Aoshima 1/700 IJN Battleship Yamashiro
KIT #: B046
PRICE: 750 yen in the 1970s
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Waterline


Yamashiro (山城, "Mountain castle", named for Yamashiro Province) was the second of two Fusō-class dreadnought battleships built for the Imperial Japanese Navy. Launched in 1915 and commissioned in 1917, she initially patrolled off the coast of China, playing no part in World War I. In 1923, she assisted survivors of the Great Kantō earthquake.

Yamashiro was modernized between 1930 and 1935, with improvements to her armor and machinery and a rebuilt superstructure in the pagoda mast style. Nevertheless, with only 14-inch guns, she was outclassed by other Japanese battleships at the beginning of World War II, and played auxiliary roles for most of the war.

By 1944, though, she was forced into front-line duty, serving as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Shōji Nishimura's Southern Force at the Battle of Surigao Strait, the southernmost action of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. During fierce night fighting in the early hours of 25 October against a superior American force, Yamashiro was sunk by torpedoes and naval gunfire. Nishimura went down with his ship, and only 10 crewmembers survived.


In the early 1970s, the four major Japanese model companies, Aoshima, Fujimi, Hasegawa, and Tamiya started a program of reproducing the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1/700 scale. They chose waterline type ships as the best option as it meant they did not have to reproduce the lower hull nor provide a stand. The series was quite popular in Japan and at one time, thanks to the favorable dollar/yen rate at the time, your editor managed to acquire the entire series on his detachments to Atsugi, Japan.

One thing the series accomplished was to make 1/700 a standard ship model scale and by extension, 1/350. Later on in the 1970s they added the ships of other nations such as Essex class aircraft carriers and the Bismark/Tirpitz battleships. Today, 1/700 scale is hugely popular with ship modelers and there are a plethora of military ship kits in this scale.

This kit, as all of Aoshima's kits of the day, is relatively basic. Photo etch had never been heard of and many of the really small details have been molded onto the ship. The various masts are a bit on the clunky side and all the detailing is raised. The three major parts of the ship that fit on the hull are built up of assemblies and these have a variety of AA guns and searchlights on them. The six main turrets simply fit onto the hull without any retainers. The waterline lower hull is molded in red and the kit includes a hefty weight. There are three E6N 'Dave' floatplanes included.  


If memory serves (and sometimes it doesn't), these kits could be built rather quickly. However, a careful builder will get a much better result. The parts should be test fit prior to the application of cement to ensure proper alignment, especially the tall 'pagoda' bridge structure. The end result is actually a pretty nice model.


November 2016

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