Combrig Models
1/350 IJN Nisshin

Reviewed November 2016
by Martin J Quinn
The Imperial Japanese Navy Nisshin was the last of the Giuseppe Garibaldi-class cruiser armored cruisers to be built for export in Italy. The class lineage began in 1895, with the class enjoying much export success. Successive ships had improvements over the years based on operational experience.

Nisshin started life as the Italian Roca in 1902, but was sold to Argentina after launch, who named it Mariano Moreno. With the threat of a war between Argentina and Chile having passed, the Argentineans declined to purchase her, and after an abortive attempt to sell the incomplete ship to Russia, the Japanese stepped in and purchased her – along with a sister ship - in December 1903, naming her Nisshin in January 1904. 

Under command of British Captains and with multi-nationals crews, the Nisshin and her sister – now named Kasuga – sailed to Japan to be turned over to their new owners, arriving there in February 1904. Along the way they had been shadowed by Russian units and shepherd by British ships, the latter who were hoping to avoid an international incident. 

In April 1904, Nisshin and her sister joined the fleet, immediately seeing action at Port Arthur. Later, as part of the Japanese battle line, she fought in the Battle of the Yellow Sea in August 1904, where she sustained considerable damage. 

Repaired in time to participate at the Battle of Tsushima in May, 1905, Nisshin again rode in the battle line, and again took a considerable pounding. By the end of the day, three of her four main battery 8 inch guns were out of action. She had received the second most hits of any Japanese ship – after flagship Mikasa – including six from 12 inch shells and one from a 9 inch shell. Among the wounded was an Ensign Yamamoto Isoroku, who lost two fingers on his left hand. Post-Tsushima, Nisshin participated in the invasion of Sakhalin. 

The cruiser also served in the First World War, taking part in the search for Von Spee’s Squadron and later serving in the Mediterranean as flagship of a small Japanese squadron based at Malta. 

Disarmed in 1921, she became a costal defense vessel under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, then later she served as a training ships for Imperial Japanese Naval cadets, finally being decommissioned in April 1935. Renamed Hai-Kan Number 6, she was used as a target and sunk twice – first in 1936, and again (after being raised) in 1941, when she was sunk by gunfire from the Yamato.  Which proves Yamato actually hit something during her career. 

The Combrig Nisshin

The Combrig Nisshin comes in a sturdy white box. Inside are the two hull halves, bags with the smaller parts, two smaller bags with photo-etch and the instructions. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating – Combrig needs to do a better job packing their kits. There were a bunch of smaller parts broken in the kit, plus the stern walk on the hull is broken. 

My recollection is that this kit was previously released by BOX261 as Kasuga some years ago, and while overall it’s a pretty nice kit, it’s starting to show its age. 

The original Nisshin was 356’ 11” at the waterline, and 62’ on the beam - my copy scales out pretty much perfectly. As per most Combrig’s 1/350 hulls, both halves are hollow, and feature a large over pour around the edges of the hull, which should be able to be scored and snapped off fairly easily. 

The upper hull is well cast with pretty good detail, with raised portholes, thin splinter shields and recessed hawse pipes on either side of the hull. 

However, the engraved planking is a bit uneven, being more pronounced forward and much fainter by stern, where the planks may even disappear under a coat of paint. 

I couldn’t find any photos that showed the coal scuttles, but they look rather large. That may or may not be accurate – it’s just an observation. The skylights may be a little overstated as well, but will probably look ok once painted. As mentioned earlier, the stern walk is broken, as are some of the very thin splinter shield amidships. 

The lower hull has bilge keels and the faired in struts for the propellers cast into the hull. The rudder is also cast as part of the hull, with etching around it to make it look like a separate piece. 

There are two large and one smaller part for the superstructure. All have a slight bit of over pour which will need to be sanded off. The forward and aft superstructures have molded on W/T doors (one on the forward superstructure is crooked) portholes and small sections of engraved decking. The smaller piece is what appears to be the pilot house, and has cast on doors and nicely recessed windows. 
There are two platform decks included – one for the forward superstructure, on for the aft. These are cast on resin wafers, with their support columns cast integral to the part. Care will be needed getting these off the wafers. 
The two main battery turrets are well cast with decent detail. There is a very thin casting wafer on the bottoms of the turrets that will have to be removed. The 8 inch gun barrels are cast in resin and look pretty good, with recessed muzzles. 

The funnels are smooth but well cast, with deep recesses to replicate them being hollow. 

There are nine assorted boats included with the kit. The big cutter is nice, with planking detail on the bottom and thwarts that are somehow cast leaving a space under them and the bottom of the boat. There is good detail on the steam launches as well. 
The other parts include lots of ventilators, which feature deep recesses and thin cowls; resin boat cradles with relief casting; and many other small parts that are well cast: searchlights, signal lamps, cable reels, davits, anchors and an anchor handling crane that is very delicate and of excellently quality. There are also props and propeller shaft struts included – the blades on the props are relatively thin. Unfortunately many of the smaller parts were damaged when I opened the box. 

The main mast is included as a resin part. It does have some nice detail cast into it. 

The splinter shields for the larger secondary armament are very thin and well done. The guns, pedestals and the smaller secondary armament are also well cast, but again, there was quite a bit of damage to the parts. 
There are four small frets of photo-etch included. The photo-etch is very plan, with no relief etching. Some modelers not like railings, they are the individual stanchion type, without the “waterway” on the bottom. 
The instructions take up both sides of 3 sheets of paper. The first page has a history and technical data on the ship, the second page has a list and photos of the parts. The next three pages offer exploded view drawings of constructions, while the last page has both a plan and profile view of the Nisshin, with painting directions. . 
Overall, the Combrig Nisshin is a good kit. Besides the deck, it’s pretty nicely cast and has decent details. On the other hand, the photo-etch is pedestrian and the broken parts in the kit were annoying (but your copy may not have this problem). 

All that being said, the molds are starting to show their age. If you are looking to add an early 20th century armored cruiser to your scale model fleet, I’d go with Combrig’s SMS Blucher or HMS Kent, or maybe Rurik II over Nisshin. I’d recommend this model mostly to those with an interest in the ships of the Russo-Japanese War, especially if you want your scale Mikasa to have a running mate in your scale battle line.

This is Combrig’s 1/350 Japanese Armored Cruiser Nisshin. It retails for around $160.00 US, and is available from many of our fine sponsors. This is an in-box review, your mileage may vary once you commence construction. Thanks to Combrig Models for the review sample. 

This is an in-box review showing the kit contents. We welcome your input and comments in the review section of the forum especially if you can share details about fit, ease of assembly and accuracy. Click the logo on the right to join in the discussion.