Building the
IJN Shinano
in 1/250 Scale
by Noel Carpio and Jun Villalon
A Bit of a History

Named after the Japanese province Shinano, the IJN Shinano was initially built to be the 3rd Yamato-class battle ship of the Nihon Kaigun (Imperial Japanese Navy).  When the Japanese realized the importance of aircraft cover in its previous naval battles, they switched her construction from battleship to aircraft carrier - that is why it used the Yamato-like hull.  It was to be the largest Aircraft Carrier in World War II with a total capacity of 71,890 tons. It was to serve both as an Aircraft Carrier and a supply vessel for the Imperial Japanese forces in the Pacific Theater.

Click the images
below to enlarge
In November 28, 1944, the Shinano was declared ready for sea trials.  It set sail bringing with her 2,515 officers, crew, 40 civilian employees and 300 construction workers to witness the event.  Unfortunately for the Shinano, she was spotted by an American submarine - the USS Archerfish (SS-311) commanded by Joseph F. Enright.  Contradicting US Naval Intelligence, only Captain Enright believed that a carrier as large as the Shinano was being built and on that day he proved himself right. He launched 6 torpedoes to the Shinano where 4 of them hit her to stop her dead in mid-sea. In panic, the people on board the Shinano abandoned ship.  The three escort destroyers started saving them instead of hunting the USS Archerfish.  After only 17 hours at sea, the Shinano sunk and took with her 1,435 officers, sailors and civilians to her grave without a single shot fired or a single plane launched.
When I bought the Shinano for almost $200, I thought that it would be a good kit.  I convinced Jun Villalon, a close friend of mine, to help me build this kit since I didn't have much time to finish it before our scheduled IPMS exhibit in June, 2001. 

The kit had many flaws. The plastic used for the antennae were too brittle that the kit had some parts broken upon opening of the box. The deck was about 1/8Ē longer than the hull and the support trusses.  Due to this, we had to do extensive refitting to make the deck fit without sacrificing accuracy and aesthetics.  The guns did not fit with the turrets well and the planes were too few for a kit this large (It had only 12 planes and one of them had to be placed on the elevators!).  The kit instructions were purely pictorial.  No words were used to explain the assembly - which made assembly even more complicated.  The parts and the sprues were not numbered so you will have to depend on the diagram printed on the instruction guide (which wasnít very clearly printed).  The one thing that impressed me was the scale of the ship.
Jun and I spent 2 months building the Shinano.  That is about 3 to 4 hours each day, 5 days a week on the average.  We sanded off the plastic railings off the entire walkway as well as the balconies under the deck and replaced them with GMM's 1/200 scale generic brass photoetch railings.  We decided that it was the closest scale to available in the after-market and it made the kit look impressive.  We placed photo-etched railings on the superstructure.  We sliced off the elevator - which looked like a miniaturized swimming pool.  The kit intended the elevator to be used as the switch for the props (the kit is motorized).  The kit had a gearbox, stainless-steel props, wires and a switch to go with it. We scratch-built a portion of the hangar so it can be seen when the elevator is down.  We hope to mold more planes later so we can fill the hangar with more planes.
 Since I work for our own printing press, we used old lead plates (the kind you use in offset printing) instead of styrene sheets to scratch build the hangar.  It was easier to use these plates since it was easier to cut, bend/twist and shape. It was also smooth so painting it was never a problem. We detailed the planes by adding gun barrels and antennae in the wings and the rear of the canopies and a thin stretched sprue for the wire connecting it to the tail.
We painted the Zeros with IJN Green and IJN Grey using Hasegawa and internet provided information.  The Judy's were painted similarly.  The wings had yellow markings at the front and painted the rudders with the appropriate wing markings.
We painted the deck with 4 parts Tamiya Light Gray and 1 part Tamiya Flat Black acrylic.  We painted the body of the ship with Aeromasterís IJN Green and Model Masterís IJN Dark Green.  We had to look at Tamiya's 1/700 scale painting instructions and box art to arrive with the correct camouflage pattern.  The kit doesn't have painting instructions.
We then used Tamiya Hull Red for the hull and Gold for the props. We used light gray pastels to highlight the railings.  When the painting was completed, we over-sprayed it with Humbrolís Matte Cote.  Remember that the ship is relatively new when it went to sea and was sunk so weathering was not really required here. After that we washed the corners, guns/turrets and hull details with diluted black oil paint to highlight the few details it had.  When it was dry (over 24-hours!), we over-sprayed it again with Matte Coat since the oils have a tendency to become semi-glossed when dry.
We provided a base for the Shinano and had a separate plate done.  The plate provided by the kit is misspelled "Sinano" - so that had to end up in the trash. 

We think that the Shinano we built was ready for the exhibit.  But to our standards, we still feel we have to add more planes.  We are also looking at molding some resin figures later.  If we do that, we will add the pics to this page.

Ship : Imperial Japanese Navy Carrier SHINANO
Scale : 1/250
Kit : Doyusha
Builders : Noel Carpio and Jun Villalon,  IPMS Philippines