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YAMATO, World’s Largest Plastic Ship Model…

November 18, 2013 in Ships

…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.

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11 responses to YAMATO, World’s Largest Plastic Ship Model…

  1. $19.00 and TWO nights…??!! Just try that NOW. The original kit had a one-piece superstructure, huh? No wonder it went together so fast!
    Glad to see it resurrected.
    Nice job, Mike.

  2. Mike,
    As with all of your models you have turned this into an absolute beauty. You did not have much to work with from the original but you really turned it out. As to it’s size, it may at one time have been the biggest. A friend dropped by the other day and showed me the Trumpeter USS Missouri. It was very close to four feet in length and was a great kit.
    My compliments on what you have done with this kit.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story Mike. Models are never finished but always ready for the next update in skills to be applied. The PE catapults and crane would be a kit’s worth of work in itself. I have a spotty record of success with PE myself. The weight of eight D cell batteries would sure add some ballast to the hull!

  4. Mike,
    Cool build. Just picked p Trumpeters 1/200 Missouri, at a touch shy of 54″, not quite sure where I’m going to put it. Can totally relate to the “Big” factor.
    Thanks for sharing and have a great evening.

    • Fifty Four Inches..??!! You better start shoppin’ around for an old jewelery display case or sumthin’ – I can’t BEGIN to fathom the amount of PE that’s gonna have.
      And then there’s the dilemma of persuading SWMBO to allow it! lol

      • Nice thing Craig is it comes with a pretty good chunk of photo-etch, some things though could use more e.g. Catapults, crane, etc. from first looks though they’re not bad in plastic. As far as justifying it to SWMBO’d, that’s one advantage to being a bachelor, I only had to justify it to myself LOL!

    • Mark
      I did a little research, the 1/200 Nichimo company Yamato from 1973 was 51″ in length, clearly bigger than my 1/250 Paramount Yamato. I didn’t purchase the Nichimo kit as it cost a kingly sum of $35.00 at the time!
      Craig’s correct, you’re going to need a big “dust cover” to keep your model fractory fresh. Good luck with all that photoetch….

      • Man Mike….$35 for the 1/200 Yamato back in the day, my how times have changed. Of course I look back to the mid 80’s (that wasn’t that long ago was it…ugh) and thinking $15 was expensive for a Hasegawa 48th airplane : )
        When I was a kid we use to go over to Bremerton Naval Shipyard and crawl all over the Missouri, no tours just a free for all. Remember looking at the plaque that was in the deck Marking the place where Japan surrendered to the Allies.
        Hopefully will post progress pics of the BIG MO here when I dive into the project.

  5. Hello Mike,

    Some 20 years ago, at age 16, my father came back from Japan carrying a very very large box: he had bought me the 1/250 Yamato. He thought it was a welcome addition to my 1/350 Missouri, Bismarck and King George V.

    I also constructed the kit in just one week but painting did take a while. Indeed, the details weren’t that good but as a 16 year old that didn’t matter much to me. And on the (big) shelf the Yamato was too overpowering for my 1/350 fleet.

    But: sailing with the big thing in a pond (not radio-controlled, vice versa until grounding at the other side) made it all worthwhile: a 16 year old King of the Pond compared to the Dutch tugboats and freighers sailing in the City Park Pond!

    My Yamato doesn’t live any more – too big for the several moves between houses as a student. RIP!

    Thanks for the memory!

    Happy Modeling!


  6. i have this upc / paramount kit my problem is the instructions are in bad shap is there any way or chance i could get a copy of them

    • Paul
      Unfortunately the instructions from my model are long gone, but the model is very simple to build. The only thing that might be a problem is the motor and gear for the radar unit. My suggestion is to “dry fit” every part prior to gluing them together. Good luck in your project.

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