IJN Cruiser Submarine I-16, Pearl Harbor with Detail Set

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Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
000366; Detail Set is Part 000373 @$24
Company: Aoshima - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Dragon Models USA - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

The Imperial Japanese Navy Cruiser Submarine I-16 was constructed at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding in Kobe, and was then towed to Kure Navy Yard for completion, as well as commissioning in 1940. She was the lead boat for a class of five submarines that included the I-18, I-20, I-22, and I-24, which were Type C1 boats. The design of this class was based on the Junsen-type, and they were developed from the type KD6. These boats were designed to carry either the Ko-hoteki midget submarine or Kaiten suicide torpedo.

I-16 and her sister boats each displaced 2595 tons surfaced and 3618 tons submerged, were 358 feet, 7 inches long, 29 feet, 10 inches at the beam, and had a draft of 17 feet, 7 inches. The boat could travel at a maximum speed 23.6 knots surfaced, with a range of 14,000 nautical miles (at 16 knots), or at a top speed of 8 knots submerged, with a maximum range of 60 nautical miles (at 3 knots). The power plant consisted of two Kampon Mark 2 Model 10 diesel engines that were rated at 12,400 hp, along with two electric motors rated at 2000 hp.

The five submarines of the I-16 class took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December, 1941, each launching their midget submarine near the harbor entrance. None of the five midget submarines would return to their mother submarines following the attack. I-16 took part in several operations from 1942 until 1944, was credited with sinking four merchant ships, and took part in seven supply runs to New Guinea. I-16 was likely lost on 19 June 1944 after being spotted by an American patrol plane, which notified the destroyers USS England, USS Raby, and USS George, who used SONAR to find her exact position. Using Hedgehog projector charges, the I-16 is believed to have been hit on two of the five runs, the last of which caused an underwater explosion that lifted the aft end of the USS England some six inches out of the water. I-16 was written off six days later by the Japanese Navy.

From my kit research, it appears that the timing of the release of this Aoshima kit was to coincide with the seventy-year anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. My sample arrived with the standard Aoshima kit as well as their Iron Clad series of detail parts. The standard kit comes with three smooth gray plastic sprues holding one hundred and one parts, two textured black sprues (one with the mini sub halves, the other with the three display stand parts, and four parts that retain the nuts for the stand inside the hull), a small photoetch sheet with eight items, two screws, two nuts, and a small decal sheet. The instructions for the standard kit are spread over fourteen of the sixteen pages of the booklet. The Detail Set (Part 000373 @$24) consists of one large photoetch sheet holding thirty-two parts, and the two self-adhesive wooden pieces for the conning tower and main decks. There is a single sheet of color photographs and black and white drawings that are tri-folded and enclosed in the Detail Set. The kit instructions also have two pages showing black and white instructions for adding the detail items.

The instructions actually start with a full page black and white copy of the box cover art, followed by a two and a quarter page history of the I-16 (all written in Japanese). The remaining three quarters of a page is then filled with seven photographs (one of the I-16 at a pier, three of midget submarines, and three of the attack on Pearl Harbor {one before the attack showing “Battleship Row”, and two showing the smoking hulks of the battleships during the attack}). There is a page of general information written in Japanese, English, German, French, and Chinese, and this is followed by a page showing the painting directions using Gunze colors only as their reference. Assembly actually begins on page seven of this booklet, and is straightforward enough to follow. Here I will mention to take note as the builder, as several steps have “A” and “B” options, where “A” is for a surfaced vessel with all items on deck, and “B” is submerged. It seems redundant in some of the steps where there are no differences, but it is easier to always follow the “A” or “B” option, so it does make sense.

Based on the additional parts included in the kit, and the fact that the decal sheet includes the numbers, I believe that any of the five boats of the I-16 class can be produced using this kit. Although which parts would be used on the other submarines is not mentioned in the instructions, I would surmise that there will be other releases of this kit that explain what to use and where. One of the differences is the aft half of the deck, but only the one called for in the instructions will properly mate with the wooden deck.

The standard kit assembles very straightforward, and you really just need to decide whether you are building the submarine surfaced or submerged and, with the additional detail parts, the decision was pretty much made for me. My only struggles with the kit occurred with the detail set, as the brass that was selected by Aoshima is exceptionally thin. There were a few items, such as the guards for the dive planes forward and aft, that I elected to use the plastic standard kit parts rather than the thin ones from the detail set. I will also admit that the antenna, which consists of a single long piece that you must roll into a cylinder and two end rings did intimidate me enough to slow my progress at one point. As the already thin brass includes indents for the bends to make the cone ends, and another where the end rings attach, I broke off and lost one of the attachment points just forming the large piece. I attached the end rings from inside the individual strands as I noticed an appropriate number of notches in the rings, and they actually went on better than I anticipated. I had to replace the one lost attachment piece with small stainless steel wire, which looks close to the right size. I will note here that the sheet included with the Detail Set has color photos showing that the person who did the build-up to highlight those items also had an issue with assembling this item.

In order to finish my I-16, I utilized Tamiya’s Hull Red for the underside, and Kure Arsenal Grey for the top (leaving the deck the natural wood color). In addition, I used Vallejo New Wood and Oily Steel for the tie downs for the mini sub, and Alclad Polished Brass for the propellers (on both submarines). I used both an oil wash (using Winsor and Newton Payne’s Gray) and a sludge wash (using Model Master Acryl Aircraft Interior Black) for the weld lines, drains, and vents. The base is Alclad Gloss Black Base and the supports were initially painted with the same black base followed by Alclad Chrome.

For my hits of this kit, I will start by mentioning the fit and finish of the kit, as Aoshima did an excellent job with this release. The parts were clean coming off of the sprues, and the only place that I used filler was on the top of the bow. The included photoetch parts with the standard kit are used for the mini sub hold downs and torpedo protection bracing. Using just what comes in the box will produce a very nice I-16. The Detail Set, as mentioned, is very thin brass representing the hatches on the conning tower, cranes, railings, dive plane protectors, forward dive planes, radars, and antenna, as well as the wooden deck pieces, which are only 0.0105 inches thick. This set can make a real masterpiece of an already nice looking kit.

As far as misses, the one real issue that I had was about a week after I installed the wooden main deck; it lifted up about 1/8 inch between the conning tower and forward attachment point for the mini sub. I was initially able to just press it back down, but the next day found it lifted again. I ended up using a pin with some thin CA on it to place some extra adhesive in the middle, and once pressed down, hit the edge all the way around the deck with the same thin CA. Aside from that, there was a small seam issue on the underside of the hull that I could not figure out how to deal with without damaging detail in the area. There was a small gap on the top of the bow, but this was easily corrected with some Mr. Surfacer 500. Although I will not classify it as a miss, I would have preferred a little stronger photoetch sheet for the Detail Set; either thicker brass, or using stainless steel instead.

Overall, I would highly recommend this kit to anyone wanting to add a model of one of the submarines and mini subs that took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor to their collection. The kit builds well and looks very convincing once completed and, even though some of the thin brass items can be challenging to assemble, they, along with the wooden deck, really do make the I-16 stand out.

I would like to thank the folks at Dragon Models USA for providing this kit to the IPMS/USA for review, to Steve Collins who runs the Review Corps for selecting me to do the build and, as always, to you for taking the time to read my comments.


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