Hasegawa 1/700 Tenryu - # 357

Released March, 2015
Reviewed June 2015
by Dan Kaplan
In the wake of the successful conclusion of Russo-Japanese war at the outset of the 20th century, Japanese naval proponents successfully convinced the Japanese government (over Army factions) that the key to Japanese security was in a strong navy. Subsequent planning and construction placed an emphasis on qualitative superior battleships and battle cruisers, along with supporting vessels deployed in a layered offense/defense, all designed to whittle down an approaching enemy fleet.

As a result, several classes of capital ships such as the Kongos, the Fusos, and the Hyugas were completed, or were nearing completion, by the midst of the First World War.  Japan was also participating in the war effort on the side of the Allies. In the Pacific, Japan captured and occupied German territories in China and among several Pacific Island groups. Japanese battle squadrons took part in efforts to reign in German ships and squadrons while also escorting Anzac convoys. 

However, as hostilities began, Japan had few modern destroyers in service, and nearly none that were adequate escorts for the new battle squadrons. Belatedly recognizing this need, the Japanese embarked on a rapid destroyer construction program. In time, many of these new destroyers would serve the Allies in the Mediterranean Sea.  It was also decided that better command and control among the new escort squadrons could be conducted by larger flotilla leaders in the guise of small cruisers.  Two such units were authorized in 1916, known as the Tenryu class.

The Tenryus were the first modern light cruisers of the IJN. This ship type, the 3,500 ton or small-model cruiser, was somewhat new and without many contemporaries. Essentially, they were enlarged destroyers with some design cues inspired by the Royal Navy’s Arethusa and C class light cruisers.

To quote on their anticipated role, from LaCroix and Welles “Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War”:  “they were intended as high speed, protected flotilla leaders or destroyer squadron flagships…… to accommodate the flag officer and his staff, as well as facilities for command and control. Tactically, they were to lead and sustain torpedo attacks by the destroyer flotillas, or squadrons, against the enemy fleet, and to protect the destroyers against gunfire from enemy destroyers and any accompanying light cruiser.”

The Tenryus mounted four Type 3 14cm 50 cal guns in open backed shields as their main battery, all mounted on the centerline. Also included in their armament were smaller AA guns and two unshielded Type 6 torpedo mounts, each carrying three of their 53cm diameter torpedoes, also mounted on the centerline. No reloads were provided for.

They incorporated destroyer type machinery and three sets of geared turbines driving three shafts, along with a mix of coal and oil fired boilers, to achieve a high speed of 33 knots. To keep weight down and to increase the hull strength required in a ship with a high length to beam ratio (for speed), high tensile steel was used in their hulls.  Light armor for protection from 4” shells was also installed. The new bow form, commonly called a spoon bow, was adopted from the new Isokaze class destroyer. 

A Brief History
Tenryu was laid down at the Yokosuka Naval Dockyard in May, 1917, and commissioned into service in November, 1919. Initially, she was flagship of the 2nd Destroyer Squadron, based at Kure. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, she served in her intended role, along with sister Tatsuta, in variety of circumstances, including service in Siberian waters during hostilities with Bolshevik Russia, training with the destroyer squadrons, and further service in Chinese waters while supporting Japanese forces in numerous operations. 

She gained a tripod foremast in 1930, and underwent hull strengthening along with most other IJN warships after several ships incurred serious damage during a typhoon, in what is referred to as the Fourth Fleet Incident of 1935. In 1940, she and her sister were modernized with a complete reliance on oil-fired boilers, a steel topped roof to her bridge, and the addition of twin 25mm AA weapons for anti-aircraft defense. 

Come the start of the Pacific war in December, 1941, she and her sister supported the invasion of Wake Island as well as numerous troop landings throughout the Solomon Islands and New Guinea during the first half of 1942.  In the second half of 1942, she was a significant participant in the actions and reinforcements surrounding Guadalcanal and in the Solomon Islands.

Perhaps her most noteworthy accomplishment was during the Battle of Savo Island.  She was part of Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa’s task force, which attempted to attack the shipping off the newly established Allied beach head at Guadalcanal.  While doing so, they surprised the Allied guard force and, in a hectic, close-quartered engagement, sank four Allied heavy cruisers while severely damaging a fifth, and two destroyers, with minimal damage and personnel losses to themselves.

 Tenryu is credited with helping to sink USS Astoria CA-39 with two torpedoes. In turn, she took some return fire from USS Chicago, with 23 crewman lost. Three weeks later, she took a bomb hit from a B-17 during a US attack on Rabaul, which killed another 30 men and incurred damage to her aft superstructure.  She was there loading mines for a planned mining of the Tulagi anchorage with her sister Tatsuta, scheduled for October 20th. Instead, she required repairs, which in turn, caused the mission to be scrubbed. 

She spent the remainder of 1942 embarked on a great number of critical supply missions within the Solomons chain with other IJN surface units. Tenryu was sunk by torpedoes from USS Albacore off New Guinea in December, 1942 while escorting another troop landing convoy. 

A detailed record of her activities can be found in her TROM record here.

Too often, Tenryu is given little credit for her contributions to the IJN, or for her role in the Pacific War. She, in fact, was incredibly useful to the Japanese, and gave great service in the one year of war service  that she completed before being sunk. I would urge everyone reading this review to just follow the link above and take just one minute to review her history after December 7th, 1941. That, or even read her war service record in her Wikipedia entry (here). The number of activities she was involved in is very impressive, even if not as glamorous as most of the other warships of the IJN. 

The Kit
At least 40, if not 45, years have passed since Hasegawa’s first release of this class in 1/700 kit form. As with most of the other styrene plastic ship kit manufacturers, Hasegawa has kept pace with both the use of newly available reference material and injection molding technology to produce a new pair of kits that are a vast improvement over the original kits, and are quite current in their level of detail and finish. 

The kit is molded in a light gray plastic that is hard and clean, with no soft or greasy aspects.  (Personal observation: while all the Japanese ship manufacturers use similar styrene, it has always appeared to me that Hasegawa’s styrene is always a tad harder than the others, just like Tamiya’s is always a darker blue-gray, much like Kure gray. That remains true for this kit.) The detailing of features is sharp and nicely defined for 1/700.  The scaling of these same features is also extremely good in almost all respects. 

One oddity of the sprues is that several hold only a handful of parts, yet these sprues are attached to still other sprues, thereby acting to minimize the overall number of sprues. I will describe the sprues in terms of whichever sprue appears dominant.  The kit comes with several alternate parts, which would enable the modeler to choose among a handful of different fits. 

Hull (Sprues A & B)
The hull is crisply molded in two halves, and dominates these two sprues. Details include a degaussing cable (which means the hull is really only appropriate for 1941 and later fits), porthole eyebrows that may be even finer than those seen recently on the new PitRoad Shimakaze kit, and some finely recessed plating seams. The seams are subtle in nature and do not have the effect of appearing over-scale, as do some more correctly molded raised plating bands as seen on other kits.

Surprisingly, there are also molded-on anchors in their respective hawseholes. I will say that the details and relief of the anchors seem as nice as any separately molded anchor versions out there. There is enough depth in the relief to make it seem as if the anchors were added on separately. Some nicely formed mooring bits are also included towards the bow and stern. There are locater pins and holes at the bow and stern, along with mounting points inside the hull halves for stiffeners.

The hull scales out exceptionally well. Tenryu’s particulars versus the scale and kit:
Overall Length: 142.65m/468’   1/700 OA length: 203.79mm Kit OA length:  203.5mm
Waterline Length: 139.29m/456’9” 1/700 WL length: 199mm Kit WL length: 200.5mm
Beam: 12.35m/40’6” 1/700 Beam: 17.65mm Kit Beam: 18mm

The stated waterline length that I list above is questionable. That length is based on figures obtained from several references that would seem to corroborate one another. However, the kit waterline at the bow captures the bow curve correctly. Decreasing the WL length to match the stated figure would increase the curve at the bow, which then would not appear to be correct in profile. I lean toward the possibility that the stated figure(s) for the class that I obtained are not correct.

Sprue A & Sprue F

Aside from the port side hull half, the sprue holds all three funnels molded in two halves. Some auxiliary piping and grab rails are molded on. Additional piping, the jack staffs, and an AA bandstand for the 25mm mounts are also included.  The AA platform has very nicely scaled and detailed tread plate on its surface, as well as several 25mm ammo boxes.

Sprue B & Sprue G

Besides the starboard hull half, this sprue contains yet another AA bandstand for 25mm mounts, some ship’s boats, the forecastle deck, and three internal hull stiffeners. The forecastle has the usual molded on anchor chain, capstans, mooring bits and some plate seam lines, but the scaling is very fine, as is the detail itself.  Ditto my remarks above about the AA platform.

The stiffeners are not simple, one piece transverse bulkheads. Instead, they are short-sided, box- like structures with open tops, and two attachment points per side to enable being set into each hull half. Their bases look to fit on top of the separate waterline plate. They are clearly meant to be rigid and non-torquing. These are a definite improvement over the typical single plane hull stiffener. 

The motor launches have recessed planking lines for their decks and sharply molded deckhouses. I suppose now is a good time to point out that Hasegawa has chosen not to include either of the small or large IJN vessel equipment accessory sets that typically come with kits produced by members of the Waterline Consortium.  Instead, Hasegawa has chosen to provide new parts as specifically needed for these new Tenryu/Tatsuta kits. 

Sprue A
Sprue A & B full
Sprue A & B hull only
Sprue A crop
Sprue B
Sprue B close up
Sprue C
The waterline plate is affixed to this sprue, as are the sides for both the midship and aft deckhouses. Also included is the roof of the midship deckhouse (upon which rests the three funnels), the three funnel grill plates, two 9m launches, and a couple of other deckhouse related details.

The waterline plate is standard in nature, with a recessed lip to fit under the edge of the hull in typical fashion. It is likely that some filler will be required to eliminate the seam. The top of the plate has raised ridges to hold a metal counterweight in place. However, my kit did not come with a weight. I don’t know if this was in error or not. 

After a closer examination of the hull halves and waterline plate, it seems that the stiffener boxes came in as a late improvement to the kit, maybe after some test prototypes were run. There are slots molded into both the sides of the hull and the waterline plate which suggest that simple transverse stiffener plates were originally planned on, to fit into the slots. I’m guessing these proved inadequate or unworkable, and the stiffener boxes were worked into the mold, with no room for the weight. This is just a musing on my part, though.

The deckhouse siding is very nicely detailed and scaled.  The hatches have sharply defined edges and hatch dogs.  There are some nice intake grills and equipment boxes as well. The middeck has roof also has some finely scaled grab rails molded on top of several projections. 

The funnel grills have been molded in an interesting fashion. At first glance, they look to follow the usual practice in 1/700, that of molded grills on top of a solid plate that is then placed on top of, or just inset into the top of a funnel.  While that remains fundamentally true, these pieces have a thin, raised lip all around the perimeter of the top plate, and the “grills” are actually sizably recessed within this piece. Upon closer inspection, the grills do not have any cross-hatched members, only raised lines running from side to side. So, in fact, what we have here is not a funnel grill plate, but rather, internal funnel baffle plates. So, technically speaking, the funnel tops will still need an aftermarket grill top for proper effect, yet the baffle plates will appear to be just that to the casual observer.  It’s ingenious, and reflects some clever detailing on the part of Hasegawa. 

Sprue C
Sprue C left
Sprue C right
Sprue D
This sprue holds most of the deck pieces:  main, forecastle, and the roof for the aft gunhouse.  It also holds the main mast, bridge base halves and compass bridge deck.  As with the rest of the kit, the details are sharply molded and scaled, particularly the linoleum tie-downs on the decks. Single roll-off depth charge cradles are visible at the stern, along with mine rails and the usual bits of assorted deck equipment, including some molded on hawser reels. 

The rest of the decks are relatively uncluttered.  The bridge parts are very sharp in the corners. There is the usual bridge roof with recessed bridge window molded to it. While very small, the windows could be cut away and replace with PE frames, if done carefully. The mast top has a masthead signal light (probably the standard IJN 2kw light) molded on, with the smallest of delineation lines. This is another very nice, almost unnoticeable, detail. 

Sprue D
Sprue D closeup
Sprue J
K Sprue x 2
These are essentially the replacement for the generic weapons and equipment accessory sprues that the waterline consortium kits have been carrying for years.  That practice seems to be changing, at least for Hasegawa with its last few releases.  Now, the sprues are smaller and contain only new parts specific to this kit and class. Included are new twin 25mm AA mounts (2), new 14cm guns (2) and shields (2), two types of davits, one triple 21 inch torpedo mount, paravane, RDF antenna, 1.5m rangefinder, a 13mm machine gun and some storage box covers.

 The 14cm guns are beautiful, particularly for styrene – properly scaled and tapered barrels, with nice detailing on areas surrounding the base and breech housing .  I find them superior in appearance to the versions seen with the (relatively) new 1/700 Aoshima  5,500 ton CL kits, or the Tamiya Abukuma kit. In fact, my eye seems continually drawn to them.

However, the recoil tubes appear to be either missing or greatly scaled down, but that’s probably because they will be hidden by the semi-turret shields that surround all but the breach of the gun. This is not unique to the Hasegawa kit; this depiction is shared by the earlier versions from the other manufacturers. The shields for the guns are also sharply formed.

The 25mm guns are also an improvement over past efforts. While not as finely detailed as those from either the FineMolds NanoDread series or the Pit-Road Ne series, they are superior to the standard mounts seen on the WL consortium equipment sets. Sadly, you get only the two per sprue. 

Like the other parts on the sprue, the unshielded Type 6 53cm (21”) triple mount is nicely rendered. Personally, I find the spacing between the tubes a hair too wide, and the overall length a hair too short, but they will sit fine on the Tenryu deck.  The davits and paravane are also worthy of mention in terms of sharp detailing. 

Sprue K
Sprues J, L, N, Q, R, & S 
These come attached to one of the K sprues, and are best handled together. Q (davit), R (13mm single MG) & S (davit) have all been covered. L & N carry the upper yardarms for the fore and main masts. The version on N is an alternate yardarm for Tenryu to the one carried on D.  When used, it depicts Tenryu in her wartime fit.  Again, the yardarms and mast show a subtle taper, and the aforementioned masthead signal lights.

Sprue J holds the other pieces for the foremast: tripod foreleg and trailing legs, the star shaped main top, which includes the main yardarm, and the lookout enclosure. There’s also a rangefinder for the bridge, a specialized set of davits, and a small number of other bits. All are well formed. Also, there are two alternative searchlights carried respectively on J & L.  The one on J depicts the version used during Tenryu’s wartime service. 

Sprues J, K, Q, R, S, N, L
Sprues L & N
Sprues Q, R, & S
The kit comes with a small, beautifully registered decal sheet with both Tenryu and Tatsuta’s name rendered in both Japanese and English, which are good for a nameplate or even the bottom of the waterline plate. There are several Imperial Japanese navy ensigns with the Rising Son, and ship’s names in several sizes for both the stern of the ships and, in a nice, accurate touch, the ship’s boats.  Names are included for both ships of the class. Segmented black bridge windows and draft markings are also included. decals
This consists of one large sheet printed front and back, then folded. The front portrays the usual b & w reprint of the cover art, a brief ship’s history in Japanese and English, plan and line drawing views with color callouts for painting, and some guidelines to assembly. The back has a step-by-step progression of assembly using exploded, three point perspective illustrations.  The illustrations do highlight the use of different pieces for various fits, including the July, 1942 AA upgrade, and changes to the location of the ship’s boats and davits at various times. 
Instructions front Instructions back
Final thoughts and Conclusion 
I suppose a personal confession is in order at this point. I have always given the Tenryu class sisters short shrift in my purview of the Imperial Japanese Navy.  I was never that interested in them, or drawn to them in any historical or aesthetic sense.  I also have the sense that my lack of regard for them is shared by many who have an interest in the IJN or the Pacific War. After all, how many builds of these sisters have appeared in the MW build threads and galleries?

Not many, as I recall.  Or, perhaps it’s not the ships themselves as much as the kits that have been available of them. Simplistic might be the kindest description possible of the original kits.

Still, there has always been a small core of modelers and naval historians that do hold the torch for these ships. Well, those few should take heart. This is a very nicely executed kit with subtle details that are a light year leap in quality from the original. Any kit that gets you to delve into the history of the actual entity and reconsider one’s opinion, as I did, is worthy of attention and this new Tenryu kit is no exception. 

Thanks to Hobbico Model Distributors for the review sample. They are your US distributors for Hasegawa. Suggested MSRP appears to be $27.99

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