First Look Review
IJN Kongo
Imperial Japanese Navy Battleship
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by: Frank Portela [ CLANKY44 ]

"This MSW "first-look" style review is of Fujimi Models, 1/350 scale IJN battleship Kongo."

the vessel...

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 model...

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 breakdown...

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
Highs: Possibly the finest 350th scale ship Iíve ever had. Fantastic level of fine detail throughout. All well thought out in design and execution. Nice added touches with the injection plastic sailors and theand the turned brass.
Lows: A rigging diagram would be much appreciated, as would the 6 inch casemate and 12.7cm AA guns in turned brass.
Verdict: Fujimi has raised the bar mightily high with this release. Aoshima and Hasegawa need to pay attention to the level of detail that Fujimi has shown. Great subject matter and a late war version too.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:350
  Mfg. ID: 60000
  Suggested Retail: MSR-$220.00 USD
  Related Link: Official Company Website
  PUBLISHED: May 12, 2008
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本

About Frank Portela (Clanky44)

I'm an avid modeller, with about 20 odd years of experience. I belong to a very small group of modellers here in Guelph, Ontario that formed GPMG (Guelph Plastic Modelling Group) over 12 years ago. We have our annual show (WELCOME - Wellington County Modellers Exposition) in the spring. We pride ou...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frank Portela [ CLANKY44 ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.


Hey Frank, Excellent review and your thoughts on the kit mirror my own. FWIW, the fit of the parts is very good and while the kit isn't necessarily a "shake and bake", it's engineered very well. And don't worry about those other guns in brass. I have it on good authority that Fukuya's already working on something to rectify this. You can currently cobble something together from pre-existing sets, but this will be for the Kongo. And then there is the inevitable Lion Roar release... Cheers!
MAY 12, 2008 - 07:02 AM
Considering that Fujimi will have both the Kongo and the Haruna out this year,...We should be expecting a flood of AM parts coming our way. On a personal note, I think I'll wait for WEM to release their eventual PE set ( I was very impressed with their Takao set) and possibly pick up Fukuya's brass set. Frank
MAY 12, 2008 - 08:17 AM
Thanks Rui... I know you only have 3 or 4 350th models, but my friend... do yourself a favour and treat yourself, this model is worth it. Frank
MAY 12, 2008 - 08:21 AM
Nahhh - this one could be traded for a dozen of 1/700 beauties and the stash is limited by space Space, space I NEED SPACE Keep up the good work Frank Rui
MAY 12, 2008 - 08:32 AM
I can only echo everything Frank said. He did forget to mention that the airplanes, ship boats and bridge windows were clear parts. Kenny, I would wait for the dragon figures to start coming out for the Alabam. The Japaese though really neat have only 4 poses and oe of them is a guy saluting. They also wear the stand naval soft cap in stead of the steel pot that the us crews wear at action stations. I think Hobby buy is still offering the kit at less than $140. I am planning on picking up the 2 Fujimi brass sets which will take care of most of the things I should want to add and replace like railings, ladders and catapaults/cranes.
MAY 12, 2008 - 08:49 AM
Hi Steve, The Fujimi P.E. sets are very basic, no ladders (inclined or vertical) and no cranes in the sets. Watch for my review on these two products in a day or two. Frank self edit: there is a crane in the set.
MAY 12, 2008 - 09:01 AM
I've just ordered Fukuya's set of secondary brass barrels for both the Kongo and the Nagato from HLJ, the're currently listed on backorder, pricy but what's another $100 added to these wallet draining battleships! Frank
MAY 13, 2008 - 01:57 PM
MAY 13, 2008 - 07:29 PM
Hi Steve, I updated this on the Kongo PE thread last night... HLJ has a listing for a future release (May) for an Advanced Photo Etch Parts set, 3 stainless steel frets for 6800 yen. LINK
MAY 14, 2008 - 12:45 AM

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