by: Gremlin56 [ ]
Any model warship builder worth his or her salt will have heard of the Yamato and Musashi, the biggest and most heavily armed battleships ever built. The first two of a planned class of 4 vessels, ( the third, the Shinano, was completed as an aircraft carrier and was torpedoed shortly after leaving Tokyo bay by the USS Archerfish. The fourth was never completed, known only as build No. 111, and was broken up on the slipway at Kure Naval yard in 1942), they weighed in at nearly 70 000 tons fully loaded. The main battery consisted of nine 18.1 inch guns fitted in three triple gun turrets, once again the largest guns ever fitted to a battleship. The secondary battery consisted of twelve 6.1 inch guns fitted in four triple gun turrets, (later reduced to two triple gun turrets to make room for more AAA due the ever increasing threat of US carrier borne air power. The underwater hull was carefully design and in combination with the 150 000 shaft horsepower installed gave these ships a top speed of 27.5 knots. Ultimately both vessels were hammered into submission by US carrier aircraft having never proven the philosophy of fitting such huge calibre guns to a warship.
The Musashi sank on October 24th 1944 taking 1023 crewmen with her after 7 separate waves of US dive- and torpedo-bombers had hit her with 20 torpedoes and 17 bombs, transforming her from a beautiful warship into a burning and slowly sinking wreck.
The end of the Yamato was even more the stuff legends are made of, leaving Sasebo Navy yard on April 6th 1945 on mission Ten-Ichi-Go, (Heaven number one), a Kamikaze mission intended to attack and destroy the American invasion fleet near Okinawa. With only enough fuel on board for a one way journey the Yamato set out with the cruiser Yahagi and a screen of eight destroyers. The vessels were spotted only 6 hours after departure by the USS Threadfin. On April 7th 1945 the Yamato was attacked by three successive waves of US carrier borne aircraft, ( the first wave alone consisting of 280 aircraft from nine US carriers). During these attacks lasting just over two hours the Yamato was hit by 14 torpedoes and 8 bombs, causing intense damage and raging fires on board. Due to a complete loss of power on board the magazines could not be flooded and at 2:23 pm the forward magazine exploded causing the aft magazine to detonate as well. The explosion was reported by observers as far as 125 miles away, causing a huge mushroom cloud above the position where the Yamato disappeared beneath the waves. Just over 3000 crewmen went down with her, ( American losses during the strike were 10 aircraft and 12 air crewmen).
Even after their destruction these ships remained enigmatic. Nearly all records, design specifications and photo’s were destroyed by the Japanese to prevent them falling into Allied hands after the war. Details were swathed in secrecy and it has only been since new and extensive research in Japan and since the discovery and exploration of the wreck of the Yamato that it has become possible to reconstruct an accurate depiction of these mighty ships.
In view of the subject matter an amazing number of models of the Yamato and Musashi have been produced over the years but in the early 80’s Tamiya released what would be the definitive 1/350 model of the Yamato for the next few decades. A huge number of after market add-ons and “detail-up” sets were produced to improve on Tamiya’s offerings.
Shanghai based LionRoar Art Model Company Ltd. more or less knocked out the competition by issuing set RS3501, a very comprehensive photo etch and resin upgrade and detailing package.
Last year Tamiya released a brand new 1/350 Yamato based on the latest available information on the Yamato and in “Ten-Ichi-Go” fit, at the same time setting new standards for the production of 1/350th scale warship models.
LionRoar evidently decided that even for this model of the Yamato there was room for improvement and released a new photo etch and resin “detail-up” set this year to add more accurate or better detail to Tamiya’s new Yamato.
I have been lucky enough to get hold of a review example of Lion Roar’s Imperial Japanese Navy battleship New Yamato, RS3511, and it certainly is a most impressive package.
LionRoar’s weighty RS3511 upgrade set is packaged in a very stylish fashion: a sturdy Royal blue and black box with gold lettering, a photo of the Yamato model with the photo etch applied on top and all parts carefully cocooned in bubble wrap inside the carton. The set exudes a feeling of quality and care in production that is pretty hard to beat, ( mind you, RS3511 clocks in at an eye watering 170 Euro’s so it should be something special).
On opening the box you find a 43 page instruction booklet, 7 small polythene bags containing resin parts, 3 polythene bags containing brass barrels for the 18.1”, 6.1” and 127 mm guns and a staggering 27 sheets of etched parts. A fact worth mentioning here is that the etched sheets are not a re-pop of RS3501, all the sheets are renewed, (even the deck edge railings). There are also less resin parts included than in RS3501 which would seem logical considering the amount of detail added to the newest Tamiya Yamato.
The instruction booklet is well thought out and would appear to be easier to use than the huge paper sheets some manufacturers provide, ( I still have bad memories of Fujimi’s photo etch set that I bought for my Haruna build). The drawings are in general very clear with the Brass barrels being coded with an “M”, the resin parts being coded with an “R” and the photo etch being coded according to the sheet letters.
The following parts are made of resin:
• Blast bags for the main and secondary armament
• Resin parts for the open 127mm gun mounts
• Two different types of crew launches with ventilators, (two of each)
• Compressed air cylinders for the Kure Type 2 Model 5 catapults
• 60 ammunition lockers.
The photo etch sheets are used to detail the following parts of the Yamato:
• The main battery has details added to the turret and rangefinder shutters, jackstays and turret top railings are included and the AAA mounts on the turrets can be made over in PE.
• The secondary battery also gets a thorough make over with beautifully detailed sheet steel lagging, jackstays and turret top railings. The tripod mast on top of the forward 6.1” turret gets a complete PE make over.
• The barbettes get the joint plates added.
• The ventilator housing just behind the forward 6.1” barbette gets a make over with etched grilles.
• The paravanes have their wings replaced by PE.
• The open and closed 125 mm mounts get a rework with brass barrels and PE louvers.
• The open and closed triple 25mm mounts get a PE rework, as do the single 25mm mounts.
• The 15m rangefinder gets a complete make over with PE “Go Dentan Kai 3” air search radar. The optics and vision ports are detailed and extensive bracing is added as are the walkways.
• The Bridge wind deflectors can be completely replaced by PE parts. All ladders, ventilation openings and walkways can be replaced with PE.
• The funnel detailing is exquisite including baffles, funnel cap and extensive jackstays. The searchlight platform has support structures added. Ladders complete the funnel assembly.
• Anti skid plates and ventilation grilles are included for the entire superstructure, as are railings and accommodation ladders.
• The shutters for the searchlights are included as PE parts.
• The 13 gȯ air search radar on the main mast can be replaced with PE.
• All ladders on the main mast can be replaced with PE parts.
• The aircraft handling deck can be replaced by a single brass etched piece which is magnificent in it’s detailing and the aircraft turntables, rails and trolleys are included. PE grilles are included for the ventilation structure on this deck.
• The overhead rail track for the stern boat bays can be replaced with PE parts and the watertight doors have PE replacements.
• A PE replacement for the boat handling- and hanger deck is included complete with turntable and rails.
• The aircraft catapults can be replaced with PE versions, as can the aircraft trolleys.
• The stern crane can be completely replaced with a magnificent PE version.
• The stern twin AAA tubs are included in PE with support structure.
• Embarkation ladders are included In PE as are the entry platforms and davits.
• The motor launches can be super detailed with screws, rudders, wheels, railings and vents.
• The aircraft have replacement struts and propellers included.
• Multiple storage reels for lines and hoses are included.
• Davits, hatches, sounding platforms and breakwaters are included for the main deck.
• A complete set of degaussing lines is included as are deck edge railings.
• Deadlights are included for all scuttles as are reinforcement plates for the boat bays, platforms etc.
The photo etch sheets are all carefully wrapped on both sides with tacky plastic sheets, this to prevent parts getting offered to the carpet monster. The metal seems slightly stiffer than Eduard’s PE, but a lot less rigid than i.e. Italeri’s PE. It reminds me very much of the KA/Mk.1 PE I bought for my USS Wasp build, which was very workable photo etch.
The LionRoar RS3511 set for Tamiya’s new release of the IJN Yamato would appear to be a very comprehensive package that will add detailing to just about all parts and structures on the basic model. Etching is beautifully and extremely delicately executed. Packaging of the set is exemplary for other vendors. It is the ultimate “must have” addition to a build of the Yamato. The package comes at a very hefty price though, costing nearly as much as the model itself. The set is also not for the faint hearted, adding all this detail is not for the beginning modeller and in places I also find it rather intimidating. For the PE magicians like Tim Biddiscombe , Doug Hallet who have built or are building a model of the Yamato this package should be stroll in the park though and an obligatory add-on.
The question of whether it is worth the price asked can be easily answered. In view of the quantity and high quality of the detailing offered and bearing in mind how much time went into making this set the answer can only be yes.
Answering the question of whether I would have bought this set I have had to do some soul searching; I have in my stash the old Tamiya Yamato complete with Modelmaster metal barrels and Eduard’s comprehensive PE set. If I was starting to build this model today I most probably would have been very happy to use what I had in my stash and I wouldn’t have considered spending nearly twice as much again to get hold of LionRoar’s set. Now, after seeing what LionRoar include in their detail-up sets I realise that the World has shifted once again and in the future I will give the LionRoar offerings a more than cursory examination before deciding which PE set to use.