Tamiya 1/700 Shimakaze 1944 (2017 new tool) – Kit # W460 

Reviewed October 2017
by Dan Kaplan

(Reviewer’s note: Having covered background, design, and a brief history of the ship in the February, 2015 review of the new 1/700 Pit-Road Shimakaze kit, and again in June 2016 for the new Hasegawa 1/350 version, I am reprising those portions of the text here, rather than attempt to re-invent the wheel yet again for a third review.  Feel free to skip on to the review itself.)
At the outset of the 20th century, the rapidly modernizing Imperial Japanese Navy devoted itself to creating a superior navy to defend its interests, based on the concept of a “decisive battle”, particularly against its emerging rival in the Pacific, the United States.  Its subsequent Eight-Eight plan placed primary emphasis on capital ships (eight battlecruisers and eight battleships) and dictated the direction of Japanese naval expansion until the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 limited its capital ship programs to 60% of those of Great Britain and the United States.  This percentage was deemed inadequate by the Japanese for their purposes, as 70% was thought to enable parity with the United States, whose own fleet was required to defend two coasts.

A revised approach to the IJN’s decisive battle doctrine emerged as a result of these new limitations. Coupled with an emerging recognition of the significantly greater industrial capacity of the United States, this revision placed new emphasis on the qualitative superiority of individual ships, superior weaponry that could engage at longer ranges than the enemy, the greater inclusion of lesser but still highly capable ship types arrayed in a layered offense to engage the enemy prior to major battle between capital ships, and a greater emphasis on the training of its sailors in appropriate tactics, particularly at night.  All these factors were felt to work to Japan’s advantage in that an approaching enemy force could be whittled down through repeated forms of attack as it approached Japanese possessions and territories.  This doctrine drove Japanese naval expansion throughout the rest of the 1920s, 1930s, and through the start of the war, until rapid technological advances in US and Allied weaponry, equipment, detection, production and logistics overwhelmed the Japanese and rendered their doctrine obsolete.

One of the cornerstones of the revised doctrine was massed torpedo attack, particularly at night, by squadrons of heavily armed, high speed destroyers with torpedoes of greater range, speed and warhead size than those of other countries.  Accordingly, much attention was given over to new destroyer design.

Beginning with the Fubuki class destroyers, each succeeding class through to the Yugumo class incorporated incremental improvements in performance, range, and the size of their respective torpedo batteries utilizing 24” diameter torpedoes, particularly the oxygen powered Type 93 (i.e. the Long Lance), the most powerful torpedo in the world at that time. Further attention was paid to torpedo reloads and rapid reload machinery. 

Further naval expansion plans on the part of the United States in 1939-40 included new, larger, more heavily armed, and higher speed battleships. The Japanese realized that their destroyer squadrons would require still faster and more powerfully armed ships to cope with this new threat, and began designing a destroyer class, Type “C”, to meet this new need. Shimakaze (??) (Island Wind ) was the result.

Often described as an experimental ship (or as the lead ship of a planned 32 sisters, later cut to 16 vessels), she was really a prototype design incorporated new, higher temperature/pressure boilers, new turbines, and a bow form with a full forefoot to generate greater speed. The new boilers operated at 40kg/cm2, 400*C, whereas the previous Kagero and Yugumo classes operated at 30kg/cm2, 350*C.

These boilers had been previously installed in the Kagero class destroyer Amatsukaze, so they weren’t strictly experimental. They had performed satisfactorily; when coupled to the turbines typically carried by that class, they generated the class typical 52,000shp and a maximum speed of 35 knots. However, for the Type “C” class, a new, more powerful set of turbines capable of 75,000shp were installed for the first time in a Japanese destroyer. Together with the new boilers, a design speed of 39 knots was expected.

On sea trials in May, 1943, Shimakaze generated 75,850shp for a speed of 40.37 knots on a trials displacement of 2,921 tons. As part of the trials, she was tested at an engine overboost of 105%, generating 79,240shp and a speed of 40.9 knots, the fastest speed ever attained by a Japanese destroyer, and among the fastest of all the world’s destroyers at that time. 

To perform her primary role, Shimakaze carried a unique arrangement of fifteen 61cm/24” diameter oxygen powered “Long Lance” torpedoes, arrayed in three quintuple tube mounts covered with light metal shielding, almost turret-like. The Type 93 Long Lance torpedo was enormous: 9m/29.5ft. long, with a half ton warhead and weighing almost 3 tons apiece. The top weight generated by the enormous number of torpedoes and their mounts meant that reloads could not be carried without greatly affecting stability, so no reloads or rapid reload equipment was embarked. 

Japanese torpedo doctrine of the time posited that a broadside of nine torpedoes (as seen first in the Fubuki class and later revised to eight) should yield between one to three hits, depending on range to the target and speed of the torpedo. With the Shimakaze design, it was felt that a broadside nearly double in number would not only increase the likelihood of hits, but also the percentage of hits. Accordingly, reloads could be dispensed with as virtually the entire torpedo load of a typical Japanese destroyer was being delivered in one salvo instead of two.

When launched, Shimakaze carried armament typical of Japanese first class, or Type “A”, destroyers:  six 12.7cm 50cal guns in three new model Type D turrets, two triple 25mm guns mounted on a raised platform to either side of #2 funnel and a twin 13mm light AA mounted on a small raised platform in front of the bridge. Roll off racks and a “Y’ gun for depth charges were also installed.  Upgrades to her AA suite with the addition of more single and triple 25mm mounts came later on in the war.

Shimakaze carried herself on a displacement about 20% larger than prior destroyers, with an extra 35’ of length and a slightly higher wider beam and greater draft, mostly to accommodate the larger torpedo armament. She was also one of the first Japanese destroyers to carry their newly developed versions of radar, a Type 22 set for both sea and air search, mounted high on her large, tripod foremast. 

The onset of war in late 1941 strained Japan’s already lean industrial base while limiting the supply and availability of war material.  Work on new and experimental designs was curtailed in favor of current or simplified designs. The new high pressure boilers and enhanced turbines of the Shimakaze design required more material and manhours of fabrication than could be afforded, so the follow-on ships were first delayed, and then ultimately canceled. Shimakaze remained the only member of her class ever built. 

Brief History
Laid down in the Maizuru Naval Dockyard in August, 1941, she was completed by May, 1943. (Despite some claims in various texts that this design was more problematic to build, the interval between her keel laying and completion was no longer than intervals for other first class destroyers, particularly in the late 1930s.) Shimakaze was pressed into service immediately, and had a short but full service life.  She was the flagship for DesDiv 21 during the evacuation of the Aleutian Islands, saw plenty of important convoy duty, participated in both the Battle of the Phillipine Sea and Leyte Gulf, and met her end at the Battle of Ormoc Bay during the invasion of the Phillipines in November, 1944. 

A more detailed history can be found in her TROM (Tabulated Record of Movements) at: http://www.combinedfleet.com/shimak_t.htm  , and a good accounting of her specifications can be found in her Wikipedia article at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_destroyer_Shimakaze_%281942%29

The  kit
Until the advent of a newly tooled kit in late 2015, there had been only one styrene injection kit of Shimakaze on the market for almost 45 years. That original 1/700 Tamiya kit, issued around 1972, owned that niche for an incredible span of time. When released, it was among the finer efforts among the first generation of 1/700 waterline offerings. 

It was molded very cleanly, with no sinkholes or flash on the hull that I can remember.  It was the only waterline kit to come with a heavy metal waterline plate, pre-painted red, and attached with tiny screws, not glue.  The hull came molded with a degaussing cable with brackets, a detail that only Tamiya bothered with for some of its better kits. Given the level of molding technology then available, that kit seemed as good as it got at that time.

The years passed, photo-etch and styrene accessories became available, and it became possible to detail and improve the Tamiya kit to a much higher level than what the base kit offered.  However, the bare bones of the kit remained – a mostly featureless deck, a nicely molded bridge, and passably shaped armaments, but one still devoid of finer details.

Now, in the space of less than three years, we’ve seen two new 1/700 and two new 1/350 scale kits released, most now offered in several different iterations of fit and aftermarket accessories. 

Though late to the newly tooled kit party, Tamiya has closed the circle with its June, 2017 release of a new Shimakaze in 1/700.  Everything is new; there is no inclusion of the now venerable Small Ship Ordinance set that used to accompany most of the waterline kits from Tamiya, Aoshima and Hasegawa.

The kit parts are molded in the typical Tamiya shade of gray-blue that approximates Kure grey. The plastic is hard and clean, with no soft or greasy aspects.  The detailing of features is fine and sharp. Vertical superstructure surfaces come with details hatches and doors, though small details such as porthole eyebrows and hinges for the doors and hatches are omitted. That level of detailing is not part of the Tamiya approach to scale (and helps to keep costs down).

Tamiya has chosen to mold some of the kit sub assemblies in a new and interesting manner. One result is to simplify the kit in terms of sprues; only two sprues carry all the parts. The fit of the kit is of Shimakaze as sunk, in November, 1944. The box art corresponds to that fit and is, in my view, superb.

Sprue A
This sprue holds the upper hull, which has been split into two lengthwise halves, the forecastle deck, the main deck, the two halves of a subassembly that combines the bridge superstructure and number one funnel, the bridge face, the compass bridge deck, the main director housing, the bridge roof, the two halves of number two funnel, the air intakes that sit at the base of the funnels, the funnel grills, the midship RDF compartment topped with the antenna, searchlight, and their base, it’s supporting platform with AA positions and ammo boxes, and the main engine air intakes that surround its base, the second midship AA platform with ammo boxes, the 13mm AA bandstand that sits in front of the bridge,  all the components of the aft deckhouse, the platform base for number one torpedo mount, ship’s 7m boats and 9m motor launches, and some connecting inserts for the waterline plate.

The hull is split longitudinally into two halves, with single seams at the bow and stern. However, the lower portion of the bow stem is notched out on the starboard side, with the full width molded completely on the port side. (This mold style is also seen on the Tamiya 1/350 Kagero/Yukikaze kits, among others.) I believe this approach is used to retain the fineness of the lower bow. The port bow portion meets the starboard notch at what becomes a vertical joint, joining at a vertical seam line that is already molded into the hull. Builders will have to be careful to use glue sparingly in this area.  Otherwise, any excess will fill and obscure the joint.


The bow profile shape itself is excellent. A handful of very subtle, barely visible raised lines run lengthwise along the hull to denote plating seams. Portholes are properly small and in scale, with no overscale eyebrows above them. The portholes are all open, which more properly marks Shimakaze’s appearance as commissioned in mid 1943. To accurately represent her in her late war appearance, porthole covers (styrene or PE) must be placed over many of them, particularly the lower row, forward. 

A sharply molded but suitably scaled degaussing cable with brackets runs around the top of the hull. Surpringly, Tamiya has chosen not to mold it onto the hull at the very stern, where the late war deck extensions that supported the stern roll-off depth charge racks might have obscured the cable from view. I don’t know if that would be really true; certainly the other classes of IJN destroyers retained their cables in this area, judging from both wartime photographs and postwar photographs of surviving vessels. This might be an error on Tamiya’s part, or, more likely, a deliberate kit production choice as the stern portion of the main deck piece does overhang the top of the stern itself. In contrast, it’s worth noting that the 1/700 Pit-Road Shimakaze, and both 1/350 versions, retain the cable in view at the very stern.

Properly shaped anchor recesses grace the bow.  The aft end of the forecastle deck is molded with the large deck girder extensions for the deck overhang that was unique to Shimakaze among the Japanese destroyers. The sloped stern, first seen in the Yugumo class, has been correctly reproduced. Prominent fairleads appear fore and aft.

The hull scales out very well. Shimakaze’s particulars versus the scale and kit:
Overall Length:  129.5m/424’10” 1/700 scale OA length:  185mm  Kit OA length: 185mm
Waterline Length: 126.4m/413’4” 1/700 scale WL length: 180.6mm  Kit WL length:  180mm
Beam: 11.2m/36’9” 1/700 scale beam: 16mm Kit beam:  16mm*
*because the kit hull is split longitudinally, it is difficult to measure width without actually assembling the hull. Judging from the width of the deck, and adding in the widths of each hull half, an overall width of 16mm seems reasonable.

The forecastle and main decks are very crisply molded, with considerable detail. Treaded plating, linoleum tie-down strips, anchor chains, torpedo trolley rails, hatches, mushroom vents, bollards and spurnwaters around them are all present. The prominent bullnose that was standard on Japanese destroyers is molded as part of the forecastle. The main deck has a very small area, forward on the port side, that replicates an area devoted to an open air wash basin for the crew (this might be a first for a 1/700 IJN DD kit).  As with the Pit-Road kit, the trolley rails seem a little on the heavy side, though not quite as much as that kit. The same can be said of the linoleum tie-downs and welding seams around the anchor deck portion of the forecastle.

There are two interesting developments with these decks. For one, not all the hawser reels have been molded onto the deck, which may be a first for Tamiya. The larger ones have been molded separately. So, that’s a big plus when it comes to painting the deck, as well as allowing for sharper molding of those larger units.

The other point is that Tamiya has molded large, deep apertures under the bases for all the main turrets and torpedo tube mounts. Tamiya favors moveable weapons on this kit, and has engineered the deck to hold a hidden polycap within those apertures, into which the anchoring posts from the turrets and torpedo mounts are placed. Moving these pieces could be problematic, particularly if one ends up detailing these kits to any degree.  I suppose that is for the modeler to decide.
Sprue--A---ships-boats,-etc Sprue-A---AA-&-assorted-platforms Sprue-A---Main-superstructure-&-port-side-bow Sprue-A---bridge-face,-deck,-roof
Sprue-A---bridge-from-above Sprue-A---forecastle-deck-and-bridge Sprue-A---main-deck,-aft-deckhouse Sprue-A---starboard-side-bow-with-notch

Tamiya has chosen a unique approach to the main bridge structure. Instead of providing the typical bridge assembly that sits atop the forecastle, Tamiya has given us the two halves of a much larger structure that combines the main bridge up to the compass deck level (minus the bridge face,) its substructure that sits atop the main deck and under the aft end of the forecastle, and funnel # one. All the parts are crisply molded, with hatches and portholes. 

The bridge face includes the prominent wind vanes that were present on Shimakaze, and glues into place with two small vertical seams. However, the entire structure is then fitted into a cutout in the aft end of the forecastle deck. The net effect is to hide a number of seams that normally appears with a more typical destroyer layout. It promises to be a somewhat neater approach to final assembly, and I certainly don’t recall this type assembly on any of the other 1/700 models I’ve built or viewed. 

The layout of the bridge parts also contrasts noticeably with the 1/700 Pit-Road Shimakaze, whose own layout leaves a very prominent gap on the compass bridge deck behind the wind vanes.  The deck piece behind the windvanes must be worked and finessed in order to remove the gap. On the other hand, I think the wind vanes on the Pit-Road version a bit more favorably reproduced.

All the other substructures, such as the aft deckhouse and the searchlight platform, are detailed to the same level and appear to assemble in a straightforward manner. 

Lastly on this sprue, I find the 8m motor launches worthy of mention. For whatever the reason, most kit manufacturers have had problems getting the bows correct on the 7.5m and 8m kit versions that come with all the IJN destroyer kits. Up to now, these have been too stubby, obscured by fender details, or too sharp. Here, they appear to have turned out properly. It’s nice to see. 

Sprue B 

Contains: the waterline plate, two jackstaffs, auxiliary funnel piping, the athwartship depth charge rack, a Y-gun, two roll-off depth charge racks, the main gun director and a large, late model cupola with an integrated 3m rangefinder, large hawser reels (5), the foremast foreleg and separate rear legs, a Type 22 radar and platform, the main mast with a Type 13 radar attached to the foreleg, a 3m rangefinder, single 25mm AA mounts (8), triple 25mm AA mounts (4), one twin 25mm AA mount, boat davits, torpedo davits, three each quintuple Type 93 torpedo mounts with separate shields, three each main turrets with separate bases and twin 12.7cm barrels, a 12.7cm practice loader, two anchors, a deck winch, and a Type 96 searchlight controller. 

The waterline plate is notable for two atypical features. Firstly, it is not a true waterline plate, but rather, a bottom stability plate that’s been recessed within the hull halves.  This has the benefit of eliminating hull seams that often has to be filled and sanded. A waterline mark at the proper height has been placed around the bottom circumference of the hull with a subtly raised seam line. This will certainly help with painting a waterline.

Second, the bottom plate has been sectioned with two smaller access plates that are each pierced by a hole. The hole is large enough for the shaft of a screw, apparently for bolting the entire plate (and model) down to a rigid surface.  Nuts for screws fit into the holes from above; then, the smaller plates can be glued into the larger plate. 

The foremast is well done. The foreleg has finely proportioned yardarms and a detailed radar compartment molded near its base. As with virtually all IJN destroyers, the rear legs are molded splayed apart, but these have several sets of the prominent cross-bracing utilized by the mast, also finely rendered and proportioned. In fact, there is far more bracing here then seen on the 1/700 Pit-Road Shimakaze kit. To be fully accurate, additional bracing is required between the foreleg and aft legs, either with styrene or brass rod. Still, what is available here is most welcome.

The mainmast is similarly proportioned and in two pieces. The Type 22 radar that is integrated with the foreleg will certainly ease assembly and minimize gluing. However, there are better detailed versions available from FineMolds and Pit-Road, as well as a variety photo-etch versions. This is a part that really does benefit from an aftermarket option.  It’s also worth pointing out that all the legs and yardarms for both masts are delicate, and are unlikely to support any rigging that requires tension.
Sprue-B---25mm-AA,-davits,-TT-tubes,-foremast-B Sprue-B---W-L-plate-aft,-main-mast,-hawser-reels Sprue-B---W-L-plate-bow,-auxiliary-piping,-jackstaffs,-etc Sprue-B---gun-barrels,-foremast-A
Sprue-B---main-turrets,-side Sprue-B---main-turrets,-top Sprue-B-underside

The quintuple torpedo tube mounts and shields are considerably improved over those of the original Tamiya Shimakaze kit. Details included vent covers, hatches, and some handrails. The tubes are also longer than the originals, and to scale at 13mm in length. Unlike the Pit-Road kit versions, the torpedo warheads are not separate, but molded together with the tubes.

For the curious: yes, those quintuple tubes from the Pit-Road 1/700 Shimakaze kit (and sold separately as set NE-09) are a bit more detailed. I test fit one on the Tamiya kit, and I believe there is adequate clearance if a replacement is desired. The Pit-Road versions are slightly longer because those warheads extend slightly forward from the rim of the torpedo tube. Poly-Caps
The 12/7cm main battery turrets also sport considerable improvements over past Tamiya efforts.  In addition to the usual ventilation covers and handrails seen on top of most versions of injection 1/700 Japanese destroyer turrets, Tamiya has taken the extra step and included the ventilation hatch covers that graced the side of the turret, the two spent shell casing ejection hatches at the rear of the turret, and the two bands of horizontal stiffening rails that surrounded the turret and were typical of the Type D turret.

So, detailing-wise, this turret is very much on a par with that of the 1/700 Type C turret included with the Fujimi Kagero class kits, and the Type C/D turret that comes with the Pit-Road NE05 set.  All details are properly scaled. Getting calipers around a turret while still on the sprue was challenging, but I can report that the turret itself is also properly scaled, again like the other two benchmark versions cited. In terms of detail fidelity, the new Tamiya version is more on a par with the Fujimi turret, which is to say that they are a hair softer than the Pit-Road version.

I like the 12.7cm barrels a lot. These are molded as a set of two, with the blast bags molded on. The barrel and the bag are properly scaled and proportioned. These are designed to be attached from the inside by inserting them through the apertures in the turret for the gun barrels. While this is not a new approach for Tamiya (see the original Fubuki Type I kits), these are particularly well engineered. My sense is that the barrels will sit very cleanly in place. I don’t know if they are meant to be elevated freely or not.

On the other hand, both the torpedo tubes and turrets are designed to move freely once in place. All come with long center posts that are meant to be capped with a polycap. The piece is then supposed to drop into the large recesses in the decks as previously mentioned. I believe the friction of the polycap is meant to keep them seated in place. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of the 25mm AA weapons. There are superior to earlier Tamiya and Waterline Consortium offerings, with far better shape and sizing. While not as refined or as delicately executed as those from FineMolds, I feel they are on a par to what Fujimi and Pit-Road currently offer. The twin and triple mounts come as two piece sets, with the barrels molded separately from the bases. The pieces gained in sharpness, accordingly. The single 25mm mounts are particularly nice.  However, all are devoid of the splinter shields that were typically mounted in late war refits.

The other small parts, particularly the auxiliary piping and jackstaffs, are very nicely done. The inclusion of a 12.7cm practice loader and the searchlight controller is a rarity, and very welcome. As is typical with plastic injection depth charge racks, there is some surface detailing, but replacement by photo etch versions would greatly enhance their appearance. 

Waterline plate
A standard metal waterline plate from the Waterline Consortium is provided. It’s meant to be glued into a special slot atop the bottom stability plate.

The kit comes with a small and beautifully registered decal sheet. White funnel bands for both funnels denote her final appearance at Ormoc. Shimakaze’s name is depicted in katakana writing for the sides of the hull. (This seems an unlikely occurrence. If such lettering was actually placed upon the hull, such an appearance would have been limited to her trials and workup period. Her trials photo is inconclusive as it shows bow waves high enough to obscure the symbols on the side of her hull). A smaller version of her name is also available for placement on her stern.

Lastly, matching a trend among the other 1/700 manufacturers, linoleum decals for the forecastle and aft main deck are provided. Cut-outs for deck fittings are provided, as are the tie-down strips. I find these exceptional crisp in appearance. Of course, a proper application of the linoleum decals means that the molded on tie-down strips on the decks will first have to come off.

Tamiya has also provided a paper sheet containing several Imperial Japanese Navy ensigns of various sizes and differing shapes

The instructions are printed front and back in an extremely long, eight- fold, multi-section  black and white format that is very reminiscent of the Fujimi’s instructions for its 1/700 Kagero class destroyers. They are drawn in the familiar three point perspective style with exploded views.  Instruct-1
Instruct-2 Instruct-3 Instruct-4 Instruct-5
Final thoughts

I believe that Tamiya has come out with another winner, particularly if the kit’s fit is up to their usual par. While not quite as detailed as the recently released Pit-Road versions, it still presents itself as a crisply molded kit with a lot of properly scaled features. Plus, Tamiya offers it as a more cost effective kit, as their version runs about a third less in price than the Pit-Road versions. A straight out of the box build is likely to be very satisfying. 

While this kit may not have gone as deep into detailing as that one, it does offer at least one significant advantage over the Pit-Road kit:  the fit of the bridge. The arrangement of the Tamiya bridge pieces eliminates the significant gap between the bridge face/wind vanes and the rest of the compass bridge deck level of that kit. Another plus is the elimination the waterline plate seam with the hull while retaining the waterline mark around it.

Conversely, the omission of the portion of the degaussing cable around the stern is a little odd, and disappointing. The alternatives are scratch-building an insert with styrene, or using an insert cut from a  photo-etch version of a degaussing cable.

The review kit is a loaner, courtesy of fellow MW member Steve Guzy, and his wallet. I appreciate his generosity. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price in Japan is I800JPY, which is approximately US$16, plus shipping from overseas. Kits are available in the United States for approximately $21 to $24, plus shipping.

This is an in-box review showing the kit contents. We welcome your input and comments in the review section of the forum especially if you can share details about fit, ease of assembly and accuracy. Click the logo on the right to join in the discussion.

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