Hasegawa 1/700 JMSDF Kaga DDH-184,
Izumo Class Helicopter Destroyer

Reviewed February 2018
by Dan Kaplan
Background
Japanís post World War II navy has focused on defensive capabilities and regional, not global, conflicts. That nationís historical naval legacy remains incendiary among its neighbors, particularly those aspects related to naval aviation and her conquest of much of Southeast Asia during the 1930s and 40s. Any flaunting of an ability to conduct offensive operations has tended to inflame anti-Japanese sentiment, something that the Japanese have strived to minimize. This despite the growing regional militarism on the part of other nations in the region.

With Japanís constitution currently forbidding offensive type weapons such as an aircraft carrier, the naval emphasis has been on anti-submarine warfare, anti-mine, amphibious, and humanitarian aid activities.  Accordingly, the Japanese Marine Self Defense Forces (JMSDF) has continually sought to expand its capabilities in those areas. Given the JMSDF focus on ASW and maritime protection, sea-based air assets occupy an important role in those type operations. 

However, the constitutional ban against ďoffense typeĒ weapons has redirected focus away from fixed wing aircraft and aircraft carriers to a variety of smaller type platforms carrying helicopters. So, for several decades, JMSDF large destroyers have carried helicopters in order to better enable the ASW aspect of their mission.

Still, the Japanese have always wanted a larger, more dedicated ASW platform that could handle more equipment as well as the service and logistics requirements needed to support them. Eventually, two Hyuga class (Hyuga, Ise) helicopter carriers were constructed and placed in service during 2009-2011. Given the sensitivity of their Southeast Asian neighbors to historical Japanese militarism, these ships have been termed helicopter destroyers (DDH) when, in fact, they are clearly helicopter carriers.

Their design has been a great success, prompting the construction of another, larger pair of such ships, the Izumo class DDH. These new ships are also replacing the two, aging, Shirane class DDH destroyers after their approximately 35 years of service. 

Design
The Izumo class carriers are currently the largest ships in the modern Japanese navy. Though also called helicopter destroyers, they are most definitely very large helicopter carriers, comparable in size (though not displacement) and selected capabilities to the USS Wasp and America class amphibious assault ships.

The design built upon the Hyuga previous class with several tweaks.  Larger command and control facilities were built in. The flight deck area was increased to 1.5 times that of the Hyuga class. The elevators are capable of heavier loads than their predecessors. Such loads would include both aircraft and JGSDF heavy vehicles and missile carriers as part of a potential amphibious response force, disaster relief, or even a portable missile defense. The airwing is currently rated as nine helicopters, with deck spots for five, and a potential full load of fourteen large helicopters stored on a spacious hangar deck. Some sources state that up to 28 aircraft of smaller sizes could be carried. The ships can also carry up to 400 marines and 50 light vehicles, but without a well deck for amphibious craft, all personnel and equipment have to be moved by air. 

While there are no fixed arrestor cables, it has been speculated from the outset that some sort of additional V/STOL capability could be accommodated aboard them. The flight deck layout of the Izumos did remove obstacles from the flight deck and rearrange equipment that could interfere with the launch and recovery of fixed-wing aircraft. The CIWS system mounted on the foredeck of the Hyuga class was moved far over to the side, opening up the flight deck area necessary for fixed-wing operations. The aft vertical launch silo of the previous class has also been removed, allowing for greater ease of aircraft recovery. However, it is said that the flight deck would still need some ablative reinforcement to help protect against the blast effect of the engines used in V/STOL aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey and F-35B Lightning ll.

The shipís power comes from four highly fuel efficient COGAG GE/IHI LM2500IEC gas turbines producing 112,000 shp to drive two propeller shafts. Top speed is listed as 30 knots.  This powerplant is considerably more powerful than the USS America LHA class ships, allowing for a top speed almost one third greater. Itís not clear to me why the need for such a high top end, but my own observation here is that the extra speed could come in handy in helping to get an STOL type aircraft aloft, should one ever be embarked.

Dimensionally, this class has an overall length of 814ft/248m, an overall beam of 125ft/38m, and draws a draft of 25ft/7.5m. Full load displacement is listed as 27,000tons. Displacement aside, the Izumos are slightly larger than Kagaís namesake from WWII. (Opinion: I canít help but wonder if the displacement is somewhat understated, given the similarity in size and specs to the Wasp and America classes. I readily admit this is strictly speculation on my part, as I have no background in naval architecture or engineering.  Still, those classes are but 30 feet longer overall then the Izumos, basically the same width and draft, and yet are listed as being one third greater in displacement.) 

Ship History
The second ship of the Izumo class, JS (Japanese Ship in the current nomenclature) Kaga was laid down on October 7, 2013 by Japan Marine United at their Yokohama shipyard. She was launched on August 27, 2015, and commissioned on March 22, 2017. She is homeported at Kure, assigned to Escort Flotilla 4. Her focus is Japanís maritime defense, disaster relief preparedness, and international peacekeeping duties.  She has been working up since her commissioning.
 
The kit
Japanese model manufacturers have wasted no time in offering various scale model versions of what is currently Japanís largest pair of warships.  Hasegawa released its first 1/700 JS Izumo kit in June, 2015. 
(see Randall Cokerís October, 2017 MW review of the Hasegawa Izumo full hull, Limited Edition kit with PE:   http://www.modelwarships.com/reviews/ships/ijn/dd/IzumoFH-700-Has/index.htm )
Pit-Road followed with their own 1/700 Izumo kit in December, 2016. Conversely, Pit-Road released its first JS Kaga kit in February, 2017, with Hasegawa releasing this waterline kit in May, 2017. 

The kit is certainly representative of Hasegawaís current standards. Everything is sharp and detailed, spread out over fourteen sprues. This kit shares most all its sprues with the Izumo kit, but not all the pieces are meant for Kaga (and vice versa). The instructions block out those pieces not intended for this kit.  The plastic is a hard, medium grey, with a smooth, matte finish. There is only a hint of flash on some rotors and no sinkholes. (Note that on the photos of the flight deck and some superstructures, one can see some swirling lines; these are surface blemishes and not imperfections in the plastic.)

The fit appears to be as built, though there is the unexpected inclusion of a sprue (x2) that holds two Lockheed Martin F-35B STOVL (short takeoff and vertical landing) multirole fighter aircraft. These are the same aircraft to be utilized by the USS America class amphibious assault ships and the HMS Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers as part of their airwings.

While this aircraft has been conjectured as a potential, future member of the Izumo class airwing, these ships have not as yet been configured to carry them. This sprue does not appear with the Hasegawa Izumo kit, which took its own leap of wishful thinking with the inclusion of some MV-22 Osprey VTOL/STOL tiltrotor aircraft, which also happen to be included with this kit. However, in todayís current political environment, particularly with regard to the East China Sea, such possibilities appear to be gaining traction. Rapidly. So, perhaps it is not too fanciful to include these extras for modelers and armchair admirals such as ourselves.

Sprue R
A very large sprue, this contains the flight deck, some shipís boats, some small panels for the hull, the mast atop the bridge, some platforms for the mast, two CIWS weapons systems, and a couple of small structures also for the bridge. While this sprue is carried over mostly intact from the Izumo kit (where it is labeled Sprue A), it holds some unique parts for the Kaga kit. The flight deck itself appears to be identical. The Kaga kit also appears to differ from the Izumo kit in that while the Izumo carries some of its boats in semi-enclosed bays (similar to the original Lexington and Illustrious class carriers), the kit depicting Kaga does not. Iím not sure why this is, or if this is, in fact, true. The shipís boats are apparently not used. Sprue-R
The flight deck is very nicely done, in a matt finish with innumerable tie-down holes, tiny deck perimeter lights, apertures for the centerline and aft starboard elevators, some sharply delineated outlines of what may be service or weapons elevators, and several sets of life raft cannisters molded onto the port side catwalks. Everything is sharply molded and well scaled.  The single post mast is molded with much equipment and looks well done. The CIWS also appears well executed, but I am far from an expert on this weapon.  Sprue-R-closeup-bow
The flight deck is true to scale. Actual versus scale and kit dimensions: 
Flight Deck Length: 247m/810í4Ē 1/700 FD Length: 353mm Kit FD Length:  353mm
Flight Deck Width: 38m/124í8Ē 1/700 FD Width: 54.3mm Kit FD Width:  55mm
Sprue-R-closeup-stern
Sprue B
Another large sprue, this one carries the waterline plate, the frontal plate of the hurricane bow, the stern plate, both elevators, and the hangar access door and sponsons for the aft elevator.  Everything is sharply molded and well defined. The elevators are covered with tie-down holes. The hangar access door is a roll-up type, and molded in the down position with the louvers closed. It can be opened up with a little care, but there is no interior or hangar deck provided by the kit. Some scratch-building would be in order so as to have an interior view of any consequence.  The stern plate sports a molded, two deck high access ladder, which is actually much better than your average Aztec style stair, but which could always use a PE replacement.  The waterline plate has a raised perimeter to hold some waterline weight plates.  Sprue-B
Sprue-B-closeup-lft Sprue-B-closeup-rt Sprue-B-underside
Sprue C
This is dominated by the starboard hull half. The hull is a beautiful piece of plastic, full length, with an enclosed hurricane bow, some subtle raised seams lines to denote some hull weld lines, some open, large recessed bays, a large opening for the aft elevator assembly as well as two large sponsons meant to enfold that elevator, and a great many small, recessed apertures. Some are air intakes with nice grillwork, while others are for access to the anchor deck and bollards. The inside of the sprue contains the mounting points for the heavy-duty hull stiffeners.

Also included on the sprue are several catwalks and small sponsons.  The catwalks have some equipment detail of their own. 

The hull also scales out very well. JS Kagaís particulars versus the scale and kit:
 
Overall Length:  248m/813í5Ē 1/700 OA length:  354.3mm Kit OA length:   355mm* 
Waterline Length n/a  1/700 WL length: n/a Kit WL length:  332mm**
WL Beam: 31m/101í7Ē 1/700 WL Beam: 74.28mm Kit Beam: 44mm
*overall length includes a stern mounted sponson
** waterline length specifications were not readily available to me 

Sprue-C
Sprue-C-closeup
Sprue D
In the same manner as its matching half, the port side hull half overshadows this sprue. While not a mirror image of the starboard side, it does have the aforementioned seam lines, recessed bays, air intakes with grills, and interior mounting points for hull stiffeners.  The upper portion of the hull is a near full length sponson meant to support the substantial overhang of the flight deck on the port side. (The flight deck is asymmetrical on the shipís lengthwise axis to help compensate for the weight of the large bridge island on the starboard side. Itís vaguely reminiscent of Taihoís design). More catwalks with life raft cannisters and smaller sponsons round out the sprue. Sprue-D
Sprue-D-catwalks-and-life-raft-cannisters Sprue-D-stern
Sprue E
This is a mixed sprue of both modular bridge structures and equipment. Included are: the forward bridge/forward funnel base, the command deck section, the rear bridge/aft funnel section with air ops command section, a number of platforms and station sections, two anchors and a small sponson for the bow anchor, two SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system launchers, and two jack staffs.

The bridge sections are, again, sharply molded. The forward command module has a fair amount of detailing with numerous panels, projections and a wraparound set of sharply recessed bridge windows. The aft command deck section for air ops has deeply recessed apertures for the larger bay windows, which look very nice. There are several large air intake grills set into the structures, which are pretty good for injection plastic. There are separately molded access ladders which are ok; PE versions would be better. The SeaRAMs look pretty good for 1/700; even the indented depressions covering the end of the launchers are present.
 

Sprue-E
Sprue-E---forward-bridge Sprue-E-SeaRAMS Sprue-E-closeup
Sprue F
This is an equipment and sensor sprue, many of which I am not familiar with. Identifiable are some whip antennas for both the bridge and edge of the flight deck, and several small radomes. The antennas are on the thick side. PE or even brass rod might be a better option for these. Sprue-F
Sprue G
This holds five heavy duty connector pieces. These are used to join together and stabilize the hull halves.  Sprue-G
Sprue J x 2
Each of these sprues comes with the components of one MV-22 VTOL/STOL tiltrotor aircraft and several vehicles, including: two 3.5t transport trucks, one Type 73 extra-large type semi-trailer and PAC3 (Patriot Advanced Capability) missile launcher, one each of an Electric Shipboard Handler (like a giant pallet jack, maybe for aircraft), a self-propelled crane truck, an aerial  (lift) work platform, a tow truck, a deck cleaning vehicle (small street sweeper), a forklift, and a P25J Rescue work vehicle.  Sprue-J
The MV-22 comes with alternate wing configurations for either VTOL or STOL takeoff, and for folded storage. I donít know which takeoff configuration might be used aboard the Izumos, as the Japanese have just begun taking deliveries on the first of a small number of units this past summer, and the flight decks havenít been yet shielded for the same heat and blast effects that have been accommodated aboard the USS Wasp and America LHD classes. (As pointed out earlier, itís just speculation at this point whether or not they would ever become part of the airwing.) These units are in the same configuration as those used by the USMC for airborne transport of troops, equipment and supplies. Conceivably, these would also be used for humanitarian and rescue missions. Sprue-J-MV-22
The detail seems good, with some panel lines and landing gear that has some shape to it, particularly the nose wheels. The rotors are also nicely done.  The trucks and deck equipment arenít bad, either, with highly defined shapes, even if they are solid pieces.  Sprue-J-trucks
Sprue K x 2
Another aviation sprue, this one carries components for one Mitsubishi (Sikorsky license built) SH-60K ASW helicopter, and one Kawasaki (AugustaWestland derived) MCH-101 airborne mine countermeasures and transport helicopter. Both types are mainstays of the JMSDF. Each fuselage comes molded in halves with separate rotor. A closed rotor for deck storage option is available for both; the MCH-101 even comes with an alternate starboard fuselage with the rear rotor folded against it. I think the detail particularly well done, including the landing gear. However, the folded rotors do show some flash.  The aforementioned QG69 photo etch set for the kit contains brass rotor blades, which would eliminate that issue.  Sprue-K
Sprue-K-MCH-1010
For those wishing to fill up the flight deck with a larger complement of aircraft and equipment, both the J and K sprues are sold together by Hasegawa as separate JMSDF carrier based aircraft set, QG54. It contains two each of the MV-22, SH-60K, MCH-101, and the vehicles on the J sprue. Iíve read elsewhere that some folks prefer the Aoshima or Pit-Road 1/700 versions of these same helicopters, and Iím not enough of an expert to agree or disagree. I do find these examples fairly evocative of the real things.  Sprue-K-SH-60K
Sprue Lx2
Introduced with this kit is a new sprue containing the components for two F-35B Lightning STOVL multirole fighter aircraft.  Excepting the simplistic landing gear, the details are sharp and the appearance seems accurate for this scale. One of the two fuselages is configured to show a top panel in the open position as befits an aircraft during vertical takeoff or landing. This inclusion of this sprue might also be more than wishful thinking, given the recent December, 2017 news reports about Japan reportedly investigating various options with regard to basing this aircraft aboard the Izumos.  Sprue-L
Sprue-L-top
Sprue-L-underside
Sprue N
This is a very small sprue of three pieces, all specialized platforms or panels for the hull or bridge of Kaga, specifically. Sprue-N
Waterline weights
The kit comes with two full size metal weights that fit into a slot outlined on the water line plate. They are held in place by the internal hull stiffeners that go in place over them. Thereís also some two-faced tape strips to help hold them in place.
Decals
This is a sizable sheet for 1/700, with flight deck lines for the helicopter landing zones as well as outlines and safety markings for both the main and service/munitions elevators. There are also hull and flight deck numbers, hull draft markings, and markings for all the types of aircraft.  Those include both JMSDF rondels and fuselage marks. There are also black decals for the various bridge and observation windows. The decal sheet is clearly printed with no registration issues. Decals
Instructions
These are printed in black and white on one long sheet, front and back. Itís folded into twelve panels. Itís clearly illustrated and mostly in Japanese. Assembly is shown step-by-step via exploded, three point perspective illustrations. Sub-assemblies are shown in good detail, and the construction process appears straightforward. 

Interestingly, the instructions formally identify all aircraft in the kit except for the F-35Bs. While I understand the inclusion of the F-35Bs is merely conjecture, it still seems odd not to properly identify them. Perhaps it was just an oversight during proofreading.

Instruction-A
Instruction-B Instruction-C Instruction-D Instruction-E Instruction-F
Instruction Sheet for the Hasegawa QG69 DDH Kaga Detail Up Etching Fret
The Hasegawa issued, comprehensive PE set for the ship is not included in this particular kit, so Iím not sure why the corresponding instructions were placed in this particular boxing.  Instructions-for-Super-Detailing-Fret
Conclusions
Admittedly, the ships of the modern JMSDF is not an area that I have focused on to any extent, but the kit certainly grabbed my attention upon opening the box. Dimensionally, this ship is actually larger than its IJN namesake, and the kitís size certainly reflects that. Despite its relatively large size, the modern streamlined design has led to just a few large components, which will likely make for easier construction. I think the aircraft very well done. I would expect the kitís fit to be very good, but weíll have to wait for someone to report in on that.  The full PE fret that Hasegawa sells separately will enhance what is an already a very nice kit.

The lack of any sort of hangar deck is a bit of a disappointment, particularly as the Pit-Road versions do provided detailed elevator wells, though helping to making those kits a bit more expensive than the Hasegawa versions. Excepting that one qualifier, the kit seems like an excellent cornerstone for oneís JMSDF fleet. 

Thanks to Hobbico Model Distributors for the review sample. They are your US distributors for Hasegawa. The suggested US MSRP is $69.99. 

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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