu was transferred to Surabaya for more complete repair work on 10 December 1944.

When repairs were completed, on 4 April 1945, Isuzu was sent to transport an army detachment from Kupang to Sumbawa Island. She was spotted by a wolf pack with the USS Charr, Besugo and Gabilan, which was joined by the HMS Spark. On 6 April 1945, Isuzu was attacked north of Sumbawa by ten B-25 Mitchell bombers of the No. 18 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron, based at Batchelor airfield south of Darwin, Australia. Isuzu was slightly damaged by near misses off her starboard bow by some of the 60 bombs dropped. Later on 6 April, she landed troops at Bima Bay, on the northeast coast of Sumbawa. Afterwards, while withdrawing near Flores, Isuzu was hit in the bow section by bombs from B-24 Liberator bombers, from No. 21 Squadron RAAF and No. 24 Squadron RAAF, based in the Northern Territory of Australia. Two B-24s were shot down by Imperial Japanese Army Air Force fighters.

Between Sumbawa and Komodo Islands, USS Besugo fired nine torpedoes at the Isuzu group. Isuzu was undamaged, and one Japanese minesweeper was sunk. The following day, 7 April 1945, 60 miles (97 km) northwest of Bima,Isuzu was struck by one of five torpedoes fired by USS Gabilan. The torpedo hit portside, below the bridge, causing flooding forward. Isuzu's speed fell below 10 knots (19 km/h), she took on a list and went down at the bow. While her crew was performing emergency repairs, USS Charr fired four torpedoes, hitting Isuzu portside twice near the aft engine room. Charr fired two more torpedoes, one of which broke off Isuzu's bow.Isuzu sank at 0738′S 11809′E, witnessed by Spark. Her captain and 450 crewmen were rescued; 190 crewmen went down with the ship. On the same day, just a few hours apart, the battleshipYamato and her escorts were sunk by US aircraft in an attempted suicide attack on Okinawa.

Isuzu was officially removed from the Navy List on 20 June 1945.

THE KIT

To my knowledge, this is the first injected plastic kit of this ship in this scale; perhaps the first of any medium in this scale. The kit is of the ship when she was lost in 1945, after her refit as an anti-aircraft cruiser in late 1944.

This is a full hull kit with the option to make it into a waterline model by cutting the lower section of the hull away. Typical of modern 1/350 ship models, it has a multiplicity of bulkheads to ensure that there is sufficient stiffness in the hull. The kit is somewhat unique in that the kit comes with two display bases. One is the usual type where the model rests in a cradle and the other is where one attaches the hull to the base with screws. This decision has to be made quite early in the build.

The kit comes with a small photo etch fret that is basically radar antennas and an upper mast section. It would have been nice to have etched railings included, but Aoshima does two more comprehensive etched sets for this kit for those who want it, one which is pre-cut railings and other for the rest of the ship.

In addition to holes needing to be drilled for some of the parts, ones will need to be done for the screws, if one wishes to go that route in mounting the completed ship. Just about all the deck fittings are separate pieces and there are quite a few of them, especially as this one was relatively thick with A-A guns. One thing that was not removed during the refit were her torpedo tubes and those have been nicely molded and are able to be swung out into firing position if one so wishes.

Each of the deck levels is made up of separate slab sides that one assembles and then attaches the ladders and various bit to. Typical of Japanese ships, there are a lot of mounted binoculars at the various look-out posts. The three major gun positions are all held in place with small plastic caps so those can also move in azimuth. All of the ship's searchlights have separate clear lenses and would be a perfect place to use aftermarket MV Lenses. Because of the scale, it is nice that Aoshima has included lengths of chain to use for the anchor chains. The instructions tell how long these need to be cut to fit.

Instructions are in landscape format and provide not only a history of the ship but photos as well. Construction steps are very well drawn and provide detail sketches where needed. There is a decal sheet that is not shown that provides for flags and a few hull markings. As you can tell from the sprue diagrams, there are quite a few pieces not used on this ship and I fully expect to see other Nagara class light cruisers produced by Aoshima.

CONCLUSIONS

An excellent kit of this important Japanese light cruiser. I have always liked Japanese light cruisers, despite the fact they look a bit old-fashioned next to their sleeker heavy cruisers and those fielded by the Allies. The hull measures 18 inches in length, which isn't that bad when it comes to large scale ship kits. One thing for sure, this will be an excellent addition to any nautical collection.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_cruiser_Isuzu

February 2013

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