What's the modeler's allure to building WW2 era IJN ships?

That’s an excellent point. With a several Carrier vs Carrier engagements, many surface actions & unrestricted submarine warfare, The Pacific is a very interesting theater.

@Littorio Luciano, thank you for the information on the books. I may look into them.

Look at the Akagi with the exhaust funnel coming out of the side instead of on top and the towering under flight deck structure.

The Yamoto had very graceful lines.


The uniqueness of the Ise.

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Ah! You should have seen her when she was young…

I once considered building the Kajika kit as a model of a model; the 1:48th scale “As Designed” builders model which still exists as part of the Barrow Dock Museum collection.




Like almost everything I build it comes down to like 60% aesthetics, 30% history and 10% unknown something.

An example, the only IJN vessel in my stash is Musashi. Roughly the same lines as Yamato (I prefer her lines because her AA suite isn’t as large) but less history behind her for most people but for me her end is what draws me to her over Yamato. It just seems so sad and pointless.

I love the look of the Takao’s. That brutish forward superstructure appeals to me far more than the Mogami’s. I couldn’t care less about their combat records, they just look cool to me.

But history can play a big part for me. I adore the USS Texas, not for her looks but for her history and service. I prefer the Scharnhorst’s over the Bismarck’s because they had more combat duties.

Modern warships are all aesthetic for me. Most of them have no real combat service to speak of. I like CVN-65 because of her block of a island, not for anything else she has done. I adore my little Rowangarth tug because I got to paint it in bright orange. It has no historical relevance, its just cool.

I would love to get and build more IJN ships to be sure but they are generally very expensive which definitely decreases their allure.


Definitely agree with aesthetics being the biggest factor in what’s interesting for modeling.

I’m probably along the lines of
40% aesthetics
30% history
20% kit quality
10% price

I’ve never done Japanese naval vessels. Not because I don’t have an interest one way or the other. It just never came up. I tend to not worry about price, nor quality. I’ve built some real dogs in my day. Ask anyone who ever built a kit by AEF Designs. And then of course if you look at their L33 Howitzer kit you get the trifecta - poor quality, high price, AND a vehicle that was very unaesthetically pleasing.
History pretty much guides my building these days - unfortunately being SF I have very little history with a lot of vehicles, except for those that either flew me or drove me into battle. I also like 502 PIR themed builds as I wear their regimental crest. So I’ll build kits I’d had a history in the development of, which number quite a few. Some of them don’t even interest me, like the Husky route clearance vehicle.
I suppose if I had another lifetime to do nothing but build models IJN ships would eventually appeal to me, but currently the only naval vessels that have any appeal are the WWII Flasher, which I own a plank from, and the Blue Ridge, which I do happen to have a personal history with due to my eight trips to Korea. Plus it happens to have the longest active commission time of any US Naval vessel. So at some point I may get the Trumpeter kit, which happens to be 1/700 scale and is based out of Japan. That’s about as close as I’ll get.

WW II Flasher? Fletcher maybe?
Very attractive ships. Would be nice to have a 1:72 model …

Edit: USS Flasher, SS-249

Learned something today :grin:
The Gatos are also beautiful

Hadn’t you posted on this thread several times?

Who? Me? I posted lots in that thread but I never got around to learning all of the ships names:
" Seventy-seven of these boats were commissioned from November 1941, Drum SS-228, through April 1944, Croaker SS-246"

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Ahh yes… I completely forgot about this build even after looking at it everyday for the past two months sitting on my shelf… I need to get back to work on it. :sweat_smile:

Cool looking to me,diffrent is all I can say why I build them.

Akagi with all of its bizarre modifications and I love the rising sun and the symbols on the deck, and I love the heavies like Takao with its massive pagoda superstructure, and Tone with all of its guns foward,
I-400 with its hanger,

But I also enjoy US, British, and German subjects,it’s all about the beauty in the eye of the beholder with any build.

SMS Emden,now that’s a case of fantastic story along with great looks

The only ship model I have is the IJN Battleship Kirishima. One, because it was one of the few ships to see combat with a American battleship. Two, because it looks so unique.

Looks like it could be transformed into a space cruiser just like the Yamato.

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It’s already been done, sort of:
More extreme version:



What’s the modeler’s allure to building WW2 era IJN ships?

I understand a fair amount of factual information, background & Pacific War sea battles about the IJN like the following:

  • Excellent night gunnery,
  • Long Lance torpedoes, which are deadly to enemy ships and nearly as dangerous to ship armed with them
  • first world class combined carrier operations
  • high speeds,
  • all offensive designs with generally poor damage control ability or practices compared to USN
  • aggressive commanders that often failed in their mission objectives,
  • the frequent tactical trashings delivered by the IJN to the USN at Guadalcanal
  • brutal discipline by western standards
  • Borg like obedience
  • fighting for a lost cause
  • Excellent planning with a near total failure to adapt battle plans or show flexibility after contact with enemy
  • Highly skilled professional officers & sailors lead by the incoherent strategy of incompetent admirals to disaster


Trying to isolate the “sizzle” that makes IJN ship modeling so interesting.

Thank you

Wade, this is an fascinating question, and I have been enjoying everyone’s thoughtful responses!

Reflecting on my own abiding interest in the IJN, I suppose it began when my dad took me (at age seven) to see Tora! Tora! Tora! in the theater. Being so young I didn’t get much out of the movie which was mostly old guys talking about God knows what (subtitles anyone?) I really had no idea what was going on… but the horrifying battle scenes with the sailors dying that looked like my dad in his Coast Guard uniform really got my attention. And the disturbing fact that the “bad” guys won stuck with me…

Some time later I found a 1/700 scale “Water Line Series” IJN destroyer (Hatsuyuki) with that same cool sunburst flag at the local dime store. I was enchanted with the compact size of the model, and later picked up more of them (all Japanese, since that was all that were available in the affordable submarine or destroyer size kits). Reading the histories on the kit instructions along the way eventually got me interested in the Pacific War in general and the IJN in particular. Later, books like Orita’s I-Boat Captain, Yokota’s Suicide Submarine, and especially Tameichi Hara’s Japanese Destroyer Captain really got me going… and I’ve been an IJN fan ever since!


I recall getting to see Tora! Tora! Tora! with my dad for the very first time in the mid-70’s when it aired as a TV movie. All of the few war movies I’d seen were sort of campy up to that point. It was a very serious occasion treated with near reverence by him. He’d lost his oldest brother at Iwo Jima. The War in the Pacific was personal at our house.

I remember seeing the planes fly over - quite a sight for a young kid like me.

@18bravo For the Pearl Harbor attack or for the making of Tora! Tora! Tora!?

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Come on, man! I’m old, but jeez…

I was walking to school that morning (Ala Wai Elementary, right on the canal) when I saw them fly over. Of course I knew of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and a year or two later I’d live yards from it in Pearl City, but didn’t know they were filming a movie. It didn’t feel like an attack. It just looked like a bunch of planes flying over - I was awe struck.

Similar to last month when I was doing my Army thing. Looked up in the night sky and saw a string of satellites perfectly spaced apart, and in perfect alignment, moving fairly rapidly across the sky. I’d say there were nearly sixty of them. I didn’t feel like we were under attack then either, just awe struck at seeing something like that I’d never seen before.


Who else has green ships???