Fujimi 1/350 IJN Battleship 'Kongo'
|KIT:||Fujimi 1/350 IJN Battleship 'Kongo'|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Kongō-classbattlecruisers were designed for the Imperial Japanese Navy by the British designer Sir George Thurston and the first ship, Kongō, was built in Britain by Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness in 1913. She was the last Japanese warship to be built outside Japan and provided the Japanese with a construction template. At this stage in naval design (before the Battle of Jutland), the battlecruiser concept was still attractive, and the three more of the class were built in Japan. Following Japanese practice for battlecruisers, the four ships were named after mountains.
This was the first Japanese warship class to have 14-inch (356 mm) guns, mounted in four twin turrets. The secondary battery was in casements.
The design had been developed privately by Vickers, based on the design of HMS Lion. It was in advance of contemporary Admiralty designs, as all of its main guns were fore or aft, eliminating the restricted arc of the amidships turret. This in its turn greatly influenced the development of HMS Tiger.
Inter-war modernisation reduced the number of boilers and protection was improved, but they remained vulnerable to modern gunfire. The addition of bulges reduced the class' speed and the Japanese re-classified them as "fast battleships". The anti-aircraft armament was increased on all four ships. The equipment needed to provide gunnery fire-control required high, stable superstructures and the Kongōs acquired the distinctive Japanese "Pagoda Mast" structures.
However, the Kongo class of battleships were quite fast. So much so, that it enabled them to speed into battle around Guadalcanal and then back out again before day light, making them virtually invulnerable to air attack, as they were out of range of shore based planes. This high speed was necessitated by the equally high speed of Japan's first major aircraft carriers, Akagi and Kaga, both built on battle cruiser hulls. Thus it was that at least two Kongo class battleships were part of any fast carrier task force, to provide protection.
As was the case of all the Kongo -class ships, Kongo herself was sunk in November 1944 by the submarine USS Sealion.
I was quite surprised to hear of Fujimi producing a 1/350 battleship kit, however it is reality and they have chosen an excellent ship to start with in the Kongo. This kit is a full hull constructions with no option to do a waterline variant. It is soon obvious that the same sort of modular construction that was used with Hasegawa's superlative Nagato is the coming thing as Fujimi's Kongo is designed in the same way. There are a number of braces in between the hull halves to keep things firm and steady. Some of the larger superstructure components are also designed in this manner.
The kit is obviously going to be issued as the others in the class as there is a sheet noting the upcoming release of the Haruna in 2008. Every detail you expect is there, from the casement guns to the myriad of anti-aircraft guns to the main guns themselves, which have brass cast barrels. Two floatplanes are also included with the kit. As another addition, there is a full set of 1/350 sailors in various poses and uniforms. Break out the magnifying lenses when it comes time to paint these, but they will add a huge amount to the overall display of the ship. Many of the parts are designed to be moved. Aside from the main guns, there are gun directors and the rudders which can be placed in different poses.
Instructions are exceptional and in a very large format. The front and rear covers, both inside and out, have photos of the Kongo during her life time. There are also images of the completed kit as well as the usual Gunze paint reference. Though all is in Japanese, it is not difficult to figure out what goes where as the drawings are superbly done. A full color 1/350 painting diagram is also provided. Apparently the kit is based on her last sortie, at least, that is what the instructions seem to say. A small decal sheet for aircraft markings is provided as well as a flag sheet and a plate for the display stand.
Large scale ship fans will be very pleased to see this one out. We now have models of two major WWII Japanese battleships. The level of detail and the parts count will make this a kit that will provide many hours of enjoyment during construction. I'm sure you will be very pleased with yours.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review kit. This one won't stay on shelves for long so get yours soon at your local shop or have them order one for you.
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