IJN Carrier Photoetch Set

Published on
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Base Kit
Any 1/700 IJN Carrier
Provided by: Squadron - Website: Visit Site

Thanks to Squadron Hobbies for the Gold Medal PE set and IPMSUSA staff for handling the request and publishing this review.

Bottom Line

One of the original 1/700 PE sets for WW2 IJN aircraft carriers, designed to complete at least one carrier and having specific parts for 12 carriers. GMM IJN Carrier PE set is basic, supplying generic railings, antenna masts, 3-bladed aircraft props, flight deck nets, inclined & vertical ladders and two Type 22 radars for any IJN aircraft carrier, as well as specific details for older kits of Akagi, Amagi/Katsuragi, Hiryu, Junyo, Kaga, Ryujo, Shinano, Shokaku/ Zuikaku, Soryu and Unryu from early original-molds Aoshima, Fujimi, Hasegawa and Tamiya kits. Still serviceable for more recent IJN carrier kits, including Hiyo, the sister carrier to Junyo which appeared later.

Squadron Hobbies has taken over selling Gold Medal Model (GMM) PE sets after the recent retirement of GMM founder Loren Perry. The Gold Medals Model website (goldmm.com) is shut down. One of the pioneers of 1/700 PE model warship sets and more since 1993, Loren Perry set high standards for the new world of 1/700 naval PE sets. Fortunately, Brandon Lowe has revived Squadron Hobbies in Ellijay, Georgia and is taking over carrying and production of Gold Medal Models PE sets from Loren. Other modeling websites might carry Gold Medal Model PE sets, but not sure for how long.

What You Get

You get a rather small steel PE fret, about 123 X 97 mm (about 4¾ X 3¾ inches). Almost half the PE set is 3-bar railing, including flared bow railings for the Ryujo, along with vertical ladders. Plenty of large flight deck nets is another large portion of this set, followed by about half being devoted to aircraft props and specific supports for specific carriers, and four small and four large lattice masts.

GMM 700-14 PE set will outfit any one WW2 IJN carrier with basic needs: railings, masts, large safety nets and ladders. The number of props was sufficient for the small number of aircraft in early carrier kits, but if you want a deckload of aircraft, you will need more props. Also, there are no 4-bladed props for late WW2 IJN carrier aircraft, such as Jills and Graces, which were nowhere when this PE set was designed. Also, there is no landing gear for aircraft.

After using up other Gold Medal Model PE sets for other ship classes, the IJN Carrier PE set is similar to other GMM PE sets – very much to scale, and supplying the basic PE needs for any WW2 warship, including IJN carriers.

The Build: IJN Ryujo 1944

I still have the remains of this very same GMM 700-14 IJN Carrier PE Set from 1995, which I used to snitch the props for floatplanes. That 1995 set and the current 2022 set are identical! I have waited a long time to build my collection of IJN carrier kits from the 1980s, so reviewing this PE set is ideal.

I chose the original IJN Ryujo Fujimi 82 kit to build with GMM 700-14 IJN Carrier PE set because the set has specific parts for Ryujo, including curved bow railings – which is most welcome – and the instructions focus on Ryujo. This old kit of a small, weird-looking carrier needs lots of help. Also, I wanted to do a what-if – IJN Ryujo in late war green hull camouflage with a disruptive, colorful flight deck camo pattern.*(see below for camo explanation)

Ryujo was Japan’s attempt to squeeze a carrier into the total tonnage limit imposed by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. There was 10,000 tons left after Hosho, Akagi and Kaga. Ryujo was based on a heavy cruiser hull with half the power plants, but since Hosho was limited by its small size and single hangar deck, Ryujo was fitted with two hangar decks, trying too hard to have an effective fleet carrier. Remember this was the days of smaller, light biplanes, and made sense around 1930. Ryujo ended up excessively top-heavy and overweight (around 16,000 tons, way over the limit). Operational in 1933, she was quickly refurbished with bulges, ballast and reduced heavy AA gun armament. After heavy seas seriously damaged the bow and bridge face area in 1935, more refits were required. She operated about 30 aircraft in 1942, a large number for such a small carrier. Ryujo participated in operations in the southern areas and Aleutians during WW2, then was sunk by US carrier aircraft from USS Saratoga on August 24, 1942 at the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.

The Fujimi 82 kit dates from the 1970s, and depicts Ryujo in 1936 fit, although not exactly, before her bridge width was reduced and many gun tubs and platforms were lowered. In her final guise in 1942, when she was sunk by US carrier aircraft at the Battle of Eastern Solomons, her appearance details were different from the Fujimi 82 kit. Since I wanted to show what Ryujo might have looked like in 1944 with the late war camo scheme,* I decided that a small, cantankerous carrier too slow to operate with the fleet carriers would be better suited to sail independently, providing recon and strike support, much like the US Navy used SBD Dauntlesses with a lighter bomb load as scouts. I happened to have Nakajima C6N Saiun (Myrts) and Yokosuka D4Y Susei (Judys) waiting for a flight deck.

I looked over many Ryujo builds online, and settled on the Model Art No. 27 modeling book “The Operations in the North Pacific (Aleutians Islands Campaign, WW2), Spring 2008,” as my main reference for appearance. This book was reviewed for IPMSUSA on May 2008 by me (still online). Ryujo was the front cover art, and the highly remodeled Ryujo model was expertly done – I did not do such extensive modifications in my build. My build was a simulated 1944 fit for Ryujo, removing the overly thick parts and flight deck narrow platforms without surgically altering the hull and bridge area. A list of aftermarket parts and other PE sets and paints used is listed at the end of this review.

I built the Ryujo from bottom up to ease assembly and handling, and the flight deck was added late, mostly to be able to hold and manipulate the model to add all the PE pieces and new platforms. Addition of most GMM PE parts were saved for after the plastic parts were assembled and painted – they attract trouble when handling this model, and the build is easier without having to tiptoe around them. There were many alterations, additions and scratchbuilt parts, which are not the subject of this review. Many details such as ammo boxes (caissons), bollards, Chrysanthemum crest for bow plate, directors, hawseholes, radars, searchlights, watertight doors, and new aftermarket lifeboats were added from the extra parts collection and other PE sets (see list below). FineMolds plastic + PE 25mmx1 and 25mmx3 mounts replaced the notoriously over-thick kit 25mm AA guns – but the original kit 127mmx2 AA mounts were kept. The armament and radars were standard IJN grey colors (I use Floquil SP Lark Light Gray). The boat crane “fins” projecting from the rear of the flight deck were scratchbuilt, as were new platforms and 25mm AA gun tubs.

Gold Medal Models Photoetch

GMM 700-14 PE pieces are sturdy and easy to remove from the fret and to fold. The Directions for PE parts for Ryujo were clearly illustrated, and were the only specific carrier with an overhead view on where to put the large flight deck nets. Because I added new parts, I only used the two long stretches on the aft part of Ryujo, held in placed by small plastic square rods glued to the hull just under the flight deck. They were not tilted 30 degrees. Large flight deck nets were thick ropes with metal brackets, so I used a pencil to draw the metal support between sections, and then a needle tip dipped in SP Lark Light Gray to darken the metal between the rope sections. Small flight deck nets on the aft end were from a Lion Roar PE set. Railings were relatively easy to apply with thick CA glue in longer sections than I normally use. The curved bow railings were definitely appreciated. I used straight ladders, and only two angled ladders on the stern platform for Ryujo. The other Ryujo-specific parts were lattice supports for lifeboat platforms and aft sponsons that required removal of plastic. I was surprised that the ugly braces for each funnel were not supplied, so I used portions of masts intended for Unryu-class carriers from GMM 700-14 set. Used another one of those as a strut for the new radar mainmast. In short, GMM 700-14 IJN Carrier set is very useful for any IJN carrier.


GMM 700-14 PE set is a good value at almost $20 MSRP that will turn IJN Carrier kits into detailed models. If you want to further superdetail, there are plenty of PE and aftermarket sets for items not included in this GMM PE Set (see the list of other details used below). Gold Medal Models GMM 700-14 PE set outfitted the Ryujo as promised with specific and important basic PE parts, especially railings, flight deck nets and masts. The curved bow railing labeled for Ryujo can be used on other carriers with trimming. There were extra universal parts remaining, so this set would fit out larger carriers easily. Even though I heavily modified the original Fujimi 82 kit that this PE set was designed for, the specific pieces were still applicable and welcome. On the finished model, although the railings and other GMM PE parts are tiny and hard to notice at a first glance, they give the Ryujo fine details that bring its appearance more realistically to scale.


Overall, GMM 700-14 PE set is recommended as a low-cost, comprehensive starting point for detailing any IJN carrier kit with the basic necessities – railings, ladders, masts, large flight deck nets, a couple of large Type 21 rectangular radars, 3-bladed aircraft props and specific support structures. GMM IJN Carrier 700-14 PE Set greatly improves the look of IJN carriers, and is easy to use for beginning photoetch users.


  1. Perfect for detailing the earlier Aoshima, Fujimi, Hasegawa & Tamiya IJN Carrier kits;
  2. Instructions are precisely directed to and illustrated for those earlier kits;
  3. 12 IJN WW2 carriers are pictured with positioning for their specific PE parts;
  4. Enough PE parts to outfit one IJN carrier with railings, masts, flight deck nets and enough 3-bladed propellers (23) for aircraft normally present in those early kits;
  5. Level of detail is on a par with other PE sets – excellent;
  6. PE parts were easy to fold and strong enough to be handled for assembly, and look fine for 1/700 scale.
  7. Directions are helpful and include basic techniques for folding and handling – great for beginners to 1/700 photoetch sets.


  1. This is not a super detail set, so does not have all the minor PE parts for late war carriers or newer molds;
  2. Masts were slightly different among the carriers, so masts may not be supremely accurate for a particular carrier, and instructions do not distinguish between short and tall masts for each carrier;
  3. No four-bladed propellers and no landing gear, meaning a late-war IJN carrier would need additional aircraft PE set parts;
  4. No armament, which is not a serious detraction because don’t we all hoard our favorite aftermarket IJN armament replacements anyway? Under no circumstances should the kit 25mm AA guns be used – they are the worst of all 1/700 scale AA mounts;
  5. Funnel grilles for each carrier would have been helpful but would have doubled the size of the fret. A generic grid that could be cut to the shape of each funnel opening would have been another good option for this PE set.

* In case you are wondering about the bizarre IJN late-war carrier camo schemes, the idea was to foil aim of submarine attacks by painting darker shapes of tankers or merchant ships on hull sides to simulate a slower, non-carrier ship, in new green colors. Dive bomber aim was hoped to be fooled by applying a dazzle, off-center camo scheme. The aft end of the flight deck was still the characteristic red & white banding, as were the white flight deck dashes. Obviously, this new camo style was ineffective and did not deter submarine or bombing effects. But these schemes are colorful and stand out in a collection, something rarely seen for WW2 IJN warships.

Additional aftermarket and photoetch sets used:

  • Gold Medal Models GMM-14 WW2 IJN Aircraft Carrier Set – steel fret
  • A-LINE #29219 Black Chain 12” – 40 links per inch
  • FineMolds NanoDread700 WA7 IJN Type 96 25mmx3 w gun shields (16)
  • FineMolds NanoDread700 WA8 Type 96 25mm Machine Gun [14 Single Mounts with gun shields]
  • FineMolds NanoDread700 WA12 Anchor & Chrysanthemum Crest Set
  • FSTAR (Five Star) FS710270 IJN Bollards for Small Vessels (CL/DD/Gunboats) 3D Printed resin
  • Hasegawa 3S-51:900 72751 PE Type 13 Radar
  • Lion Roar LE700053 PE IJN Cable Reels
  • Lion Roar LE700056 IJN Antiskid Plate
  • Lion Roar LE700067 WWII 1/700 IJN Armored Rails & Caisson
  • Lion Roar LE700088 IJN Aircraft Carrier Flight Deck Nets (for smaller, tighter weave nets not supplied by GMM Models PE set) & Landing Lights
  • Lion Roar LE700152 PE Perforate Bar (Solid Triangle Supports)
  • Lion Roar R7062 US Navy Anchors & Cable Hole PE set, #5 closed hawseholes.
  • Various Skywave Equipment Sets for directors, searchlights, Type 22 radar
  • White Ensign Model PE IJN Doors & Hatches 1998


  • Researched IJN CV late war flight deck camo schemes (Chitose, Chiyoda, Chuyo, Zuikaku) online & downloaded many illustrations/photos of IJN CV flight deck camo patterns. Ryujo pattern is an amalgamation of actual patterns.
  • Floquil Railroad Colors Pullman Green F110045 enamel for darkest flight deck color
  • Floquil Railroad Colors Weathered Black F110017 enamel for inside of funnels & anything black
  • Floquil Railroad Colors SP Lark Light Gray F110131 enamel for lifeboat hulls, 127mmX2 AA, 25mmX3, 25mmX1 guns, Types 13, 21 & 22 radars, small flight deck nets
  • Tamiya XF-2 Flat White Acrylic
  • Tamiya XF-7 Flat Red Acrylic
  • Tamiya XF-57 Buff for GMM large flight deck nets
  • Testors Dullcote 1260 Flat Clear Lacquer (rattle can)
  • Testors Silver Gloss Enamel ¼ fl oz (searchlight lenses)
  • Weather System Rust & Weather Kit #FF-60 from Bragdon Enterprises. 3 rust and 1 black colors from rust, pigments and dry adhesive milled to superfine particle size – used 2 lightest rust colors
  • White Ensign Models Colourcoats enamels (small tins)
  • WEMCC IJN06 IJN Type 2 Camouflage for dark green paint on hull & flight deck
  • WEMCC IJN07 IJN Type 21 Camouflage for light green on hull, sides, funnels, horizontal decks, platform decks, boat crane “fins” and flight deck
  • WEMCC IJN09 IJN Deck Tan for tan flight deck color, lifeboat decks, cable reel cables

Reviewer Bio

Luke R. Bucci, PhD

Luke built all kinds of models starting in the early '60s, but school, wife Naniece, and work (PhD Clinical Nutritionist) caused the usual absence from building. Picked up modeling to decompress from grad school, joined IPMSUSA in 1994 and focused on solely 1/700 warships (waterline!) and still do. I like to upgrade and kitbash the old kits and semi-accurize them, and even scratchbuild a few. Joined the Reviewer Corps to expand my horizon, especially the books nobody wants to review - have learned a lot that way. Shout out to Salt Lake and Reno IPMSUSA clubs - they're both fine, fun groups and better modelers than I, which is another way to learn. Other hobbies are: yes, dear; playing electric bass and playing with the canine kids.

Similar Reviews


Add new comment

All comments are moderated to prevent spam

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.