"This comprehensive inbox review gives us a closer look at Fujimi Models, 1/350 scale kit, IJN Haruna."
The IJN Haruna was a Kongo class battlecruiser. Unlike the British built Kongo, the Haruna was built by Kawasaki in Japan from mostly Japanese parts. She served in the fairly quiet waters of the Pacific during World War I. During the mid to late 1920's, the Haruna and her sisters were significantly rebuilt with thicker armor, better propulsion, and equipment and were re-rated as battleships.
The Haruna saw plenty of action during World War II, being involved in The Battle of The Philippine Sea and The Battle of Leyte Gulf among others. During the Battle Off Samar, the USS Heermann fired torpedos at Haruna that missed, but caused the Yamato and Nagato to steam north for ten miles until the torpedos ran out of steam.
All told, she was a fairly lucky ship and almost survived the war until attacked at Kure and holed by a massive force of USAAF bombers on July 28, 1945 (and even then, she had survived an attack by 70 B-24's earlier that day). She sank in shallow water next to a pier, her wreckage raised and broken up from 1946-1948.
The Haruna comes in a large, fairly sturdy box, with beautiful art depicting her at sea in what is most likely the opening stages of the Battle of The Philippine Sea (she's in her June 1944 fit).
Unfortunately, the parts bags inside are left to "swim" around with no way of really securing anything. This wouldn't be such a big issue if it didn't inevitably cause creases and damage to the included folded plan view.
...and what's inside...
This kit depicts the Haruna in her fit of June, 1944 for The Battle of The Philippine Sea. At that point, along with her usual main guns and 6" guns, she was armed with double and triple 25mm mounts.
The hull halves of the Haruna. This is a dedicated hull and Fujimi didn't simply reuse the hull from the Kongo. The most noticeable reason is the lack of mounting holes for the spare rudder that the Kongo kit comes with. There are delicate wled lines running along the length of the hull with sharp details throughout.
Unfortunately, a rather glaring error from the Kongo has returned in this kit as well. The casemates, which should have straight vertical enclosures, have a trapezoidal shape. This is an error that will take some time for the modeler to fix if he wants an accurate hull as it's quite noticeable.
Another returning issue from the Kongo is the square mold lines on the hull near the anti-torpedo bulges. These lines don't follow the curve of the hull and run across some of the weld lines. They also appear in the aft area as well and care will have to be taken in their removal.
Sprue B & C:
Internal braces for the hull, with parts B5, C1, and C2 also providing the pivot points for the 6" waist guns. There has been some discussion on whether all of these parts are really necessary for a build (with the exception of the three parts named above for obvious reasons). On the Kongo, the parts caused an either/ or effect where either the keel was mated or the upper hull halves were. Lots of clamping was required to get everything to work. As these parts come directly from the Kongo, be sure to do plenty of test fitting. It may be possible that some internal adjustments have been made to the Haruna's hull so that it has a better fit than the Kongo.
Delicate support gantry work is found here as well as the crane for the boats.
This contains small boat davits, catapult sides, and funnel caps. Because the Haruna had different funnels than the Kongo, these parts are very noticeable and are high quality. The vanes that are in the caps can be found here and all are open on the bottom with no flash blockage at all- very clean and well produced. The funnel cap grill work is also very well done. While these parts inevitably get replaced with PE, these plastic pieces are very good and wouldn't look bad on a final build.
Mastwork, structure sides, supports and platforms.
This is a clear sprue containing lenses for the large spotlights, small lights in their entirety, and windows for the bridge area.
This is a rather important sprue as it contains some very specific parts for the Haruna, namely the funnel halves, 127mm heavy AA platforms, midships structure roof, and forward deck. These last two items look similar to the Kongo's pieces, but have different holes in them for mounting different items.
Fujimi also seemed to increase the sharpness of their molding for the deck as the planks and other details appear much sharper than the Kongo release. Unfortunately, Fujimi still splits the deck into two pieces so there will have to be some filling and scribing to make the planks from the two pieces match when putting on the deck. Luckily, the join is mostly covered by an AA gun platform, so the work isn't as bad as it could be...
The midships structure roof is also an improvement over the Kongo in that this piece has a very nice delicate diamond plate texture for water direction (the Kongo's is smooth).
The aft deck and midships deck pieces along with some structure stiffeners. Another improvement over the Kongo is immediately visible in that the flight deck is part of the midships piece and not separate as before. Whereas the separate flight deck was helpful in theory to aid in painting, there were many complaints about the gap between the flight area and wood area of the deck when the two pieces were attached. By making it all one piece, Fujimi has alleviated this issue, albeit at the cost of having to do some extra masking when painting.
Here again, the molding quality is an improvement with sharper lines for the planks and plane cart transport rails.
The levels of the bridge superstructure and some platforms with nicely done banding for the linoleum and diamond plate where needed. Part J6 has some sinking in it that will be very hard to fix thanks to the aforementioned texture.
The large boats, binoculars and ammunition boxes. The screws are also on this sprue and they contain sinkholes that will have to be fixed.
A point of interest is the presence of single and triple 25mm guns. The triples are very simple and actually look like something scaled up from 1/700- the detail is practically nonexistent. The singles look a little better although still simplistic. Luckily for Haruna builders (and unluckily for Kongo builders), none of these "legacy pieces" are used, as Fujimi has provided whole new sprues of much better triples and doubles (there are also much nice singles with separate mounts, but this kit doesn't use those either).
Another sprue set (two sprues are named "L") from the Kongo, this contains the rudders, airplane crane, launch tops, screw shafts and shaft holds. The shaft holds have sinkholes in them similar to what was found in the screws... The second sprue contains many parts from the Kongo that are not used in favor of better parts that came with this kit. The parts that are used are the large spotlights, airplane carts and casemate 6" gun mounts.
Sprue M (x2):
The Haruna's turrets and more support work are found here. The turrets have nice details and include the small apron that was under each gun mount at the turret face. There are also 6" gun barrels and blast bags that are an improvement over the Kongo's. Although this kit comes with turned brass main guns, the plastic guns found on this sprue are actually pretty nice, one piece, with hollow muzzles.
Clear sprue with parts for F1M2 Pete float plane. The detail on these planes are fairly good, although care has to be taken in construction to keep the "invisible" lines aligned... The cockpit tub is molded as a separate piece with the canopies attached to aid in painting.
A very well done E13A Jake. Unlike the Pete, there shouldn't be any construction issues here, as the Jake's body and wings are all molded as one piece, with only the floats, struts, prop, and cockpit/ canopy separate. As with the Pete, the separate cockpit/ canopy should make painting easier.
Sprue X (x2):
This sprue is labeled as "1/350 Busou ['Armament'] Parts X". Here is what will likely come packaged in all future 1/350 IJN kits from Fujimi as these parts are clearly superior to their predecessors in the Kongo kit.
Parts for four very nice dual 5" AA guns are here. They have very well-made shields with excellent detail throughout. There are also parts for 27 single mount 25mm guns. As stated above, these are made with separate mounts so they can be glued in a wide range of positions. They're not used in this kit, but if you have some 1/350 kits around in need of some decent small AA (like a Kongo for example), here you go!
Sprue Z (x2):
Another Busou Parts sprue... The difference between the 25mm double and triple mounts found here and their simplistic, toy-like forebears from the Kongo is like night and day. In place of a single piece consisting of a box and three rods sticking out, these are very nice multiple parts affairs. With each gun coming together from four parts, these have seats, nicely done platforms, controls, main axle and barrels. Easily some of the best injected molded double and triple 25s in 1/350.
the other stuff...
A two piece cradle type base is provided, molded in black plastic.
Eight 14" gun barrels are included of turned brass. These are very nice barrels that use the same mounting hole in the blast bags as the plastic barrels and thus are a very easy upgrade to perform.
Metal anchor chain is included.
Fujimi includes Set 2 of their 1/350 IJN seamen. Whereas Set 1 was of sailors standing at attention, Set 2 contains "in action" poses for seating at AA guns, carrying shells, crouching, and so on. If you want to depict your Haruna under way and ready for battle, this set of 213 nicely sculpted people will work beautifully.
The decals are mostly for the planes and waterline numbers. They are in register and have a close cropped film.
There is also a sheet of self adhesive fold-over flags that include national flags, flag ensigns, and jack stand flags. These flags come in straight and waving configurations. A very comprehensive set of signal flags is a welcome addition.
A metallic self adhesive name plate is included for the stand.
A huge full color plan view is included which shows the colors of the ship with the matching Gunze Sangyo numbers. Unfortunately, this plan view is folded four ways instead of rolled up, so there will always be at least three creases to distract the eye. Due to the free-flowing nature of the contents in the box, this sheet tends to get even more creases at the edges...
The instruction book is a large 10" x 14.5" and depending on your work area can be a bit unwieldy. There are 22 pages including the covers. The cover shows the foredeck of the Haruna with the front inside depicting the Haruna early in her career. A history of the ship follows, in Japanese.
Adding to the clumsy nature of this large book is the first construction step, depicting the hull assembly, which is a fold out page. Thus, when fully opened, the builder is faced with a spread of 30"! Make room on your work bench...
The illustrations of the building steps are well drawn and logically laid out. Adding to their clarity is the series of assembly where the parts put together in the previous step are depicted in gray so it's easier to see the newly added parts shown in white.
There are no rigging diagrams to be found anywhere in the instructions (or plan view), so you'll have to use your references and the box top.
The book ends with a nice parts view, photos of the kit built up, and photos of the Haruna later in her life.
When Fujimi (and Aoshima) released the Kongo, IJN fans' hearts went aflutter to finally have this important and beautiful ship in 1/350 plastic. But in Fujimi's rush to be first to market, some fairly conspicuous issues began to crop up in the Kongo, including incorrect casemate shapes (sadly to be repeated in this kit), some soft or missing details, and 25mm AA gun sets that seemed to be transported from 1970's 1/700 kits and scaled up. Close, but not quite there.
The Haruna, on the other hand, benefits from the extra time given to her release. It's almost like this is "Kongo version 1.5". Crisper detailing, intelligent design work (as in making the flight deck and main deck one piece), excellent 25mm guns that truly live up to the Fujimi standard. It's like a second honeymoon.
Yes, she has her issues. Those casemates really cast a long shadow. The mold lines on the hull. The interior ribs that were brought over from the Kongo. The forward and midships sections of the deck are two pieces. Will the Haruna go together better? Here's hoping, because from this in-box review, she really looks like a winner!
The brass guns and figures are going to only be included in the first run of this kit, so act now if you want them.
Fujimi has released a deluxe set of photo etch for the Haruna (#11166... 6,800 yen list) and a wood deck (#11168... 5,800 yen list). Note that the deck is split in two on the wood main deck, just like the kit's plastic pieces.
Special Thanks to Dragon USA for providing this review copy of the kit.
Highs: Much improved 25mm and 5" guns. Sharp molding and surface textures. Flight deck is better engineered.Lows: Incorrect casemate shape. Pieces carried over from the Kongo that may cause assembly issues. Sink marks on propulsion pieces. Mold lines on hull.Verdict: An excellent update in Fujimi's Kongo class. Except for the casemate shapes, generally a museum piece in the making.
About Dade W. Bell (Karybdis) FROM: MARYLAND, UNITED STATES
I'm a third generation modeler who builds a little of everything (mostly Japanese)- all while being a 41 year old hermit who lives a happy, simple life, with my fiancée (author Jaclyn Dolamore) and three cats.
My father was an MM3 aboard the USS Saratoga (CVA-60), my grandfather was in one of the...