Bottom Line: Brass barrels in 1/700 scale for all WW2 Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) warships mounting 14cm (5.5in)/50cal guns, for mountings without (-058) or with (-059) blast bags.
What You Get
A 2 ¾ by 5 1/8 inch 2-piece cardboard card wrapped in clear plastic containing a small Ziploc bag with Instructions and another card with a small plastic bag holding 20 barrels taped to the card (Figure 1). For no blast bag mounts (-058), each barrel is 7mm long with a 1mm tab at the end. For mounts with blast bags, each barrel is 4.5mm long with a 1mm tab at the end (Figure 2). The tip has a fine hole that is difficult to see, but it’s there.
These barrels are intended for Ise and Nagato battleship classes (secondary armament), Hosho aircraft carrier, Tenryu, Kuma, Nagara, Sendai, Yubari, and Katori light cruiser classes, and tenders Nisshin, Itsukushima, Okinoshima, and Jingei (Figure 3). Other auxiliaries and armed merchant cruisers carried this weapon as well. Be sure to check your references since Hosho, light cruisers and auxiliaries were refitted, sometimes removing or altering the number of 14cm gun mounts. And of course, check references to see if blast bags were fitted on your build. Another way to determine whether or not blast bags were fitted is to check the original kit barrels/mounts.
The IJN 14cm (5.51 inch)/50 caliber, 3rd Year Type dated from 1914, intended as a low-angle surface action gun – it had no antiaircraft capability. Elevation was -7 to 25, 30 or 35 degrees, depending on the mount type. This weapon was also the most common coast defense gun in Japanese-held Pacific islands. On warships, these guns were in single “P” mountings in casemates and shielded mounts. It was also carried in a unique single mounting on Yubari, as well as in twin turrets in Yubari, Katori, and some auxiliary classes. Firing cycle was about 10 seconds, with a muzzle velocity of ~850 m/sec (2800 ft/sec). This weapon was not carried on submarines – that was a 14cm/40 caliber single mount from 1922 that was fitted to large submarines carrying 14cm guns.
The barrels have the same appearance as photographs of open mounts (see Campbell, pp. 190-191), and include a tiny hole at the muzzle. The barrel length of 7mm for no blast bag mounts checks out as OK when compared to the rifling length of 8.5mm (in 1/700 scale) – rifling starts in the breech block before the barrel. The barrel length of 4.5mm for mounts with blast bags assumes a 2-3mm length to the blast bags.
Compared to original kit plastic or resin 14cm barrels, Master-Model brass barrels are narrower but about the same length (Figure 4). Brass barrels are perfectly circular in cross-section, without seams or accidental oversanding spots. Brass barrels also have a more accurate taper. Another advantage of replacing original kit barrels with brass barrels is the ability to elevate the barrels.
A 0.30 mm drill bit is recommended in the Instructions (Figure 5). I have found that a #75 drill bit works fine. First, the original barrel is cut off and attachment site is sanded flat. I use a dissecting needle (any pin you can hold steady suffices) to make a starting point for the drill. Then drill the hole as deep as the tab on the brass barrel. If you cannot drill deep enough you can cut off or shorten the brass barrel tab.
I had enough ships to explore every option for IJN 14cm mounts: 1) single gun casemates; 2) shielded single guns; and 3) twin gun turrets.
SM-700-058: IJN 14cm barrels for mounts without blast bags
I used the brass barrels without blast bags (-058) for the casemate 14cm guns on the IJN Nagato from the Fujimi 42148 kit (reviewed in IPMSUSA in 2011), built OOB (Out Of the Box). In her 1941 fit, Nagato shipped 18 14cm guns in casemates (9 per side). After test fitting each type of Master Model barrel, the no blast bag barrels better matched the kit barrel lengths, and the blast bags did not protrude onto the barrel enough for the with blast bag brass barrels to look proper, especially after sanding the bag a little. This was a new mold so the casemate guns were not too thick, but they had no elevation. I gave the brass casemate barrels about 25 degrees elevation (Figure 6). Gun elevation gives the ship a more action-ready look (Figure 7). I left the starboard side with original kit barrels to show the difference in appearance (Figure 8). From a distance, the 14cm guns look like photographs of the real ship– they are not easy to see (Figure 9). Elevating the barrels helps the look.
The two remaining 14cm barrels in the set for no blast bags (-058) went to Waveline’s WL-24 Oi light cruiser in torpedo cruiser form (Figure 10). Two single shielded 14cm gun mounts, one on each side of the bridge, remained. These shielded mounts were ubiquitous on older light cruiser classes and auxiliaries. The mounts on Oi were aftermarket from a Skywave Equipment set. The shielded mounts on the kit were removed and new brass barrels and shields were used. Kit barrels were cut off at the breech block and sanded flat (lightly), and about a 20 degree elevation hole was drilled into the breech block. Cyanoacrylate glue was used to adhere the brass barrels to the plastic gun breech blocks. After drying and painting (I used Floquil SP Light Lark Gray enamel), the new gun was glued to the shield. Compared to the original Skywave barrels, the Master Model brass barrels are at scale and much more realistic. The older Skywave equipment sets have been very helpful to replace original kit pieces, but their 1/700 scale guns are always a little, or sometimes a lot, oversized, and their single mount 14cm guns were definitely too wide. The finished single 14cm mounts looked much better than the original swollen kit barrels (Figure 11).
SM-700-059: IJN 14cm barrels for mounts with blast bags
My Oi was modified as a what-if by replacing the two bow centerline single shielded mounts with a Skywave Equipment parts twin 14cm turret carried on Yubari and Katori light cruiser classes. The twin 14cm turret barrels by Skywave had long blast bags, and were a perfect fit for Master-Model SM-700-059 brass barrels for blast bags. I used the turret on the kit, cut off the plastic barrels (again, they were way to wide in diameter) and drilled the holes without elevation since the blast bags protruded too far to enable elevation of gun barrels. The brass barrels looked much more to scale (Figures 12 & 13), and gave the twin turrets a comparable look to the single mounts (Figure 11).
Master-Model’s brass barrels are uniformly circular in diameter and the proper length and width, imparting a more accurate look to even new-mold and resin kits. Elevating the barrels gives the ships a more realistic, action-ready look. You can retrofit built ships rather easily, and more easily replace kit barrels on a new build. As you can see from the side-by-side, barrel-barrel comparisons, the brass barrels are obviously narrower, and have a muzzle hole (that is difficult to see most of the time). On the ship model, the brass barrels look much more accurate, and the chance for elevation gives the ship a more active look.
On the ships, these barrels give an authentic, to-scale look that plastic barrels still have not solved in secondary armaments. Of course, that means all the smaller guns will have to be replaced or else you end up with your perfect-looking 14cm barrels being as thinner than the 25mmAA barrels, and thinner than the ubiquitous 127mm twin AA mount barrels. Once you start using brass barrels, you will never look back. They make that much difference. In fact, at usual viewing distance, you have a hard time seeing the secondary armament barrels, just like photographs of the actual ships. This is a good thing. I am very satisfied with the value, accuracy and appearance of these barrels. The option to use either with or without blast bag lengths separates Master Model aftermarket brass barrels from other brass barrel options with only a single length – usually for blast bags. Very highly recommended.
- Enough barrels (20) to equip either one battleship, or two early light cruisers (almost three, but one barrel short), or several auxiliaries (no blast bags), or several ships with twin or single 14cm turrets (Yubari and Katori light cruiser classes) if you choose barrels with blast bags;
- Accurate length, width and taper, with a drilled out muzzle;
- Cost is reasonable for 20 barrels;
- Can elevate the guns for custom appearance;
- You have the option to use the longer barrels and make your own blast bags with glue or putty.
- These barrels are very small and require good lighting, tweezers, vision and steady hands;
- Require care in handling as they are difficult to pick up with tweezers on smooth surfaces;
- You will need a pin vise with a narrow drill (~#75);
Campbell J. Naval Weapons of World War Two. Conway Maritime Press, London, UK, 1985, p. 190. ISBN 0-85177-329-X
Lacroix E, Wells L. Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1997. ISBN 0-87021-311-3
Figure 1: Both Master Model IJN 14cm/50 Brass Barrel Sets for mounts without (-058) and with (-059) blast bags.
Figure 2: Both Master Model IJN 14cm/50 Brass Barrel barrels for mounts without (-058 on left) and with (-059 on right) blast bags.
Figure 3: List of IJN ships carrying 14cm/50 mounts – you need to determine which ship used blast bags, or not.
Figure 4: Close-up of both types of Master Model 14cm/50 brass barrels (on a mm scale) with the two 14cm twin turret plastic barrels from Skywave aftermarket set. The difference is obvious.
Figure 5: Instruction sheet for each set.
Figure 6: Close-up of port side aft 14cm casemate mounts on IJN Nagato in 1941. Brass barrel on left is obviously thinner, tapered and elevated compared to the original plastic kit barrel on the right.
Figure 7: Comparison of starboard plastic kit 14cm casemate barrels (top) with Master Model brass 14cm barrels (bottom).
Figure 8: Overhead view showing the difference in barrel thicknesses (port side is brass, starboard side is plastic kit barrels).
Figure 9: IJN Nagato in 1941 showing the brass 14cm barrels. At this viewing distance, which is similar to photographs of the entire ship bow to stern, the 14cm barrels are not easy to discern, which is at it should be. Somewhat difficult to tell from this Figure, but compare the barrel thicknesses of the 25mm and 127mm mounts around the stack and superstructure to the brass 14cm barrels.
Figure 10: Close-up of Skywave 14cm/50 single mount for light cruisers with a no blast bag brass barrel.
Figure 11: IJN Oi comparing the Skywave 14cm twin and single mounts (top) with the Master Model brass barrels (bottom, -058 on single mounts, -059 with blast bags on twin turret). This is a what-if modification – the real Oi and her sister ships in the 5500 ton class never carried the twin turret used on Katori-class training cruisers and auxiliaries.
Figure 12: Close-up of the Skywave 14cm twin turret with brass (left) and plastic (right, unpainted) barrels. Brass barrels were from -059 set for turrets with blast bags.
Figure 13: Close-up comparison of the twin mounts with original plastic barrels (top) and Master Model brass barrels with blast bags (bottom). See Figure 11 for the appearance of painted barrels from both sets near each other – they are equivalent.