Backdating IJN Yamato
I have always had a love affair with ships. When I was 5 or 6 my favorite song was “Sink the Bismarck” by Johnny Horton. The second model I ever built was the Revell USS Arizona at 8. By 11 I had read “Day of Infamy” by Walter Lord and the “Sinking of the Bismarck” by William Shirer. I discovered the Yamato at 13 while reading a US Naval History book. I went to my LHS the next day and found a 1200 scale Yamato. It was in its initial configuration and it was the most beautiful ship I had ever seen.
Since then I have built many different scales of the Yamato. Yet, the common thread in all of them was that they depicted the ship in her final configuration. Fujimi recently released a series of Yamato / Musashi kits that had the version I so loved. The problem was it came out in 700 scale and I am a B-I-G ship kind of guy preferring the 350 scale giants..
Enter today, thanks to Kenny Loup’s generosity, and some good luck on ebay, I now posses 2 of the 350 scale Yamato kits. I utilized a few web sites and thanks to another friend who allowed me to Xerox some pages from his “Anatomy of a Ship” series on the Yamato, I had a good idea what I was up against. I decided the easiest way to do this project was to simply cut away a large portion of the deck, cut out the foundation of the superstructure and glue it onto a piece of sheet styrene to replace the deck.
Cutting out the superstructure was simple. Using a mototool, I gave around an eight of an inch excess I cut the superstructure piece away from the deck. I also had to cut the rear 6-inch mount away. I then sanded it down to the actual shape. One thing to remember is to cut away part of the bottom of the pieces to account for the original decking. A good tip is the front portion of the superstructure, which overlaps a bit to glue over the forward decking piece. I was able to line it up and cut it using a razor saw and just worked my way backward. OK, this all sounds well and good, but you really really need to have those great drawings of the different superstructures from the Anatomy of a ship book. They changed out the 3 sets of antiaircraft guns on each side. The late version of the Yamato used both, so you just need to make sure you use the correct ones. There are several instances of this in the superstructure so just take your time and double check.
To replace the deck with it’s “planking” I found that Evergreens sheet of “N Scale Siding” was perfect. A bit thin, I backed it with another piece of thicker sheet styrene. Getting this piece trimmed and fitted took a while, so be patient. There is also some 20mm gun circles that will have to be carefully cut off. The two near the forward main guns and the 4 at the rear where they join up with the flight deck. There are approximately 2 dozen small holes that have to be filled where the 20mm guns went as these were added late and also not on the original ship. This was easy I just took a small piece of tube styrene and put a little glue on the tip and sniped it flush with the deck.
I had to replace some of the sections of the superstructure that had to be cut away with more sheet styrene. I then glued this onto my new deck section. One more special thing had to be done. I had to make 2 of the triple 6” gun turrets to go on either side. The kit had the two that remained one in the front and one in the rear, so this made the task simple. Make a mold and cast them in resin. My friend Keith Magee is an expert at this, and I was quite pleased with he results. The triple gun tubes didn’t want to work. But this was relatively easy to fix. I matched up a couple of pieces of small round styrene pieces and cut out what I needed and cemented them together. I then drilled a tiny hole in the casting to mount each new tube. This was kind of cool, because I didn’t have to use putty to fil it in like I did with the kit pieces.
So, as for kit completion, I purchased a set of Lionroar main gun barrels and the Eduard photo etched set for the kit. After that it was read the directions of the kit and the pe set and build accordingly. Of course, this requires some more cutting and you now have to coordinate two sets of directions, but the PE set is marvelous and has a 4 page instruction sheet. So here is my beautiful initial version of the Yamato. The most “gorgeous warship ever built” as well as the biggest guns ever mounted on a seagoing warship.