by: Dade W. Bell [ ]
"Dade W. Bell gives us a closer look at a fantastic aftermarket accessory from Shinsengumi in this "inbox" review!"
The IJN Yamashiro was the second Fuso class battleship. She was laid down at Yokosuka in 1913 and commissioned on March 31st, 1917.
She was reconstructed from 1930 to 1935 where her coal burning boilers were replaced with more powerful oil burners, received torpedo bulges, was lengthened 24 feet, got an increase in armor on three decks and main armament elevation increased.
The Yamashiro was most easily recognized from the Fuso by the dead angle of its C turret. Whereas the Fuso's C turret faced forward, the Yamashiro's faced aft- this also gave the Yamashiro a larger, better proportioned superstructure compared to the Fuso.
She was sunk at the Battle of Surigao Strait when, after receiving four torpedo hits, she bravely sailed on where her T was crossed by USN Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf's battle line. She was hit by multiple 14" and 16" shells and sunk; the last battleship in history to meet her end from shells fired by other battleships.
Shinsengumi's decks are recognized as the class leaders in decks made of real wood. The wood is very high quality with careful engraved etching of the planks. Because the wood is so thin, these decks work perfectly as overlays and do not require major surgery to "snuggle down" as thicker decks would.
Thanks to precision cut openings for on deck structures, the modeler doesn't have to spend a lot of time masking off tiny vents, sky lights, etc., like he would if he had to paint the deck.
While Shinsengumi's decks are seen as thin enough for 1/350 products, there has been curiosity if they are thin enough for 1/700. The answer is a resounding YES!
This deck set is made for Aoshima's recent Yamashiro kits (#3908 and #4045). Just as the Aoshima kits themselves have on deck details that get covered by the superstructure base, Shinsengumi has allowed for these items on their deck. This means that when Aoshima decides to release an earlier fit without the large armored base, this deck set will still work. It's great to see such forethought from an after market manufacturer. As an aside, Shinsengumi also makes a deck set for the Fuso.
While the decks are fairly easy overlays, there are a few molded on items that have to be removed. In the fore area, two reels and four paravanes must be removed. Two more paravanes have to be removed from the superstructure base (deck 01). Lastly, the aft area must have a set of aztek stairs on each side removed (the resulting holes will have to be filled, as well as two aircraft transport rails.
When looked at objectively, these removals make sense as the items removed are either things that aren't part of the ship itself (paravanes), or items that sit up and away from the deck and would most likely be removed by the modeler anyway and replaced with PE. In this respect, I say bravo to Shinsengumi for thinking of this. Because when it comes down to it, how many modelers will invest the money to buy a wood deck, but leave on aztek stairs and molded on approximations of reels and paravanes (Flyhawk Models' PE set for the Yamashiro even includes replacement rails)? By not allowing openings for these things, Shinsengumi solves the issue of the modeler having to fill in those gaps in the deck left over from the removal.
Speaking of filling in gaps, Aoshima's model contains a rather annoying separation of the foremost area of the deck and the rest. After gluing on the piece, the modeler will have to fill the gap between the two deck pieces and rebuild the planks (even more annoying since the detail is raised). Shinsengumi's deck comes to the rescue here as well because it is one piece and will cover up that annoying seam. This leaves the modeler to glue on the front piece, putty it in, and forget about about it because it will be covered anyway. It also allows the modeler to simply paint the area gray and not worry about any masking for the deck.
Just in case the modeler wants to remove *all* molded on detail, Shinsengumi provides a "blank" piece of wood that has the same planking texture etched in as the fitted parts. This allows the modeler to fill in any extra pieces he wants with wood that is the same color and texture.
The instructions are nicely illustrated with a picture depicting what molded on items to remove and a parts breakdown. They're in Japanese, but the simplicity of the application is such that this isn't a problem. It's basically, "Remove the molded on stuff shown. Apply wood parts."
Even though this is an In Box review, it's also an "applied" review as I have prepped my Yamashiro (1944 fit) for the wood pieces. I have removed all the molded on pieces as specified and dry fit the deck. It fits like a dream and immediately brings the kit to life. Due to some curling from the pieces being so thin, there are some gaps in the pictures, but when pressing down, they fit perfectly.
When the time comes to build this, I will apply some light coats of sealer and then apply with a thin coat of white glue. I'll leave the lightly raised planking on the plastic to give the glue something to "bite".
I've been Shinsengumi's main advocate on this web site and with good reason- their stuff is just absolutely top notch. Very rarely has a product done so much to enhance a model and yet required so little effort. The wood is very thin, expertly etched, and looks great. Some may quibble that the wood is a little too dark when taking in the scale effect, but even this can be amended with a light translucent over spray of a brighter tone. Very easy when one considers that no masking has to be done.
A word of warning, these decks are fairly low-run items, so if you see one you want, *buy it*. Even if you feel you may not be getting to the project right away, it's better to know you have it than to find out you missed your chance. On the other hand, there's something to be said for exclusivity...
Shinsengumi's web address doesn't include the "h". When seeing www.sinsengumi.com, note that this is not a typo on our part, and it is the actual web address. By the same token, "Shinsengumi" is the correct spelling of the term in English.