by: Jim Adams [ ]
Hosho, a 7470-ton aircraft carrier built at Tsurumi, Japan, was completed in December 1922, the first of her type to enter service in the Japanese Navy. Hosho’s hull was based on that of a cruiser, but she was not a convert, she was built from the keel up as a carrier. Her original design had a declining forward section to the flight deck. This was to improve acceleration of aircraft taking off. She also had a small starboard island and reclining funnels.
After her acceptance trials the flight deck was made flush and the island was removed. Over her career the flight deck was changed so the ship could handle newer and more aircraft. However this made her unstable in heavier seas and she was relegated to a training ship in 1942.
During much of the 1920s Hosho was Japan's only flat-top. Like the U.S. Navy’s USS Langley (CV-1), was actively employed developing carrier operational techniques and tactical doctrine. Though far more capable ships came along during the later 1920s, she continued in operation through the remainder of the Imperial Navy's existence.
She even saw action at the Battle of Midway, providing air cover for the Battleships. One of her biplanes took pictures of a drifting burning Hiyru. After returning from Midway Hosho was transferred to a training carrier, operating in Japans Inland Sea.
Hosho survived the war and was used to return Japanese captives to their homeland in 1946. She was scrapped in 1947. Hosho is Japanese for Flying Phoenix.
On a side note about being the world’s first purpose built aircraft carrier. HMS Hermes was laid down before Hosho. However Hosho was commissioned 13 months before Hermes.
Displacement: 7470 tons, 9330 tons sea trials, 10,000 tons full
Length: 168 m
Armament: (4) 14cm/50 cal guns (1x4)
(2) 8cm/40cal AA gun (1x2)
The kit comes to you in a typical lidded box. Hosho is shown on the cover conducting fight operations with a large IJN ship in the background. Inside the box you find two bags holding the sprues, instructions, a medal counter weight, and decals.
Sprue A: Parts for deck supports, boats, and weapons are located here. The guns have sink holes on there sides and will need to be fixed. The bow deck and stern deck sections have fine wooden planking on them. The bow section has the anchor chains and capstans as well. The boats seem a little plain compared to newer kits. The islands top section is also here. The surface has a surface resembling canvas.
Sprue B: The carriers bite is on this sprue, its aircraft. There are 6 Type 10 fighters included. The planes are very basic looking and are missing their propellers. The ships island comes in two pieces. There are a few porthole locations on the sides of the island, but it is plain overall. One elevator has wooden planking while the other is plain. The ships crane is solid with some raised bracing details. Flight deck supports are also included. These are actually fairly finely done.
The flight deck has the center section of wooden planking and steel. There are nine different arrestor wires. The rear of the deck has a nicely curved section whereas the bow has as sharply downward section. The downward bow seemed to be common on all early IJN carriers. The underside of the deck has some nice thin support members for the aft portion of the deck.
The hull really very plain. There are no details on the sides such as portholes. The decking has nice looking wooden planking. Included in the kit is a scale plan view to allow experienced builders to add the portholes. There is also a waterline hull plate and counter weight to complete the hull.
The decals included in the kit are mostly for the ships aircraft. There are two flags and one flight deck stripe for the ship itself.
Overall the kit has hit and miss details. One area has nice fine supports for the flight deck and then the hull has no portholes on it what so ever. The aircraft are very simplified in their appearance as well.
The instructions are printed on front and back of a single sheet of paper. There are both Japanese and English instructions. The construction step are easy to follow and straight forward.
This is the first keel up aircraft carrier built by any nation. The kit is hit and miss on the detail, but it is a very good base for those wanting to really dress her up. If you are a fan of IJN carriers this is a must get, or you will have a gap.