Imperial Japanese Navy Destroyer Shimakaze,
“Late War” Version
|(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, I am reprising that portion of the text here, rather than attempt to re-invent the wheel yet again. 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
battle cruisers 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 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 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 man-hours 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.
|Laid down in the Maizuru Naval Dockyard in August,
1941, she was completed in 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 Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf, and met her end at the Battle
of Ormoc Bay during the invasion of the Philippines 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
I still find it a bit hard to believe that not one, but two, 1/350 kits of Shimakaze have recently been released within a few months of each other by different manufacturers. Just as improbable to me is that both kits have been designed for the more casual builder, with colored parts for the lower hull and linoleum decking. Taken even further, the subject of this particular review, the kit by Hasegawa, was initially released in October, 2015 to support a line of anime-based plastic figure models that are popular in Japan, known as Plamax. The Plamax philosophy embraces easily assembled models with color separated parts. This version included an oversized, anime-style 12.7cm turret, along with an anime figure. Thankfully, a second release, geared toward the more typical military modeler without the anime related items, occurred four months later.
The anime market notwithstanding, Hasegawa appears intent on satisfying
its traditional model ship market with the same kit. While it is
molded in various colors as would denote the corresponding sections of
hull, deck, and props, this kit has not skimped on detail or scale. This
kit is very sharply molded with a clean finish and no soft edges or details.
There were no sinkholes or flash in my example.
|The sprue breakdown is as follows:|
|Sprue A - Upper Hull (in separate polybag)|
|The hull is molded into a one piece each upper and lower
half, split along the waterline. It comes packaged together in its own
clear, polybag sleeve.
The upper hull itself separates again into two pieces at the very stern, as well as having a separate part for the bullnose at the bow. I confess that I am somewhat at a loss as to why Hasegawa did not, or could not, mold the upper hull as one, complete piece. The additional stern piece is less than 15mm long and 20mm wide. I’m guessing it was some sort of limit to the fidelity of the injected hull, but I’m far from certain of that. It certainly has nothing to do with changes to fit, as this area did not change over time; only the decking did, and that portion is molded separately.
|Unfortunately, this configuration leaves the modeler with
two seams to fill, one to a side, each complicated by the presence of both
hull plating lines and a degaussing cable. If the upper hull had just been
split length--wise, as is Hasegawa’s usual practice, then at least there
would have been only one set of potential obstacles instead of two.
Despite being split into an upper and lower hull, the hull is not formally engineered for a waterline version. No waterline plate or internal stiffeners are included. The hull could be adapted to a waterline stance with the addition of styrene sheet and some stiffeners. If the review kit is any example, the upper hull may not lie completely flat, otherwise.
The hull pieces are sharply molded and detailed. The both upper and lower hulls both have fine, raised horizontal lines to depict hull plating lines. Only two such lines per side have been molded on the upper hull to represent three horizontal strakes. It’s unlikely that the upper hull had that few strakes, but this is a pretty minor quibble.
Also depicted are the open trestles that supported the aft end of the forecastle deck, a degaussing cable with brackets, properly shaped anchor recesses, and recessed portholes with subtle eyebrows. None of the portholes have sealed covers, which is incorrect for a late war version. At the very least, the lower bank of portholes would have been sealed off by sometime in 1944. Obviously, Hasegawa is using the same hull for both early and late versions, so a compromise was needed. Thankfully, the need for porthole covers on a late war fit can be easily corrected with some styrene or photo etch versions.
The linoleum covered portion of both the forecastle and the main deck aft of number three torpedo mount have been molded separately to allow for separate painting of the linoleum. These pieces are inserted into recesses molded into the upper hull. All the other no-linoleum decking (forecastle and main), save the very aft end of the stern, are molded as part of the one piece upper hull. Again, the detailing is excellent, with plenty of metal treading, linoleum tie-down strips, mooring bollards, spurnwaters, deck hatches, vents, and torpedo trolley rails. There’s also a pair of access ladders leading from the main deck, under the open overhang of the forecastle deck, to the forecastle deck through openings to either side of the bridge, just inboard of the 7m cutters that were placed on each side.
The hull scales out exceptionally well. Shimakaze’s particulars versus the scale and kit:
|Sprue B - Lower Hull (in polybag with upper hull)|
|It’s molded separately as one piece in medium red styrene. Apparently,
Hasegawa had no issue with molding this part as one complete piece, as
it is noticeably longer than the upper hull section without its stern piece.
(I just don’t understand how things work, I guess.) This hull piece has
several horizontal, raised seam lines to depict a more numerous amount
of hull strakes than on the upper hull; yet each strake is noticeably thinner
than those on the upper hull.
The lower hull has a raised but recessed rim that fits within the edges of the upper hull. It has locating slots for the bilge keels as well as locating points for the prop shafts, prop struts, and rudder. Internally, several locater towers and tab holes along its centerline to aid and secure the placement of the upper hull against it. The lower hull also has locator holes that can aid in attaching the hull to a kit supplied plastic base.
|Also molded in medium red styrene, this sprue holds the rudder, bilge keels, propeller shafts, and the propeller struts.|
|This sprue contains the two linoleum covered deck portions, molded in a light reddish brown (note: The accompanying photo is a little washed out in terms of color). The linoleum tie-down strips are molded on. There are plenty of small holes and recesses set in the deck for various deck fittings.|
|This is a large sprue comprised of most of the deck structures
and related components. Included is the treaded portion of the forecastle
deck, all the halves to funnel #s1 and 2, the funnel base air intake hoods,
the funnel galley pipe and some ancillary funnel piping, the compass bridge
deck roof, all the components of the aft deck house and what is called
the lower bridge section (the portion of superstructure that sits
on the main deck in front of #1 funnel), some of the other AA platforms
and support structures, all the components of both the fore and main masts,
jack staffs, and some other small pieces of equipment.
The detailing is sharp, the number of details rendered impressive. I happened to compare these masts to those of the new 1/350 Tamiya Kagero kit. Strictly speaking, I’d have to give the edge in detailing to Tamiya as they chose to include details down to the pipe couplings used to connect the mast struts to the mast leg. Still, I don’t think a modeler would be the least bit disappointed by this kit’s depiction of the masts. Obviously, if one replaces the plastic with brass rod, it’s a moot point. What is not included, in plastic, is the cross-bracing that was prominent on Shimakaze’s mast. So, these pieces have to be scratch-built from styrene rod, or purchased separately as part of the specific photo etch sheet for the kit from Hasegawa.
|Sprue G x 2|
|This fret is loaded with small equipment parts: the athwartship depth
charge rack, a Y-depth charge thrower, more depth charges for a roll-off
rack at the stern, propeller guards, the 90cm searchlight, 30cm signal
lights, a Type 22 radar, a maneuvering signal light array, hawser reels
of multiple sizes, assorted mushroom and deck vents, other deck fittings,
an RDF antennae, a deck winch, the 12.7cm practice loader, and the mount,
shield, and guns for the twin 25mm AA that sits on the bandstand in front
of the bridge.
The detailing is nice. Some aftermarket alternatives for the 25mm AA and the searchlights might be preferable. The same would go for PE versions of the RDF antennae and the depth charge racks, which are always a bit blocky when rendered in plastic. (Photo etch alternatives are also available on Hasegawa’s own PE fret for Shimakaze, sold separately.) Still, with two sprues, there are several extras of all types for the spares box. Good stuff!
|Sprue J x 2|
|This is another small part fret. It holds one each of the ship’s
7m cutter and 9m motor launches, a canvas boat cover and rudder for the
9m launch, a specific set of davits for each type boat, boat cradles, a
torpedo davit, and a lot of bridge based equipment including: the main
gun director that sits on top the bridge, the 3m rangefinder/large cupola
that sits atop the director, 1.5m navigation rangefinders for the bridge
and for the aft 25mm AA platform, multiple sized lookout binoculars, multiple
compass binnacles for the bridge, and the torpedo sighting director that
sits at the rear of the compass bridge deck in the open between the foremast
Ditto my Sprue G comments about nice detailing and spares.
|Sprue K x 3|
|A dedicated sprue for one main gun turret, two 12.7cm barrels with
molded blast bags, a turret base with support girders, and a base mount
and ring that fits into an opening on the deck. The turret comes
sharply molded with ventilation port covers on both the top and sides,
stiffener bars on all three turrets as befits a Type “D” turret, and shell
ejection hatches at the rear. Unlike smaller 1/700 versions, there are
no handrails molded on top of the turret. (There is a PE option available
on the Hasegawa fret sold separately.)
As stated earlier, the hull of this kit scales out almost perfectly. Given the scale errors of Hasegawa’s original 1/350 Yukikaze destroyer kit, I was curious to see if the new kit carried the proper scaling through to the turrets. I can happily report that is the case.
I compared these turrets to the turrets of the new 1/350 Tamiya Kagero kit. They are the same size, and of a similar level of sharp detail. Interestingly, the Hasegawa turret is molded in one piece (aside from the base), whereas the Tamiya turret is a three piece unit with separate side walls, plus base. The Hasegawa unit therefore has no seams to fill, holding the advantage in this regard.
|Sprue L x 3|
|This is another small sprue carrying the components of one quintuple
61cm/24” torpedo mount, including the outer shield, the mount base that
fits into an aperture on the main deck, the quintuple tube mount itself,
and the five warheads and upper torpedo bodies molded as one piece, that
are meant to fit into the underside of the tubes so as to show off
the exposed warheads. There are also two unrelated tabs used to secure
the upper to lower hulls.
The outer shield is finely detailed with grab rails, access hatches, ventilation port covers, and sighting ports. Based on past experience, I would advise repeated test fitting of the torpedo body unit into the hollowed underside of the torpedo tubes before gluing, particularly after painting. When viewed in silhouette, the torpedo should appear as if it is both level, and within the launch tube. It should not drop below the lower rim of the tubes. Some additional hollowing of the undersides of the tubes may be required.
|This is the bridge, molded as a one piece unit up to the compass bridge deck level. Structurally, only the main gun director and base, the compass bridge deck roof and windows are omitted from this part. This is an unusual choice in terms of parts breakdown, yet it has really paid off. One piece means no seams or ugly gaps to fill (as with the new 1/700 Pit-Road tooling of Shimakaze). It’s been rendered with superb details such as various vents, hatches, portholes, plating seam lines, sun awning anchor rail, deck supports, navigation lights, and the prominent, vaned windscreen that was unique to this destroyer. There’s also a notch for the AA bandstand that was fitted to the front of the bridge.|
|The windscreen is very nicely done. It was a complicated
setup as its system of directed vents was three rows deep. There are recesses
in the top of the windscreen that can be filled with a dark wash to replicate
the hollowed wind channels. Inevitably, an aftermarket PE manufacturer
will issue a replacement piece for the windscreen. However, I have my doubts
as to whether or not such a piece can ever be faired as neatly into the
bridge structure as is the molded unit.
|Another very small sprue comprised of two parts in clear plastic. One
is the lens for the 90cm searchlight; the other is the windows for the
compass bridge deck.
Normally, a detail driven modeler would likely chose to paint the window frames carefully, or replace them with photo etch versions (or ladders) as this piece is too obviously transparent by its very nature. Hasegawa has provided for a third option, that of a specifically printed window frames decal, which is part of the decal sheet. I know that it will take careful placement to make it appear “right”, along with some decent setting solution. I don’t know that this would be any harder than painting the frames. It certainly seems worth a try.
|This is a small sprue that contains the separate, upper stern section as well as its associated decking. It’s a very nicely detailed piece, with a section of degaussing cable and a mooring chock. It also has two locator protrusions that fit into locator holes on the opposite portion of the hull. Hopefully, it will be a tight, flush fit.|
|The deck piece is covered with treading metal, with depth
charge roll off rack rails molded onto the surface. The other sprue parts
include several splinter shields meant to protect single 25mm AA positions
on the main decks, a Type 13 radar array, and the aft 25mm AA platform
that straddles the searchlight platform in a staggered configuration. Nicely
detailed 25mm ammo boxes sit atop the platform.
|Sprue S x 2|
|Yet another small sprue, this one holds various 25mm AA single and triple barrel assemblies, mounts , splinter shields, 25mm ammo boxes, two halves to a depth charge roll off rack, and some AA platform supports.|
|A small, five piece fret for the funnel caps and grills. In keeping
with the color coding of the kit, all the pieces are molded in black plastic.
The funnel grills look better when viewed from the top than the sides. As I have pointed out in other reviews, the limitations of injection technology make this a challenging detail to execute in a fully convincing way. Photo etch versions will certainly produce a more realistic result, but many will be happy with the kit piece just the same.
|Molded in a bronze color, this sprue holds the ship’s two propellers. These are typical for the Imperial Japanese Navy in that they are three bladed.|
|Also molded in a bronze color, this sprue carries the two pedestals for the kit base.|
|This is the black plastic base for the ship.|
|The decal sheet is clearly printed with no registration issues. The
ship’s name, Shimakaze, is rendered in both English and Japanese with large,
black lettering on a white, rectangular background, two of each, and meant
to be placed on either side of the black plastic stand as a name plate.
Much smaller versions of her name using Katakana characters are included for use on the bows of the ship’s boats. Also included are hull draft markings in black, the aforementioned window frame decal, and several Japanese Naval Ensigns depicted in varying sizes and shapes. Unexpectedly, there are also decal versions of the life rings, 21 of them. If these prove effective, that will allow for plenty of spares.
Also welcome are a full range of white identification bands for the funnels that were typically used to identify the destroyer division that a ship belonged to. Even more impressive is the inclusion of separate funnel markings that were used to denote individual vessels within the typical, IJN four ship destroyer division (i.e. #1 vessel,#2 vessel, #3 vessel, or #4 vessel). There is a corresponding page within the instructions that explains and illustrates their possible configurations, in English.
An instruction page for Shimakaze’s specific markings at the time
of her loss is also included. I find these decal markings a very welcome
surprise, as I admit I was under the impression that Shimakaze was not
wearing any such marking when she was sunk. Subsequently, a close
examination of photos taken at the time of her loss seems to indicate such
markings, so major kudos to Hasegawa for including them.
|The 24 page instruction pamphlet is printed in black and
white, is clearly illustrated, thorough, 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. The painting guide is keyed to the GSI Creos and “Mr.
Color” paint lines.
Unexpected additions that raise the level of these instructions include the aforementioned markings page, and two pages devoted to detailing the ship’s rigging. I think most modelers, even those already familiar with the IJN, will find this last item most welcome, as IJN rigging details are often left quite vague.
has long exerted a powerful hold on destroyer aficionados everywhere, and
not just on those interested in the Imperial Japanese Navy. There’s something
about her sleek and powerful lines, the clipper bow, her powerful engines
and high speed, the massive torpedo battery, and the glimmer of unrealized
potential that seems to capture a lot of imaginations.
And now, there are several new kits in 1/700 and 1/350 to help serve those imaginations. This particular kit offers just about all the features and fine detail one could hope for in a 1/350 kit. While the kit’s fit remains to be seen, it would appear to present a beautifully molded and nicely detailed model right out of the box, which will satisfy modelers of all stripes. The inclusion of separate decking covered with linoleum will greatly ease painting. Attention to the proper scaling of its parts is noteworthy.
I don’t have the sense that the kit has suffered for any simplification. In fact, outside of the coloring of the plastic to ease painting concerns for the casual builder, I don’t really see that much more detailing or parts breakdown would have offered any improvements. My only true gripe is with the decision to break the upper hull into two sections. It seems like such a needless complication, particularly for any attempt at a seamless integration of the two pieces. Otherwise, IJN and destroyer fans will likely be very happy with this kit. How it compares to the other new 1/350 Shimakaze kit from Fujimi is a question left for another day.
It is listed as kit HAS 1/350 Ship Series No. Z29, SKU# 40029. Thanks to Hobbico Model Distributors for the review sample. They are your US distributors for Hasegawa.Suggested MSRP in the US appears to be $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.|