by: Todd Michalak [ ]
While the submarine campaign by the Japanese during the Second World War did not play the same role or have the same impact on Pacific front as the U-boat did in the Atlantic, they still posed a clear and present threat by taking their share of victories in the war. In this fight, the Japanese managed to bring the widest variety of submarines seen from either side; around forty types of submarines spread out over three basic classes...and then there were the Midget submarines. Of these three classes of submarines, the 1st Class, or Large I Class was the largest; fielding twenty-six types.
The I-15 and I-46 subs were part of this Large I Class. The I-15 was a Type B1 submarine launched in September of 1940. I-15 took part in Operation “Z”, the attack on Pearl Harbor as she patrolled North of Oahu in reconnaissance for ships that might attempt a counter offensive. I-15 would go on to patrol the West coast of the US in late December of 1941 and was recorded as surfacing to charge their batteries one night off the coast of San Francisco allowing the crew to enjoy seeing the light from the city. She would go onto several failed attempts to track down several Task Forces of the US Navy as well as taking part in Operation K-1, the Second Bombing of Pearl Harbor and the attack on the Western Aleutians. Throughout 1942, I-15 would bounce around in and around Guadalcanal taking part in numerous operations to track down the US carrier forces. She was reportedly off Guadalcanal with the I-19 when she fired a six torpedo salvo hitting the USS Wasp and damaging the USS North Carolina, USS O’Brien as well as two other ships. I-15 would meet her fate starting on the 10th of November, 1942 as the USS Southard closed in on her and gave chase. The Southard would finally hit her mark the next day, striking the I-15’s coning tower sinking her and taking her crew of 91 to the bottom.
The I-46 was a type C2 submarine. There were only three C2 subs created during the war. Modeled after the C1 and almost identical with the exception that the Type C2 was not made to carry the midget submarines as it predecessor was capable of. The I-46 had a short lived career. She was launched in February of 1944 and almost immediately was met with problems. She collided with the RO-46, , during her shakedown cruise and needed repair. Shortly after in October, she was assigned to SubDiv 15, 6th Fleet of submarines and took part in operation Sho-I-Go, the defense of the Philippines. Later that month the USS Helm, which was screening for carrier Task Group 38.4 engaged in support of operations on Leyte with the USS Gridley, spot a submarine and engaged with depth charges and sink the submarine, presumably the I-46.
Imperial Japanese Navy Submarine I15/46
Model No. 401263
MSRP $6.75 US
The Imperial Japanese Navy Submarine I-15/46 from Fujimi contains two complete IJN submarine models. These models are packaged in a small end opening box with Fujimi’s traditional artist rendition of the models contained within. This is a 1/700 scale styrene kit containing the following:
• Two dark grey styrene upper hull sections
• Two dark grey styrene sprue trees
• One set of instructions
This kit includes two complete 1/700 scale IJN submarines advertised as the I-15 and I-46. Both of the models are waterline configurations and have a one-piece upper hull section and a flat bottom plate to give the waterline appearance.
The I-15 model is rendered nicely with fine decking reliefs molded into the surface. There is some flash located on the bow and stern of the upper hull which will need to be removed. The sprue for this model contains the coning tower and respective periscopes and fixtures to plausibly construct a version of the I-15. The I-15, a Type B1 submarine, had the capability to carry one Yokosuka E14Y float plane. A basic 1/700 scale version of the plane is included on the sprue.
The I-46 render much as the I-15 as there is a nice molding of the wooden decking seen on this particular submarine. As with the other model included in this kit, there is a small amount of flash located on the bow and stern of the boat. There is a small flat hull insert to make this a waterline display model and the sprue consists of the conning tower and respective fittings for the tower. Included on this sprue are two midget submarines as well.
This kit includes a one-page instruction sheet which show the construction process for both of these models contained in this kit. The instructions are printed in an exploded black and white format and for the most part in Japanese. The numbering of the parts and locations appears to be correct and the process outlined within is easy to follow. There are no decals included with this kit.
In looking the parts over closely, the styrene looks and feels to be on the brittle side and it would be best to take caution while removing the small parts. There are no visible sink marks but there are a couple of ejector pin marks located on the inside of the conning towers that will need filling and/or sanding before putting the two halves together.
I am a bit confused why these two particular submarines were added together in the same set as they never would have crossed paths in service as the I-15 sank well before the I-46 was put to sea. But I suppose anyone into building IJN submarines might enjoy the variety of the set.
One larger Oops on the part of the manufacturer would be the addition of the midget submarine with the I-46. Remember from above, if you took the time to read through my introduction, the I-46 is a Type C2 submarine which did not have the capability to carry midget subs as its predecessor the Type C1 submarine did. All is not lost. The Midget subs are attached to the deck in no special fashion. Simply fill the holes on the deck and the I-46 can be modeled. The bonus would be if you wanted to model any of the Type C1 submarines, then go ahead and attach the midget subs to the back deck and add the marking of the sub you wish to depict.
A final note, this kit seems to be a re-release originally from 1992. While I do not have a copy of the original 1992 release, I suspect not much has changed from the original.
Personally I like these little waterline offerings from Fujimi. The details are nice and the construction is simple. A great pair of models one could throw together and paint in a weekend for some great fun. There are some quirks as seen with the flash located on the upper hull and with pin marks inside the conning tower, but these small issues are easily rectified with a quick light sanding. I do wish that the inclusion of a small set of decals were added, mainly to avoid hand painting the identification number for each sub which were located on the sides of the conning tower. I recommend this kit to anyone looking for a quick, fun build resulting in a couple of decent looking displays. Also, I suppose with a little minor scratch work and some tactful rigging, these would build up really nicely.