YAMATO, World’s Largest Plastic Ship Model…
…at least in 1970 it was.
When stationed in Boston, Massachusetts I took a walk to the local hobby shop and purchased this kit. At a whopping’ 40″ in length, the YAMATO was a handfull as I carried it back to my ship along crowded city sidewalks. Upon arrival to my ship I popped the box open and was impressed with it’s size. But upon furthur examination the ship model was underwhelming. Having just completed Lindberg’s “BLUE DEVIL” Fletcher class destroyer, I anticipated a larger, more detailed ship. Instead my latest acquisition was nothing more than an un assembled battery powered toy! The parts were thick, no detail on the superstructure and rudimental instructions were not the challenge I hoped for. Plus the staggering kit price of $19.00 added insult to injury, boy did I get taken for a ride.
The hull was one piece, as was the superstructure, the deck was molded in three parts(held in place by screws)! Equipped with an electric motor,(powered by 8 “D” batteries) and a metal gear box, the model was intended for the pond with the possibility of radio control. I spray painted the hull bottom with red paint liberated from the ship’s paint locker and hand brushed the wood deck portions Pactra’s gloss brown. (boy, did I have a lot to learn about realistic painting of a model). I left the silver gray plastic hull, guns, superstructure, etc. un-painted in all its styrene glory. It didn’t take but two duty nights to slap this thing together and I decided to have a “shake down” cruise sail at the bases small boat dock. I set the rudder for a complete 360 degree trip and the model returned to me with no problems. Lucky for me, a swim in Boston harbor in February to retrieve it would have been a cold one. Actually, all the “pond runs” with the YAMATO were rather enjoyable but I still looked to the day I’d build an R/C boat model.
Fast forward to 1976. I loaned the model to a musem and over the years the staff managed to break off what little detail there was on this kit. In 1984 I retrieved the battleship and took it home with a major “dockyard period” in mind. I re-painted the deck a more proper color, and the hull received a more realistic gray. The broken antennas were rebuilt with brass and numerous bits of detail were added like small boats, photo etch catapults, and deck crane. Most of the antiaircraft guns received new gun barrels made from brass tube and all the missing guns replaced fron stuff from the scrap box. I don’t claim my model to be as accurate or as nice as Nichimo’s YAMATO kit.But looking back at it, my bath tub toy was a lot of fun and a big step into returning to building models in 1970.
10 additional images. Click to enlarge.