Japanese Destroyer Ayanami

Published: November 9th, 2011     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: Bill Kluge - IPMS# 45849
Scale: 1/350
Company: Fine Molds
Price: $129.95
Product / Stock #: FW1
Product provided by: Dragon Models USA

The Ship

When the Japanese destroyers of the Fubuki class first appeared in 1928, they took the rest of the world's sea powers completely by surprise, and their combination of large size, high speed and heavy firepower set the standard for other navies to follow for the next decade. Commissioned in 1930, HIJMS Ayanami was the lead ship of an improved Fubuki "Special Type" with its main armament of six 5" guns capable of 75o of elevation, in theory making her the first warship in the world with main guns capable of taking on surface vessels and aircraft. However, her fire control was inadequate to the anti-aircraft task, and these weapons were never effective in that role.

Following operations in Chinese waters prior to Pearl Harbor, Ayanami spent the early war period performing escort duties in the South Seas, and later at Midway. Sent south to participate in "Tokyo Express" operations around Guadalcanal, her final action was at the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 14-15, 1942. There, her torpedoes helped sink US destroyers Walke and Benham. Gunfire from Ayanami damaged USS South Dakota, but in return, she was pounded by shells from USS Washington, which quickly sent her to the bottom of Ironbottom Sound.

The Model

When Fine Molds started releasing various destroyer parts in sets last year, it seemed pretty obvious that these would soon be followed by the ship kits, and from the quality of those parts, the ships couldn't help but be exceptional models. Well, they didn't disappoint us. Their first effort, the Ayanami, is a superbly designed and detailed model. The small detail parts are better than anything found in resin, and some of the molded-on detail, such as hatches, deck plating and ironwork detail are as good as or better than many photo etch accessories. The model can be built in either full hull or waterline form, with a display stand included for the full hull version. Also included are two lengths of black anchor chain and decals for depth markings along the hull. What aren't included are decals for the pre-war hull side squadron numbers and kanji characters, nor is there any PE. Fine Molds makes a dedicated photo etch railing set, and you can buy the Shikinami kit if you want to build a pre-war version of the class. The highly detailed torpedo tubes can be loaded or left empty, and optional parts are there to either level or elevate the 5" guns.

I started off by scanning through the very well laid out instruction booklet, then opening deck holes where indicated. Because of the way that the fo'c'sle deck is separated from the main deck, I had to deviate from the indicated construction sequence and do some backtracking during the painting process. The fo'c'sle deck was attached to the hull (the waterline version, of course). Just a bit of filler was needed along this seam near the bow. The main deck was left off for now to make it easier to paint some of the exposed interior bulkheads under the fo'c'sle deck. I mixed up a custom Model Master dark IJN gray and sprayed the forward part of the unattached main deck where it would fit under the fo'c'sle deck. Once dry, the forward end was then masked and the linoleum sections were sprayed a custom mixed brown. The main deck was then attached to the hull and allowed to dry.

Hull

The sub-units (superstructure, deck houses, gun and masts, etc.) were assembled and fixed to a painting card, held down with double sided tape. Small parts (boats, davits, AA weapons, deck gear) were detached, cleaned up and also placed on a painting card. The linoleum-painted area of the forward main deck was then masked. Everything was then airbrushed dark gray. Once dry, the deck and hull were fully masked and the linoleum brown color was sprayed over all the appropriate deck areas. Not as time consuming as it sounds, but less frustrating in the long run than trying to mask decks or bulkheads in the hard-to-get-to areas.

Painting parts

Before mounting subassemblies to the deck, I drilled two holes in the bottom of the hull where it would attach to the diorama base. I did some detailing in the form or dark washes and highlighting around raised and sunken details and on the smaller parts. The upper works could now be attached in sequence. Be careful to follow the instructions, as the convoluted piping around the forward funnel needs to be attached before the foremast is in place or you'll never get it properly fitted. Fine Molds also makes considerable use of poly caps to hold the gun turrets and torpedo mounts in place. I used them, but then applied an additional drop of white glue to hold them still. The remainder of the small deck parts was then attached. Some of the more fiddly parts like boats, davits, and jack staffs were not added until the ship was attached to its base and the risk of inadvertently snapping these off was minimized.

I wanted to depict Ayanami during her last action, launching torpedoes at U.S destroyers. The turrets and tubes were rotated to starboard. The forward tubes were left empty, the aft tubes have yet to launch and the center tubes are releasing their fish. I scrounged a spare torpedo from the Yahagi leftovers (even though at this time, the Fubukis still carried older 21" Type 90s instead of the more famous 24" Type 93s - the Long Lance - carried by Yahagi. The size difference in 1/350th is .00857142". I hope nobody notices.) and set it in place just about to enter the water. The seascape was created by mixing a custom sea color with Liquitex Super Heavy Body artist acrylic paint (since the action took place at night, I could make the water any color I wanted). The water in Ironbottom Sound was calm that night, so no swells were needed. Once the model was secured to the base, the remaining small parts were attached and the ship was weathered with a light application of gray and brown pastel. Rigging was done with stretched sprue flag lines and Invisible Thread antenna wires. I used the generic IJN ship railings from Lion Roar.

Gaps to be filled

Making waves

Fine Molds has created quite a little masterpiece with these Fubuki class destroyers. I can only hope they continue to produce ship kits that are this good. Well engineered, with exceptionally fine detail (I know I keep saying that with each successive ship build, but the state of the art just keeps getting better and better); for model ship builders, this is as good as it gets.

My special thanks go to Alain Yuen of Dragon Models USA and Dave Morrissette of IPMS for securing this Fine Molds kit for me to review.

  • Port side
    Port side
  • Starboard side
    Starboard side
  • Overhead
    Overhead
  • Stern
    Stern
  • Aft turrets
    Aft turrets
  • Amidship
    Amidship
  • Bridge
    Bridge
  • Torpedo launch
    Torpedo launch

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