Manned Research Submersible SHINKAI 6500 (Upgraded Thruster Version 2012)
In their third release of the Science World series of kits, Hasegawa has reproduced the Japanese manned research submersible Shinkai 6500 in 1/72 scale with upgraded thrusters that were added in 2012. The company previously released the original version of the submersible as SW01 (54001), and parts for that version are contained in this box as well. The kit builds up nicely, with many of the items fitting snugly enough that you might almost consider not applying glue. With the exception of just a few small parts, model builders of any age can complete a very respectable looking model from this kit, and more experienced builders should enjoy the level of detail provided by Hasegawa.
The Shinkai 6500 is a manned research submersible that is designed to reach depths of up to 6500 meters (21,325.46 feet), and it began operations in 1991. The Shinkai 6500 with the upgraded thrusters is 9.7 meters (31.82 feet) long, 2.8 meters (9.19 feet) at the beam, has a height of 4.1 meters (13.45 feet), and weighs 27.6 tons dry. The submersible carries a crew of three when underway, two operators and one researcher, with a typical deployment of eight hours, which includes up to five hours for the descent and ascent to the depth for the mission. In 2012, the Shinkai 6500 completed over 1300 missions, during which the Yokosuka was used as the mother ship. The JAMSTEC (Japanese Agency for Marine-earth Science and TEChnology) website provides a great history of the craft, including how the submersible operates, and can be located at the following address on the web: http://www.jamstec.go.jp/e/about/equipment/ships/shinkai6500.html.
Upon opening the box for this kit, the builder is greeted with six sprues holding 64 parts, as well as the 2 hull halves, all molded in a sturdy, white plastic. There is a single orange-yellow sprue that holds the vertical stabilizer and observation SONAR, and a clear sprue that holds the two-piece base and three viewing ports. The molded orange-yellow color is close enough to the color on the real submersible that it could be left unpainted if desired. Also included are a single sheet for the instructions (folded to create eight pages), a decal sheet, and a heavy card stock “Science World Data File” with Japanese and English descriptions of the various components of the craft on one side and drawings of operation of the craft with only Japanese text on the other side.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, the kit builds up very nicely, with no fit issues to mention. I was nervous about the fit of the hull halves, but they meet along the seams on the real submersible, so everything looks natural. I used Model Master Acryl Semi-Gloss White, Duck Egg Blue, Aircraft Interior Black, and Semi-Gloss Black during my construction. I also utilized Model Master Lacquer Silver, Vallejo New Wood, and Gunze Orange-Yellow. The observation SONAR and vertical stabilizer fit beautifully, so adding them after they are painted presented no issues, and this allowed for hand-painting the hatch inside the observation SONAR dome opening prior to installation.
With decals provided for the top surface, I would recommend starting with decal 2 over the center, then adding the ends (decals 1 and 3). I placed mine in that order (1, then 2, then 3), which produced a slight mismatch with decal 2’s location. All of the decal openings still managed to align closely to the indents they sit above on decals 1 and 3. The decals worked just fine with the application of Micro Set, which could have been used alone, and Micro Sol.
As far as my hits of this kit are concerned, the pieces were all crisply molded with no excess flash on any of the parts. The level of detail is excellent for this scale, and with a steady hand, all of the smaller items can be brought to life. The model measures out true to scale, and the markings are exactly like the real submersible. The parts molded in orange-yellow can be used as-is, if desired, which will preclude the purchase of a paint that may only be used on this project. A less experienced builder could actually build the kit without the use of paint and have reasonable results.
I typically mention misses next, but I really do not have any for this particular kit. My sample had some scratches on a few of the items due to sprues rubbing against each other, but this was easily cleaned, even on the clear base. My decal 2 is slightly aft of where it should be, but since the openings on decals 1 and 3 lined up satisfactorily, this was not a big deal, and this is why I would start with decal 2 if I were to build another one of these kits.
In conclusion, I would recommend this kit highly to anyone wanting to add this unique manned submersible to his or her collection. The kit builds up cleanly, which is a benefit to less experienced modeler, and could be a nice break for the experienced modeler who is used to kits that require the use of strong modeling skills. It is a fun project as far as kits go, and could be a good subject if getting a younger or less experienced modeler involved with glue-together kits.
I would like to thank the folks at Hobbico/Hasegawa USA for providing this kit to the IPMS USA for review; Steve Collins, who runs the review corps, for selecting me to do the build; and to you for taking the time to read my comments.