Pitroad 1/700 JMSDF Sōryū SS-501

Reviewed by Gernot Hassenpflug

The SS-501 Sōryū is the lead ship of a new class of conventional submarines for the Japanese Navy (Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force or JMSDF), following the Oyashio class. Displacing 4200 t submerged, and with a length of 84 m, these vessels are among the largest non-nuclear submarines in service, and the first in the JMSDF to incorporate AIP (Air Independent Propulsion, this variety from the established Swedish Kockums firm) as their propulsion system. They are armed with 6 torpedo tubes for a mixture of torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Currently, Sōryū is the only ship in service, since March 2009, while her sister Unryū is scheduled to enter service in 2010. At least 5 ships are currently planned. The Sōryū Wikipedia page has some more information about the class, as do various videos on YouTube, and several photos in recent issues of Maru magazine (see references at end).

Pitroad released a 2-in-1 kit of this submarine in 1/700 scale recently this year, and I find it a pleasure to have an affordable kit like this available, not to mention that I am a sucker for the latest stuff in the JMSDF arsenal!


All the parts are included on one compact sprue, and two kits are included in the pack, along with stands and decals. Yes, the kits are full-hull, with an upper hull and two lower hull halves (split vertically), thereby allowing for a waterline option.

The engraving and details are fairly soft, in the usual Pitroad submarine style, and although I cannot vouch for accuracy, the details appear consistent with those seen in photographs.

I'm impressed with the quality of the propeller in injection-molded plastic, it is a lot better than the one I had previously experienced when I built the Yushio class a decade or so ago (not surprisingly!).

Decals are provided for two ships, the lead-ship SS-501 Sōryū and the following ship SS-502 Unryū.

Instructions come on a single sheet of glossy paper, one-sided as there really isn't much to assemble.

click images
to enlarge

This kit offers a nice cheap two-set of the JMSDF's latest underwater toy, with nicely molded parts, a good set of decals and nicely-done instructions. While the detail is not very sharp, the major parts are all there as expected. Possibly a photo-etch or resin propeller would be a nice enhancement, and the replacement of some of the periscope and other tubing by stretched sprue.

Retail price is around 1600 JPY or slightly less with discount.


  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sōryū_class_submarine
  • http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/japan/2900ton.htm
  • http://www.military-today.com/navy/soryu_class.htm
  • http://www.military-today.com/navy/soryu_class_images.htm
  • http://homepage2.nifty.com/nishidah/e/dtc0212.htm
  • http://m3i.nobody.jp/military/soryumenu.html

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