by: Todd Michalak [ ]
IJN (Imperial Japanese Navy) Kitakami was the third out of five Light Cruisers produced in the Kuma Class Line and put to sea in September of 1920. This light cruiser with its 5100 displacement had an operational range of about 5000 nautical mile at a 14 knot speed; top speed around 36 knots. The Kitakami had a crew compliment of 450 sailors and was designed for long-range, high-speed reconnaissance purposes.
Her armament would change throughout most of the war the Second World War consisting of seven 14 cm/50 3rd Year Type guns, two 8 cm/40 3rd Year guns, eight 533mm torpedo tubes, two type 89 127mm AA guns and forty-three type 96 25mm AA guns set into three triple units and thirty-one single guns. The ship also carried one floatplane for reconnaissance.
At the outset of the war, the Kitakami was regulated to training mission near Japan until reassignment to screening duties off the Aleutian Islands in May of 1942. Throughout most of the war the Kitakami was regulated to fast transport duties bouncing around the Pacific. In August of 1944, the Kitakami had her armament stripped and she was refit to carry eight Kaiten; the human torpedo. A 20 ton crane was added, the two type 89 127mm AA and a total of 67 Type 96 25mm the AA guns set in the twelve triple mount guns and thirty one single mount configurations. She would join the combined fleet in January of 1945. In March of that year, The American Carrier Task Force 58 converged on the Kure Naval Arsenal attacking several IJN battleships, carriers and several other support vessels. The Kitakami was present but no damage sustained. In mid-summer, another twenty-seven single mount Type 96 guns were added but to no avail, later in July of 1945 she would come under fire from Carrier Task Force 38 and over 200 aircraft when the Americans attacked the Kure area again. She would be damaged by strafing and loose thrity-two members of her crew. The Kitakami Light Cruiser would survive the war where she ended up regulated to repatriation services as well as use as a repair tender until being scrapped in late 1946.
Imperial Japanese Naval Light Cruiser Kitakami
The Fujimi 1/700 scale Imperial Japanese Naval Light Cruiser Kitakami come in the standard type slip-top box as seen on numerous models from Fujimi with an artist’s rendition of the original ship printed on the top of the box. This is a styrene assembly kit consisting of 171 parts to which only 153 parts are suggested by the instructions to be used. This model is presented as a waterline version of the IJN Light Cruiser only.
The upper hull is presented in a four-piece unit; the entire upper hull, a small flat insert for the bottom at the waterline and there are two separate armor belt pieces that get installed. The upper hull appears to be molded cleanly and even the degaussing cable is crisp. The main deck is broken down into two parts; fore and aft sectioning. The main deck is nicely molded with a majority of detailing in place such as the Gun wells, launch supports and anchor chains. While the wells seem a bit chunky, they are nicely represented.
The main superstructure parts are very crisp with tread plating on the gun wells, portholes and watertight doors finely molded and representative of what was seen on the ship for late war depiction. One notable feature is the ammunition storage boxes are molded into the wells and are nicely detailed for a pre-mounted part, let along in 1/700 scale styrene.
There appears to be the correct compliment of weapons supplied in the kit, to accurately depict the ship in and or around the late war era between 1944 and 1945. While the triple Type 96 25mm and 127mm AA guns have some nice detailing for the scale, suitable replacements may be required to build the level of detail of hollowed out barrels and photo etch.
Moving aft on the main deck, the kit supplies 8 Kaiten “Human Torpedoes” which were installed on the Kitakami late in the war. These are molded nicely as well and come with individual launch trolleys with detailing indicative with the attached equipment. The 20 ton crane located near the stern is not bad but could use the upgrading to photo etch to bring the thickness of the parts more true to form.
Many of the smaller delicate parts, such as the davits, piping and antenna have slight mold seam lines which is typical, will have to be sanded out before installation.
The instructions for this kit are laid out in an eight page, fold out format with the drawings being in black and white and exploded view. The parts all seem to be numbered correctly and the instructions are easy to follow but all the written instruction is in Japanese with the exception of the paint color chart which gives the colors in six languages.
There is one small decal sheet supplied with this kit and only include two Japanese wartime ensign flags.
The 1/700 scale Imperial Japanese Naval Light Cruiser Kitakami kit from Fujimi is a fine small scale representation of this IJN ship. The parts are cleanly molded and in most cases free from flash. There are a few chunky sections that could use thinning or replacement with photo etch parts; mainly the gun wells, davits and funnel tops. The detailing on this kit’s armament is okay. While in 1/700 scale the detailing is not too bad, replacement barrels could only enhance the kit and bring out much more detailing.
This kit does not come with any photo etch parts which would build up the detailing a lot as there are no railing included in this kit. One side note is that Fuijimi sells their own aftermarket photo etch set for this kit. It runs around $13 to $15 dollars online and has all of the parts including a photo etch degaussing cable to augment this kit greatly. I am going to recommend this kit based on the basic quality I see in the molding, the valued pricing which is under $20 US in most cases and the fact that the kit maker makes their own aftermarket upgrade set if the builder chooses to hyper detail the kit that much more.