by: Dariush [ ]
The model community is at the advent of a rising challenge.
As far I can recall from top of my head, model manufacturers since ever claimed to provide a detailed representation of a specific subject but more or less failed to do so in reality.
This is the point where after market parts came up to correct at least the obvious errors, then the more subtle ones up to enhancing a model beyond its design.
With computer aided drawings and sophisticated tools the level of accuracy meanwhile was raised immensely.
What made us excited like 15 - 10 years back does not even catch truly our attention any more.
This fact is many fold.
On the one hand one appreciates the level of detail and the provision of the right shape and size of any scale model subject. On the other hand it drowns the industry and a lot of model builder into perfection - raising pressure on both ends and exchanging fun with seriousness.
Last but not least the better part of this development is that research of the scale model subject has become more and more relevant and common. With the internet at our fingertips one can watch people from all around the world peacefully talking things over and find conclusions.
With this said, let us move to the in box review of Lion Roar Detailed Upgrade Set for the Aoshima 1/350 Takao 1942 and keep "fun" at the back of our mind.
I am relying for this review heavily upon Janusz Skulski´s "Anatomy of the Ship Heavy Cruiser Takao" (ISBN: 0851779743, referred to as: Skulski, P.xx) which I herewith highly recommend beside Warship Pictorial No. 30 (ISBN: 0974568791; referred to as WP, P.xx) as a "must have" for this subject.
LionRoar provides a full set of super detail for the AOSHIMA 1/350 IJN TAKAO 1942 kit in a folded card box. The front side of the box shows an unpainted IJN Takao Model with all the enhancing parts applied.
... and what is inside ...
When opening the box the modeler is confronted with two air blistered clear bags containing the kit parts, some assembly instructions and inside the lid with photographic evidence about the content.
The Resin Parts…
First off, we are confronted with resin parts. These are mainly the main turrets with attached blast bags leaving the modeler only one option to position the gun barrels. The rangefinders in resin are supposed to be glued on top of three of the five turrets. Also, some resin parts for the shields of the heavy AA armament are provided.
With LionRoar providing three 6m - 14 Shiki rangefinders for the turrets we have one spare. The Takao did not carry a rangefinder on the 1st turret since her major reconstruction at Yokosuka Kaigun Kôshô, May 1938 to 31 August 1939.
The reason was that the IJN Takao was quiet wet on her bow making the rangefinder useless while at sea. For this, it was removed and installed on top of the tower bridge.
- Ref.: Skulski Page 23
The turrets themselves are done very nice and crisp. The heat shield assignment is spot on.
I included some shots side by side with the kit parts so you may judge yourself. The AOSHIMA turret is also nicely done leaving only one reason to be exchanged by the LionRoar ones, namely the side plating of the turret which is missing a diagonal support.
There is one issue neither of the turrets resolve. The turrets had heat shields (note: not armor) applied to the turrets body within a distance of about 10 - 15 cm - Ref.: Skulski, P.15.
The joints at the edges of the turrets roof to the turrets side shields had air ventilation slots.
For this, in reality one could look behind the shield and see the Ducol armor plating of the turret body.
Both, the AOSHIMA kit part and the Lionroar resin turret more or less show the air ventilation slots but are naturally missing the hollow space involved. All I can think of to rectify would be to cautiously paint the air ventilation slots black to resemble the hollow space.
Size and shape of the LionRoar turrets are nicely done and in scale.
The turrets are all the same type making no difference between the ones carrying a rangefinder and those without them. I am really undecided about this maneuver by LionRoar. Looking at the main turret drawings (Skulski, P. 131 - 133) the back end of the turret roof should be considerably lowered with the rangefinder literally hanging to both sides. The roof of the turrets without rangefinders should be flat in terms of same level all over - Ref.: Skulski, P. 136.
The backsides of the LionRoar turrets do show a door, so far so good. Unfortunately this is not the door that one should expect. In reality, the 20.3cm/50cal. NENDO Shiki turret had a sliding armored door with square corners, not rounded. REf.: WP30, P12; Skulski, P.135.
Over all I feel the enhancement through the provided resin turrets are not as much as I would have expected. Your mileage may vary.
This set comes with brass turned barrels for the main artillery, the Heavy and medium AA mounts.
The barrels all have opened muzzles and are superbly done.
The Photo Etched Brass Frets…
LionRoar provides the model builder brass etched frets A - H and a nameplate made out of nickel silver.
This fret deals mainly with the railings coming in two styles. Mainly we get railings with two rows and some smaller ones with only one row. This seems to be correct and spot according to Skluski, P.46.
Fret B provides the degaussing cable and the anchor chains. Even though the chains are superbly executed I rather think some real chains within scale will provide a better and sturdier result.
This time we get all we need to accomplish really nice catapults for the recon airplanes as well as those transportation wagons and some support structure. Also, you may find some companionways as well. The parts show relief structures wherever useful. I included a close up photo for the audience to get a first hand impression.
Fret D comes 2x and gives you a lot of ammunition boxes as well as parts for the AA armament, some platforms and some ladders.
This time the modeler will receive watertight and normal doors with options for opened or closed construction and with rain deflectors. Also, some longer ladders and cable reels as well as further support structures.
Fret F deals with really nicely done davits as well as the crane and various air grilles. You will find the propellers for the kit recon planes as well.
Fret G is dedicated to the funnel. For this, one is provided the correct parts for the funnel caps as well as those funnel handrails.
Now, this is taking care of the platform for the recon planes. LionRoar gives you relief etched parts with stunning details included.
The nameplate comes in etched nickel silver showing the ships name in Japanese language only. It is sized to fit the kits model stand but will evidently beautify any self made stand as well.
The Instructions are printed on letter sized paper guiding the model builder through 7 Pages to his/her result.
The print is nicely done and the shown steps leave no question about what to do.
Well, this set by LionRoar sure will enhance any AOSHIMA Takao 1942 kit beyond what the kit manufacturer provided so nicely. It sure will be fun to apply these parts to the kit and watch it gain more realism with ease. The number of additional parts to accomplish this sure will demand a patient modeler but the provided quality will help to overcome the obstacles. There are some issues with the turrets but these are minor and may only be discovered by an IJN buff.