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Model Shipwrights

1/700 IJN Chikuma Heavy Cruiser

Rick's Model

Fred Rick has made a jolly good model out of Fujimi's 30 plus years old kit! This isn't really a step by step article, but I guess some history background will help understand the "real model" and its appearance! Now that we are running a Dreadnoughts Campaign, this is a good start to give you water in your mouth and the taste of cordite! Enjoy...

The History of IJN CA Chikuma, Tone Class

Commissioned in May 1939, IJN Chikuma, Tone class CA (heavy cruiser) of 11215-tons, was designed to provided a large seaplane capacity for long-range scouting missions, and was extensively employed with aircraft carriers. One of her planes flew a pre-strike reconnaissance mission over the Pearl Harbor on the infamous December day, and she participated in the capture of Wake Island. After six months of victories, Chikuma suffered the decisive defeat of the Japanese navy at the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. Later Chikuma operated with the carriers during the Guadalcanal Campaign, moderately damaged by American SBD attacks during Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October.

Sent to Rabaul to counter the 1943 Allied landings on Bougainville, Chikuma was lightly damaged by U.S. carrier planes on November '43. In 1944 she participated in a cruiser raid in the Indian Ocean, then fought in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Oppossing our invasion of Leyte, Philippines, Chikuma engaged U.S. escort carriers in the Battle off Samar, helping to sink USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73). Subsequentally, after a TBF blew her stern off with a torpedo, she scuttled later on 25 October 1944. The DD that rescued her crew was soon sunk and only one of Chikuma's survivors survived.

The Small rendition of the Chikuma

This is the 30+ year-old Fujimi kit, of which I still have the Tone, built 30+/- years ago! It shows its age.

The AAA guns are pretty good, as is the deck detail, but the rest of the kit features seam lines, sink marks, troublesome fit, and basic detail. The waterline base is a bit too big for the one-piece hull, trimming suggested. The funnel halves are off-register, and the exhaust cap doesn't fit well, either, leaving a gap between the exhaust and funnel. The ship had a white line around the stack, so I covered the gap with a piece of unpainted styrene--two birds, one stone.

But the emperor has new clothes. Fujimi released a version with decals for the brown linoleum that IJN covered its decks with. Brass bands ran between the segments (these are the raised lines running accross the deck), and brass band decals are here, too. The decals worked well. Amazing how well they lined up over the deck details. However, they were to tight, overlapping the barbettes and superstructure. One might want to cut small incisions in the clear areas that overlie metal deck fittings. Originally I used the Micro Scale system. Micro Sol crinkles the decals irrepairably. But Solvaset on decals applied over Micro Set settled great. The deck brass bands are excellent! There are Hinomarus for the five scoutplanes (They also reflect their age) supplied in the kit. Planes from a Skywaves' Heavy Ship detail set replace them, as well as the 20cm main battery, the 9m motor launches and davits for the forward whaleboats. Stretched sprue and fine copper wire rig the vessel, and copper wire makes the mast atop #2 main battery. Model Master acrylic IJN paint was airbrushed on, sealed, and weathered with water-soluble oils for rust and shading.

Overall, it is still a reissued old kit with sinkholes and mold marks, fair detail and some fit problems. Rivet-counting from a tome of IJN Cruisers of the Pacific War shows the AAA compliment is for late-1944 Tone. Chikuma mainly had single AAA guns in lieu of the triple mounts of the kit. I find the decals are novel but think they are not much a work saver over painting--except for the brass bands. Last night I checked Hobby Link Japan and this kit is out of stock.

Online Sources

Chikuma History
Under attack, Santa Cruz
Rabaul raid
Hobby Link Japan (online shop)
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - 12
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - 05
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - 07
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - 11
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - 08
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - 09
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - 10
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - 04
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - 06
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - 01
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - Decals
  • IJN Chikuma by JPTRR - Box
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

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...