Yamashita Hobby 1/700
IJN Fubuki Type I Destroyer “Fubuki”, Kit # NV1 
Reviewed November 2015
by Dan Kaplan 
The Fubuki class of destroyers was a new, enlarged Japanese destroyer design that emerged in the wake of the naval disarmament treaties of the early 1920s. They were meant to be a key component of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s doctrine of whittling down an opposing (i.e. the USN) navy, through long range engagement of massed torpedo attacks, particularly at night, prior to the engagement of the capital ships.
To repeat what I wrote in the 2011 review of the 1/350 FineMolds Ayanami kit, the Fubuki type destroyer (known as the Toku-gata, or Special Type, in Japanese naval parlance) was revolutionary in naval design, given its greater size and armament versus other navies’ destroyers at the time of its introduction in 1929. The design packaged three twin 5 inch mounts in enclosed turrets, a heavy battery of nine 24” torpedoes with reloads, long range and a high speed in a powerful package whose destructive broadside outmatched anything comparable of that time, including most navies’ light cruisers. Ship specifications and a reasonably accurate background on the class are available on our CASF Fubuki thread:

There were three groupings, known as the Special Type I, Type II and Type III.

Brief History
Fubuki  was the lead ship of her class, and of the Type Is. She was built at Maizuru Naval Dockyard.  Launched on November 15, 1927, she was commissioned into service on August, 10, 1928. She was assigned to Destroyer Division 11 with three sisters, and served with Destroyer Squadron 3, attached to the First Fleet.  Along with her many sisters, she participated in multiple operations off the Chinese coast during the 1930’s in support of Japanese forces, and received an extensive refit and modernization in 1936.

For the first few months of the Pacific war beginning in December, 1941, she and her division supported operations and landings throughout Southeast Asia.  She participated in the Battle of Endau as well as the Battle of Sunda Strait. More escort operations followed, including the accompaniment of the Japanese Main Body during the Battle of Midway.

DesDiv 11 was enroute to the Indian Ocean for a raiding foray when the United States landed troops on Guadalcanal and Tulagi in early August, 1942. By late August, DesDiv 11 was involved in the Guadalcanal campaign; at first, escorting troop convoys between Truk and Rabaul, then finally engaging in gunfire support, interdiction, and troop transport missions to Guadalcanal itself. Fubuki participated in eleven such missions in less than five weeks time.

On October 11-12, 1942, she and sister Hatsuyuki were direct escorts to Cruiser Division 6 heavy cruisers Aoba, Kinugasa, Furutaka, and Kako on a night mission to bombard Henderson Airfield on Guadalcanal.  Enroute, they unexpectedly ran into a USN cruiser-destroyer group that badly battered the Japanese force.  Fubuki was raked at close range by fire from numerous US heavy cruisers and sank quickly.  Only 109 of her crew survived.

The Kit
Until the release of this kit, 1/700 Fubuki class destroyers were only offered by Tamiya and Pit-Road.  Tamiya’s tooling was the only such offering for over thirty years, until Pit-Road came out with its own versions about ten years ago.   Pit-Road’s offerings are a significant improvement over the Tamiya kits, offering greatly improved accuracy and detail for all versions, but particularly the Type II and III groups.

Still, both company’s offerings have some significant flaws. Either for reasons of economy, or lack of adequate references, or both, Tamiya chose to utilize the same hull for all three Fubuki Types. While no single hull could have accommodated all three versions, they chose the short forecastle version which represents only some of the Type I ships, and virtually none of the others.   Doing so led to compromises with the appearance of the later Type ship kits.  The aft deckhouse was also incorrect, as were several smaller details, along with an overall lack of fine detailing that was typical of kits at that time.

The Pit-Road kits improved on the hull issues by providing proper hulls for both the short and long forecastle Type I ships as well as the long forecastle hull for the Type II and III ships. Likewise, a proper aft deckhouse was provided for, along with a host of more accurate parts and assemblies, and fine overall detailing. 

Despite their great improvement over the Tamiya kits, Pit-Road’s Fubuki kits still have their share of issues. They compromised on the shape of the funnel intakes to equip the Type II & Type III ships, but with a shape that really serves neither that well. Their deck equipment layouts match the ships as originally built, not as they were refit and appeared during the Pacific War. The bridge bases for the Type III ships are a few millimeters too short.  There are other issues as well, but perhaps most egregious lapse was the complete omission of proper funnels for the Type I ships, something that Tamiya had managed fairly well three decades earlier. 

Into this accuracy gap between the two manufacturers has stepped Yamashita Hobby. Yamashita Hobby is a relatively new, small Japanese model kit manufacturer that occupies a very specialized niche in 1/700 IJN modeling.  Branching out from its start with precision modeling tools, it has broadened its offerings by producing upgraded, high quality, highly detailed versions of select 1/700 IJN ship based weapons and equipment in styrene plastic.  This is not too dissimilar from what FineMolds (NanoDread series) and Pit-Road (NE series) has done as of recent, though Yamashita’s choices have been to either improve on or to fill in where neither of the two larger companies has gone.

It seems clear that Yamashita has chosen to exploit the gap in offerings for an accurate 1/700 Fubuki Type I kit. This kit is a logical step in their growth, offering an entirely new kit to satisfy a poorly executed class of ship. 

Straight out of the box, this kit can be built as Fubuki, Shirayuki, Shinomone, Usugumo, or Shirakumo 
The fit out-of-the-box is immediate pre-war and early war fit through the end of 1942.  Additional modifications would be needed to build it into a late war kit for Usugumo or Shirakumo, the only two sisters to survive long enough to get the full refits of 1943.

Hull Sprue
The kit comes with a one piece hull, cleanly molded with very sharp details including portholes, porthole eyebrows, properly shaped anchor recesses, and subtle raised seam lines for plating. While still overscale (as are all kits with this detail), I’d say the eyebrows are as suitably subtle as can be. There is no degaussing cable, so the kit can be built in immediate pre-war mode, or one can add a degaussing cable for a wartime fit. All injection points come from one sprue runner attached under the hull. 

The beauty of the kit hull is marred by a couple of issues, one of them significant.

The primary problem is that the hull hogs noticeably; on my kit it was close to 1.5mm in the middle.  On closer examination, with various portions of the hull bottom fitted against a flat edge, it seems the hogging begins where the forecastle breaks down to the main deck (approx. 1/3 way back from bow) and continues back to the stern to a point where the very stern deck is covered by treaded plate. Part of the problem may be that the hull sides are a bit on the thin side when compared to other destroyer kits, so the hull cannot keep its form on its own.  This distressing problem was not limited to my kit. I visually confirmed it with a second kit, and a third kit was so confirmed by another board member. 

The hogging won’t be a big problem for those who affix the hull to a stand or diorama plate. However, it will be for someone like me, who prefers to display the kits in a standalone fashion.  Truthfully, a satisfactory fix is not immediately evident to me. The main deck does not appear to be sturdy enough to remedy the problem on its own when glued together to the hull, even after using weights to hold it down while the glue dries. I suppose that a very stiff bar like a waterline weight might work if glued down with CA cement. Perhaps a better solution will eventually appear after enough folks have built the kit. (Updated 10/25:  1) another board member has reported attempting a fix using a stiff metal plate epoxied to the hull and clamped until dry, with no success; 2) a Japanese modeling website has suggested notching the hull out itself, which seems promising but requires a very delicate touch, particularly given both the thinness of the hull siding and the plate seam details.) 

A secondary issue is that the lower portion of the bow as it approaches the waterline is erroneous in profile. The kit profile line enters the water in near vertical fashion when, in fact, it should show more of a curve as it enters the water.  The profile can be easily corrected with some sanding, but doing so would create a third problem, that of eliminating the raised hull plating lines that wrap around the bow. This would be technically more correct, as the plating at the bow wrapped around either side and showed no seam lines at the bow itself.  However, one would have to show a very carefully delineation between the seams and the area around the bow. 

The hull scales out exceptionally well, excepting for extra length at the waterline due to the profile error. Fubuki’s particulars versus the scale and kit:
Overall Length: 118.41m/388.5’ 1/700 OA length:   169.16mm Kit OA length: 169.25mm
Waterline Length: 115.3m/378’  1/700 WL length: 164.7mm Kit WL length: 165.7mm
Beam:  10.4m/34’1” 1/700 Beam: 14.85mm  Kit Beam:  15mm

Click images
to enlarge
YH700T-1 Sprue
This large sprue carries the forecastle deck, the right and left housing for the funnels & forward engine room air intakes, funnel grills, air intake grills, the third set of air intakes, the torpedo reload gantries that are positioned to either side of funnel #1, the compass bridge deck and roof, and assorted platforms. Most everything is finely detailed and sharply molded.

The forecastle deck is extremely well done, showing the turtleback sides at the decks edge, the spurnwaters running to either side, the base site for # 1 mount, treaded deck plate around the anchor deck, bollards, boat chocks, molded on anchor chain, and linoleum tie-down strips. It appears to be very accurate for a Type I.

Funnel #s 1 and 2 have been molded as part of the air intake housing and torpedo mount platform that sits on the main deck. Unlike the other Fubuki kits, this is a separate assembly from the deck, which will greatly aid the painting of the main deck with minimal effort as no laborious taping off of this structure will be necessary. As with the rest of the kit, the parts are sharply molded with good detail, including the prominent raised seams that cover the air intakes. Similarly, grab rails for the funnels are there, too. 

The great news about the funnels is that they are properly sized and shaped, specifically for the Type I ships. Yamashita even went so far as to include a slightly widened lip band at the top of the funnels, something unique to the Type I versions. It’s a hard to notice detail on the real ships without a close-up of the funnel, so this enhancement is probably a bit overscale on the kit, but it really doesn’t bother me. I see it as a sign of Yamashita’s commitment to detail.

However, what I do find very puzzling, and a bit detracting, is their decision to include the auxiliary funnel piping by molding them onto the funnel itself.  Virtually all other kit makers mold these details separately, and to good effect. In fact, they’ve done so for decades. The piping itself is finely wrought.

The disappointment with this choice becomes more apparent as you view the funnels from above, directly forward, or from directly aft of the funnels, particularly with #2 funnel. The molded on aspect of the piping juts out as a solid block of plastic, at total odds with the detailing of the rest of kit. I suppose that with a steady hand and a good scribing tool, these pipes can be made to appear as if they were kitted separately from the funnel. 

Onto the compass bridge deck, where the interior of the compass deck has molded pedestals for binoculars and the compass binnacle, all together on a raised platform. It will greatly aid anyone who looks to detail the interior of the bridge, particularly with open PE framing for bridge windows.  The piece for the roof of this position is molded equally well, with another pedestal for the open observation tub on top. 

YH700T-4 Sprue
Here is carried the top and sides to the aft deck house, the aft emergency conning position and engine room ventilators, the torpedo reload access doors & bays for either side of funnel #2’s base,  a portion of the bridge base superstructure, jack staffs, some ship’s boats, the crow’s nest, and the mainmast.

Again, everything is finely detailed and properly scaled. The torpedo bay access hatches are clearly defined and shaped, a detail that is clearly lacking in all the other Fubuki class kits. The mainmast is incredibly fine, maybe the truest to scale that I’ve seen in 1/700 for a Japanese destroyer, with molded on detail.  It could probably support stretched sprue, but nothing more.   The motor launches are also scaled nicely, though somewhat devoid of detail

YH700-4 Sprue for Main Deck
Like the forecastle deck, it is beautifully detailed, in scale.  Metal treading and linoleum tie-downs cover the deck, with assorted hatches and equipment boxes. Torpedo trolley rails and mine rails are raised, but incredibly fine. The mine rails at the stern are parallel to the axis of the hull, and not splayed out as seen in the Pit-Road kits. There is a base for the aft deckhouse.

The deck is a beautiful piece that fits nicely into the hull with two large locator pins.  However, it’s on the thin side and I don’t see it as doing much in the way of helping to maintain a flat hull

YH700-GA x 2
A small sprue that carries two Type A turrets and four 12.7cm barrels with blast bags.  The turrets are beautifully detailed and highly comparable to the newly released versions from Pit-Road on their NE-07 set.  The same can be said of the barrels and blast bags. One important difference is the access door(s) at the rear of the turret used to facilitate ejected shells.  The Pit-Road kit depicts two separate doors, as was standard on the later model turrets, but the Yamashita turret is actually more correct with a single door for the Type A turret.   The Yamashita turret is also slightly larger than the NE07 version, but I’m uncertain as to which is more correct in that respect. YH700-GA
YH700  T1-2
Another small sprue, this one holds the two primary sides of the bridge base, some supports, the main director housing, and the foreleg and rear leg tripod for the foremast. The detailing is fine and correctly scaled, making the details a little smaller and harder to see than what one normally sees in 1/700.  The bridge base halves have portholes, a grab rail, a hatchway door, and assorted projections. The director had detailed access doors. The foremast is much like the mainmast – true to scale, rendering it very thin, with molded on pulley projects on the yardarms. In terms of rigging, it would only be able to support stretched sprue.  YH700T-1-Sprue
YH700T-1-Sprue-funnels-end- YH700T-1-Sprue-left YH700T-1-Sprue-right
YH700T4 x 2
At this point, it goes without saying that Yamashita’s sprue coding is both repetitive and confusing. Included here are the triple torpedo tube housings, mounts, and tubes, boat davits, torpedo and depth charge davits, depth charge rack, Y-thrower for the depth charges, ship’s 7m cutters, single 13mm AA, anchors, depth charge, rangefinders, 

The breakdown and detail of the torpedo tubes is on a par, if not superior, to the Fubuki class version issued by Pit-Road in its NE07 equipment set. In fact, the relief on the depth charge rack is superior to that of any of Pit-Road’s versions.  However, replacement by a photo etch version is still preferable, in my opinion.

YH700P6 x2
This is a small sprue of deck accessories. Each includes three sizes of hawser reels, two deck winches, and several sizes of both regular and storm mushroom vents.  What is extremely notable is the scale and sizing of these parts; smaller and finer than anything previously offered in styrene, resin, or brass, save for some of the smallest mushroom vents available in brass. In some ways, for 1/700 IJN builders, this might be the most exciting sprue of all because it is also being sold separately.

For anyone who ever chiseled off the molded-on deck reels on the waterline kits and then wondered why all the better detailed replacements seemed so much larger, the answer is that no one was willing, or able, to mold them small enough to be in scale with any reasonable detail. The same can be said of the mushroom vents.  That is, until now. These pieces are fantastic, but incredibly tiny.  Be forewarned; the carpet monster is waiting!

This is a sprue of clear plastic. Included are a single piece insert for the bridge windows, port and starboard running lights, a 90cm searchlight and  four 30cm signal lights (you only need two of them).Once again, everything is to scale, which means carpet monster eligible. I will say that the FineMolds version of the 90cm searchlight is still more detailed YH700P7
None. This was a little surprising as I expected a Japanese naval flag at the least. Fortunately, there are several aftermarket alternatives, which is what Yamashita may be depending on – savvy modelers.
This consists of one large sheet printed front and back, then folded into several panels. The front portrays the usual b & w reprint of the cover art and a brief ship’s history in Japanese, plan and line drawing views with color callouts for painting, the sprue/parts breakdown, and some guidelines to assembly. The back has a step-by-step progression of assembly using exploded, three point perspective illustrations. 

I will say that Yamashita did take care to list the sprue number next to every part number, which helps greatly to eliminate confusion. 

Final thoughts and conclusion
If my descriptions haven’t already made it apparent, then let me say that the attention to fine detail and scale in this kit is very noteworthy. The detailing is very sharp, though some will find it hard to notice at times because the kit clearly tries hard to be true to its scale and, as a result, the detailing is tiny at times.  In this regard, the Yamashita offering is closer to the Aoshima philosophy on scale as opposed to Pit-Road or Fujimi. Yet the detail fidelity is certainly is as good, or better, than those from any of the other manufacturers.

Has Yamashita produced a proper Fubuki Type I in 1/700? Almost. The class specific details are there but this is one of those instances where, unfortunately, the sum of the parts doesn’t quite add up to a superior model. I think the hull hogging issue detracts from the overall impact of the model. Again, this won’t be a problem for those who tend to affix their hulls to a flat surface, so, yes, it will prove to be a superior model for them. Perhaps not as much for the rest of us, I think. 

Kit courtesy of my wallet, form Hobbylink Japan. I don’t think these are yet on sale in the US, but the cost at HLJ was approximately US$10.50, plus shipping. 

More of Dan Kaplan 's work.
Updated 11/01/2015

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