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In-Box Review
1700
IJN Akagi (waterline)
Aircraft Carrier Akagi
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]


Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

Historical
Akagi was the flagship of First Air Fleet of the Kido Butai (carrier striking force). She was converted from an Amagi-class battlecruiser. A huge 41,000-ton ship launched in April, 1925, Akagi ("Red Castle") was named for a mountain in Japan. Originally built with three stacked flight decks and no island, she was modernized in 1938 with an island on a single flight deck. (Hasegawa actually makes a special edition 3-deck Akagi, kit 220, with biplanes and the A5M!) The modifications shed some 4,000 tons and raised the aircraft complement to 91.

Akagi fliers cut their teeth over China. In 1941 to spread Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, Akagi (Interestingly commanded by Captain Kiichi Hasegawa) led the attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. The big carrier then rampaged across the Pacific, attacking Rabual and around New Guinea, Australia, and Java, then sortied in the great Kido Butai raid into the Indian Ocean, which swept the Royal Navy back to Africa. During that action Akagi was the target of the only attack suffered by Kido Butai when a group of RAF Blenheim bombers straddled her with bombs in a surprise attack.

Akagi led the great June attack on Midway. Up to then her air group created havoc yet suffered only a handful of losses. At Midway they were snared in the chaotic (in)decision making of arming and rearming the strike aircraft when SBD dive-bombers from USS Enterprise arrived overhead. LtCdr Richard H. Best of VB-6 took his two wingmen and broke away from the confused USN attack on other Japanese carriers to target Akagi in one of those rare instances when an individual pilot can be credited with the killing blow. Only Best’s bomb hit square. The jumble of rearming aircraft and improperly stowed bombs and torpedoes magnified Best’s bomb blast and inflicted mortal, uncontrollable damage to Akagi. Glowing red from fires, "Red Castle" sank the next day.

in the box
I built this – or rather, a – Hasegawa Akagi model (kit 9201 ) over 30 years ago. While that issue’s box art was exciting, this kit’s box art is far superior in both drama and rendering and it really caught my eye to the extent that I intend to keep it as wall art. The package is a conventional cardboard lid-tray affair. Inside are three sealed crinkly cellophane bags of pieces and gray styrene sprues, and a large decal sheet plus a long rectangular accordion fold instruction sheet.

I don’t recall exactly what the 1970-issue of the sprues looked like yet I know this kit is much better! The 195 parts are cleanly and sharply molded without flash, sink holes, obvious ejection circles, and minimal mold seam lines. The hull has a slight texture to it. Molding finesses is also better than the original kit in that bulwarks and other walls around open decks are thinner. Not as thin as photo-etch, yet respectable. Yet some small objects, i.e., paravanes, are molded on, as are all ladders, doors, hatches. Carving them off and buying the photo-etch sets is an option.

    A. Hull left half, sponsons decks, superstructures, rangefinders
    B. Hull right half, decks, sponsons decks, superstructures, overhead crane tracks
    C. Flight deck, funnel half, support pylons and columns and braces
    D. Bridge, masts, crane, waterline bottom, funnel half, AA turrets and platforms
    E. Bulkheads, davits
    F. AA batteries 120mm (4.7-inch) anti-aircraft guns, AAA 25mm (1-inch) anti-aircraft guns mounts, anchors, auxiliary boats, masts, radio directional finder, secondary 20cm/50 caliber (7.9-inch) guns (2 sprues)
    G. Bulkheads, davits, struts
    Sprue of aircraft: A6M Zeros, B5N “kankō”, D3A "Kanbaku", D4Y Suisei

A metal weight is also included.

Hasegawa also offers a laser-cut wooden veneer for the deck as a separate accessory (Item 7152). They also made many photo-etched sets appropriate for Akagi.

The model is designed for conventional assembly. However, Hasegawa created several bulkheads for internal strength. Akagi was visually an interesting ship as she was not constructed with an (relatively) evenly contoured exterior around the hanger deck structure. There are many extended and recessed areas above the gunwale. Several decks are separately molded, as are areas of shell plating.
detail
Ship
Akagi had many portholes along the hull and those are molded crisply. Both raised and recessed lines show structural plates demarcations. The entire exterior of the ship features this good detail. Akagi had three types of deck covering – wood, plate, linoleum – and all three are molded where appropriate. Plate decking tread is far out of scale.

Flight deck
The flight deck has fine components molded onto it: planking; metal spacers; tie-downs; arresting gear, etc. Underneath are molded structural girders. A multi-route overhead track is provided for the underside above the launches. Separate girder and mast pylons are molded to support the deck. Although the girder supports were lattice construction, and the parts show lattice detail, they are not molded with open areas.

Structural supports
While they are not all as fine as a photo-etch replacement, numerous individual pylons and columns and braces support the sponsons decks and some gun mounts. They are admirably near-scale. The masts and radio antennas are as well.

Flak
AA and AAA guns have good detail for the scale. The 20cm secondary armament barrels are much finer than those in the older kit.

Launches
Several types of auxiliary boats are provided. Cutters have slat detail inside the hull and seats; one type of open launch has an open engine displayed; the enclosed motor launch cabins have soft detail. Individual davits are small and sharply molded.

Kōkūtai
One sprue of aircraft completes the model. These look like the same sprue kitted 40 years ago and are not up to the quality of the rest of the model.

Overall the level of fine detail for this model surpasses the original release of Akagi and should create a respectable model built OOB.

decals, instructions, paint
A long rectangular accordion fold instruction sheet guides the modeler through seventeen assembly steps. Several sub-steps are scattered throughout. A brief history of Akagi is related. Hasegawa also illustrates the sprues, which I appreciate. Black-and-white line art illustrates the process with specific parts emphasized by shading. Assembly is predominately guided via graphics and symbols with minimal text (in five languages).

I think the layout is peculiar. The steps are organized both linearly, and vertically in two columns. Simply paying attention should keep one on course.

Fourteen paint colors are specified. Three brands are listed, these being GSI, Mr. Color, and surprisingly Tamiya, although not mentioned by name. It is only indicated by Tamiya color codes. Apparently Mr. Color produces specific Imperial Japanese Navy color sets and these are referenced. A couple of Tamiya paint special mixes are also listed. Component color is shown in a diagram of the ship and aircraft, as well as keyed to specific pieces in the instructions. In fact, some specific aircraft camouflage and markings are shown. The main scheme duplicates Akagi on the Pearl Harbor attack. A Midway operation-specific decal is included.

The big decal sheet is impressive! It includes numerous battle flags and ensigns, flight deck marking, and an incredible array of hinomaru and specific unit (tail code "AI ") and section markings for each type of aircraft. These even include "no step" boundary lines for the "Kates". The decals appear thin with excellent opacity and registration. However, some deck markings have extensive clear film between the markings and that clear film has a matte finish. Hopefully it will not cause trouble with reflection of light.
Conclusion
For seven months Akagi played a significant part in the Pacific War. Modelers of Kido Butai would be hard pressed not to have Akagi in their collection.

The original waterline model of Akagi is long in the tooth and thus Hasegawa has done modelers a solid in retooling and enhancing the model. Molding is high quality and many parts are fairly fine. Detail is good. The big decal sheet is impressive!

The decal clear film has a matt finish and could cause trouble. The instruction sheet layout is peculiar. For all the retooling, Hasegawa retained the original sprue of aircraft that are not up to the quality of the rest of the model.

Overall the level of fine detail for this model surpasses the original release of Akagi and should create a respectable model built OOB. I appreciate Hasegawa’s effort and look forward to launching the model. Recommended.

Please tell vendors and retailers that you saw this model here - on Model Shipwrights.
SUMMARY
Highs: Molding is high quality and many parts are fairly fine. Detail is good. The big decal sheet is impressive!
Lows: The decal clear film has a matt finish and could cause trouble. The instruction sheet layout is peculiar. For all the retooling, Hasegawa retained the original sprue of aircraft that are not up to the quality of the rest of the model.
Verdict: Overall the level of fine detail for this model surpasses the original release of Akagi and should create a respectable model built OOB. I appreciate Hasegawa’s effort and look forward to launching the model.
  Scale: 1:700
  Mfg. ID: 227
  Suggested Retail: varies
  Related Link: 3-Deck Akagi
  PUBLISHED: Oct 10, 2014
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.04%

Our Thanks to Hobbico!
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2017 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Great review, Fred, thanks for letting us know. I find IJN carriers fascinating in their complexity of design & execution. This kit looks like a winner.
OCT 10, 2014 - 09:54 AM
i just got this kit on the end of september...pretty big and detailed ship...
OCT 18, 2014 - 09:48 PM
i agree with you that the aircraft included on the kit is old and not up to the ships standard.
OCT 18, 2014 - 09:51 PM
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