New Project: 1/350 Tamiya I-400 JPN Submarine
After a member reviewed my recent posting of my Revell 1/144 German U-Boat model he asked if I could apply same modeling techniques to build the Tamiya 1/350 I-400 Submarine for him. Of coarse always wanting to accept a build request I replied with a strong “Yes”. He wanted a super detailed version so he also included the Infini Detail-Up set which includes a very comprehensive PE sheet, Brass Turned barrels /parts, and a complete wooden deck. This would double the challenge of this build due to the many extra, complex, tiny PE and Brass parts. In 1/350th some of these detailed parts are very tiny and require complex folds and assembly processes. He wanted the Sub to be well worn accurately depicting some of the available archival footage, and photos of the I-400, and sister ship, I-401. I have found there is very limited, high-quality images available of this infamous sub, mostly due to it’s top-secret nature, and the US destroying all examples shortly after-capture to prevent the Russian’s getting their hands on the cutting-edge technology found in this sub. This has really made the choice are accurate colors selection difficult especially as it relates to what is hidden beneath the water-line. The Tamiya box-art depicts the sub with a hull-red hull below the water-line. Many modelers have used this theme with their builds of this sub. The customer who commissioned the build has requested an all grey-sub. He feels this is more accurate based on the fact that the hull was paneled with a state-of-the-art sound-absorbing tile. The pictures definitely support an all dark to medium grey top hull and tower, but nothing to substantiate the color below the water-line. It is evident in all the pictures that the sub took a beating, was well worn, discolored, chipped, and weary above the water-line. So I have proceeded with the build planning to paint the sub hull, with a slight discolored tone indicating the lower hull below the water-line.
Regarding construction the base kit, without the extras, is very simple and straight-forward. I could probably assemble the whole model, w/o extras, in under 2-hours. This does not include assembly of the included aircraft. Maybe another hour to complete them w/o painting. The base model does supply some PE pieces but they are basic and do not require anything to fancy regarding construction. The base model does not include any type of railings. I feel this is a short-fall of this kit considering the high-price for the kit. Come on Tamiya, gives us some basic railings. This model is so small in 1/350th and has a small parts count, and nothing fancy regarding advanced moldings, so it should not cost $60 plus US Dollars.
I currently have the basic hull and tower assembled. I have assembled the aircraft and installed 2 of them on their PE cradles along a track inside the enclosed hanger. The Hanger door does not need to be closed and can swing open. I have the other 2-aircraft assembled in ready-for-TO configuration. My customer requested one aircraft be disguised in US markings, as were some of the real aircraft in preparation for a sneak attack on the Panama Canal. In assembling the 4-aircraft I used the Infini turned brass prop spinners, and PE props. I also needed to scrape off the plastic canopies so I could install the Infini PE canopies frames. The kit included a full compliment of Japanese decals for all the planes. I have already completely painted and utilized the decals on these little aircraft.
Painting Hull: I have had such a difficult time painting this hull due to the lack of good reference material. There are several good photos of decently built kits but in the Grey over Hull-Red theme. As noted earlier I cannot use this scheme. There are not any other all grey sub pictures, and/or, models, that provide enough detail as to help me with my objective. I did not realize how much I rely on these types of references to finish my models until I was left with little to none. Sort of left me lost. The elements effect the finish of the Grey over Red paint scheme very differently, then sub with no color separation between top and bottom hull. The few model pictures available have not met my needs regarding look and quality of finish. I use references not only for painting basic finishes, but for all the pre-shading and pre-painting work that results in a given finish. I also rely heavily on accurate references to help me replicate the weathering and wear patterns, colors, effects. On this build I have changed things so often b/c I cannot replicate to my liking’s w/o these references. Also, the hull on this model has minimal to no surface details. It had some faint raised plank lines but due to all the sanding work needed to eliminate seems between hull separation the raised detail was mostly removed. This leaves me little, to no, landmarks to enhance, shade, darken, etc. Again, it leaves me at more of a lost then I am usually left at.
The following pictures show various stages of assembly and painting with the last few indicating my current stage. I even tried to paint using the paint to replicate the “oil-canning” effect of large warships, and subs. It did not turn out the way I wanted, and just did not sit well with me so I kept on blending the effect until it basically disappeared. I then sanded, and repainted, the hull several times trying to find a look I was satisfied with. I did some final weathering on the hull using an assortment of products to simulate wear, tear, staining, and rust patterns.
34 additional images. Click to enlarge.