Named after the Yaeyama  Islands, southernmost of the Okinawa archipelago, IJN Yaeyama was an un- protected cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy, laid down in 1887 and completed in 1890. She was designed under the supervision of the eminent and at the time influential French designer Emile Bertin.
 Light displacement coupled with powerful machinery resulted in an impressive speed of nearly 21 knots, making this lightly armoured and armed vessel ideal for the despatch and scouting duties for which she was often used.

In the first Sino-Japanese war, 1894-1895, she protected Troop transports to Korea and covered the landings of the Japanese army at Port Arthur.
During the Boxer Rebellion she was and escort for transports of Japanese ground forces to Mainland China.
Placed in reserve in 1898, she was stranded in 1902near Nemero on 11 May-where she remained until being towed off on 1 September. (!)
Subsequently Yaeyama was refitted and received 8 Niclausse boilers in 1902 . She received additional armament and received an additional funnel.
She was to see further active service during the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905, participating in the Battle of Port Arthur and subsequent blockading of the port. She was present at the Battle of the Yellow Sea and later at the Battle of Tsushima, where her high speed made her ideal for ship to shore despatch duties and carrying messages and orders from ship to ship.

The onset of wireless communications rendered the despatch vessel obsolete, and she was stricken in 1906.
She was however used extensively   from 1906-1908 as the trials ship for the introduction of oil-firing . She was finally removed from the Navy and broken up 1 April  1911 onwards .
Length over all 317 ft 11 in  (96.6 m)
Beam 34ft  5in    ( 10.5m)
Draught 13ft 1 in        (4 m)
5630 Shp =    21.75 knots
Crew 217 Officers and men
Armament: 3 × 120 mm     (4.7 in)
2 x   75mm)       ( 3in)     ( after 1902)
8 × 47 mm    (1.9 in)  QF 
2 × 18 in  Torpedo Tubes

Building the Model
Yaeyama was an early release from  Polish resin kit  manufacturer Modelkrak, alas like many of their older offerings which were based on decidedly flawed and simplified drawings, the hull casting of  Yaeyama whilst dimensionally correct had  a number of issues which would need addressing to produce a satisfactory model.

Despite this I had always been drawn to the handsome sleek outline and chunky overhanging counter stern….

There is not a great deal of information and precious few photos of this vessel; an appeal for assistance in the forum brought a response from Japan with two superb images in very high resolution, albeit at two distinctly different stages of the ships career. 
This enabled me to portray Yaeyama in her twin funnel guise,- post 1902  refit and after she had been  reboilered-   which in my view made her lines even more rakish.

It also meant that I would be able to verifiably correct the hull’s two biggest problems; the lack of sheerline and the incorrectly flared full bow.

But first I had to remove the massive overpour of resin below the waterline
I used Lindstrom Jewellers cutters for this process, which made swift work of an otherwise arduous sanding job.

The aforementioned photos of the real ship  showed the bow to have been like  a sharp knifeblade;  the kit item was stumpy, rounded  and flared out  towards the deck.

A significant amount of resin would need to be removed before I could start reshaping the stem and cutwater

Once the bow had been carved to shape I needed to address the lack of sheer forward; I added tapered shims of styrene sheet, with the hull suitably warmed on a radiator  I was able to persuade the hull to flex sufficiently with  pressure applied centrally to  take the shape of  sheerline  as interpreted from the photos.

I drilled holes in the underside of the model amidships, thereby I was able to pull the hull down to the stainless steel base- plate and thereby re-induce the shape created.

The square scuttles aft…. whilst their positions agreed with the aforementioned flawed drawing, were far too low down when compared to photos of the real ship.

Re-cutting these retrospectively was unlikely to be successful without cutting open the casting and slices of styrene and inserting shims.
After painting the hull I elected to apply a very thin strip of black decal film somewhat higher up and painted the vertical spaces in matching hull paint.

The deck edge aft had a rolled edge; this was pared into shape before any further work was done.

After her 1902 refit Yaeyama received an additional pair of 3 in guns in openbacked shielded mounts carried on a small sponsons aft of midships.
These were created using autobody filler carved and sanded to shape, along with enlarging and enhancing the two 4.7in sponsons  forward of the bridge.

Most of the minor deck details were now removed to be later be replaced with scratched or PE items, deck houses were shortened and had overhanging roofs added from styrene sheet, numerous cowl vents were made and new funnels were made of Aluminium tubing. These were cut with a tube cutter, after which the base and tops were sanded in a jig to the correct angle of rake. yaeyama06
After a brushed coat of hull colour paint showed up small fissures and where additional sanding was needed, the distinctive rubbing strakes were added of brass wire. yaeyama07
The previously drilled screwholes which I would eventually use to  draw the model down to its desired sheerline on the steel baseplate using screws, now had two screws inserted part of the way in; I attached a powerful spingloaded clamp to these protruding screws, this  facilitated the easy handling of this diminutive model during the detailing and final  painting stage. yaeyama09
Photos  of the real ship showed the resin bride deck to be totally incorrect in plan shape and size; further, after the refit the wheelhouse roof had  extended wings fitted to match the lower bridge. New items were made of Evergreen planked styrene sheet along with a new wheelhous. yaeyama10
After most of the painting had been completed, the stainless steel base plate was prepared with its watercolor paper, the methodology of which I have described here: yaeyama11
The model was now mounted so as to prevent delicate detail being distorted or forced off as the hull was pulled down with the screws to the correct sheerline.

The aft searchlight platform was scratchbuilt; the curved gusset supports of thin copper wire being particularly delicate. The slight distortion in the railing (visible in the photo) was cured after installation to the ships deck into pre-drilled small holes.

Skylights and boiler room hatches were added of  PE ladder stock, QF gun platforms were made of  CA infused paper, boat supports made of copper wire, cowl and mushroom vents were added along with  tapered gash shutes to the side of the hull.

The model now being mounted on its base made it far less vulnerable to accidental damage by my clumsy large hands!

Most of the fine detailing is scratchbuilt; such as the Semaphores on the upper bridge, davits were formed of brass wire, most of the boats were changed in length and shape to suit—oars were made of brown stretched sprue with the ends flattened with pliers, hawse holes were reinforced with a paper ‘plate’, Admiralty type stocked anchors were made of wire and white glue with paper flukes.
Cable reels were adapted from the fine Voyager PE items.

Masts were made of tapered stainless steel, the drop down armour plates for the fwd Gun sponsons were made of shortened WEM  Askold PE items.
Gun barrels  were  NNT.

The funnels had steam pipes which had the standoff’s made of a drop of thinned white glue, which gave a very credible result, with a tiny visible gap.  The funnel caps were made of  stainless steel washers, topped with a copper rings and the steps being in-filled with white glue.

Thereafter the model was rigged in my usual manner using black and brown stretched sprue, the method being described here:

The sea colour was intended to be a rich dark blue, knocked back with a light grey wash and subsequently sealed with Glossy varnish.

Finished model photos:

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All in all a satisfactory end result; a charming little model of a relatively obscure vessel. 

My thanks go to all my e-model friends around the world who assisted with images and advice!

More of Jim Baumann's work.
Updated 2009