Classic Warships 1/350 IJN Battleship Kirishima Kit First Look
By Chris Crowder
|Date of Review||August 2004||Manufacturer||Classic Warships|
|Subject||IJN Battleship Kirishima||Scale||1/350|
|Kit Number||N/A||Primary Media||Resin, White Metal, PE|
|Pros||BIG, good overall detail, everything you need included, famous subject||Cons||Some resin and metal parts warped, some metal parts have lots of flash, no decals, hull halves not a good fit, all parts require cleanup|
|Skill Level||Advanced||MSRP (USD)||$300 for the full hull kit|
The Kirishima was the 3rd Kongo-class battlecruiser built by Japan. The Kongos were originally designed in England but only Kongo was actually built there, the remaining 3 being built in Japan. As designed by England, Kirishima and her sisters shared a host of similarities with contemporary British battlecruisers, especially the separation of the two aft turrets. When completed in 1913 Kirishima was one of the largest and most powerful warships in the world, measuring over 700ft long and displacing around 27,500 tons, mounting 8 14" guns. The Kirishima underwent the first of two reconstructions in 1927, followed by a major conversion in 1934. In 1934 she was re-rated as a fast battleship and began to obtain the pagoda mast she would carry throughout her career. By 1937 she had obtained the "look" she would have through to the time of her sinking.
In December of 1941, Kirishima was part of the escort for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, her high speed making her an ideal carrier escort ship. She continues to escort carriers through the battle of Midway and early stages of Guadalcanal. Later in Guadalcanal the Kirishima and her sistership, Hiei, become active in transport escort and shore bombardment duties. On the night of November 13 Kirishima, Hiei, and their escorts become involved in a chaotic brawl with a force of American heavy cruisers, light cruisers, and destroyers. In the ensuing melee a large portion of the American fleet is either sunk or heavily damaged while the Hiei is severely damaged and would later be abandoned after incessant air attacks. Kirishima survived the battle relatively unscathed, despite being hit by an 8" shell.
On the night of November 14 the Kirishima and a fresh batch of escorts once again attempt to launch a night attack on the American airfield on Guadalcanal. This force is intercepted by an American force consisting of the battleships Washington and South Dakota, along with 4 destroyers. The destroyers are sunk and the South Dakota, victim of bad luck and electrical malfunctions, is unable to effectively aim her guns, is spotted and taken under fire from the entire Japanese fleet. Meanwhile, the Washington, having gone undetected, uses her superior radar fire control to smother the Kirishima with shells, scoring 9 16" hits and 40 5" hits. This leaves the Kirishima burning and wrecked. Both sides disengage soon afterwards but the damage to the Kirishima is too great and she sinks later that night with the loss of around 300 crewmen. Her wreck was eventually found, upside down, by famed shipwreck discoverer Robert Ballard in the 1990s.
As far as I know the Classic Warships Kirishima is the only Imperial Japanese Navy battleship on the market apart from the Yamato/Musashi. This is a pity but luckily both ships are at the top of their game in their respective media. The first thing that strikes you is the sheer size and weight of the model. There are 2 large chunks of resin in the box, each one about 25 ¾" long and a little more then 3" wide. The full hull Kirishima is divided, logically, at the waterline. This leads of a few advantages and a few problems. Clear among the advantages is that those modelers wishing to build a waterline kit can purchase it for a lower price and not have to worry about cutting across a very long hull. The problems are for the full-hull modeling club. By its very nature resin doesn't always cool and solidify 100% identical each time you make a casting, especially the larger ones. Because of this, the hull halves in my kit don't fit too well. The upper hull was slightly bowed, causing a gap of about 1/4 of an inch between the halves towards the bow and stern. Additionally, the upper hull was about ¼ longer then the lower hull.
A lot of detail is molded onto the deck already, including the turret barbettes, deck fittings, and the base of the superstructure. There are no anchor chains molded and none included in the kit, you have to provide your own. The instructions call for chain with 28 links per inch. Moving on, there are 49 additional resin pieces. These include all the pagoda levels, smokestacks, 14" turrets, 6" turrets, large boats, searchlight platforms, and boat deck level. Classic Warships decided to mold the pagoda mast's tripod legs within each level. This simplifies arrangement of the parts as the modeler won't have to worry about getting separate tripod legs precisely aligned. Instead, all a modeler has to do is align the individual levels to where the legs line up as best as possible. In my sample the smaller resin bits were a mix of both old and new. The older parts, identifiable by their yellowish color, weren't cast as well as the newer grey parts. The smokestacks in particular suffered from air bubbles in places nearly impossible to fix. 2 of the 14" turrets were also of the older castings and suffered some marred detail due to bubbles. The newer grey resin parts were superior to the older parts in every regard. I only found a few chipped splinter shields here and there, and a few minute pin holes in the grey parts. A few of the parts, both yellow and grey, were warped but nothing too serious as to be unfixable.
The rest of the smaller details are provided in white metal, around 250 in all. The metal parts are pretty nice but many of the longer ones suffer from being warped and almost all have some amount of flash on them. Metal parts are provided for the ship's float plane, small boats, mushroom vents, searchlights, 25mm double AA guns, double 5" AA guns, 6" gun barrels, 14" gun barrels, chocks, anchors, paravanes, masts, v-struts, propellers, cable reels, rangefinders, and a few other odds and ends. I might be mistaken but the modeler is on their own for propeller shafts. Some of the metal parts are duplicates, especially the 25mm AA guns and barrels. The 6" and 14" barrels are pretty rough and it might be better to seek replacements for them. There are no blast bags included for either the main or secondary batteries. Overall the metal parts are a mixed bag, metal has its limitations but to provide these parts in resin would increase the price drastically.
Rounding out the parts are the 115 or so photo-etched brass parts. These include the typical railings and ladders as well as catapults, cranes, radio masts, poles, boat davits, smokestack grilles, aircraft handling deck, lattice structures, and many other little details. These are nicely done. The railings aren't pre-measured and I don't know how much extra material is provided for screwups. No decal sheet is provided for the ship or its floatplane. The instructions are pretty nice but vague in some places. There are no parts numbers, parts names, or color callouts but this isn't very important. The ship was painted in only a few colors, the Sasebo navy yard version of Japanese Navy grey, a teak deck, gloss black funnel caps, and whatever color the blast bags were. The instructions do have a nice section with helpful resin modeling tips. Some decent references will be helpful in locating a few of the parts locations.
Steve once told me that the Kirishima is probably one of his tougher kits and just by looking at it I can say that's true. It is a large kit, with many detail parts, and the challenging multilevel pagoda mast. It is probably not the best choice of kit for a resin ship beginner like me but I chose it anyways. Where's the fun without a challenge? Besides, she is my favorite Japanese battleship and that's justification enough for buying it.