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1/350 I-400 by Tamiya

September 13, 2013 in Ships

The I-400 class of submarines were the largest undersea vessels of World War II. They were designed to give Japan the ability to launch stealth attacks on distant targets and sneak away undetected. Speaking of which, it is even rumored that the ship was repainted at the last minute in a radar defeating coating — the first stealth naval vessel!

The key lay in the additional pressure hull on the deck — an aircraft hanger capable of holding three Seiran float planes and their fuel and weapons. Two aircraft could be launched in just fifteen minutes, while the third took an additional half hour. The planes would simply be rolled out of the hanger already fueled and armed, the floats attached and wings deployed. Then a plane was moved into position on the catapult mounted on the fore deck and flung into the air. Upon returning from the mission, the planes could land alongside and the process reversed. More likely, the crew would be retrieved and the planes scuttled.

The I-400 and her sister ship, I-401, were tasked with attacking and disabling the locks of the Panama Canal. The aircraft were disguised in aluminum paint and American insignia. but as they sailed toward their target, the war ended. The aircraft were dumped over board and the ship surrendered to the US Navy on the high seas.

The Tamiya kit is typical of this manufacturer — excellent tooling, fine engineering, and over-priced. Fortunately, mine was a bargain at a club swap-n-sell. I needed only to buy the PE set. This added a few railings and catapult details.

In addition I added pre-painted crew by Eduard. I built mine as though the crew was being put through rigorous training during their voyage into history. On the bow, the crew is practicing assembling the aircraft.

Amidships, an AA crew is sharpening their aim. While on the aft deck, an officer is addressing members of the crew concerning their secret mission.

On the bridge, the Captain commands those about him.

This was a fun build of a very near missed episode of WWII history.


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5 responses to 1/350 I-400 by Tamiya

  1. Mike, that is just “plane” cool !

  2. Mike, another great job. I have this kit and may have to drag it out. When you say it was big is an understatement. A number of years ago I saw a Seiran being restored at the Paul Garber Facility at Silverhill, Maryland. Believe me, it was huge. Hard to believe that three of them went aboard a submarine.

  3. It is on display now at the Dulles Annex. I agree about the size — it is breathtaking to consider that emerging from a sub.

  4. Actually, the Seirans would have been launched without floats because it was a one-way mission. Kudos to you for getting it right that they would have been unpainted and using US insignia as “camouflage.” The Seiran was totally unknown to allied intelligence and was a real surprise when they were discovered after the war.

    Nice work on the model.

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