I’d dabbled into my stash over the weekend and eventually decided to build the Admiral Scheer (from Fujimi) and Hasegawa’s Kongō battleship. I’ve also just received my German ship railings from Aber models and have upgraded my Gneisenau battlecruiser.
I’m a rookie in photo-etched modelling and the results aren’t overtly pleasing on the eye. My dad did help me with the aft railings a little (especially in conceiving the idea of bending a single front railing to accommodate the sharp bow rather than to combine two separate pieces of railings) which worked to great effect. Still, I must say that the Aber PE (which is made of brass) is rather fragile and bends at the application of slightest pressure. For that reason alone, I’d suggest a different PE manufacturer for your ship upgrades, especially if you are somewhat new to PE modelling. Then again, at its somewhat reasonably cheap price, the results should be expected.
From a purely aesthetic POV, the Gneisenau did receive some eye candy boost and I had some ideas to further adorn the kit with strategically placed PE railings to bring it to another level of presentation. I can’t do the same yet for the completed Scharnhorst as the kit is still lacking the boat davits (which I’d be putting off anyway until the deck is at least given primer coating).
Admiral Scheer heavy cruiser (Fujimi)
I know, I’ve probably declared that I won’t be building heavy cruisers for the time being, given the luxurious opportunities to build the heavily-armed battleships which I’d definitely enjoy. I’ve purchased this ship kit from HLJ for approximately RM30.00 which is even cheaper than a Tamiya destroyer kit from the Underground.
The Admiral Scheer pocket battleship from Fujimi dates from 1997 and straight out of the box, the model kit makes no pretensions that it comes from the generic Admiral Hipper kit. This is the thing to note about model ship kits from Fujimi from the last century – they are basically recycled kits bundled into new boxes with basic notes and instructions. The kit itself is not particularly outstanding but it’s not the worst I’ve seen yet. The kit comes with two sprues of plastic parts + the waterline hull and base shell.
Paid thirty ringgits for this boat. Not a difficult kit at all to build.
I thought that the kit actually looked quite pretty when completed but this probably stemmed from the comfort that I would have a second chance to make amends if necessary, with the Tamiya ‘Prinz Eugen’ kit which I have in reserve. As I’ve not done any painstaking research on the Admiral Scheer before piecing together the kit, I’m pretty sure that there would be serious inaccuracies. Personally, I don’t think that the Deutschland-class pocket battleships However, this kit also looks rugged and ready to absorb much mistakes, so it would be elevated to be my ‘painting and rigging’ pioneer ship. Cheaper kits tend to share this fate – more expensive ones tend to pierce the heart more with screw-ups.
I’ve always admired the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Kongō-class sisters – all were handsome, well-modified to achieve close parity to World War II standards and contributed significantly to the IJN’s cause during the Pacific War. Kongō was designed by George Thurston and laid down in Barrow-in-Furness and built by Vickers Shipbuilding Company. The fact that this battleship was primarily built outside of Japan mattered little to me – it has always been quintessentially Japanese in almost every aspect: the unique Pagoda mast and casemate-protected secondary armament of 6-inch (15 cm) guns which prevailed until the construction of the Nagato-class battleships. Some weeks back, I’ve already equipped my stash with Hasegawa photo-etched parts for its Kongō kit. After careful research on the internet for comparisons with the Fujimi Kongō 1944 offering, I voted unanimously for the latter (and most recent kit). Like I’ve probably said before – the Fujimi kit looked stunning even when built straight out of the box without PE modifications. The details appeared sharper, the kit itself looked sleek and is molded in the kind of gray that resembles the IJN Kure Gray which is what most of the IJN fleet is painted in. Whatever the case, the Hasegawa kit was suddenly relegated to the secondary role of a ‘training ship’. By ‘training ship’, I meant that the kit is an ideal base for practising the skills necessary to do some justice to the more difficult kits replete with PE that can severely test the patience and sanity of some modellers.
The Hasegawa kit, ironically, was the kit that I’ve always wanted to build when I reacquainted with this hobby last year– bearing in mind that there are lots of furor over Fujimi’s Kongō casemates issue. Quite frankly, the Hasegawa kit itself is very old in design, its parts are somewhat crude-looking and without the acquisition of some PE parts to spruce it up a little, the base kit would be somewhat a turn-off for those in the business. Of course, now that this Hasegawa kit is not intended to impress, the pressure is off and surprisingly, the construction process was a joy.
The PE parts are as follows-
(a) Aber’s Japan World War II ships;
Take note that the Detail-up kits by Hasegawa are not the comprehensive set of PE that most kit-makers offer and came with only minimal instructions in Japanese to folding the PE and not its installation on the ship kit thereof. For that, you will need to look at some external references on the Kongō battleship in order to decide for yourself the parts that needed optional tooling. Still, before fixing the ship, study the diagrams carefully and label the sequence which you’d construct each piece in turn.
Not everything goes into the final product but the ones that do aren’t very detailed themselves. You’d need a PE set to do justice to this kit.
Stainless steel PE parts do make the kit look slightly more interesting. I screwed up the thicker smokestack area. There’s no way to fix it other than to dismantle the entire piece.
I’m not pleased at how the crane at the aft of the ship was badly mangled in my hands. On the other hand, I thought that the kit looked ok overall. With some rigging and a fresh coat of paint, it could look the part.
I’ve dry-fixed (i.e. not cementing into place) the above kit in some areas (e.g. main armaments; Pagoda mast and smokestack areas) to facilitate painting the ship in the future. I agree that the kit could be further improved – the main bridge area could be further accentuated with the Aber railings (if I only could apply something in there, now that the area looks tight with the installation of the Type 96 25mm AA triple-barreled autocannon), the seaplane is not even mounted on its catapult and the bridge area looks sorely in need of some other improvements like adding on the rangefinders and binocular ports. I’ve also wanted to knuckle down and work on the stretched sprue for rigging last weekend but there simply wasn’t enough time. Besides, I’d prefer to paint the entire ship first before doing the rigging.
This weekend would probably be a trip to the Tamiya Underground or to some other hobby shops for paints.