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Hikawa Maru

Hasegawa 1/350 NYK Line Hikawa Maru Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2011 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject NYK Line Hikawa Maru Scale 1/350
Kit Number 40028 Primary Media Styrene
Pros First kit of this subject Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $159.98

First Look

Hikawa Maru
Hikawa Maru
Hikawa Maru
Hikawa Maru
Hikawa Maru
Hikawa Maru
Hikawa Maru

The Hikawa Maru was a steam-powered passenger and cargo vessel that was dubbed 'Queen of the Pacific' by its passengers. The Hikawa Maru was one of a three-ship class built for Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) line and named for the Hikawa shrine in Saitama. Launched in 1929, the Hikawa Maru had its maiden voyage in 1930 and made regular trips to Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia, among other destinations. When World War Two broke out after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the Hikawa Maru had already returned to Japan and was quickly fitted as a hospital ship for the duration of the war.

While the Hikawa Maru was not attacked during the war, it did suffer damage from a mine which was repaired quickly to get the ship back to its vital role. By the end of the war, Hikawa Maru was used to help transport troops home as well as bring much-needed supplied back to Japan. By the early 1950s, the Hikawa Maru returned to regular passenger service across the Pacific until her retirement in 1960. In 1961, the Hikawa Maru became a floating museum and youth hostel permanently berthed in Yokahama.

Here is an interesting new kit from Hasegawa that is clearly another subject of national pride. Molded in white styrene, the kit is presented on 12 parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. When you take a closer look at the parts and instructions, you'll see that this kit benefits from the latest in CAD design technology.

The hull is molded in halves, but the hull goes together around seven spacers/bulkheads which provide rigidity not only for the hull, but also the main deck. While this isn't the largest ship subject, Hasegawa clearly designed this kit to be robust for handling so the hull seams or hull/deck joint won't pop loose from handling/flexing.

Once the hull is assembled, pay close attention to the instructions for the various deck sections as you'll have some holes to pin vise open before installing the decks to accommodate various deck machinery and fittings.

Something I haven't seen before is a similar set of spacers for the superstructure that are used in the hull to reinforce the structure of the model. Deck by deck, this kit goes together with the deck, that deck's cabins using the reinforced structures, then all of the fittings and details relevant to that deck before moving on to the next level.

Once all of the decks are installed and the bridge structure is also in place, the model is fitted with the lifeboats and davits as well as the rudder and twin screws below the waterline.

The final steps include the masts and cargo booms that are positioned all around the ship. The kit also includes a pair of stands that plug into the bottom of the hull for display.

The kit also has a 14-page booklet which has historical images of the passenger liner's interior and exterior as well as some shots of the vessel's wartime configuration. Layout drawings are provided for a general layout of the ship on its three passenger decks and a list of historical milestones for the ship, though these are in Japanese. A two page synopsis of the ship's history is also provided in English.

Markings are provided for the ship as well as a variety of flags used in its various cruises.

Options

Hasegawa also released three aftermarket sets for this kit:

  • Wooden decks
  • Basic photo-etch - railings and ladders
  • Super photo-etch - finer details including smaller ladders, catwalks, davit rigging, etc

We'll be looking at these sets separately, but you'll be looking at over $300 USD for this kit and its three detail sets should you go all-out on this project.

This kit is definitely an engineering masterpiece that will be extremely rugged with the amount of internal structure provided in this kit's design. The fine detailing is also very noteworthy and straight out of the box will be a very nice model of this unique subject. This kit definitely represents a point of pride that is well executed by Hasegawa, and when coupled with the three detail sets that were produced for this kit, this will certainly satisfy even the hard-core AMS modeler.

My sincere thanks to Hasegawa USA for this review sample!

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