Yamashita Hobby 1/700
IJN Fubuki Type III Destroyer ďHibikiĒ Kit # NV2 

by Dan Kaplan
Revewed October 2016
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 Navyís doctrine of whittling down an opposing navy (i.e. the USN), 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 naviesí 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 24Ē torpedoes with reloads, long range and a high speed in a powerful package whose destructive broadside outmatched anything comparable of that time, including most naviesí light cruisers. Ship specifications and a reasonably accurate background on the entire class is available on our CASF Fubuki thread: http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=39642

There were three groupings, known as the Special Type I, Type II and Type III.  (The groupings are also referred to by the name of the lead ship in each group, respectively:  Fubuki, Ayanami & Akatsuki classes.)  Each subsequent group saw incremental improvements in their main armament turrets, torpedo reload equipment, engine room arrangements, and command facilities. The final group of Type III ships was also intended to include twelve ships, similar to the earlier groups.  However, Japanese concerns about overt violation of their allotted destroyer tonnage under the naval disarmament treaties resulted in a reduction to only four Type III ships.

There were some obvious, physical changes between the Type IIIs and the earlier sisters. Improvements in boiler design lead to a reduction from four boilers in the earlier ships to three in the Akatsuki variant. One larger boiler replaced two in the forward boiler compartment, and those exhaust gases vented through a noticeably thinner forward funnel. Improvements to the air intakes for the boilers had already taken place with the final five Type II ships, and this change was carried over into the Type IIIs.  The torpedo tube mounts were enclosed by a weather and splinter proof shield, an improvement that was subsequently carried over to all of the earlier sisters during their mid 1930s refits. Finally, the secondary AA was relocated from a small platform in front of number two funnel to positions further aft that same funnel. 

The Type III ships were also designed and initially constructed with even larger bridges than the previous group. This was done by adding an additional upper lookout deck, which in turn, raised the height of the main rangefinder by one level.  A larger foremast followed suit. However, there were few corresponding changes to the hull to balance the additional weight, leading to a certain degree of inherent instability.

All these changes were part of a generalized trend in the IJN in the late 1920s and early 1930s toward adding additional armament and equipment on treaty limited hulls. This was a reflection of the mindset of the Naval General Staff which, given the overall and individual tonnage limitations of each ship type by treaty,  sought to maximize the qualitative superiority of each Japanese ship over a potential adversary. This trend toward top heavy ships was abruptly (and fortuitively) halted by a series of unfortunate incidents. In 1934, the torpedo boat Tomozuru capsized in a storm, and a year later, a typhoon damaged a large number of ships conducting realistic exercises whilst in the typhoon, both with a small loss of life. 

The design and hull structure of the entire fleet was called into question as a result. After a thorough investigation, the IJN embarked on a massive correction program, adding ballast, reinforcing hulls, and reconstructing some ships and classes in order to reduce their top weight. The Type IIIs fell into this last category.

All four ships underwent reconstruction between 1935 and 1937. Hull plating was reinforced with additional plating, and more ballast added, resulting in an increase in displacement from approximately 2000 to 2400 tons. Top speed fell slightly as a result. The bridge was reduced in height by two levels. An improved main fire control director was emplaced on top of the new bridge. The mast was reduced in size to that of the earlier Fubuki types. The main turrets were modified as well, with a lower profile to the gun layerís position, a stiffening of the structure, and improved ventilation. It was in this revised configuration that all the sisters started the Pacific War. 

Brief History
Hibiki ((? "Echo") was the 22nd ship of her class, and the second of the Type IIIs. Like Fubuki herself, Hibiki was built at Maizuru Naval Dockyard.  Launched in June, 1932, she was commissioned into service on March 31st, 1933. Along with her three Type III sisters (Akatsuki, Inazuma, Ikazuchi), she was attached to DesDiv 6, serving with the Destroyer Squadron 1, as part of the First Fleet.  Hibiki served as flagship for the division. With her sisters, she participated in multiple operations off the Chinese coast during the 1930ís in support of Japanese forces, and received an extensive refit and modernization in 1936.

From the start of the Pacific war in December, 1941, she and her division supported operations and landings throughout Southeast Asia.  DesDiv 6 provided cover for Admiral Kondoís Southern Main Force, escorting Japanese troopships for landing operations in the Malaya and the invasion of the Philippines, and continued to support operations throughout the Philippines and Southeast Asia to the end of March 1942. She returned to Japan in late March and received a refit in April at Yokosuka Naval Base, where she remained for the month.

DesDiv 6 was then assigned escort duties for the Aleutians Operation and invasion of Kiska in early June. In the aftermath of the successful taking of Kiska, US forces responded with available forces. USN PBYs repeatedly bombed Kiska harbor in the days following the invasion.  On June 12th, while exiting Kiska harbor for patrol duties, she incurred heavy damage about the bow from several near misses dropped by PBYs. At reduced speed she made her way home, stopping first at Ominato, where her damaged bow was truncated to a point just forward of number one mount and replaced with a temporary bow. She then continued on to Yokosuka for a full repair, which was completed by mid October, 1942 

For the next six months, she, along with other, assorted Fubuki sisters, was a primary escort for the CVEs Taiyo, Unyo & Chuyo, themselves providing air cover for convoys or conducting vital aircraft ferry missions.  Hibikiís AA fit was upgraded with a twin 13mm AA mount in front of the bridge during a brief yard visit to Yokosuka in January, 1943. (That mount was further upgraded to a twin 25mm mount later on in the year.)

She was then assigned to patrol and escort duty in the Aleutians in May, serving there until August.  She was one of five destroyers involved in one of the successful evacuation runs of Kiska in early August, 1943. She then returned to Yokosuka for maintenance. Afterwards, she served in a convoy escort role for various troop, tanker, and fleet movements until April, 1944, when she reported to Kure NY for a substantial refit. There, her superimposed # 2 main turret was replaced by two triple 25mm AA mounts and their emplacements. Two additional such AA mounts were placed on a raised platform between #s 2 and 3 torpedo mounts, roll off depth charge racks were added at the stern, a Type 22 radar was placed on a revised foremast, and passive radar detectors were installed on the bridge.

Hibiki immediately resumed escort duty for critical tanker convoys in concert with Type III sister Inazuma. In mid May, she had to rescue 125 survivors from her sister, after Inazuma was torpedoed by USS Bonefish. In June, she was assigned as escort to the First Supply Force, the UNREP group supporting the First Mobile Fleet during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The First and Second Supply Groups coalesced into one unit and retired after completing their refueling assignments. Hibikiís subsequently suffered two dead in strafing attacks that followed a large US carrier based attack on the entire supply force late in the battle.  In that same attack, tankers Genyo and Seria Maru were sunk, and Hayasui damaged. 

More escorting for the critical tanker convoys ensued until late July, when Hibiki returned to Kure for repairs, the addition of additional single 25mm mounts throughout the ship, and the installation of a Type 22 radar on the mainmast. Following the completion of the yard visit, still more convoy escort duty ensued until September, when Hibiki incurred either mine or torpedo damage off Takao, Formosa. Her bow collapsed, and she entered Takao for makeshift repairs. Hibiki then proceeded to Yokosuka NY in mid November, where she underwent full repairs until the end of January, 1945. 

She remained in Japanese waters until the end of the war, performing escort duty until sustaining yet more mine damage at the end of March. Repaired at Kure, she acted as a guard ship for the remainder of the war. After the cessation of hostilities, she was demilitarized and pressed into service as a repatriation vessel.

Once those duties were completed, she was turned over to the Soviet Union as a war prize and renamed Pritky. Re-armed with Soviet weapons, Pritky joined the Soviet Pacific fleet, based in Vladivostok. She was renamed Decembrist (ďDecembristĒ) in 1948.  She did not see much in the way of service and was eventually converted to a barracks ship. Retired in 1953, Decembrist rusted away in floating storage until sometime in the mid 1970s, when she was used for fleet target practice and sunk. Today, her badly damaged remains lie in shallow water near the Karamzin Islands off Vladivostok, where she is occasionally visited by local diving tours.  Hibiki-wreck,-bow
The Kit
Yamashitaís release of a new Fubuki Type I kit promised great improvements over previous Fubuki class releases from Tamiya and Pit-Road. I reviewed the Yamashita Fubuki Type I kit in November, 2015 (http://www.modelwarships.com/reviews/ships/ijn/dd/Fubuki-700-yh-dk/index.htm ). At that time, I was hopeful that Yamashita would successfully exploit the flaws of other manufacturerís Type I kits to create a definitive 1/700 version on the Type I. 

Unfortunately, hogging issues with the kit hull, at least with the initial production runs, marred the release.  Since then, there have been reports of a fix that seems to have corrected the problem (corroborated by several modelers.) Some other issues, particularly with fit, have also surfaced, but overall, that kit now seems to have made good on the promise of a more proper Type I Fubuki in 1/700.

Yamashita has now expanded the Special Type offerings with a release of a Type III, nominally that of Hibiki. As with the Type I kits, neither Tamiya nor Pit-Road ever fully hit the mark with their Type III kits. The Tamiya version incorrectly utilized the same hull as its short forecastle Type I kit, resulting in a somewhat deformed looking version. There was also an improperly shaped aft deck house, excessive freeboard to the hull, and a lack of small details overall.

The Pit-Road Type III kit was better in these regards, but erred in making the base of the bridge too short in length by several millimeters. They also compromised on the shape of the funnel intakes to equip all of their Type II & Type III kits, but with a shape that serves none of them particularly well. And, their deck equipment layouts match the ships as originally built, not as they were refit and appeared during the Pacific War. The same as-built fit holds true for the main turrets supplied with those kits.

This new Type III kit successfully improves on all those points. Forecastle length and shape, funnel air intakes, decks, turrets, and bridge base appear all properly sized, scaled, and detailed for an early war Type III. The kit is molded in a light grey plastic with uniformly sharp detailing. It is a waterline version only; no full hull option is available.

While marketed as Hibiki, straight out of the box, this kit can be built as any of the four Type III ships (Akatsuki, Hibiki, Ikazuchi or Inazuma) after modernization. The fit out-of-the-box is immediate pre-war and early war fit through the end of 1942. The only missing component is a degaussing cable, which can be added with styrene strip, or with any number of PE offerings.  Additional modifications would be needed to build it into a late war version of Hibiki or Inazuma. Conversely, converting the kit to an as-built version would need some kit bashing to create the larger, higher bridge.  Bridge parts from the one of the Pit-Road kits, or possibly a Tamiya Type III kit, might conceivably work for such a conversion.

Hull Sprue (YH700 TL)
As with the previous kit, it comes as a one piece hull, cleanly molded with very sharp details including portholes, porthole eyebrows, properly shaped anchor recesses, bull nose, and subtle raised seam lines for plating. While the eyebrows are still overscale (as are all kits with this detail), Iíd say the eyebrows are as subtle as can possibly be made. 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. 

Unlike the Fubuki Type I kit that I reviewed previously, this hull lies completely flat!!! This is a very, very welcome change, and eliminates my biggest disappointment with the previous kit. The set-up of the hull upon the sprue is identical. All injection points come from underneath the hull from one sprue runner as before. The only difference that I can discern is that the plastic appears to be much more rigid in composition, making it easier to resist the hogging of the previous kit. (This is also likely the fix used for the newer Type I hulls.) 

Aside from the elimination of the hogging flaw, the other change is the extension of the upper hull that supports the rear portion of the longer forecastle deck typical of the Type IIs and IIIs.  Whereas the Pit-Road kits show obvious mold lines for the insertion of the additional length, this kit shows no such seams. It appears that Yamashita has created a new CAD and mold without changing anything else about the hull.  Many kudos to them for the extra effort. (Note: In this scale, the Type II/III forecastle is approximately 4 mm longer than a Type I forecastle.) 

Carried over from the previous kit is a minor issue; that the lower portion of the bow as it approaches the waterline is slightly 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. After having had some time to think about it, I think the curvature as it enters the waterline would have been better served by raising the onset of this curve just a hair higher on the bow. 

The profile can be easily corrected with some sanding, but doing so would create another problem, that of eliminating the raised hull plating lines that wraps around the bow. This would be technically more correct, as the plating at the bow wrapped around either side and showed no seam lines to either side for several inches on the real thing.  However, replicating that sort of detail would require a very clean and carefully delineation between the raised seams and the area around the bow. 

Unfortunately, my kit also had the slightest touch of a sinkhole to either side of the bow. This flaw has also been reported by other modelers. It can be filled with putty, but again, filling the seam will require sanding away some of the hull plating seam, and then resurrecting it after the fix.

The hull again scales out exceptionally well. The waterline length is now correct, as the profile issue is really limited to the area just immediately above the waterline. Hibikiís particulars versus the scale and kit:
Overall Length: 118.41m/388.5í 1/700 OA length:  169.16mm Kit OA length: 169mm
Waterline Length: 115.3m/378í 1/700 WL length: 164.7mm Kit WL length: 164.7mm
Beam: 10.4m/34í1Ē 1/700 Beam: 14.85mm  Kit Beam: 15mm

YH700H A Sprue
This sprue holds the funnel halves for two identical funnels (only one set will be used for a Type III ship, for the # 2 funnel), funnel grills, RDF compartment and searchlight platform, support trestles for some of the larger platforms, the reload torpedo gantry girders set around funnel #2,  and the auxiliary piping for #2 funnel. 

Unlike the Type I kit, which molded the funnels as part of the superstructure housing that sat upon the main deck, these funnels have been molded separately.  They still sit atop hooded air intakes which are part of another sprue.  Given that two identical funnel have been molded, itís a near certainty that a Type II release is pending.

The parts are sharply molded with good detail, including fine raised lines for grab rails and an incredibly small, tertiary vertical auxiliary pipe. I recall Fujimi having done the same thing for its 1/700 Kagero class kits, but these are more sharply rendered.  Itís a very nice detail.  On the other hand, Yamashita has carried over the effect of a subtly widened upper 1/3 portion to the funnel from the Type I kits, and this is erroneous. However, unless one is planning to sand off all the grab rails for more detailed PE parts, itís just not worth correcting. 

Another feature repeated for this kit is the molding of the rearmost auxiliary funnel pipe to the funnel itself. Its representation is not as toy-like as with the Type I version, because this pipe is located closer to the flat middle of the funnel and doesnít stick out as far. I still donít understand why Yamashita chose to do this, but at least here, itís barely noticeable. In the same vein, the piping for the steam whistles, and the whistles themselves, are also molded onto the funnel. These were so small that I think it entirely appropriate to mold them this way. 

The molded funnel grills are solid, but again, very sharply done. These are among the best looking of the solidly molded grills for a Japanese destroyer that Iíve come across in this scale. For those reluctant to install PE replacement grills, youíll be satisfied with these kit versions.

YH700T4 Sprue for Main Deck
This piece is carried over from the Type I kit. The deck is a well molded piece that fits nicely into the hull with two large locator pins.  Two cutouts help place it forward into the aft end of the forecastle.  Here, in this kit, the aft walls of the forecastle extend further aft and surround more of the bow end of the deck.  The deck itself is unchanged.

It is beautifully detailed and scaled.  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.

YH700T-4 Sprue
This sprue is carried over from the Fubuki Type I kit as both classes had near identical structures and details as represented here.  Contained are the top and sides to the aft deck house, the aft emergency conning position and engine room ventilators, the torpedo reload storage bays and access doors that sit on either side of the base of # 2 funnel,  the forward face of the bridge base superstructure, jack staffs, some shipís boats, the crowís nest, and the mainmast.

Again, everything is finely detailed and properly scaled. The torpedo bay access hatches are clearly defined and shaped, an aspect that is clearly lacking in the other companiesí kits. The mainmast is incredibly fine, maybe the truest to scale that Iíve seen in 1/700 for a Japanese destroyer, with molded on detail representing the maneuvering signal lights.  Like the foremast, it could probably support stretched sprue, but nothing more.   The motor launches are also scaled nicely, though somewhat devoid of detail.

YH700 J
A small sprue, this one holds the two left and right halves of the bridge base, the main gun director, the 2m torpedo target director, the 3m optical ranging scope that sits atop the main director, 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 has viewport hatches. The foremast is true to scale, rendering it very thin, with molded on pulley projects on the yardarms. In terms of rigging, itís likely only to be able to support stretched sprue.  YH700-J
YH700 K
This is the largest sprue in the kit. It carries the right and left housing that is the base for both of the funnels, the forward torpedo tube mount and the RDF compartment. Also included are the forecastle deck, both halves and the funnel grill for #1 funnel, the auxiliary piping for the same, the galley pipe that attaches to #1 funnel, the platform base for #1 torpedo mount, a torpedo reload girder and the platform base for the RDF compartment (both of which sit aft funnel #2), the air intakes that act as the base of both funnels, and the compass bridge deck and roof. 

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. At first glance, it appears identical to the forecastle for the Type I kit, but the base for Turret #1 is shaped differently, and the end of the deck extends further aft then does the Type I deck. 

The compass bridge deck has its interior molded with pedestals for binoculars and the compass binnacle.  It does not have these on raised grating as did the Type I kit. Thatís probably because, practically speaking, the footprint of this level for this kit is smaller than that of the Type I.  (Itís a certainty that the real thing had a raised wooden grating in this area.)  It will greatly aid anyone who looks to detail the interior of the bridge, particularly with open PE framing for bridge windows or, the clear plastic windows included with this kit. 

YH700-GB x 2
This is the main armament sprue. Itís a small sprue that carries two Type B1 turrets and four 12.7cm barrels with blast bags.  The B model turret was introduced with the Type II ships, and carried over to the Type IIIs. The original B turret had a high, sloped gun layerís position, with a louvered aperture. Along with the other changes incorporated during the extensive 1936 refit, the top of this position was lowered and squared off, and a simple hatch cover placed over the viewport. The revised turret was known as the Type B1. YH700-GB

These turrets are fully detailed and shaped, and are 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. In fact, Iíd say that the Yamashita versions are a little sharper on the detailing than the Pit-Road versions.

There are two small points that are admittedly nit-picking. Somewhat problematic is the shape of the covers to the side ventilation ports on the turret. Actually, thatís not entirely correct. The shapes are fine for #s 2 and 3 mount, but not correct for # 1 mount for all of the Type II and III ships, dating from about 1939 onwards. Those covered ports should be round and not rectangular.  In this regard, the NE-07 set has the edge because that set comes with two each of the number one turrets with circular ports, as well as two turrets with rectangular ports for the rear positions. 

Even more nit-picky is the inclusion of what appears to be a third stiffening bar on either side of the turret at the top.  This should come off.  Technically speaking, #s 2 and 3 turrets should not have stiffener bars at all, though I suppose you could argue the lines are possibly grab bars. They are really too thick for that, though. 

The Yamashita turret is also slightly larger than the NE-07 version, somewhere between 5 and 10% so.  In fact, Iíd place it midway in size between the turrets of the NE-07 set, and those from the earlier Pit-Road equipment set #10, meant for IJN destroyers. Iím uncertain as to which is more correct as I donít have a full set of measurements for the turret. Nitpicks aside, I think itís a great looking turret.

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.  It is also carried over from the previous kit. Repeating what I wrote for the Type I review: ďWhat 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, because, until now, 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.  I know it seems almost ridiculous for me to gush over this small sprue but, these pieces are fantastic.  Be forewarned; the carpet monster is waiting!Ē

YH700P7 & YH700E
These are sprues of clear plastic that first appeared with the Type I kit. 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 again that the FineMolds version of the 90cm searchlight is more detailed. YH700P7-&-YH700E
YH700T4 x 2
This is the torpedo battery sprue. These sprues are carried over from the Type I kit, as all the Fubuki Types carried the same model of torpedo tube mount and torpedo into the war. Included here are the triple torpedo tube housings, mounts, and tubes, boat davits, torpedo and depth charge davits, a depth charge rack, a Y-thrower for the depth charges, shipís 7m cutters, single 13mm AAs, anchors, depth charge, and rangefinders. 

To repeat what I wrote in the Type I review, 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-Roadís versions.  However, replacement by a photo etch version is still preferable, in my opinion.

YH700T-4 Sprue
None, just as with the Type I kit. I suppose it helps keep the kitís cost down. Fortunately, there are several aftermarket alternatives, particularly for flags. Pit-Road also makes a decal sheet with katakana lettering for sides of the hull, for those interested in detailing a pre-war version. 
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 shipís 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. 
Instructions-1 Instructions-2 Instructions-3
The sprue marking system continues to a little confusing, as several sprues are marked by the same letter. Yamashita did take care to list the sprue number next to every part number, which helps greatly to eliminate confusion. Cross-checking the sprues with the sprue/parts list in the instructions will be helpful in keeping things straight.  There are different prefixes in Japanese marked on the instructions, but thatís not particularly helpful to those who donít read Japanese. Still, itís not rocket science, and the correct parts can be ascertained by paying close attention to the assembly portion of the instructions. 
Final thoughts 
Yamashitaís sophomore effort has hit the mark. Having tamed the hull hogging that plagued the first release, and having paid close attention to correcting the errors present in previously issued Type III kits, Yamashita has produced a proper Type III kit. Itís not perfect, but it is a very worthy representation of the class in its early war fit. Details are sharp and scaled correctly. Fit remains to be seen, but I suspect that most will be pleased by the kit. That includes myself.

Kit courtesy of my wallet, from Hobbylink Japan. I donít think these are yet on sale in the US, but the cost at HLJ was approximately US$12.50, plus shipping

More of Dan Kaplan's work.
Updated 10/3/2016

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