by: Frank Portela [ ]
"This MSW "first-look" style review is of Fujimi Models, 1/350 scale IJN battleship Kongo."
In 1910, the Japanese navy implemented a major expansion plan. The Navy General Staff asked the Navy Ministry for funding that would give Japan eight battleships and eight armored battle cruisers. Given the economic limitations brought about by the Russo-Japanese War, the cabinet scaled back these plans to one battleship and four battle cruisers. Impressed with the British Invincible class battle cruisers, the Japanese developed a design for an 18,725 ton battle cruiser that would rival anything afloat. When news arrived of the newly laid 26,270 ton British battle cruiser Lion, plans for the improved Invincible class where quickly scrapped. With direct technical assistance from the British in design, weaponry and shipbuilding technology, an order was placed with Vickers at the British firmís yard at Barrow. The Kongo, designed by British naval architect Sir George Thurston was laid down in January 1911, launched in May 1912, and completed in August 1913, arriving at Yokosuka in November of 1913.
The Kongo was the first battle cruiser designed with 14 inch guns, but given the rapidity of capital ship design, soon found itself outgunned by the use of ten 14 inch guns on the American Texas and New York battleships and by the invent of the 15 inch guns of the Queen Elizabeth class battleships. The main armament was supplemented by sixteen secondary 6 inch guns and eight 21 inch submerged torpedo tubes. Powered by four Parsons Turbines fed by thirty-six mixed firing boilers, the Kongo achieved 27.5 knots during trials. She was the last capital ship ordered from a foreign shipyard.
With the expertise gained at Barrow, the Japanese built the remaining three ships of the class in Japan based on the design and specifications of the Kongo. The Hiei was constructed at the Navyís Yokosuka yard using mostly imported material. The Haruna was built by the Kawanishi Shipbuilding Company at Kobe and lastly the Kirishima at Nagasakiís Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Companyís yard. The Kirishima and the Haruna where constructed mainly from Japanese materials. The same bill that saw the construction of the four Kongo class battle cruisers authorized the design and construction of the Fuso battleship. In 1915 the economy recovered sufficiently to allow the cabinet to order three additional battleships. The Yamashiro, Ise and Hyuga were all laid down in 1915.
Reclassified as battleships after the extensive reconstruction throughout the 1920ís. The Kongo received torpedo bulges and thicker deck armor, provisions where made for three floatplanes and the number of funnels were reduced from three to two. Modernization saw her top speed increase to 30.27 knots. From 1934 to 1940, the Kongo was lengthened by 26ft aft and had new fire control installed. Secondary armament was now eight 6 inch, twelve 5 inch AA guns and 34 25mm AA guns, and even added depth charges. By October 1944, she received radar and had her AA armament increased to 100 25mm AA, and at the time of her last sortie, Kongo had 118 AA guns.
Kongo departed Brunei Bay on November 16 1944 on a trip back to Japan for repairs incurred by previous damage sustained by six near misses during attacks by TF 38 on October 1944. On November 21, the USS Sea lion II attacked this force and sunk the Urakaze and struck the already damaged Kongo with three torpedo hits. The Kongo appearing only slightly damaged, continued, only to blow up two hours later, 65nm NW of Keeling.
The first thing you will notice is the fantastic art work on the box cover. The size of the box is noticeably smaller than Hasegawaís recent release on the Nagato. Inside you will find a series of plasic bags carefully arranged to minimize damage. Twenty sprues plus two hull halves make up the plastic portion of the kit. Fujimi has provided a good selection of in box grade up parts.
Five sprues of injection plastic 350th scale sailors are included as are a package of turned brass 14 inch barrels. A small bag of chains is also included with a small decal sheet, a large sheet of peel and stick flags and a peel and stick name tag in Japanese. A large fold out coloured painting guide of the Kongo is given, but in my opinion, the box art does this much better.
Lastly, we have a 20 page large format instruction manual with instructions in Japanese only, some English would be welcome! Including the covers, eight clear period photos are included.
Sprue A is comprised of the two hull halves. Excellent level of detail, although the raised horizontal lines tend to fade in and out in parts of the hull.
Sprues B & C 13 parts give you all the internal bulkheads that will solidify the mating of the hull and deck plates.
Sprue D 39 parts, all of a smaller and delicate nature, including anchors, davits, searchlights and 22 Go Dentan Kai surface search radars.
Sprue E 40 parts comprising parts for the superstructures and the funnels. Only drawback here is the molded on ladder throughout the length of the funnel, this will require careful sanding if P.E. is considered. Fantastic level of fine detail throughout. Molded staircases should not be an issue if need be replaced with P.E.
Sprue F 41 parts include the support members for the AA bases and the searchlight towers, excellent level of detail.
Sprue G Consists of 7 clear parts for the pagoda tower.
Sprue H 17 parts including the heavily perforated aft deck plate and the equally perforated main superstructure deck as well as the aft funnel halves with unfortunately, molded on vertical ladders. Four very delicate and well molded cylindrical funnel caps give an added level of detail around the funnels.
Sprue I 64 parts includes the fore deck plate which is riddled with mating holes for the numerous attachments. Smaller parts include davits and molded plastic inclined staircases.
Sprue J 45 parts most of which are structural supports, many of which are greatly detailed and hollowed out for added realism. A hint of flash in spots.
Sprue K (2) Approx. 130 fine parts. Included are two styles of 25mm ammo boxes. Single and triple 25mm AA guns, binoculars with stands, propellers and life boats.
Sprue L (2) 28 parts, giving the casemate 6 inch guns and the quad Vickers AA guns (?) Also included are the 12.7cm 40cal AA guns, topped off with paravanes and searchlights.
Sprue L (yes, Fujimi has labeled two different sprues by the same letter) 28 parts, most for the propeller shafts and supports. Included as well are the twin 25mm AA guns and the catapult and cranes.
Sprue M (2) 64 parts turrets and 14 inch guns with separate blast bags surrounded by ventilators and capstan.
Sprue N 13 rubber caps for attaching the turrets, searchlight directors, fire control towers and rangefinder turrets.
Sprue P (2) 24 clear parts, most of which belong to the Mitsubishi F1M2 Pete float planes.
Base Parts Sprue 12 parts molded in black plastic, this will give you an attractive base once your model is completed.
Fujimiís representation of the Kongo is a late war configuration.
Overall out of box rating (without confirming measurements and quality of fit) is a well deserved high 90%.
Kaigun, Strategy, Tactics, and the Technology in the IMPERIAL JAPANESE NAVY 1887-1941 by David C. Evans and Mark R. Peattie, Naval Institute Press 1997
Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945 by Hansgeorg Jentschura and Dieter Jung, Naval Institute Press 1999
A Battle History of THE IMPERIAL JAPANESE NAVY (1941-1945) by Paul S. Dull, Naval Institute Press 1978