Takao in 1:350
Ever since I saw this picture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IJN_cruiser_Takao_on_trial_run_in_1932.jpg
in that thick book about warships that I borrowed from the Stockholm public library over and over as a kid, I’ve wanted to build the Takao. She was the meanest and koolest looking ship I had ever seen.
So when I saw Aoshimas kit in 1:350 I didn’t hesitate a second before I bought it.
The japanese heavy cruisers were very powerful and yet fragile ships. In order to comply with the Washington treaty they had an official displacement of 10 000 tons. In reality it was considerably higher.
Since the japanese realised, that they would always be inferior in numbers to the US Navy, their strategy was to build each ship stronger than its corresponding US ship.
Ship design is all about compromise. In order to squeeze in as much armament, armour and speed as possible into their designs, the japanese sacrificed all other important qualities in their cruisers.
This led to problems with stability, hull deformations when going through rough seas and very cramped conditions for their crews. In Takaos case, this led to her being fitted with bulges and having her upperworks cut down, in order to increase stability, whereby her displacement increased even further.
On the other hand the japanese cruisers had a terrific punch, which they delivered with fearful precision during the first years of the Pacific War. In the battles of the Java sea and Savo Sound they showed the allied navies how night fighting at sea was to be done.
Their strongest weapon, but also their achilles heel, was their 61 cm ‘‘Long Lance’’ torpedoes. They were the best torpedoes of the war, but they also made the cruisers very vulnerable to air attack. Several of the heavy cruisers were sunk when their torpedoes exploded after they were hit by bombs. Some narrowly survived air attacks only because their captains ordered the torpedoes shot away just before they were attacked by US planes.
Of the 18 heavy cruisers Japan built, only two survived the war. Takao was one of them. In August 1945 she lay damaged in Singapore, serving as a floating AA-Battery.
Aoshimas kit is very good, but it has some weaknesses. As usual I started the build by strengthening the hull with some lengthwise bulkheads. I scratchbuilt the masts, since the kits ones didn’t look too good, but also because plastic masts bend, when subjected to the tension of the rigging lines.
I used GMMs PE set which was simply excellent. The kits 12 cm guns were clumsy affairs, so I replaced them with resin ones from Veteran Models. They, on the other hand, were pretty hard to build.
Ships boats are a sad chapter with most manufacturers, and so was the case here too. Instead I used Hasegawas set of boats for japanese ships, but they too left something to be wished for. Their cutters are moulded in one piece, with thwarts looking like big boxes and no floorboards. I cut the thwarts away, thinned down the gunwales and added floorboards and thwarts from 0,25 mm plastic strip.
Why can’t the manufacturers make the cutters in two pieces. A lower part with the hull, and ideally with engraved frames and floorboards, and an upper part with the gunwales and the thwarts. ICM did this on their König sometime in the late nineties.
As reference when building I used Janusz Skulski’s ‘‘Anatomy of a ship. The heavy cruiser Takao’’. Reference literature doesn’t get much better than this.
Rigging the biplanes with stretched sprue was not very difficult, but absolutely necessary. When exhibiting a ship model at IPMS-Stockholms monthly club meeting, none of the aircraft builders, who constitute the majority of those present, will see the ship. They only look at its airplanes. Then they say: ‘‘ Nice ship model.’’ 😉
I finished the model on the 7. of October 2009 at 0120 hrs.
28 additional images. Click to enlarge.