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Ulf Lundberg
73 articles

I-400 in 1:350 from Tamiya

March 22, 2015 · in Ships · · 18 · 3.3K

I finished 's in february 2010.

The idea for these giant subs came from Admiral Yamamoto. The plan was to take the war to the US by bombing the cities along it's coasts with submarine launched aircraft. The sub would have to be big enough to carry enough fuel for the round trip Japan-US west coast and to carry at least two airplanes.

Just how big they were can be seen when you put the model of the I-400 beside the model of a Japanese destroyer and a german Typ VIIc U-boat in the same scale. They were the biggest subs built until the nuclear subs in the 1960's.
18 of these giants were ordered but only three were completed. The general idea of bombing the US west coast was later changed to a plan to bomb the locks of the Panama Canal. As the US forces came nearer to Japan the plan was again changed, the new target being the naval base at Ulithi.

Japan surrendered before the attack could be made and the US took over the boats and of course studied them thoroughly. The living conditions for the crew were appalling. Some 150 men were cramped together without neither air conditioning nor cold storage for food. When decontaminated after the surrender, some 25 buckets of dead rats were removed.

In order to prevent the soviets from learning from the subs they were sunk as target practice for new torpedoes.

Tamiya's kit is excellent, really a shake and bake kit. I built it basically from the box, only adding some PE from the spares box. In order to make the display a bit educational I put one plane in the hangar opening, one on the catapult and one flying.
Tamiya' painting guide is wrong though. The subs were not painted with anti fouling paint below the waterline. Instead thy were covered with a rubber compound designed to make them harder to detect with sonars. I tried to depict that by painting the underwater hull brownish green to make it look like it was overgrown with algae.

Reader reactions:
11  Awesome

12 additional images. Click to enlarge.

18 responses

  1. Very nice job, Ulf...both in the build and the presentation work.

  2. AS Craig above, fine build sir.

  3. Another nice build, Ulf. Again, you clearly have your raison d'être.

  4. Stunning build again Ulf. You can see from the design that they weren't really expecting the planes to land again! Were they kamikaze bombers?

  5. For the actual operation, the airplanes were painted silver with US insignia and would have been launched without the pontoons. Not widely-known information, so very much not listed as a complaint.

    Your usual excellent work on the model to create such a realistic finish.

  6. said on March 22, 2015

    could you talk or do an article on your finishing technique? Looks really great!

  7. COOL to the nth power. I am going to have to finally finish my Haguro so I can try and copy your paint technique. Love the look of the paint, fabulous work as usual.

  8. you are the master ship builder Ulf...loved them all

  9. Fantastic. What a cool subject too.

  10. Like it, very cool. Amazing finish/weathering.

  11. Ulf - like Chris said, I'd love to hear more about the technique used to get such beautifully subtle mottling of the finish. Just excellent finish work all the way around - kudos!

  12. Thank you all!

    Chris and Greg.

    I think you can get a pretty good idea about my painting techniques in these articles:

    Also, I have articles coming up about ships with some pretty elaborate paintjobs. I'll remember to go into how I did them.

    Keep a good lookout.

  13. Great build, Ulf

  14. Ulf,

    Incredible build. This is beautifully done and I like everything about it. I like how you have compared it to the destroyer and the other sub.

    a number of years ago I went to the Paul Garber facility in Silver Hill, MD. This was a place where a lot of restorations were done for the Smithsonian Institute. Being restored at that time was a Serian floatplane like the ones aboard this sub.It was amazing how huge these aircraft were. To think that three of them were stored aboard one of these subs just give a glimpse of how huge the overall sub was. I looked on Youtube and there is a clip "The largest submarine in the world" which deals with these subs.

    Outstanding work on this it looks great.

  15. Ulf, that is the wildest thing I've seen this week, "25 buckets of dead rats"!
    There has got to be a country & western song there, someplace.
    "Life is sometimes like 25 buckets of dead rats". That's cosmic. Or zen.

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