IJN Hatsuzuki 1/200

Greetings all!

I began this build log March 24, 2020 on the OLD Model Shipwrights. Rather than send everyone there to see progress so far, I’m reposting it here. My apologies for these long initial entries!

Nichimo’s 1/200th scale destroyer Hatsuzuki.

The ship has a compelling history:

Designed as an escort for aircraft carrier battle groups, Hatsuzuki (“New Moon in Autumn”) was one of the Imperial Navy’s excellent Akizuki-class anti-aircraft destroyers. Commissioned in December 1942, Hatsuzuki served throughout the Pacific War as a fleet escort. Her first major battle was the June, 1944 Battle of the Philippine Sea as part of Admiral Ozawa’s Force A, where she assisted the torpedoed carrier Taiho and helped rescue survivors. Four months later she was again with Ozawa as an escort with his Northern Carrier Force during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Again she found herself engaged in the unhappy task of rescuing survivors from sunken carriers, this time from Zuiho and Zuikaku.

It was while so engaged that her great moment came. As Hatsuzuki was rescuing the survivors along with sister destroyer Wakasuki and the smaller Kuwa, the group was surprised by a U.S. force of four cruisers and three destroyers. In an act worthy of the more famous U.S.N. “Taffy 3” destroyer action a few hours earlier that day at San Bernardino Strait, Captain Amano Shigetaka detached Hatsuzuki to attack the U.S. force to cover the escape of Wakasuki and Kuwa. In a two hour running battle the fast, agile ship made repeated real and feint torpedo attacks and fired her guns continuously, managing to straddle the cruiser Santa Fe and shower the Wichita with splinters. More importantly, these all-out attacks distracted the U.S. force as Wakasuki and Kuwa withdrew. The destroyer put up such a fight that American observers identified the ship variously as an Aoba-class heavy cruiser or an Agano-class light cruiser – but the end was inevitable. The lone ship was, in the words of a USN battle report, “literally punched to pieces” under the combined firepower of four cruisers and three destroyers. All aboard Hatsuzuki, including the Destroyer Division Commander, perished. Nevertheless, the sacrifice enabled Wakasuki and Kuwa with their deckloads of survivors as well as the light cruiser Isuzu (which had been assisting the sinking carrier Chiyoda), to escape.

Despite its 1975 vintage, Nichimo’s big destroyer is a beautiful kit.

I had started the Hatsuzuki with the greatest enthusiasm, but I only got as far as completing the hull before running out of steam.

I did make some progress, though. Nichimo intended the model as a runner, so it came with a motor, battery box, gearbox, and a set of metal propeller shafts. I omitted the running gear and replaced unrealistically narrow shafts with correctly sized brass tubes.

Also, the kit-provided plastic display pedestals, though nicely shaped and beautifully gold plated, had ugly seams in them, so I replaced them with pieces adapted from brass drawer pulls.

Even at this early stage and placed on a temporary base, the graceful shape of the Akizuki-class destroyer is evident!

The molded decks come with a good deal of detail including non-slip patterns on the steel decks and brass capstrips over the linoleum covered areas. The kit capstrips were sharply molded but just a bit heavy, so I scraped them away.

I made rows of tiny holes with the point of my X-Acto to assure proper placement of new capstrips after the decks have been painted.

The new linoleum deck brass capstrips will be those from Gold Medal Models’ 1/200 scale 2-Bar IJN Railing set.

Nichimo had included nicely molded anchor chains on the focsle, but they seemed too two-dimensional, so I scraped them off. The chain test fitted here should look more convincing.

I also plan to replace the kit fairleads (right) with better resin parts from Corsair Armada.

The aft deckhouse has some attractive molded on detail including open doors. I carved out the blanked off area behind the open doorways, but this revealed the lack of any bulkheads or even a deck within, so I added some basic shapes inside with sheet plastic.

Not much is visible through the open door, but at least now it won’t be an unrealistic void in there! The white rectangle on the exterior is a closed vent cover.

The starboard side.

The molded doors on the kit weren’t bad, but they weren’t consistently rendered throughout the kit, so I scraped them away and replaced them with photoetch brass doors from Tom’s Modelworks (set No. 2012).

Also, I cut away a pair of poorly represented pipes molded on the deck. I’m not sure what these were for, but I suspect they had something to do with the oxygen torpedoes stored nearby.

New ones were fabricated from 1.5 oz. solder wire to match pictures. I also added the various cowl and mushroom vents to the deckhouse roof.

After opening up the blanked off scuttles to represent open ports, I also drilled small holes to add the handrails to the sides.

The tiny ringed handrail support fittings are from Gold Medal Models 1/200 IJN 2-Bar Railing set. The handrails themselves are 34 gauge brass wire.

The Gold Medal Models 1/200 IJN 2-Bar Railing set also contains individual hand grabs to replace the molded-on kit representations. The set includes a nice little jig for drilling the mounting holes for the grabs.

They create a much better effect than the molded grabs in this large scale.

The kit stairs to the emergency steering station are basic…

…but the stairs from the Tom’s Modelworks IJN Destroyer set will look a whole lot better.

I also replaced the Tom’s vent intake screens I’d installed earlier with more delicate ones made from repurposed GMM 1/350 floater net basket parts. One of these was also used to replace the little platform at the top of the stairs.

The kit-provided hose reels for the aft deckhouse were little more than vague lumps; I replaced them with new ones from Gold Medal Models 1/350 scale Assorted Cable Reels set.

GMM parts also replace a reel that had been vaguely molded into the side of the torpedo reload bank.

The drums are from the Cable Drums for Cable Reels resin set from North Star.

Set in place, these little reels look good, but they do tend to disappear a bit into the surrounding detail!

The minesweeping paravane part in the kit is accurate but incomplete. I dressed it up with plastic tail fins and floats as well as other details from photoetch scraps and wire.

As far as I’ve been able to determine, the Akizuki-class destroyers carried only one of these, which seems strange as paravanes were normally used in pairs to simultaneously sweep both sides of the ship. Anyway, it looks the part stowed on the bulkhead.

Nichimo’s Hatsuzuki kit is actually a retooled version of their earlier Akizuki release with additional parts reflecting changes the real ships underwent in service. As built, the Akizuki-class ships, including Hatsuzuki, had a second type 94 main battery director mounted on the aft deckhouse tower.

This was later replaced with an additional type 96 25mm triple antiaircraft mount.

The gun platform part provided by Nichimo isn’t bad, but I sharpened up the shields with .010X.125 inch plastic strip. The ammunition box covers are from the GMM Gold Plus Yamato Details set.

Also, as in this postwar view of near-sister Haruzuki, there should be some additional supports under the aft AA platform:

These supports were omitted by Nichimo, so I added them with plastic rod and strip.

The Hatsuzuki’s single funnel assembly is dimensionally accurate and goes together quickly, but I added some improvements.

The uptake tops were molded flat to accommodate solid plastic caps which I don’t intend to use, so I thinned the sides and lined the openings with sheet plastic shaped to rounded edges. Photoetch brass funnel cap gratings from the Tom’s Modelworks IJN Destroyer set will go over these later. The raised piece around the circumference of the stack replaces a kit representation of this feature which I’d damaged during assembly.

The solid kit air intake duct gratings were replaced with etched brass upgrades from the Tom’s Modelworks set.

The kit funnel sides came with faint footrails molded in them, but I scraped these off in preparation for better ones from the Gold Medal Models 1/200 IJN 2-Bar Railing etched brass set.

After marking out the locations, I opened the locator holes for the support fittings with my smallest (a No. 80) drill bit. I also drilled out the holes for the line of handgrabs at the front of the funnel.

The footrail supports were fit into the holes and held temporarily with plastic cement; once I was confident with the positioning they were secured more permanently with tiny dabs of super glue.

The individual handgrabs were secured in the same way. This photo also shows the 34 gauge brass wire footrails test fitted through the supports; I have since installed additional supports to enable the footrails to go completely around the funnel.

More handgrabs were attached to the funnel side. The way they curve around the vent grate may seem odd, but that arrangement is well attested in the Gakken Reikishi-Gunzo IJN Akizuki-class Destroyers book and both the Miyukikai and Kagero scale plans I consulted. Go figure.

What Nichimo interpreted as small grilles on the sides of the funnel trunking were in fact access hatches.

I trimmed them away and replaced them with parts from the Gold Medal Models 1/200 scale Yamato detail set.

More progress with the funnel; the various steam and discharge pipes have been added.

The kit pipes come with solid openings which I reamed out before installation. The port and aft parts come as single pieces, and the longer pipe on the starboard side came in two parts. The upper part was good enough, but the longer lower portion was molded so badly out of round that I couldn’t make it presentable no matter how much I worked with it. I finally just replaced it with a Plastruct 1.3mm (.050”) styrene rod (part No. 90857). Also, the small pipe around the edge of the big saddle air intake duct abaft funnel was added using Plastruct .3mm (.010”) styrene rod (90850).

The large air intake ducts on either side of forward funnel uptakes on the Akizuki-class destroyers were sectional with the components secured together with prominent vertical joins. Not many close up pictures have survived, but you can see this feature on these postwar images of near-sisters Suzutzuki and Natsuzuki.

Nichimo accurately portrayed the shape of the ducts, but they omitted the joins – so I added them using Plastruct .3mm (.010”) styrene square rod (90709).

Another detail is the doubled cabling alongside the funnel.

These cables are only discernable in a few photos and I don’t know what they might have been for, but I replicated what plans in Kagero’s The Japanese Destroyer Akizuki and in the Gakken Reikishi-Gunzo IJN Akizuki-class Destroyers books indicated.

The cabling, applied to both sides, was made with two lengths of Plastruct .3mm (.010”) styrene rod (90850) glued together side by side and then set into place in segments to cover the complex shapes of the structure.

In the profile drawings by Mariusz Motyka in Kagero Publishing’s The Japanese Destroyer Akizuki (ISBN 978-83-62878-69-7) the cabling end points forward are obscured by the whaleboat.

One of the isometric drawings does show the cabling forward, but it is shown terminating suddenly on the funnel uptake. My guess is that it actually continued and connected somehow to the command bridge forward.

The endpoints aft are shown disappearing into the shack aft of the funnel.

Based on this, I installed the cables to follow the curves of the funnel assembly and lead into the shack.

I made square holes for the entry points in the structure.

A friend translated the name of the shack labeled in the Japanese language Gakken book as the “Direction Measure Room.” This makes sense as the radio direction finder (RDF) loop will go on the roof later – so a radio plotting room? If so, the cables might well have been communication links to the bridge and command center forward.

Another added bit was the ship’s steam horn (I had removed Nichimo’s mediocre molded-on version of it earlier).

The new one was built up from Plastruct .5mm (.020”) styrene rod (90851) with a .023” disc cut from .015” plastic (using the Waldron Model Products Sub-Miniature punch and die set) and a modified 1/700 scale IJN type 22 radar part.

Nichimo faithfully reproduced the numerous air intake cowls throughout the ship.

The renderings are basically good, but the 1970s moldings were slightly out of round and showed the vent mouths as solid.

After cleaning up the mold lines, I opened up the cowl faces with a round Dremel bit twisted by hand.

There were six of these on the funnel structure.

A small detail missing from the kit is the locker located between the cowl vents beneath the forward exhaust uptake.

Apparently no photographs of it exist, but it is shown on plans in the Gakken Reikishi-Gunzo IJN Akizuki-class Destroyers book. My Japanese friend translated the characters as “wood charcoal storage space.” This seemed odd to me, but she assured me that charcoal (binchōtan) is essential for traditional Japanese cooking. This actually makes sense as the galley and mess areas were located in the spaces just forward of it under the bridge structure. Also, she noted that the rectangular box at the top center of the same drawing was labeled as the ship’s vegetable locker.

I fabricated the little charcoal bin from .020 sheet plastic and a spare etched door.

Additional details added to the structure include oxygen and acetylene cylinders.

These were 3D-printed resin aftermarket items from Model Monkey https://www.model-monkey.com/product-page/1-200-acetylene-and-oxygen-cylinders. The parts are produced using a different technology than that used by other 3D-printing companies like Shapeways, making them sharp and smooth without the Lego-like steps found on most 3D-printed parts. They are excellent!

Used for welding, gas cylinders were commonly stowed outside the superstructures of USN and IJN ships of the Pacific War era.

Having already attached the “Direction Measure Room” (radio plot) to the funnel assembly, I set about preparing the 25mm gun positions that will be attached to its roof.

The platform and its supports look well enough, but the molded ammunition boxes on top are featureless and, despite my efforts to improve them, a bit uneven. I ended up cutting the boxes away with a plan to replace them with 3D-printed parts.

I ordered new 3D printed ammo boxes in “Smoothest Fine Detail Plastic” from Shapeways. While they look good in the photo, up close they are a bit rough with the uneven, layered surfaces typical of 3D-printed parts. I may end up using them, but they really didn’t turn out to be much of an improvement over the kit parts. Disappointing!

For the present, I’ve attached the AA platforms over the radio room without the ammo boxes.

Other details added to the ‘midships AA platforms include photoetched doors from the Tom’s Modelworks 1/200 IJN Doors set (No. 2017) on the platform column supports, as well as these little parts:

There were eight of these located throughout the ship; I had supposed them to be ribbed gas canisters.

As it turns out, they were actually mooring fenders in stowage racks, as seen in this postwar view of Harutzuki.

Realizing this, I thought the rack detail looked mushy, so I scraped it off and replaced it with scap bits of 1/400 scale etched railing bent to shape.


More AA!

The first batch Akizuki-class destroyers were built with two 25mm twin mounts over the radio room aft of the funnel. As the war went on and the Allied air threat increased, these were upgraded to triples. In 1943-44 the ships also had additional 25mm platforms installed beside their funnels for two more triple mounts. By the end of her life, Hatsuzuki’s 25mm AA suite had increased from an initial pair of double 25mm guns to 5 triple and 24 single mounts.

The kit funnel side AA platforms are decent, but I replaced the shields with thinner .010 X .125 inch plastic strip.

The Nichimo-provided mounts test fitted here actually aren’t bad, but they will eventually be swapped out for Veteran Models’ outstanding resin and brass type 96 triple 25mm AA guns (VTW20045). I sure wish Veteran would release a set of ammo boxes for them as well…!

The next major assembly is the bridge structure.

After assembling the lower portion, I removed the molded-on footholds, handgrabs, solid navigation bridge windows and various other details. All this will be replaced with better etch and plastic representations later.

In addition, the too-thick bridge wing sides were replaced with sheet plastic.

I also added the extension to the back of the structure found on the later Akizuki-class destroyers that were equipped with radar. This extension housed the “electric searching room” – what the USN would have called the radar plot.

Plans in the Japanese-language Kojinsha Maru Mechanic Mechanism of Japanese Destroyers (ISBN 4-87687-154-X C2053) show the layout of the Akizuki-class navigation bridge.

The plans also show the small chartroom just aft of it (in pale green).

Starting with the “ocean map board” (chart table), I built up the general shapes including bulkheads, part of the internal support tripod, and an etched brass door. I didn’t detail it further as this space will be almost impossible to see on the completed model anyway… but I couldn’t resist putting at least the basics in there!

On the navigation bridge forward I trimmed away the solid kit windows (yuck!) as well as the vague molded-in nubs that were supposed to represent the helm and other equipment there. I also added small wedge shaped bulkhead support braces.

Kagero Publishing’s The Japanese Destroyer Akizuki by Mariusz Motyka and Lukasz Stach (ISBN 978-83-62878-69-7) has a beautiful rendering of the navigation bridge interior.

Following this and the images in the Kojinsha Maru Mechanic Mechanism of Japanese Destroyers book, I built up Hatsuzuki’s type 90 magnetic compass and helm from plastic sheet and sprue scrap. The wheel is an etched brass part from Gold Medal Models 1/350 Emden/Dresden set, and the quadrantal correctors (the iron spheres fitted in brackets on either side of the binnacle) began life as the rollerballs in ball point pens.

I also built up simple gyrocompass, repeater, and engine order telegraph assemblies.

Test fitted in place, they show just how crowded the navigation bridges were on these small ships!

As I began scratchbuilding the Hatsuzuki’s bridge interior I found that there are a number of 1/200 scale 3D printed Imperial Japanese Navy navigation bridge parts commercially available as well.

I’ll still use my scratchbuilt components, but the bridge will now also sport Shapeways 3D-printed IJN gyrocompass repeaters and voice tubes by ModelShipJP (Shingo Nakamura).

These parts are beautifully designed, although the Shapeways production standard of “Smoothest Fine Detail Plastic” is inferior to the Model Monkey 3D-resin gas cylinder parts I had used earlier. Still, the frost-like surfaces of the parts can be smoothed with steel wool, and once painted they will do a lot to busy-up the already crowded navigation bridge.

This postwar picture of the Yukikaze’s bridge gives a sense of just how crammed with equipment these WWII destroyer pilothouses were.

As with the voice tubes, the 3D printed 12cm horizontal and high angle binoculars initially looked great when I received them.

Unfortunately, they too were covered with those 3D printing “artifacts” that had to be cleaned off. The rough leftovers proved tedious to remove as the parts are very small and the plastic is extremely brittle (I broke several during this cleaning).

Despite the difficulties, though, the parts do clean up nicely. Here they are test fitted alongside the other equipment in Hatsuzuki’s pilothouse.

After completing the pilothouse interior I turned my attention to the bridge roof and upper air defense station.

Nichimo’s rendition is accurate but rather heavy. Since this is a high visibility area, I made the extra effort to replace the kit detail with finer structures built up from sheet plastic.

The sides were built to match the bridge wing sides. The complex-looking construction at the front was a directional wind baffle; it deflected wind from the forward motion of the ship upward to allow the lookouts in the open air station to work unimpeded by wind blast.


After drilling out the mounting holes for the etched brass handgrabs with a tiny No. 80 bit (56 holes for 28 handgrabs on the front and sides!), I set about drilling out and fitting the 19 brass mounts for the footrails.

The footrails themselves are 34 gauge brass wire strung through the tiny etched brass eyelets from the Gold Medal Models set.

Navigation light assemblies and wiring entry points to the structure had been molded on by Nichimo just forward of the bridge wings, but they were a little flat. I scraped them away and built up new ones from plastic sheet and rod.

Having attached the GMM brackets and wire footrails, I dry fitted the handgrabs as well to get a sense of how the finished structure will look. Then I started wondering if the 1/200 footrails, and especially the support brackets, might be a little heavy…

so I temporarily attached a small section of alternative footrail cut from 1/400 scale safety railing as a comparison.

The 1/200 fittings are nice, but this photo of the Yugumo-class destroyer Makinami in 1943 shows the footrails to have been fairly fine – more like the 1/400 test piece.

Looks like I’ll be making some changes again…

Before tearing out the footrail mounts I did some tests to make sure there was a better alternative.

Taking a scrap piece, I mounted the GMM fittings with 34 gauge wire as I had on the bridge structure. At the bottom I attached the piece cut from 1/400 scale etched brass railing, and the middle section was made from .010 inch plastic rod.

I painted the samples to get a better idea of how each would ultimately look.

The top piece looked the best for detail, but the mounts remained oversized. The etched brass rail piece at bottom was definitely the finest, but at this large scale it was evident that the flat etch lacked the round outline of the original footrails. The middle piece made from plastic rod turned out to be the best; it was a nice combination of the two, being convincingly three-dimensional yet fine enough to appear correctly scaled.

Having committed to redoing the footrails, I removed the etched brass supports and filled in the 13 holes. The finer plastic supports will be closer together than the larger brass ones had been, so 21 new holes were drilled out with a #80 bit. A section of 1/400 brass railing served as a template to establish the spacing.

The .010 inch plastic rod supports went into the new holes. I left them long to make it easier to correct their orientation as the cement dried.

To trim them down to size, I made a simple tool from a piece of .015 inch plastic sheet with a .018 inch hole made with the smallest punch from the Waldon Model products Sub-Miniature punch & die set.

Placing the hole over the supports, I cut each rod down to establish a uniform .015 inch length.

Then the rail was attached with small application of Tamiya Extra Thin Cement.

With the footrails in place, I secured the 28 brass handgrabs.

Nichimo had provided molded-in doors on the bridge structure – including one inaccurately placed on the portside at foredeck level which would have been impossible to use due to the discharge and vent pipes located there! Anyway, all the doors were a little crude, so I removed them.

Replacing these are photoetch brass doors from Tom’s Modelworks 1/200 IJN Doors set (No. 2017). I also installed one to represent the inner face of the door in the chartroom. It will be almost impossible to see in the dark space in there through those small bridge windows, but why not? :slight_smile:

Also added were the various supports under the bridge wing platforms and beneath the radar room aft. These supports varied among ships of the class, and they aren’t discernable on the only surviving photo of Hatsuzuki. I followed the configuration of the bridge wing supports on her sister Akizuki with the forward two being wedges and the next two being free standing buttresses.

As for the supports for the overhanging “electric searching room” (radar room), I followed the above drawing from IJN Akizuki-class Destroyers Pacific War Series Volume 23, Gakken Reikishi-Gunzo (ISBN 4-05-602063-9 C9421).

Tucked in at the back of Hatsuzuki’s bridge structure below the radar room was a large box on a small platform.

Nichimo’s instruction sheet shows it in place, but the unfamiliar language left me clueless as to what it was. Fortunately, my Japanese friend enlightened me – it was a vegetable locker! It may seem strange to keep food in storage outside the ship like that, but in an era before refrigeration was common this arrangement on ships was not unusual.

The kit parts look reasonable enough, but an item of such vital importance deserves an upgrade!

I started with the platform. Rather than reworking the kit part, I simply used it as a guide to cut a piece of perforated .5mm etched brass sheet from Special Shapes (item SSM-15) and then framed it with Evergreen .010 X .020 inch plastic strip.

As for the locker itself, the kit part seemed too plain. I couldn’t find any pictures of a Japanese version, but this image of the spud locker on the USS Arizona wreck (it is the box under the flag platform) shows it to have been louvered. Japanese lockers differed in style, but they too would undoubtedly have had vents to enable air circulation.

To simulate louvered vents, I borrowed screens from the Gold Medal Models 1/200 scale Gold Plus Yamato Details set.

Test fitted and placed under temporary guard, the little locker stands ready to victual Hatsuzuki’s 300 men!

Moving along to the top of the bridge structure, I took another look at the improvements previously made to the upper air defense station.

I’d followed Nichimo’s original depiction and enclosed the bulwarks just behind the round mount for the type 94 fire director.

Unfortunately, a closer look at the Miyuki-Kai plans revealed that the real bulwarks there were actually open aft to allow access from the level below… so a bit of revision was needed.

It’s never fun slicing into previous construction work!

With the bulwarks opened up, I added small access platforms cut from the same perforated .5mm etched brass sheet from Special Shapes that I had used for the vegetable locker platform. As with that larger platform, these were framed with Evergreen .010 X .020 inch plastic strip.

With the ladder rungs in place the logic of this arrangement is evident; without the access platforms and bulwark openings, a ladder in that location wouldn’t have made much sense!

The other means of access to the upper air defense station was from inside the navigation bridge.

Nichimo omitted this detail, so I cut an opening in the upper deck to accommodate an inclined ladder.

The inclined ladder is an etched brass part from Gold Medal Models’ 1/350 scale USS Hornet set. The scale should make the part undersized for 1/200, but it has great detail and fits pretty well with my 1/200 sailor, so why not?

Here the ladder is test fitted in the navigation bridge. The plans I consulted showed a couple of supports in there too, so these were added from .010”X.020” strip.

Hatsuzuki was originally built with two type 94 (4.5 meter) fire directors for laying her eight 100mm (4 inch)/65 cal Type 98 main guns. Later, the aft director was replaced with a 25mm triple gun mount for additional anti-aircraft protection; the 1944 Hatsuzuki I’m depicting carried only the one director forward.

Anyway, the kit part is accurate but rather plain, so I dressed it up a bit. The handgrabs were made from Plastruct .3mm (.010”) styrene rod (90850) inserted into holes drilled with my trusty No. 80 bit, and canvas “bloomers” for the optical arms were molded from Milliput. Lens hoods on the arms are .058” discs punched from .020” plastic sheet. Finally, those tiny white specks in the picture represent hinges for the numerous doors that could be opened up. I cut these from miniscule strips of .005” sheet plastic.

The standard medium range visual observation equipment aboard Imperial Navy warships was the 12cm binocular which came in open and hooded varieties. Nichimo’s kit provides both types, but the parts are uninspiring.

The 3D printed 12cm binoculars by ModelshipJP I used for the navigation bridge interior were good alternatives, but they needed a little work to be ready for use on the weather decks. Aside from cleanup, the mounts had to be reduced about 1mm in height so they would sight properly over the bridge bulwarks.

Also, I added tiny seats from .058” discs cut from .010” thick plastic. A semicircular notch cut with a round file helps them fit on to the cylindrical pedestals.

After adding a quick coat of paint to my test piece, I attached the seat and added a new .081” disc (in .010” thick plastic) base – both made with the ever-useful Waldron Model Products Sub-Miniature punch and die set.

Test fitted in place on the upper air defense station, the little binocular mount looks the part. Eight more of these to go!

ModelShipJP (Shingo Nakamura, through Shapeways) produces 3D printed replacement IJN 12cm binocular parts that are well designed and wonderfully detailed. There are even the two distinct types (horizontal and high angle) represented.

Unfortunately, they are also fragile and awkward to work with. Polishing off the unrealistic “frost” printing residue from the tiny parts is the first task, and it must be done with great care as the material is extremely brittle – I broke several while cleaning them!

I broke a couple more while shortening the mounts to the correct heights for these positions, and getting the new bases correctly aligned on the clear plastic pedestals was a challenge. In the end, though, the finished fittings are worth the effort.

Here they are test fitted on the port bridge wing.

After prepping five more of the 12cm binocular mounts, I test fitted them to the air defense station on the roof of the bridge.

These were similar to the horizontal fittings on the bridge wings except these were the subtly different high angle type with alternate eye pieces. Go ModelShipJP!

Among the other equipment here are two kit 66cm hooded range finders. These were upgraded with stands adapted from 12cm binocular mounts that I had broken earlier when prepping the binocular parts.

Also test fitted were a scratchbuilt gyrocompass repeater (in front of the large type 94 fire director) and 3D printed voice tubes from another IJN bridge fittings set by ModelshipJP. The brass etched mesh forward represents the non-slip wooden grating in this spot.

Though not as easy to work as styrene plastic, the new 3D printed parts go a long way to update Nichimo’s basic injection molded shapes.

Although I could find no photographs, my references indicate a group of small discs on top of the pilothouse roof. They would have been too small for a man to get through, but the 1/100 scale model in IJN Akizuki-class Destroyers Pacific War Series book shows them to open like little hatches. I suppose they must have been for ventilation.

Whatever their purpose, I added five .063” discs (punched from paper-thin .005” plastic) to the navigation bridge roof.

There were also a pair of signalman’s platforms on the navigation bridge roof edges.

These were made with small sections of brass handrail from Gold Medal Models 1/200 IJN 2-Bar Railing set and .089” discs cut from .010” plastic sheet.

Rolled around the tap used to make the disc, the rails were formed into neat cylinder shapes. Then I wrapped them around the next smaller tap to help the brass to grip the disc bases when fitted over them.

Perched on the extreme edges of the pilothouse roof, these little cages provided a modicum of safety for the signalmen in these precarious positions high above the main deck.

Having already added braces under the bridge wings, it seemed right to add a few under the upper air defense station too.

With the basics of the bridge structure in place, I made a start on the windows.

I initially thought this would be a simple matter of inserting window frames from .010”X.020” strip… but when test fitted they just didn’t look quite right. Comparing it with photos, I realized the windows were too tall and too uniform – especially at the top.

Part of the solution was to add a shim to the underside of the roof…

Shims were also added to the lower parts of the front windows and an additional shim added to the roof of each side.

These measures reduced the various windows to the correct heights, but once smoothed and faired in it became evident that my changes had created an inaccurate overhang, giving the bridge “face” a sort of heavy brow ridge. Yuck.

Taking another look at the roof after removing the shims, I discovered my mistake:

I had previously added a thin strip around the perimeter of the roof to sharpen the outline, but in doing so I had disrupted the geometry of the structure. This became painfully evident when I started to add the windows!

After trimming the roof edge to even it up again with the lower part of the structure, I fitted new shims. Now things line up perfectly. This time I also included a small ridge fitted to the outer edge of the roof shim from .010”X.010” strip.

This new shim would stand a modest .010” (two scale inches) proud of the structure to frame the windows. I also added similar pieces to the lower frames.

Cleaned up and test fitted with the vertical frames in place, the assembly captures the look of the Hatsuzuki’s windows much more successfully than my first attempt!

The pilothouse vertical window frames are attached only to the lower bridge to allow the roof to be removed for later installation of the interior parts and for painting.

This is how things look at the moment with the roof removed.

Just for fun, I added a basic support structure to the pilothouse overhead from Evergreen .010”X.030” strip.

It won’t be easy to see, but the structure is in there for anyone who cares to look!

All that handling and reshaping while fitting the window frames caused some collateral damage, but after re-applying the little round roof vent hatches and replacing the damaged fender racks and radar room supports, the bridge is good to go.

I liked the look of the brass footrails the on the funnel, but since I had changed the style of the bridge footrails, these would also have to be redone to match.

I wasn’t too happy about this, but this picture of IJN Oboro showed that the finer footrail supports would actually be more accurate

…so I bit the bullet and pulled out the wire, removed the 21 brass footrail support fittings, and filled in all the holes.

Another look at my references also showed the need to add additional supports with closer spacing as well as another row along the funnel cap. To make the changes I drilled out 50 new holes (using some scrap 1/400 railing for spacing) and cemented .010” plastic rods into them as had been done on the bridge structure.

I again used my homemade tool (a .015” sheet with a .018” hole punched in it) to help trim the supports to a uniform .015” length.

The footrails were attached to the supports with Tamiya Extra Thin cement.

I’m definitely not fond of rework, but the footrails are now more accurate – and the bridge and funnel structure details match!

Now that the basic structures are mostly complete, it is time for the weapons!

I’ll start with the ship’s Type 92 torpedo launcher.

Conceived as pure antiaircraft escorts, the Akizuki class was initially designed without torpedo armament, but the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff ordered the inclusion of torpedo attack capability to make the ships better all-around destroyers. This proved useful for Hatsuzuki; although she never actually hit an enemy with her torpedoes, at Leyte Gulf the fearsome reputation of these weapons enabled her to single handedly hold off a force of U.S. cruisers and destroyers for over an hour while she made real and feint torpedo runs at them.

Anyway, Nichimo’s kit part is a solid representation of the Type 92 launcher with all its major features credibly reproduced. My only gripe would be that the top, made as a separate part, doesn’t fit precisely on to the structure and leaves an inaccurate step where the sides and top join.

After filling in the steps with super glue and leveling them up on both sides, I turned my attention to the compressed air lines connected to the tubes aft. There are faint molded representations of them on the kit tubes, but they are undersized. These lines fed the pressurized air that launched the 6,000 pound torpedoes, and they were in fact quite substantial. I scraped away the molded feed lines and added new ones from .040 and .020 inch plastic rod.

With the body shape corrected and the compressed air feed lines secured, I drilled out the locator holes for the handgrabs and side rails.

The 16 rail holes along the launcher sides were drilled with a #80 bit using a scrap of old 1/500 scale railing as a jig to ensure uniform spacing. The 10 holes for the ladder were drilled using the spacing tool included with the AKA Model 1/350 etched brass ladder steps (PD3503).

After drilling the holes, I replaced the 9 viewports with new ports cut from .005” plastic with .010”X.010” rainguards. I also rebuilt the rainguard assemblies over the doors.

As with the footrails on the bridge structure and funnel, I glued in the stanchions…

…trimmed them down to .015 inch lengths, and then attached the horizontal grabrails.

In addition to the side rails, Japanese torpedo launchers had short safety rails on their tops as well.

The rails are visible in this image of a launcher aboard Shiranui. Not only were there rails along the edges, but there were three rows of them in the center too.

After drilling out the 43 top stanchion locator holes, the safety rails were installed in the same way as the handrails on the sides. These things were crowded in there pretty closely, so my construction sequence was to build them up beginning with the center groups in an effort to minimize damage while working on rails along the outer edges.

For these slightly taller vertical safety rails I used a thicker .020” tool to help cut the stanchions to uniform heights.

Finally, the rails were secured to the tops of the stanchions with careful applications of Tamiya Extra Thin cement.

After the center rail groups were in place, it was the same drill again for the rails along the outer edges.

The ten etched brass side handgrabs were added from AKA Model (set PD3503) 1/350 etched brass ladder steps.

Finishing up construction of the launcher, I added four tie down rings from .005 inch strip with North Star etched brass tightening screws and eye bolts (set 350070). These flip-up rings were tie points for lines to secure the 18-ton launcher in a neutral position when it wasn’t in use.

I also added four hand wheels from North Star etched brass 1.2mm fly-wheels (350081) as well as handgrabs on the tube hatches aft from North Star 1/350 ladder steps type 1 (350016).

Before moving on to the main guns, I thought it would be fun to play with the torpedoes just a bit more.

The original plan had been to upgrade the nice little molded plastic torpedo part provided by Nichimo…

– but then I discovered Chuanyu of China’s cool six-pack of 1/200 scale multimedia Japanese weapons.

Consisting of turned aluminum bodies with etched brass fins, propellers, and two types of transport trollies, these simple kits assemble into beautiful little torpedoes.

Chuanyu doesn’t identify (at least in English) the torpedoes as Japanese, but at 29.5 scale feet they are dimensionally accurate for Type 93s. Also, the distinctive Imperial Navy-style shipboard destroyer and land/aircraft carrier transport trolleys are dead giveaways as to their Japanese identity.

Assembly is straightforward, if fiddly. The four fins come as a single unit designed to be mounted to the tail of the torpedo and twisted into shape.

An oddity of this kit is that three of the etched fins are of the same dimensions, and the fourth is a little longer. This is partly correct (the bottom fin was actually a little longer than the side fins), but the top fins on the Type 93s were shorter in length than the other three. Correcting this small error was simply a matter of trimming down the errant fin to match the abbreviated top fins characteristic of the Japanese “Long Lance” shipboard torpedoes.

These unusual fin arrangements are evident on the preserved example at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The addition of its etched brass counterrotating propellers completed assembly.

Set on its shipboard trolley and mounted aboard Hatsuzuki, the tiny Long Lance looks ready to take on the U.S. Navy!


Whenever I see work such as this, I need to slow my web surfing in order to savor every image. Truly wonderful detailing!


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I was following the build log on the old forum, so count me as on board here as well. Awesome work so far Tim, exquisite detailing.

Cheers, D

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Are you sure now that you are finished with that torpedo launcher…LOL. Glad to see you move your build over to the new forum. What’s next?

Mark :beer:

Mike, Damian, and Mark - thanks!

My work life has bumped up in intensity lately so I haven’t had the model building time I’d like, but when things calm down a bit…

next up: the main guns

Onboard :slight_smile:


Really glad to see that you transferred this thread to the new site!! I am definitely on board for watching this master piece continue it’s journey.


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great to see you continue this wonderful build over here. And it’s well worth to go through all of your pictures and progress another time, as I just did. It’s not less amazing than the first time!

Looking forward to the main guns! I’m in, of course!


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I’ll be watching too, Tim.

I can’t remember having made comments on this build but I must now say you
are doing a TRUELY AMAZING JOB on this kit…JUST WOW!!!
And I love those NICHIMO kits!

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Amazing detailing on every aspect so far Tim, I too will be dropping in to keep up with how it goes. Thank god tanks don’t need so much extra fine detailing down to the level you’re putting in on this, remarkable !!!

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Count me in for continuing to follow your build. Simply awesome detailing.

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Hey John, thanks! Good to see you have come over to the NEW side! :grin:


Although an old kit,
your works are absolutely admirable!


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Thank you gentlemen!

Now, for the weapons that were the main point of the Akizuki class destroyers…the GUNS!

Designed in 1938 as a dedicated antiaircraft gun, the Type 98 10cm (3.9 inch) was mounted on the Akizuki-class destroyers, the light cruiser Ooyodo, and the aircraft carrier Taiho. Featuring a high muzzle velocity and fast rate of fire with each barrel capable of throwing up to 20 rounds per minute, the Type 98 was considered by the Japanese to be their finest anti-aircraft artillery weapon.

The kit gunhouse appears to be accurate in outline, but it is very basic.

The first improvement will be to replace the chunky and too-short plastic kit barrels.

There aren’t a whole lot of aftermarket parts for these old 1/200 scale kits, but fortunately Master Model of Poland produces turned brass replacement barrels that are of the correct length.

The Master Model 10cm/65 (3.9”) Type 98 turned brass barrels (SM-200-004) are direct replacements for the kit parts.

The new barrels effectively capture the long, graceful look of those original AA gun tubes.


Those turrets are gonna be fabulous if they get the same treatment as the torpedo launchers.

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You wouldn’t think it to look at without knowing but the .5cm difference or so on those metal barrels does make a difference.

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Hi Tim. Your work is amazing. After a few months following your build in the old forums I felt had to tell it.
I saw the reference image you posted for the twin aa guns and given the amount of care for detail and construction that you show in this build and that I specially loved the way you tackled the torpedo launcher, I know the aa guns will be a delight to look at.
Thanks for sharing

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