Very specific and highly detailed photoetch set to equip one of only two Imperial Japanese Navy WW2 warships: heavy cruisers Aoba and Kinugasa.
What You Get
This limited scope, steel photoetch set is strictly for two IJN warships: Aoba (Hasegawa 054, 43305, 43347 retool) and Kinugasa (Hasegawa 064, 43307, 43348 retool). Photoetch parts for the aircraft handling deck, deck rails, aircraft cradles and 2- & 3-blade propellers only are provided to equip one ship. Hasegawa has decided to market separate photoetch sets for specific areas of IJN Furutaka and Aoba class heavy cruisers, since these half-sister classes (Furutaka and Kako were earlier half-sisters) had different fits and appearances. Since Furutaka, Kako, and Kinugasa were early war losses (all in 1942 before any refits from pre-war appearances were possible), this set is primarily for IJN Kinugasa, but works well for Aoba also.
As mentioned, this photoetch set from Hasegawa is limited to aircraft handling surfaces and accessories for floatplane aircraft assigned to Aoba-class heavy cruisers. You get one small, steel photoetch set with 24 pieces that have exquisite detail. A large handling deck with skid-proof surfaces (part #7) is intended to add to the existing kit aircraft handling deck after sanding off the raised parts, or replace it (but scratchbuilt supports will be needed). Also, three rotating caps (plus one extra, parts #4) and the rails that move and position aircraft are provided (part #3), as well as six aircraft cradles, two aircraft handling trolleys, three two-bladed propellers (for early war Alf floatplanes) and three three-bladed propellers (for Jake or Pete floatplanes on Aoba). There are two types of cradles for holding the plane on the catapult (parts # 2, 5), and trolleys for moving the plane around the handling deck on its cradle (parts #6). You get a few extra cradles and props with this set. The layout of the photoetch deck appears to be accurate according to references, but the kit piece is not accurate. The photoetched deck does not have the antiaircraft gun platforms added to Aoba in 1944, so this best represents the 1942 fit for both ships.
This set was one of four WWII IJN photoetch sets I reviewed simultaneously, and one of the two specific to the Aoba half-class. It was used to outfit a complete remake of Aoba, which survived until the late July 1945 massacre of port-bound IJN ships by US naval aircraft attacks. I had a very old Hasegawa #054 kit of the Aoba in its late-war fit purchased over 30 years ago. First of all, this older Hasegawa kit of Aoba is not accurate. It gets the general layout correct for a late-war fit (1944 and later), but there are many details that are wrong. It is imperative to get the right authoritative references. The best is the excellent Kagero Publishing book Heavy Cruiser Aoba (see References at end of this review for details). This book has minimal text (English!) and photographs; it is comprised mostly of super-detailed 3D drawings that are better than photographs or plans. I used this book as a guide, trusting the authors to have gotten the details correct. I also confirmed the appearance as much as possible with other references, including a Japanese book I picked up on a business trip to Tokyo long ago: Mechanism of Japanese Heavy Cruisers.
I found that almost the entire above-decks superstructure needed to be heavily modified or scratchbuilt. The late-war Aoba did not use the provided extension of the aircraft handling deck and its rails (photoetch parts #9, 10, 11 and 12), which were found on Kinugasa or Aoba in 1942. The large photoetch deck was not quite a fit for the original kit deck piece, but it was close. This would have been easy to modify, but the kit deck also contained a superstructure part and the torpedo tube reload containers, which were going to be replaced by another photoetch review set. The only viable solution was to use the Hasegawa photoetch aircraft handling deck (part #7) as the main feature to scratchbuild a new handing deck that would fit with the new superstructure and leave room for the photoetch torpedo tube reloads. Keep in mind that the quadruple torpedo tubes themselves (kit pieces were replaced by aftermarket unshielded versions) were under the aircraft handling deck.
Strip styrene and brass were used to make the aircraft handling structure under the photoetch deck. I added tubs for triple 25mm AA mounts cut from Lion Roar photoetch Anti-Skid Plate (LR). Drafting paper was cut and glued for gun tub shields. The non-skid tread pattern on the Hasegawa aircraft deck was not as fine as Lion Roar Antiskid Plate used for the gun tubs and other deck areas on my Aoba. Part #3 (rails) fit nicely over the rails on the deck itself, and the two Part #4s (turntables) fit well in their obvious spots.
The cradles and trolleys were easy to fold and handle. There are two cradle types: 1) Part #5, a grid-like cradles are for twin float aircraft (Aichi E13A Jakes or Kawanishi E7K Alfs) and 2) Part #2, more detailed cradles with deeper grooves for single-float aircraft (Nakajima E8M Daves, Mitsubishi F1M Petes). According to the book Japanese Military Aircraft:The Air Force of the Japanese Imperial Navy (see References below), in 1944–45 Aoba carried one Mitsubishi F1M2 Pete aircraft. I happened to have one Pete built and painted, probably from an older Skywave IJN Equipment set. After modifications to add wing and float struts and repainting, I glued one trolley to the rails on the deck, and a cradle (part #2) to the underside of the float, which was then glued to the catapult (to show off the photoetched deck). Of course, other builders can use artistic license and use whatever floatplanes they like. Aircraft on the deck should have a cradle which is placed on top of the trolley—the usual state of aircraft unless they were being serviced.
I used the two-bladed props for some previously built Alfs on other ships—these were much needed and look great. The Pete I used already had a three-bladed prop and scratchbuilt spinner on it, but the set’s three-bladed props looked just right for other needy aircraft in my collection.
Adding this photoetch flight deck, along with scratchbuilt gun tubs, really gave Aoba a late-war, to-scale look that far surpasses the original kit pieces (even if scratchbuilt parts were added to them). See comparative photos to a rapidly built Hasegawa Kinugasa (Kit #064).
These photoetch parts are a huge improvement over outdated plastic kit parts. Some prep to the original kit parts is needed in order to properly mount the photoetch deck parts. I assume that the newer kits for Aoba and Kinugasa were the intended targets for this photoetch set, which should mean a better deck fit on those kit pieces. They are a big improvement over the kit parts when finished, and make the ship look suitably busy for 1/700 scale, a big upgrade for IJN aficionados. The cradles and trolleys alone are worth the price of the set.
- Supremely accurate aircraft handling surfaces and accessories (props, cradles and trolleys).
- Extra cradles (six) and props can be used for other IJN aircraft and warships.
- Two-bladed props are a rarity in 1/700 scale, and better than cutting four-bladed props.
- Detail is close to actual 1/700 scale.
- Easier than scratchbuilding your own deck.
- No other aftermarket sets have these parts.
- Very specific, only for aircraft handling areas, although cradles and trolleys can be used for any ships that handled floatplanes.
- Other photoetch sets will be needed to upgrade rest of the model.
- Good for only one ship of a two-ship class.
I highly recommend this set for accurizing and superdetailing 1/700 scale IJN Aoba and Kinugasa models, especially the newer reissued kits. The set also works for the older molds, although some trimming and fitting is needed, or more ambitiously, scratchbuilding new structures. The value is good with an affordable cost for outfitting an individual ship accurately. This set is not for those that have trouble with eyesight or delicate photoetch pieces and is recommended for advanced modelers. The end result is excellent and adds that superdetail look to Aoba and Kinugasa models.
My thanks to Dragon Models USA for supplying this set for review and my thanks to IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review it.
- Cea E. Japanese Military Aircraft. The Air Force of the Japanese Imperial Navy. Carrier-based aircraft, 1922-1945 (II), AF Editores, Valaldolic, Spain, 2008. ISBN: 978-84-96935-05-1
- Goralski W, Skwiot M. Heavy Cruiser Aoba, Kagero 16004 Super Drawings in 3D. www.kagero.pl. 2012. ISBN 978-83-60445-44-0
- Lacroix E, Wells L. Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1997. ISBN 0-87021-311-3
- Maru Editorial Department. Mechanism of Japanese Heavy Cruisers. 3, Japan, 1999. ISBN 4-7698-0897-6
- Stille M. Imperial Japanese Navy Heavy Cruisers 1941-1945, Osprey Publishing New Vanguard 176, Oxford, UK, 2011. 978-1-84908-148-1
- Figure 1: Hasegawa 72762 3S-62:900 Heavy Cruiser Aoba Class Aircraft Rail photoetch set for IJN heavy cruisers Aoba and Kinugasa.
- Figure 2: Hasegawa 72762 3S-62:900 Heavy Cruiser Aoba Class Aircraft Rail photoetch set assembly instructions.
- Figure 3: Hasegawa 72762 3S--62:900 Heavy Cruiser Aoba Class Aircraft Rail photoetch set fret, showing intense detail of non-skid surfaces and aircraft cradles.
- Figure 4: Box art for Hasegawa #054 IJN Aoba ~30-year old kit used for this upgrade.
- Figure 5: Hasegawa #054 IJN Aoba built with numerous aftermarket, scratch-built and photoetch pieces, including Hasegawa 72762 Aircraft handling deck with rails.
- Figure 6: Side-by side comparison of IJN Aoba (in forefront with Hasegawa 72762 photoetch aircraft deck) and IJN Kinugasa (Hasegawa #064 – same parts as IJN Aoba for aircraft deck area). An Aichi E13A1 Jake floatplane painted in IJN Light Grey was added to the kit catapult.
- Figure 7: Close-up, starboard view of original kit aircraft handling deck, molded-on rails and turning circles, and no cradles or trolleys. The catapult, crane and torpedo equipment are subjects of two other IPMSUSA review.
- Figure 8: Close-up, starboard view of Hasegawa 72762 photoetch aircraft handling deck with two trolleys, and cradle which is hard to see under the Mitsubishi F1M2 floatplane on the photoetch catapult (from Lion Roar R7037 set).
- Figure 9: Overhead view of original Aoba/Kinugasa kit aircraft deck.
- Figure 10: Overhead view of Hasegawa 72762 photoetch aircraft deck on Aoba.