by: Frank Portela [ ]
Hasegawa's release of the triple decker Akagi is one of the most original models to be released in a long time. Hasegawa have done themselves proud.
The Akagi was laid down on December 6th, 1920 in the Kure shipyard as Battlecruiser No.5. as part of an aggressive and costly expansion program intended to increase the fleet by four Battleships and four Battlecruisers. This increase in naval expansion stretched the Japanese economy which was further weakened by the collapse of the Tokyo Stock market in mid-1921. Growing social discontent in Japan culminated in the assassination of Prime Minister Hara on November 1921. Given the turmoil at home, the Japanese gladly joined and signed on to the American led Washington Naval Conference of 1921-1922.
With itís pre-conference written treaty limiting the growth of the four leading naval powers, Japan would be forced to scrap two unfinished Battleships and four unfinished Battlecruisers, the Akagi included. The Japanese, using Article 9 of the Treaty, continued with the 40% completed Amagi and Akagi in a new role as carriers, this was allowed as long as they abandoned the plans for construction of two new 12,500T carriers.
Conversion of the Amagi and the Akagi Battlecruisers into Aircraft Carriers began in November 1923 at the Kure Naval shipyard with design layouts modeled on the British Furious, Courageous and Glorious conversions from cruisers. Akagi as an aircraft carrier was launched on April 22nd 1925 at the Kure Naval shipyard with a three level flight deck. Countless configurations where tried between the launching and the commissioning on March 25th, 1927 to solve problems and improve operations, such as the turbulence from exhaust fumes on the landing aircraft, and the closing of the side hangars. In and around 1934, Akagi underwent further modifications, most notably being the addition of a small starboard forward island on the upper flight deck and the inclusion of more advanced defensive guns. November 1935 saw her recategorized as a reserve vessel third class and brought to Sasebo for extensive changes and reconstruction which radically changed her outline. She emerged in 1938 with a single flight deck and a port island. During trials, Akagi reaches a record speed of 32.5knots.
The top deck measured 190.2m (624ft) long and 30.48m (100ft) wide was designed for the recovery of aircraft only. The aft 60% of the deck was angled up 1.5 degrees to facilitate the landing aircraft as they would have to climb upwards as they landed helping them to slow down. The fore decks where angled down 1.5 degrees to help them attain take off speeds. The middle flight deck was placed at the edge of the shipís bridge and measured a scant 15m (49ft). Only the smallest of fighters such as the Nakajima A1N1. could take off from this deck. Operations from this deck proved impossible as fighters grew in size. At what point in Akagiís history this occurred is unknown to this author. The lower deck was 48.8m (160.1ft) and 22.86m (75ft) wide in its widest portion. It was an extension of the lower hanger deck. It was long enough to allow Type 13 Carrier Attack aircraft 2MT1 and their later variants 3MT2 (later redesigned B1M1 and B1M3). The three deck configuration was designed to facilitate the deck crew in launching aircraft as fast as possible.
This waterline model comes in one of Hasegawas larger 700th boxes, and itís needed as the box is tightly packed. The first thing you will notice is the stunning box artwork, possibly the finest art work Iíve ever seen on a ship model. I can only hope that Hasegawa releases a glossy print size poster for those interested in framing this worthy artwork. Inside you will find twelve sprues of light grey plastic, three decal sheets and two strips of self adhesive tape to tack down the metal bar to the base.
Sprue A gives you the hull halves, well engineered and free of the old hard to reach sink marks which marred older renditions of the Akagi.
Sprue B is comprised of the top flight deck and the lower flight deck hangar rear box.
Sprue C gives you the waterline base.
Sprue D supplies the lower aft hull deck and lower flight deck which sits almost on top of the hull deck.. Part D1 shows the slightest hint of sink marks, fortunately in spots that are easily filled in.
Sprue E provides the fore hull deck which has incredible detail, and which will mostly be hidden by the lower flight deck. The two other parts give you the mid flight deck and the second deck bridge.
Sprue F is comprised of 25 smaller parts including the funnels and caps, hangar elevators and supporting walls.
Sprue G is comprised of 28 parts including support braces, hull supports and hull superstructure walls.
No sprues H or I are given.
Sprue J is comprised of 25 parts including AA gun supports and islands as well as the middle configuration starboard island.
Sprue K (2) These two sprues come wrapped up separately, and should be available on their own. They include three fighters and three torpedo bombers per sprue. Included are torpedoes and landing gear, no plastic propellers are given.
Sprue L (2) 52 parts per sprue. Gives you the finicky parts. AA guns, small structural supports, life boats, twin 8Ē gun turrets, anchors and searchlights.
Decals and instructions...
Three decal sheets are provided. The first one provides all the necessary deck markings, and flags/banners. The second and third sheets provide you with a multitude of plane markings. The decals are very thick and will require a great deal of gloss or future to hide the decal edges.
Instructions are given in a large fold out double sided page. Closer inspection of the construction steps shows that the triple decker Akagi can be built in either the early configuration or her middle configuration. Painting guide for the planes is minimal and will require outside reference for accurate decalling.
Akagi vol. 1, Adam Jarski, Miroslaw Skwidt, AJ Press, Encyklopedia Okretow Wojennych 49
Kaigun Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the IMPERIAL JAPANESE NAVY 1887-1941, David C. Evans, Mark R. Peattie, Naval Institute Press