by: Jim Adams [ ]
The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, limited the naval armaments of its five signatories, the United States of America, the British Empire, the Empire of Japan, the French Third Republic, and the Kingdom of Italy. The treaty was agreed at the Washington Naval Conference and was signed by representatives of the treaty nations on 6 February 1922.
With restrictions placed on the number pf capital ships in place countries had decisions to make. Scrap existing battleships and heavy cruisers or convert them into useful ships. The United States converted two Lexington class battle cruisers in to the Lexington class carriers.
Japan had similar decisions to make. The first two ships of the Amagi class battle cruiser were already under construction when the treaty was signed. Amagi and Akagi were both being built in the Kure Naval yard. Japan began to convert these two ships into aircraft carriers. However during the September 1, 1923 earth quake the Amagi was damaged beyond repair and scrapped. This left Akagi to take the form of air craft carrier.
Since Akagi had bee laid down as a battle cruiser she was named for a mountain. Japanese aircraft carriers were originally named for birds or flying creatures. Japan went for a unique design when the sip was first christened, three decks. She had a smaller island near the forward starboard section of the upper flight deck. When rebuilt she had the odd looking island at the port amidships section. The main pilot house was under the main flight deck and was flanked by the largest guns allowed at the time, 8”, in two twin turrets.
The idea behind the multiple flight decks was simple. Allow fighters to scramble directly out of the hangar and into the air with little warning. Torpedo bombers, dive bombers, and horizontal bombers would then use the upper most deck to take off. When their missions were done all aircraft would land on the upper flight deck and then lowered to their proper hangars via elevator.
By having the pilot house under the flight deck there would be a much smaller island. This would then lessen obstruction aircraft operations. Having the larger guns also would give the ship a hand up in any gun battles it may encounter along the way. The middle deck was not a true flight deck. There were no provisions for aircraft and no method to place planes there. During her time as a multi deck carrier planes were upgraded and required more space to take off. Soon it was apparent the smaller lower deck needed to be removed and the main deck needed to be lengthened. In 1935 Akagi was sent to Sasebo Naval Arsenal to begin a major refit that would last until 1938. To be continued…
Displacement: 33,800 tone
Length 260.68 meters (885 ft 3 in)
Beam 31.32 Meters (28 ft 7in)
Propulsion: Steam turbines, 19 boilers, 4 shafts 99.2MW (133,000hp)
Speed: 31 Knots (57 km/h)
Range 8,200 nautical miles (15,200 km) 12 knots (22 km/h)
Aircraft: 60 in two hangers
This is another one of those kits that has been greatly anticipated since it was announced. Hype can be a very good thing or a very bad thing. In this case the hype was well worth it.
Well, the hype was well deserved in this case. Frank Portella has already given us an in-box review already. What we will do this time is dig down and take a look at all the details of the kit.
First off comes the box that holds this monster. On the top is one of the best paintings to grace a kit in a long time. This would sure look nice in a large format print over my fireplace, not that my wife would let me, but it is a nice thought.
Something rather interesting about this kit is it actually two versions of the Akagi. She under went a minor refit in 1934 and then the big final refit in 1938.
Starting at the water line we have the counterweight strip that Hasegawa includes in its waterline kits. The weight is a strip of metal with double stick tape to hold it tight. This fit nicely into the waterline base plate.
Part A1, starboard side hull, and A2, port side hull, come together on one curved sprue. Each half is loaded with portholes. These even have a very faintly molded rain guards over each one. Both halves have very nicely molded water tight hatches, vertical ladders, and jib booms, or davits. The two halves show the sleek lines of a battle cruiser with the added supports for holding a flight deck. The visible support girders on the hull halves are similar to those contained through the kit. Due to limitations in molding they are solid, but they are done very finely.
Next up is the stern deck of the ship. The deck section features two different types of surfaces, linoleum and metal with non-skid. The linoleum sections have thin raised lines just as the real ships had. The very end of the fantail has metal deck with non-skid plating. This is similar to that seen on several recent releases. The molded anchor chain is also finely done. The deck also features a capstan and two bit bollards.
On the stern deck there will be 3 different boats. All of the boats that come with this kit are really nicely molded. The open boats have fine planking visible in their bottoms. The covered boats are equally nice as well.
Moving back up front we head to the foc’sle. Here on the lower most deck we once again have many features as listed on the stern. Once nice feature that is left off a good deal of time are the anchor chain stays. These are small chains or cables that hold the anchor chain incase the windlass fails.
After you get your foc’sle installed and painted you get to cover most of it up with the lowest flight deck. This deck was used by the fighters. It features a downward curved surface. The multiple supports for this deck are molded on its bottom. They are solid, which contrasts to those in the cover art. The forward section is wooden whereas the aft if metal. So the fighters took off running from the hanger to the down ward sloping wooden deck.
Next we will begin on the lower hanger enclosure. This is where you have to make your first decision between the early and late version of the ship. The hanger is open to the bow. So those of you who are adventurous can add some extra aircraft inside and add some details to the interior. The exterior of the hanger has some very nice details hatches and port holes. However the interior is blank and will need to have some ejector pin holes filled.
Onto the bridge. The deck the bridge sits on is the overhead for the hanger. The underside features a nice fine lattice work of steel girders. The forward section features a wooden deck. Before this add the two covered boats on either side of the opening. After the deck is added it is time to fit on the actual bridge and forward aircraft elevator. This is how the fighters were lowered to the lower flight deck.
Akagi featured two 8” guns located on either side if the bridge. The turrets of the guns have good molded in details. She also featured a very unique double funnel. One large section turned down and a smaller section pointing up. The funnel is made up of five different parts. Both funnel caps are solid, but can be opened up fairly easily. Just be careful of seams on the funnel, since this is an important portion of the ship. On the downward portion of the funnel is a molded ladder.
Now we are up to the flight deck. This is the most important section of the ship, so we will take our time going over it. As Frank mentioned in his review the flight deck was a remarkable piece of engineering. The aft section is slant upward where as the forward section is slanted downward. Just forward of the aft elevator there is a dip in the flight deck before it begins its upward slope toward the bow.
Once against with the flight deck you will have to decide which version you are going to build. But since there was a choice earlier, you more than likely already have your build headed down one track. The aft portion of the flight deck has its lattice work of girders molded in. The entire upper deck has a nice wood grain pattern. Also on flight deck are seven arrestor wires and two wind deflectors. These are molded into the deck and nicely done.
There are four locations on the flight deck to install search lights. These are flat sections devoid of any planking. To install these you need to drill out the mounting holes, otherwise leave them alone. On the underside the nest big task will be adding all of the steel support girders. There are more on the port side than on the starboard side, so pay attention to what is what.
When the flight deck is finally added to the ship the two elevator openings are right above their respective hangers. There is no option to show the elevators in a lowered position, but that will not stop some of you.
On the port side of the ship you will have to add the weapons, boat davits, and range finders. Pay attention to the different versions here. Then you flip over to the starboard side. The different versions have two different assembly sections. The 1927-1934 version does not have any island. The 1934-1935 version has a small starboard island.
So, recapping the details of all these small parts on these assemblies. Although the girders do show cross bracing they are solid. The smaller guns also nicely done. They are assembled in multiple steps. The boats are some of the nicest plastic boats to be made. Even the davits are thin and not bulky at all. Some of the walls on the AA tubs seem a little thick for the scale.
Now it is time to depart from the ship and head to its teeth, the air wing. Two different aircraft are included in the kit Type 13 Mod 12 bombers and Type 90 fighters. There is six of each of these. The fighters are made from three different pieces where as the bombers are made up of fours pieces. However, there are no propellers. The bombers do have torpedoes, which are very nice. The planes look great for being so small. They have recessed lines and more decals than the ship has! Once they are finished your Akagi is going to come to life. Just add some gingerbread men and you will be set.
The Type 90 fighters are also known as the Nakajima A2N. However the A2N did not enter full service until 1937 when Akagi was in the yards for her third over haul. Akagi carried the Nakajima A1N fighters instead. So, the fighters included in this kit are wrong for the Akagi, Hosho and Kaga did carry the A2N. If you want to make these into the A1N it might be possible, or just leave them off.
The other aircraft are Mitsubishi B1M and these look correct for the type. Both of these aircraft are also available in the Hasegawa aftermarket kit that is also reviewed here, so more detail on these to come.
Since decals were mentioned lets cover those. The set for the ship is printed on one card. They include the flight deck markings, ships name, flags, and other various markings. Both version of the ship have different markings. The carrier film on the flight deck “arrows” and mid deck fan may take some work. Also the stripes that go over the wind deflectors might cause some problems as well. Try plenty of solvent on them. The planes will need a good deal of work. Each plane has multiple decals on them. These might take a good deal of time to apply, but will be worth it when they are done.
There are three cards of decals for this build, two for aircraft and one for the ship.
The instruction sheet is one large sheet of paper printed on both sides. The text is limited, but the construction steps are clear and straight forward. They were used to step you through the details of this kit. Painting is given in Mr. Color numbers, GSI Creos Aqueous Hobby color, and Taymia. The painting looks to be straight forward just like the instructions.
Unless you didn’t notice, I really like this kit. There are some short comings, but these are mostly due to limitations in the plastic. Uniqueness of the subject is another reason this is such a great kit. Hasegawa made one ship that can be built into two different versions and that is it. They sure have made IJN modelers happy.
The fighters are the wrong version and the aircraft are missing propellers. However, both of these are easy fixes.
This kit has really set to bar high for the 1/700 kit makers. Now the only thing I do not like about this kit. I do not have the spare time to build it! To me after seeing so many different kits this year, I would have to say this one is by far the best.