Thanks once again to Stevens International for providing IPMS with yet another review kit. Without your support (and our purchasing the items) companies like Tamiya could not continue to provide us with new, interesting kits to build!
The Tamiya “Tone” arrived in a very long box. It was the same size box as a battleship kit would be; think 1980’s “Bismark”. I dove in and was not disappointed with a lack of “things to assemble and paint”. Tamiya makes excellent presentation of their art; lower hull, molded in red, in a separate card holder, separated from the rest of the parts. Gray sprue-trees full of little bits; anchor chains, decals, stand, metal shafts for the props, and a sheet of photoetch with details for the upper masts, props for the aircraft (Jakes), and parts for the aircraft catapults… including aircraft movement dollies and launch shuttles. You are given a choice of full-hull or waterline on the ship. There are myriad details to fill the decks… sufficient to keep a contest-driven modeler busy for weeks, or in my case, about a week and a half of steady late-night work for an out-of-box experience. There are Photoetch sets which have just been released that can address the need for hyperdetailing….
I started with the hull, and decided to assemble per instructions for the full-hull version; that way, if I ever get furry enough to do a proper sea-diorama, I’ll have sufficient hull to make decent wave and wake patterns. Everything clicked into place, literally. Screws and brackets are used to keep the hull in one piece; it all fits as designed. A smear of Vallejo putty on the attachment joint between the upper hull and the lower section, and it was paint and finish. Take care not to fill the portholes. Tamiya Dark Red rattle-can paint here, with Kure arsenal upper hull. No black boot to mask off with IJN ships… The fit was almost so good as to be perfect; my fault for not taking time to be you-know-what about it. The hull makes a sturdy canvas for the next step.
At this point the instructions would have you put the model on the stand. This stand is effective and simple; it screws in place, and once installed makes for a stable model. And you can remove it if necessary without wrecking the model… Thoughtful engineering here.
On to the decks! These ships had linoleum and steel plate decks; no weathered wood to play with. Kure Gray and Tamiya Linoleum paint. I have slipped more than once on linoleum in kitchens, but I digress; that is what they had. Using Tamiya linoleum brown and Kure gray was simple. Spray on, grasshopper… using masking tape to keep neat edges. Paint and weather using chalk. I used a Caran D’ache light gray water-soluble pencil to highlight the engraved detail on the deck. Careful application is the rule; and it’s a water color base, so if you make a mistake you can remove it. I did the same with the aircraft transfer and movement railing, using a Prismacolor silver pencil. The deck was attached with self-tapping screws, a bit of liquid cement around the perimeter, and we’re in business.
The sub-deck was a simple affair; containing the 12 torpedo launchers and open bays, along with “Second-shot” rounds, makes for an interesting combination.
I understand “Long lance” torpedoes were relatively effective if you happened to be in the way. I stuck a few Eduard IJN 2D figures in just for scale and detail.
The next few steps have you install cable reels, deck plating, ammunition lockers, vents and mine sweeping equipment. If you pre-paint these items and use cement judiciously, you will not have to spend a lot of time masking for repainting. Gun turrets are next; Polycaps are used to hold the cannons firmly in place. You can install the cannon in either elevated or stowed positions; parts are included for both, and if at a late date you want to install a different configuration they can be swapped out. Anchor chains are also included; somewhere I lost one, so I only have the port side chain in place. Also in this step, the foredeck-mounted AA automatic weapons are installed.
The upper superstructure all fits together well; no problems were experienced, just follow the steps and everything goes into place with little effort.
I added a couple more Eduard 2D figures into the bridge deck, as one of the few clear pieces on the model is attached here. There are plenty of gun directors and binocular platforms to add in these steps.
The Funnel assembly is simple, and addresses a pet peeve I have had on other models; the funnel is hollow, and the stack assemblies consist of four sets of vanes which provide depth yet prevent the “see-to the deck” effect. VERY nice, looks and fits better than PE would.
Construction of the deck crane for aircraft and small boat placement. PE is used here, and not only looks good but fits perfectly! The “Type 3 No. 1 Model 3” Radar antenna is built up by PE; take your time and it will look great. All this is attached to the aft mast. Be careful placing the mast in the poly deck retainer; it’s easy to bend everything out of shape. At this point, the aircraft parts storage bins are assembled from more PE. I recommend annealing the PE, as I did not do this and it caused more than a bit of bending problems for me, particularly when I accidentally work hardened one of the rails and it broke free. (I had bent one of the baskets the wrong side; these are handed, pay attention to the pictures)
More details and the forward mast. Searchlights are provided as three-part affairs with clear lenses. I like these better than other kits that have the yoke as a separate item. Just a personal preference. The forward mast is simple, and then the midship AAA gun platform is added. The 12.7-cm AAA turrets are next, and have much better detail than any PE item could have. They have 3-D look to them in plastic, and when installed are impressive. The final upper ship bits are aft deck fittings and more AAA turrets and deck guns with associated ammo lockers.
Motor boats. Paint and install in place; I do like the oars as injected items, as they are not as fiddly as PE to paint and install. Not much else to say here. Tamiya XF-78 deck tan, flat white and Kure gray for colors.
The Aichi E13A “Jakes” are last; Easy to build, and thanks to the Tamiya decision makers for not making these out of clear plastic. It’s a lot easier to paint them, and all five only took an evening’s work to assemble, paint and decal. The black canopy decals fit perfectly, just make sure to slice the windshield and aft fairing sections slightly before using Solvaset to snuggle them into place.
I used both Tamiya INJ Green and IJA greens over the Light gray undersides to break the monotony of one-color aircraft. The catapult and aircraft movement trolleys are all PE; took a bit more time to get them installed and lined up, but they look great. Extra wire and stands are included to display the Jakes in flight if desired; I did not use them.
The Kure Type No. 2 Model 5 catapults are a combination of plastic sides and PE lunch rails with turnstile and pulleys separately attached. Extremely effective presentation, and look great when installed with aircraft on them (IMG 025).
The last items I installed were the propellers and rudder; there is also an emergency rudder to be hung off the aft starboard fantail. I found that a rather fascinating idea, and don’t know if it worked but hey, it’s in the kit.
9 of 10. A perfect ship model, in my opinion. The only thing preventing a full 10 would be to add railing for the decks and walkways. I’d pay the extra for the extra PE fret up front rather than have to purchase a superdetail set that costs half as much as the model itself. Other than that, Tamiya has another winner!