by: Dade W. Bell [ ]
MSW crew-mate Dade W. Bell (Karybdis) gives us an in-depth look at Flyhawk Models new "super detail" set for the Aoshima 1/350 scale Kongo in this in-box review.
In the great 1/350 Kongo class race between Fujimi and Aoshima, the general opinion emerged that Aoshima's kit went together better and easier and had the correct casemate shape; but Fujimi's offering had more overall detail.
Thanks to FlyHawk Model's super detail set for Aoshima's Kongo, this is no longer an issue. In fact, the amount of parts and material quality of the brass (not to mention the included brass barrels), puts this set ahead of Fujimi's own super detail set for their offering. Lets take a look...
And now, a look inside the kit...
The set comes in a nice little slide opening box that makes it easy to access the included items and store them when not in use (if you need some more room on your workbench). The picture on the box could almost be a photo of the actual ship until you realize that in fact it's a picture of a model built with the included detail set. This gives an idea of the goodies contained inside. On the side of the box is a photo of an unpainted build up where the brass is visible. I only wish this photo could have been bigger (maybe on the bottom of the box) so it could be used to aid in PE placement.
The Photo Etch
FlyHawk has done an excellent job right away simply by laying out PE on smaller frets. Large all-in-one frets are not only unwieldy to work with (sometimes resulting in unwanted bends), but miss the point that different parts should be made of different thicknesses (see the brass flight deck in Fujimi's set that was the same thickness as much smaller items). Most of the frets are 3.25" x 3.5" or 4.5" x 3.5", while the two largest frets are a little over 3.5" x 8.75". By putting their photo etch on a group of fourteen smaller frets, FlyHawk helps the modeler and enhances the quality of their product.
I'll say right off that all of the PE details are exquisitely sharp with delicate fold and cut points.
This fret contains parts for the turrets including rails, blast bag gantries, antenna. AA gun emplacement shields are also included.
Moving into the superstructure and bridge area, this fret contains parts for radar, DF, gorgeous multi-piece wind baffles, and various platform pieces. The platforms all have excellent texture for water redirection. There is a complete PE replacement for the main bridge yards and lots of under deck support stanchions that will really bring to life the "worm's eye view" of the kit.
This fret continues the work on the superstructure with full PE replacements for the main structure work. An intricate underside array of support work (13 pieces!) for the upper observation deck is also included.
Thought we were done with beautiful platforms? We're only getting started! This fret mostly consists of AA platforms and the included shielding (and/ or rails). Thanks to some great bend points, many of these are one-piece affairs and will be strong and look great with much more scaled appearance shielding. There are also some PE yards here, including the upper aft yard featuring tiny pulleys. Fantastic.
Told you we were just getting started with platforms! More AA platforms abound including the midships platform that straddles the upper boats deck. A lot of small, but very important items are also on this fret including the funnel grill caps, boat handling pulleys, aft mast top platform, and the very important Type 13 radar (a crummy looking Type 13 can always be spotted from 100 clicks so this PE piece will save you from that terror).
The important gantry work to hold up those beautiful platforms is here. With a primary focus on the midships platforms, these items will really bring your Kongo into focus. The very important aircraft handling pulley work is also here.
Fret G (Boats)
While this fret isn't marked as "G", it seems to fit into that position in the list of frets. It is, however, marked "IJN BOAT" and that's just what it covers. The Kongo's boats are a very visible splash of color and interest (not to mention scale), and this lovely little fret will not leave your boats wanting. Excellent replacement decks for the whalers and launches are here, as are oars, rails, screws, structure works, rudder, tarp cages, and cradles to put these spruced-up boats on.
Here is a very important, very visible area of the ship that can make or break a build: the flight deck. FlyHawk does not disappoint, providing the builder with an excellent replacement deck. Everything from the original plastic is stripped away for a full PE replacement. Also included are transport rails for the aircraft dollies to travel on and the travel mechanism for the aircraft crane. While there are some rails missing from this dedicated fret, this isn't an issue as plenty of rails are on Fret J...
Working hand in hand with Fret H, this fret contains all the parts to bring the flight area to life. A catapult with excellent detail, aircraft travel dollies, aircraft cradles are all here. Underside support work for some of the aforementioned platforms are also here.
The first of the two larger frets contains rails (straight and sagging chain), ship's screws, anchors, small handling platforms, life preserver cages, and the PE replacement for the aircraft crane.
This fret contains all the parts to make the aircraft look good enough to go on that PE flight deck. Props, structural work for the floats, canopy cage work (true works of art), and wing rigging for Petes will make the aircraft really pop. Also included are degaussing cable, stairs, ladders (two sizes), skylights, hatches (optional open or closed), reels, boat pulleys, life preservers, and an excellent PE spare rudder. Whew!
The funnels are very visible aspects of a ship and a ship without funnels rings looks naked. This fret remedies that situation by clothing the funnels in delicate rings.
Doors, doors, and more doors are found here. Double doors, fat doors, skinny doors, rounded doors, square doors, doors with portholes, doors without. All of the doors here are beautiful and can be posed open or closed thanks to having a crossover bend to make them double sided. Nearly all of them include cover ridges over the openings as well. The only ones that don't are the doubles, which didn't seem to have them in real life anyway.
This fret is for all of the ammunition boxes littered across the deck and AA platforms of the Kongo. This is the 1944 fit after all, so the ship was bristling with AA guns and boxes to hold the ammo for said guns. Nicely done with folds for all six sides of each box.
The set isn't just photo etch. FlyHawk has also included eight brass barrels for the 14" guns and eight brass barrels for the 6" guns. These barrels are beautifully done and will instantly dress up your Kongo due to their visibility in the turrets (14") and casemates (6").
FlyHawk once again comes through with incredible instructions. The four pages are crammed with construction steps rendered in clear, concise line art. A particularly nice aspect of these instructions is the use of color line art to aid in calling out individual pieces/ assemblies. What could have been a confusing mess, is instead a very clear, classy way of explanation.
The only drawback I see is that there are no explanations for the placement of general items such as rails (straight or sagging), degaussing cable, doors, or hatches. While this isn't a major issue for those with references, it may be a bit of a headache for those without.
This set easily takes care of most of the issues found with Aoshima's Kongo. It sets a level of detail above and beyond Fujimi's offering in plastic and Fujimi's own PE. While the addition of 5" AA gun barrels, PE portholes, and replacement vents for the simplistic Aoshima vents would have been nice in this all inclusive set (FlyHawk makes separate sets for portholes and 5" guns), I don't feel it's a major issue here when one looks at just how much does come in the box. And all of this at a rather nice price.
I would go so far to say that this set is so inspiring, I am considering selling my assembled Fujimi example (as depicted in my build review on MSW) to make room for an Aoshima Kongo built with this set... Of course, I would rather build the Kirishima to "mix it up" a little bit, but it's a testament to how exciting this set looks, that I'm thinking of plunging right back into another Kongo when the last one almost burned me out on modeling for half a year!