By: Bob Pearson
The largest warships of WW2 were the three Japanese Yamato class ships - the battleships Yamato and Musashi, and the Shinano (completed as an aircraft carrier -a fourth ship was laid down but never completed). As designed, the Yamato and Musashi mounted nine 18" and twelve 6", later two 6" turrets were removed from Yamato in favour of a heavier anti-aircraft battery.
Destined to never fight their rival American battlewagons, both Yamato and Musashi were lost to American airpower. Musashi was the victim of 20 torpedoes, 17 bombs and numerous near misses before succumbing on 24 October 1944. Yamato lasted until 7 April 1945 when she was sent on a one-way mission to bombard the American invasion fleet of Okinawa and then to beach herself and her crew were to join the troops ashore. This wasn't to be, instead Yamato was caught by American carrier aircraft and sunk along with the light cruiser Agano. When Yamato blew up, the blast was seen from over 200km away and the force of the blast destroyed many of the attacking aircraft.
There have been numerous models of the Yamato, Musashi and Shinano ranging from 1/2400 scale on up to a 1/200 scale monster. Among the most venerated were those released by Tamiya in the 1970s (my Musashi is dated 1971).
As fine as they were for the time, by modern standards they are sadly in need of a major upgrade. Fortunately Tamiya has done just that, in fact the kits are now completely new molds and bear little resemblance to the earlier releases.
As mentioned I have an unbuilt original issue Musashi, and I will be comparing that to the new release of the same, as well as showing the differences between the new Yamato and Musashi kits.
The first thing you notice (besides the new boxart in a larger box) is the fact that there are a lot more pieces in the new kit. In fact there is almost three times as many. The original Musashi had just over 150 pieces, the new one has . . . . .. . wait for it . . .. . . just over 400 !!!!!
Since we have the earlier kit here, lets take a look at it.
Two sprues of dark grey plastic. The main turrets have thick barrels molded in trios to allow elevation (operating features were big 30 years ago). The bow deck is molded with the 'A' turret barbette integral. The hull has an exaggerated non-tread pattern on the quarterdeck and the midships superstructure is molded to the hull.
The new mold hull is different from the first one in many respects.
Most noticeable of which is the superstructure is no longer integral, the bow insert is now from forward of the breakwater, not at 'A' turret. The quarterdeck detail is considerably improved and all side detail is thinned down. The much-beloved operating features of the 1970's are now being replaced by a new desire for accuracy. Therefore the old thick elevating 18.1" barrels are gone. In their place are new, thinner barrels complete with a blast bag - much better then the old gaping holes in the old turrets.
One other item I really like is the reappearance of the metal weight to add a pleasing 'heft' to the model.
As mentioned, the Yamato had her side 152mm mounts removed to make way for more AA mounts. This is the only area in which the two kits differ. Musashi retains her four 6" turrets (and the corresponding superstructure), while Yamato has a different superstructure to mount all the AA.
Both kits carry all guns for either fit, just the superstructure is different.
To go with the new mold, there are also new instructions as well as a full colour profile of each ship included.
Conclusion Tamiya are to be congratulated on what amounts to new kits of old favourites. Both will build into impressive models of these intriguing ships. I would further recommend anyone thinking of doing so to make use of Janus Skulski's volume in the Anatomy of the Ship series devoted to the Yamato. Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for both the Yamato and Musashi review samples
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