This is a 1/400 card model from Polish card model designers JSC, of the Japanese carrier, Zuihō.
Zuihō (瑞鳳, “Fortunate Phoenix”) was a light aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Originally built as the submarine support ship Takasaki, she was renamed and converted while under construction into an aircraft carrier. The ship was completed during the first year of World War II and participated in many operations. Zuihō played a secondary role in the Battle of Midway in mid-1942 and did not engage any American aircraft or ships during the battle. The ship participated in the Guadalcanal Campaign during the rest of 1942. She was lightly damaged during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands during this campaign and covered the evacuation of Japanese forces from the island in early 1943 after repairs.
Afterwards, her aircraft were disembarked several times in mid to late 1943 and used from land bases in a number of battles in the South West Pacific. Zuihō participated in the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf in mid-1944. In this last battle, Zuihō mainly served as a decoy for the main striking forces and she was finally sunk by American aircraft fulfilling her task.
The model comes in the form of a book of plasticized paper, with internal and external details. Sections are removed with scalpel and scissors, then bent and glued to shape. When complete, it will be about 70cm in length.
Here are a few sample pages.
The first section of the build is to make two triangular tubes, with a third, smaller section that slots between them to create a single (keel) spine. The printed marks should be on the external face. I wondered how to make a neat bend, and then decided I had to measure the section widths on the reverse face and then lightly score a line along the points, bend and glue them with the printed faces outermost. Because they’re triangular and the contact edge is narrow and needed support, I applied white glue and used a little Tamiya tape to lock them down until the glue set. When the pieces are all connected I’ll have a look to see how rigid the are. I may slide in a length of plastic rod for internal support as the spine’s an important part of the inner structure and needs to remain ‘true’.
Also here is a photo of all the tools I’m supposed to require. We’ll see. I won’t post images of every little piece of the project, but thought the principles behind the process might be of interest.
I mentioned above that the central keel spine might need to be strengthened. It did. I shoved a 3mm square profile walnut strip lengthwise down the middle, which straightened the spine nicely and also provided a little weight, which I thought might be useful when adding the frame sections.
The frames are delicate pieces that have to be cut and all the tabs scribed on one side to make the bending easier, at least I found that to be the case, so carried on that way. The ship pieces generally are connected by glueing these tabs against adjacent surfaces. Once these are in place correctly, a few other framing sub-decks are added, and the waterline pieces. When everything’s together, it’s in fact quite a rigid framework.
You can either have the hangers with their elevators exposed (dropped), which means cutting out various triangular deck openings for the elevators, or not. I chose the former method as I thought it looked more dynsamic, and a couple of aircraft could be posed on the platforms as though coming up to the main deck. The main flight deck had to be done even though not used until later, because of various issues of levelling the deck and the waterline section.
The instructions in some cases are quite clear in their language, but tell you precisely nothing. I’ve had to ponder the connection between some pieces, often finding that something attaches to the reverse side of something else, with its blank side outermost and printed side hidden. I’m sure there’s a logical reason for this, and the more I work on it, the clearer some things have become. I also discovered a helpful website, papermodels.com, where I found a build of the Zuiho done a few years ago. It has a few jpegs which have been useful, although only parts of the build sequence are covered.
Having spent a number of hours on this subject, against the run of play in respect of instructions, I’ve decided to mothball this build. The cost was minimal in other respects. I got on reasonably well with the framework, but when I began some of the other sections – face-printed details that firmed the finished surfaces – I discovered that the colour surfaces were no more than a breath’s thickness on the paper, and it was difficult to keep them clean or to prevent them from being damaged when bending tabs and so forth. To help, I sprayed all surfaces with a matte varnish, which did help, in that it was easier to wipe away any accidental smudges of white glue, or even just the mild scrape when turning over the paper while working.
It might be that as a first paper model I might have chosen a simpler subject, but there we are….
My biggest complaint, and for me the deal breaker, was the lack of instructional information. A narrative description, yes, but no diagrams or similar. I found that I had to trawl the Internet to find images of other builds to get some idea of links between sections of the build.
When I was at the point where I was on a Spanish language site trying to decipher the comments against some blurry jpegs, I decided that this was not the way I wanted to experience modelling, and so called it a day.
It may be I’ll revisit the genre if there was access to better information, but for now the card model is not something I’ll pursue.
Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em….