Fujimi 1/700 Aircraft Carrier Kaga,
Three Deck Configuration
Reviewed December 2018
by Christopher Martens
Kaga was laid down as one of the two Tosa-class battleship through Japan's "Eight-Eight" strategy. Though Kaga was intended to originally meet her sister's fate as a target ship, the loss of the Amagi's hull for carrier conversion. Kaga was commissioned as a carrier in 1928, and maintained this strange, three-deck arrangement until 1933 when she was substantially rebuilt to better accommodate heavier aircraft then coming into service. Although it is often assumed that the Japanese copied early Royal Navy carrier design, it is far more likely a case of convergent evolution, with both navies visualizing a setup where aircraft could be simultaneously launched and recovered during air operations.

Kaga saw some action in this configuration during the Shanghai Incident with Japan's first purpose-built carrier, Hosho. It was during this missions that three of Kaga's Nakajima A1N2 Fighters engaged Chinese-affiliated forces and shot down an American volunteer in a Boeing P-12. Following this, she resumed fleet training exercises.

Newer aircraft and need for additional speed led to the Japanese Navy concluding that both Kaga and Akagi needed substantial reconstruction. Given her slower speed, shorter flight deck, and problematic funnel arrangement, the former was given priority, which lasted from October 1933 until her recommissioning in 1935. Kaga returned to the fleet as a front-line carrier until her loss at Midway due to a combination of American bombs and poor Japanese damage control facilities and practices.

Measurements with those provided in "Kaga 1920-1942 The Japanese Aircraft Carrier" scale accurately with the Fujimi kit, with excellent detail of her armor belt, scuttles, and assorted piping. Of particular note are square portholes on her starboard side, which are also present in photographs of the vessel from 1928. The casemates and other structural features of the hull are molded crisply and shaped correctly. The hull, especially in this configuration, really gives the sense of a battleship's repurposed hull. The bottom hull is relatively featureless, but does appear to be correctly shaped. 
Given the strange configuration and somewhat varying quality of these parts, I'll break this review up into several sections.
The major horizontal parts come on Sprue J and, overall, contain excellent, crisp detail. 
  • The large (landing) deck appears well-detailed, though Fujimi could have provided the butt ends of the plancks. 
  • Foredeck is well-detailed with crisp anchor chain. Even the cable reels have delinated "cable" detail. 
  • The uh, 8" gun deck is the weakness of this sprue. There is no deck/plate/grating detail at all, though it does appear that this decking was simply metal plate. Photos in my reference book and the Internet aren't definitive
  • Forward take off deck has molded-on decking in the same spirit as the landing deck. Again, butt ends would have made this perfect. There appears to be a molded-on hanger door that could definitely have used more detail.
Sprue C: 
  • Kaga's curious funnels are molded well. Detail appears light, but the actual funnels didn't have much, based on photos. There are some pin release points that will require filling.
Sprue L: 
  • This sprue contains many of Kaga's support and AAA platforms. Detail is good, though some of the beams would do well replaced by the (included) photo etching. Grating is crisply molded.
Sprue K:
  • Contains the aft hanger access, miscellanous platforms, and sections of Kaga's decking. Support structures are thin and detailed and excellently molded. 
  • Parts (1) and (2) contain a smattering of what appears to be rangefinding equipment, which is a nice touch.
  • The aft flight deck supports, (13), are very well done. 
Sprue B:
  • Likely much-needed internal supports. Definitely ensure that you're keeping track of what part numbers are on this sprue when attaching. Many of the cylinder lengths are very close to each other. Messing up order could result in a misshapen build.
Sprue Q:
  • This sprue had additional stiffening plastic and the ship's props and shafts. 
  • Rudders are nicely detailed.
  • Props are the correct shape.
These sprues contain the usual high quality boat and launch offerings from Fujimi. Detail is definitely good for this scale, though I'm sure some modelers will add aftermarket goodies to drive themselves insane.
Fujimi included a nice little stand for those of you who want to full-hull her. 
Kaga's AAA, case mate guns, and... 8" main armament are present on these sprue along with other various masts, anchors, and support structures. There are even additional boats.
  • 8" Turrets are molded well, but the included photo etch simply takes them to another level.
  • The 4.7 in 45-caliber 10th Year Type Model A2 gun mounts are extremely well-molded.
  • Various radio antennae are present on these sprues. For plastic, they're nice, but I strongly suggest aftermarket replacements for a more accurate, delicate look. 
  • The two launches are extremely detailed, their wood hulls clearly evident. 
Fujimi included three sprues of two aircraft each:
  • Nakajima A1N2 Fighter
  • Mitsubishi C1M Reconnaissance Aircraft
  • Mitsubishi B1M Torpedo Bomber 
Molding on these aircraft sprue is both lighter and extremely good. I suspect that if you wish, you could supplement this wing with Hasegawa's biplane set. For plastic, the cables stabilizing the aircraft wing are molded well, but I'd definitely use the included photo etch. 
Fujimi thought to include the accessory photo etch set with this kit. Per usual, the detail is incredible and will add a lot to the model. The relief etching on the turrets alone simply blows my mind. Fujimi also felt generous enough to include two more pieces of the turret top PE. I could not discern why, but they will be going into my spares box. If I were to provide one bit of criticism, it's that the support cables for the planes are entirely too thick. There isn't much difference between it and the plastic options.
The decal set includes three different colors for the aft flight deck, all markings, and the aircraft insignias. Fujimi included a marking and painting guide to assist in construction. 
The instructions are provided on one single, long sheet. They're easy to follow and extraordinarily clear on parts placement. If you plan to use the included PE, I'd suggest ensuring that you properly plan your build, independently of the provided instructions.
Pre-war Japanese subjects are getting more and more common. The three-deck configuration of the Kaga is both curious and an incredible example of the pre-war evolution that carrier design was undergoing as nations attempted to figure out precisely what to do with naval airpower. Model wise, the Kaga would build nicely out of the box, though included photo etch adds a lot to the scale and detail present on the plastic. The ability to build either full hull or water line, depending on your choice of display, is nice. 

Given my love of both bizarre designs and pre-war vessels, this early Kaga comes highly recommended. This is Fujimi 1/700 IJN Aircraft Carrier Kaga Triple Deck Full-Hull Model DX with a retail price of $44.56 USD. Click here to see the latest sale price. 

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