Building The Fujimi 1/350 IJN Kongo, Part 2
by: Dade W. Bell

Part 8: The Wood Deck…
Here are the steps for preparing the Kongo's deck.

I like to seal thin wood products for three reasons: 1) To keep the wood from getting mold, discoloration, or cracking over the years. 2) To protect it from the adhesive used to glue it on to the ship. 3) To keep the wash from soaking into the wood and allowing it to only bring out the engraved details.

We tried a bunch of different sealing items and came down to three: Sherwin Williams Sanding Sealer (brush on), Tamiya gloss clear coat spray (!), Valspar Premium Enamel. Out of the three, the Valspar turned out the best for staying close to the original wood color. Here is a photo with the three in comparison on a scrap piece of wood. In the photo, the Valspar looks close to the Tamiya (middle), but in real life, worked much better at staying true to the deck color.

While I would have preferred a gloss seal, the satin seal ended up working well for my process.

The pieces were taped down on a very low adhesion tape to minimize curling and blowing away from the spray. The tape is low adhesion to keep the deck from getting destroyed on removal.

After the deck is sealed, it's time for the wash. I like to use a water based product called The Detailer, black. There is also a brown color that is useful for bringing out different effects, but with this deck being made of wood, I really only needed one wash color. The Detailer can be lightened by simply thinning it out with water.

The Detailer is applied over the surface and after it's allowed to dry, it can be wiped off the top surface with a damp Q-Tip, leaving the darker wash in between the planks- the right area of the deck shown here has had the Detailer removal begun on the right side...

Wipe off enough to make the deck and crevices the shade you want it to be. Since this kit depicts the Kongo as she appeared in the Battle off Samar, the deck will be a little grubbier from all of her constant firing at those pesky destroyers of Taffy 3. So I've left a few darker spots here and there.

The top picture is with the Detailer applied, the bottom is with the excess wiped off.

After getting the deck to how I wanted it, a coat of Tamiya dull coat spray is put on to seal it all in and make everything nice and flat. Compare this picture with the earlier picture of the decks being sealed. Note how much more visible the planking is in this picture...

It's very hard to capture the subtle differences between wood with the wash and without, but this picture shows it fairly well. The piece of wood in the top right is the spare square that came with the deck. It has been sealed, but no wash applied. A close look shows the planks on the washed wood "popping" a little more, along with some of the darkening from all of the gun fire and smoke. This effect is more visible in real life.

For attaching the deck, I went the spray adhesive route. I settled on 3M General Purpose adhesive (extra strength would have been overkill).

Now, the scary thing about spray adhesive is how you have to handle everything or you may find your deck glued to your spraying surface. My work flow went like so:

1) Pick out ONE deck piece to mount and work on that piece ONLY. In other words, don't spray adhesive on all of your deck pieces at once because I guarantee that most of those pieces will have their adhesive dry before you get to them. Yes, you'll waste a little extra adhesive spraying and clearing the nozzle between each piece, but it's worth being patient.

2) Place a very small piece of folded over tape to keep the piece from blowing away by the spray.

3) This is important- Keep another piece of paper or something nearby to transfer your deck piece to IMMEDIATELY after spraying, or the deck will want to start to glue itself to the over spray area of your original surface.

4) Spray the underside of the deck piece, hold the can upside down and clear the nozzle, and transfer the deck piece to other surface (glue side up of course).

5) When the adhesive starts to get tacky, place the deck on to the model. Be very careful to get the openings lined up for above deck items to fit through. Needless to say, the aft area of the Kongo was a pain to get on there because it had to fit around the aft barbette and still encircle the flight deck and some other stuff. It's very good to have something small and flat nearby to push the deck down into the little crevices and around the aforementioned above deck items. I used a micro chisel usually associated with raised panel line removal...

6) You'll have a little while to work the deck around because the adhesive has just the right amount of set up time (up to 15 minutes) so just keep pressing down into those little trouble spots. Thankfully the deck is just thick enough to not have to worry about air bubbles and such.

7) You will still probably get some adhesive where you don't want it, no matter how careful you are. No worries, due to the nature of the adhesive, you will be able to rub off some of the stuff as it gets more tacky (it's rubbery). But for the stuff you couldn't get off, just wait for it to dry and touch it up with some little spots of paint here and there. You'll see some shiny spots in the pictures below- this is where those touch ups have been, but they'll be "dulled out" when the final dull coat is sprayed on. Any little niggling edges can be glued down with a spot of super glue. While using superglue to do the entire deck is dangerous and may crack the deck, little spots here and there are safe.

The deck is mounted and really brings out the feel of the ship. The superstructure base hasn't been glued on yet, thus the small gap. (Apologies for some of the weird borders- I had some crooked borders after rotating the pictures during prep.)

Part 9: Sweating The Small Stuff…

Because this kit includes all of the small items such as vents and ammo boxes as separate pieces, the deck will get more crowded as you add them. First, is the picture posted of the aft and quarter deck area with nothing on it, followed by a picture with the large boxes mounted.

These items haven't been dull coated yet, as I waited for them to all be mounted, thus their shininess and darker appearance (this also applies to the shiny parts where the CA glue is seen or where the deck has been "buffed" during mounting).

The smallest mushrooms, the small boxes, and the larger (a relative term since these things are only a few millimeters) mushrooms. They've been cleaned up, but get a further cleaning and "dusting" once mounted as it's hard to do at this stage. Regarding those vents, of the type on the left, there are NO SPARES (and only one for the right). So be careful!

And here's those items mounted (remember to compare with the previous picture)...

...after the rest of the vents, winches, etc., were installed. The empty holes are for stuff to go on toward the end of the build such as the single 25mm guns (the PE gun shields and boat rails will be added later as well).

Part 10: Sweating The Big Stuff…

The hull has been epoxied to the base-- remember the hollow tubes I put inside the hull for the dowels to fit into? Those tubes get filled with epoxy and then the ship slides onto the dowels. The little bit of "play" in the tubes allows the epoxy to go down and around the dowels to lock the ship in. It can be held upside down and won't budge (although I don't tempt fate by doing it much). Here's the epoxy in the forward tube with dowel.

And then the big stuff started to go on. Here's a quick shot with the flight deck, side platforms, funnels, superstructure base and level, and midships items attached. Some filler can be seen here and there.

The flight deck and another correction to the instructions. The photo etch piece for the control house is shown upside down. It is supposed to be flipped over so that the the side windows are up against the roof instead of the floor.

Here is the flight deck attached with transport rails, turntables, and correct side up house.

Now for the funnels. Some AA guns begin to get mounted. Note that there are ladders that will go all over, but toward the end of the build...

Moving forward, we see the platforms for the search lights (empty for now), boat cradles, directors, and the beginnings of the bridge and superstructure. Note the fragile PE pulleys...

A view of everything attached so far...

Part 11: Final Assembly of The Bridge…

Starting from the previous step and going up...

As the next level goes on, remember to add the enclosure...

A small PE cagework is added here, as is the "cap":

The top most deck and works are dry fit here. This is because it would interfere with my process of putting the "glass" in the top windows, so the DF antenna structure (and top deck, etc.) has to wait until that process is complete.

Completion so far, including the turrets. A note about the included metal barrels: These were excellent pieces that slid into the blast bags with no problems. Truly wonderful pieces. The plastic barrels are very good, but if you score a kit with the metal barrels included, use them!

Part 12: Miscellaneous Deck Details…

A couple of corrections to the PE instructions...

From the top: the forward gun shields are mislabeled as A42. These should be A108. Note that when you assemble these, that there are exclusive left and right pieces although they aren't labeled as such- just use the etched lines that the supports fit into as your guides (they should be on the bottom of the parts when attached.

Middle: the forward small gun shield of the aft section isn't labeled. This should be A109.

Bottom: the ladders that go on both sides of the midships structure are not labeled. They should be A107. If you look closely at the illustration, at the left-most top corner of the picture, you can see an arrow head with no line or label. Maybe this was where the label would have gone, but something happened.

Next comes an issue that will pop up if you use a Shinsengumi wood deck. Among the items that you'll have to remove are two transport rails for one of the whalers on the port side. You'll have to scratchbuild these items (and makeshift cradle) after the deck is attached. I used two pieces of styrene strip measured to the length depicted in the picture below (I measured the original lines before I removed them). Two scrap pieces of PE were used as cross members with the B60 PE parts attached. Two B60 pieces go on the other side as well, but with no rails, etc., so they're easy enough.

The gun shields are attached with their small supports. The ladders and stairs have all been attached as seen on the flight deck area.

Funnel walkways and searchlights are added. The lights will get lenses after the final dull coat, so they're open for now...

Finally, the ladders have been attached to the bridge superstructure area. Note the afforementioned part A107 peeking out from the lower left...

Part 13: The Railings And 25mm Guns…

The railings have all been mounted, as have the remaining 25mm guns (singles and triples). The 25mm guns are very uninspiring and simplistic. For this scale, and the recentness of this kit, these guns are a letdown. The fact that there are so many on this fit of the Kongo doesn't help...

The railings are a little finicky, but they look very nice when attached and add so much to the build. And all of those 25mm guns...

You'll notice that the aft platform for raising and lowering the flag isn't attached, nor are the side boarding stairs and boat cranes (or boats). These go on toward the very end so I don't accidentally break them off while working.

The main mast is completed. For the white lines, I used some decal lines from the spares box because I felt that would be easier than masking and painting. The final dull coat will remove the shiny decal aspect. The PE Type 13 radar is also attached...

Part 14: 5" And 6" Guns…

The barrels of the twin 5" guns were removed and replaced with brass pieces by the always dependable Fukuya Works. The top picture shows a comparison between plastic and brass. The bottom are all six guns.

This picture depicts replacing the short, solid, 6" guns with the Fukuya barrels for a huge improvement. The first picture shows the gun base/ blast bag with the mounting hole drilled in, then a comparison shot of replacement with original, and finally, the whole arsenal before paint.

Part 15: Final Assembly…

First up, we have the port side installation of 5" AA, launch and whaler. The rear aspect of the bridge superstructure with yard arms is now attached also. The boat crane is now installed.

Moving back, we can see a couple of the boats, the airplane carts, catapult, and planes. The turrets are now also permanently installed.

Next is the spare rudder. Some quick points about this. The spare rudder had a different, darker wood than the decks. Also, considering its location, it was harder to clean than the deck, so it would naturally age a little more. Combined with the fact that it's slightly in shadow here, this is why there is a difference between this wood and the deck wood. The difference is less under optimal lighting and this will be seen in the final presentation photos.

The spare rudder wood was painted and washed in Vallejo paints.

Here is a closer shot of the Pete and catapult. The catapult's cable has been rigged as on the real thing.

Going over to the starboard side, we see two more boats. That hole next to the triple 25 will get a scratch built vent put in. An empty plane cart can be seen here.

Moving forward, we see the starboard 5" guns, launch and whaler.

The basic washes are done. The 6" guns have been attached, as have the side hanging boats. The crane for the planes is attached. The sealing dull coat for the washes has been applied. This was followed by Kristal Klear to create the windows. Searchlight lenses installed. The DF antenna was attached, then the main top and finally the radar.

The starboard accommodation stairs on the sides came apart after bending the steps up to be horizontal an then bending the stair sides. This shot was taken after positioning the steps back into shape before gluing the side on...

Because of the fragile nature of those pieces, I left the steps alone on the port side and didn't bend them into position. Being that they're vertical instead of horizontal, they don't look perfect, but at least they didn't come apart. In so many cases, Fujimi's PE is often too thin, comes apart easily during/ after bending, and doesn't have solid bend points.

Canvas covers go around the accommodation stairs gantry sides and tops. I made these out of receipt paper because that paper is thin, but strong, and works better than tissue paper. It was glued on with white glue. The actual stairs are lowered by cable attached to a davit. Because Fujimi doesn't give you these specific davits in plastic or PE, I improvised by using PE part B-17 on each side for the stairs davits, and had used the plastic parts where the other PE davits would normally go. This was then rigged with cable just as the real one would.

This picture shows the finished accommodation stairs and aft plank attached. The canvas will receive weathering as part of the final step with the clean canvas dirtied-up some.

Part 16: The Rigging…

I use fly fishing tippet which is a type of resin coated thread that will hold its shape and is very strong (lures are made out of this stuff). Now comes the voodoo. For my support rigging (funnels and masts) I use 6/0, which is .005 mm. For standard rigging, I use 8/0 which is .003 mm. The higher number tippet corresponds to the SMALLER diameter. The stuff I use is called UNI-Thread. It's available in many colors (I have black, brown, and tan) and sizes and comes in 200 yards, which is more than enough.

To expand on this, I unravel a large amount of tippet from the spool so I won't have any issues with the spool colliding with the kit. I put a small spot of CA glue where the rigging will start (use a toothpick). After the CA has dried, I start to run the rigging to where it next needs to go (say, the top of a mast), put a dot of glue there to secure it, and so on. The nice thing about tippet is that thanks to the thin resin coat, it can be "shaped". So if your rigging has to hang loose and bow along a curve, just run your finger along to shape it before anchoring to the second point.

For items like the small insulators seen near the rigging connections, that's just a small dab of white glue that will congeal into a blob naturally and works pretty well, then painted when dry.

Part 17: Final Steps…

Aside from the usual washes, I like to weather my builds using powders from Bragdon Enterprises. This is a product made for model railroading, but works just as well for other models. Bragdon makes a set of dusty and dirty colors as well as a dedicated rust set. I also use Tamiya's weathering powders. I like how all of these products have different levels of "flatness" and texture, just as weathering does in real life.

Finally, a custom case was commissioned to hold the model.

Conclusions About The Photo Etch…

I was not impressed by Fujimi's Deluxe PE at all. Bad instructions, flimsy construction, and a lack of good quality thicknesses on larger parts made this set one of the most trying detail sets I've ever encountered. Fujimi needs to look at makers like Flyhawk and Lion Roar and go back to the drawing board. I can see some glimmers of hope (the brass Kanji for the base), but for now, I advise avoiding Fujimi's set. Overall Rating: 60%

Conclusions About The 5" And 6" Guns…
Fukuya Works' tried and true quality shines through once again. Excellent quality and a great price, these barrels are gorgeous and easy to use. Overall Rating: 100%

Conclusions About The Wood Deck…

Absolutely beautiful in appearance and execution. The deck fits on like a dream and instantly brings the ship into a whole other realm of finish. Shinsengumi live up to their high standards with this piece. It is very rare to find something that so quickly and easily brings up the quality of a build. Factor in the time saved by not having to mask, paint, and weather the plastic deck, and the Shinsengumi piece practically pays for itself. Overall Rating: 95%

Conclusions About The Kit…

All told, I spent about 250 hours on this build. Some of that is because I'm a fairly slow builder, but a good bit of it was because of having to decipher incorrect instructions, deal with annoying fit issues, and some stuff that was just outright weird (how hard is it to make the mast cylinders the correct length?).

There's no question that this kit builds into a spectacular model when complete. It easily trumps anything else currently in my collection. But that build comes with more blood, sweat, and tears than a model costing this much, and produced so recently, should. The fact that the casemates are such a major aspect of the ship's appearance, and will require even more work to correct, only makes matters worse.

Interestingly enough, Fujimi's subsequent release of the Kongo's sister, the Haruna, came with a much better set of sprues to replace the simplistic small weapons, and took care of some of the deck issues. Although the casemates are wrong, I would still recommend the Haruna over the Kongo, as it's obvious that Fujimi corrected the mistakes that came with this kit.

I've tried my best to document the pitfalls that building one of these kits will entail, so anyone who follows this should hopefully be able to deal with these issues (forewarned is forearmed). In closing, this model builds into a museum quality piece... but only if you're willing to spend large amounts of extra time on her that shouldn't have to.

Summary…

Highs: Important subject, small deck items molded separately, includes metal barrels for main guns, and a comprehensive flag sheet.

Lows: Incorrect casemate shapes, poor fit in many places, multi piece deck, poor engineering in some areas, simplistic 25mm guns.

Verdict: A stunner when complete, but only after spending a lot of unnecessary extra time.

Overall Rating: 70%

Special thanks to DML USA for the review sample of the base kit and to MSW Managing Editor, Mark Smith, for setting this project up!



This article comes from Model Shipwrights
http://www.modelshipwrights.com