IJN. Carrier KAGA 1942 building process


Part 1


This is the Hasegawa kit (No. 202)  IJN. Aircraft carrier in scale 1/700 waterline series. (The only kit of the ship available at the moment Feb. 2009)

The box

The beautiful box art show the ship Kaga in a gale plunging through heavy waves. The ship is the one half of Carrier Div. 1, and if we look closely at the box art, she is followed by her near sister Akagi. The ships bare no resembles what so ever, but they were often called "near sisters" due to their designs and same evolvement from the Washington treaty in 1921  - actually Kaga has the hull lines from her former design as a battleship (Akagi as a battle-cruiser) hence the bigger tonnage in Kaga. My personal opinion is that Kaga had always stood in the shadow of the more famous Akagi due to the Akagi status as a flagship of Admiral Nagumo. The box art could lead the observer to the story, that we are witness to the combined force en route toward the Pearl harbor attack! - But we also see the carriers are escorted by a heavy cruiser of the Moyoko-class in the background. This was not in the case in real - here was the two heavy cruisers from the Tone-class (Tone and Chikuma) ....But who really cares, when we look at this amazing painting!  Box arts are meant to sell kits, and I was hooked when I ordered Kaga from the US.


Hasegawa quality in ship models has always been one of the best. Even if you choose to build out of the box, the model will look impressive to the observer. However due to the age of the mould, (Now over 30 years old) some modifications is needed to update it to today's standard. If Hasegawa choose to make a new mould for the model community (I think many will welcome this - maybe it will be in scale 1/350 first, to follow Akagi) Some of the flaws that should be corrected is: Overall shapes of the "balconies" the missing downward slope of the rear 8 inch gun deck and the island structure etc. But when this is said, it is nearly possible to correct this with a steady hand and some good patience.



On the foredeck of the ship, we have to make some modifications! First the hosepipes locations are in the wrong place in the kit. They have to be placed a bit further back. Also the in mould fairleads and front wave breaker will need some rebuilding in styrene plastic. Please also note the wood deck down here (This area had to be painted before the upper part of the superstructure is glued in place) Kaga carried an extra anchor in the recess to starboard. Hasegawa had missed this, but were easily made by plastic too. Otherwise I most say that the producer had done a fine job in this part of the kit. The small styrene tube just above the wood deck is part of the bracing of the front starboard 5 inch dual purpose guns.

To give the hull some more detail I have used small stripes of Tamiya masking tape, to emphasize the contour of the plating. A thicker band of household masking tape will do for Degauss cable. Note the small PE-set door on the hull. The hawse pipe new location can be seen here (The old is filled with putty).

Here at the stern a small modification is needed. The very end of the hull has to have a more curved shape downward to the waterline, and also an extra rear hawse pipe is placed here. The protruding plate pillars is cut down to this height if you have the PE-set from Tom's Model Work's (Lattice structure)

Kaga had a heavy bulge on the hull, due to her inherited as a battleship. Hasegawa had not fully mastered this, but a layer added on the in mould bulge of 0.5 mm styrene plastic sheet will do the model justice. On both side of the hull were rather strange bulges that are missed in the kit. This was also easily made by plastic and putty - seen here in the v-shape Degauss cable.

The upper part of the hull will be the most work loaded piece of the model kit. There is many parts here that will be altered, at first the process can scary the modeler, but after removing the "wrong" parts and start at one end - and then work through the length of the ship, the end will come sooner than imagined at the start. I used approx 80 to 100 hours on this part.

Some details of the work

Note the opening of the gangways in the hull. Here I had to make the "floor and walls" - and painted then before the upper and lower parts are glued together if I missed this - I'm in a point of no return"!

Here are the parts dry fitted to make sure all is well placed. Note the two 5 inch gun turrets - they are from the spur "Leviathan" that follows many kits as extras.

Now after the paint has been applied, there is more focus on the ship and not just a pile of plastic and masking tape. I have already given the hull some weathering too. Some PE-set parts are also added Tom's Model Work's (Carrier parts A, B and IJN. Railing) Davits (Lion Roar) companionways (Fine Moulds)

On the front deck new anchor chains is added as well as PE-set anchors and ladders from Lion Roar. Note the small deck over the anchor chains, here are the rehearsal practice 5 inch loading mechanism (Not real guns as first assumed be me). All the handrails on the box-like structure are cut from 2 bars IJN railing from Tom's Model Work's.
Here at the stern, 3 anchors (Lion Roar) is added. The boat deck is in place with all the boats from the "Leviathan" spur, as the boats from the kit where poor in detail. Please note the little observer house at the very rear of the boat deck (styrene plastic). Now the PE-set lattice pillars are in place (Tom's Model Work's)
  Hasegawa had made the flight deck with many details, but unfortunately the deck markings is raised from the deck itself, and will be a small pools of paint if chose to keep. So to get the best results, it is best to sand the deck down to the bare plastic.  

Hereafter I started to cave the deck plantings and wood stocks on the flight deck. Note the rails in the front part of the deck, this was the only IJN. Carrier to have catapults (The subject is sill controversial cause the definitive evidence is missing yet)

  In the kit from Hasegawa there is no decals included, so the only way to cope this problem is to either mask and paint brush, or as in my case; Cut all the individual markings out of a sheet of decal paper. This is a very time consuming process, but rewarded in the end.  

Close up picture of the wooden deck. (Not real wood but only painted plastic) Note all the small attachment holes in the deck (Over 1800) - This is to secure the aircraft in harsh wind condition. The arrester wires are made of invisible tread and are added to the deck, before the deck is glued on the hull.

  Under the overhang of the flight deck I added Triangular perforate board and perforate beams PE-set's (Lion Roar) IJN. railing as 45 degrees bracings and Cranes to the boat and aircraft (Tom's Model Work's)  

Part 2

  The Island structure on Kara is a bit tiny in the kit, I chose to total starch build a new one, as it was to difficult to rebuild the the existing building  

The six 5 inch DP guns also needed some extra details


The supports for the crew-netting, on the side of the flight deck was drilled and glued before bending in right shape. Also note the decals that are cut and applied, with the big red Hinomaru, that was painted on the IJN carriers prior the battle of Midway


Note the kanji K for Kaga. The Red and White stripes are drawn in Photo Shop, and printed on decal paper on my PC

  Note the now three pair of support legs just under the forward part of the flight deck. The kit included only two pairs! - but lately evidence shows that the extra supports were added in the timeframe Feb. 1942 - Maybe as soon as before the Pearl harbor attack Dec. 1941. This is also highlighted in the copy of Model Art no 20 and Gakken IJN CV perfect guide.  

Part 3


Postscript after the model was finish

  The kit from Hasegava included a spur of aircraft (only one) with Judy, Zero, Val and Kate. They are fine small models, but I wish to show the ship as in June 4 1942 In battle of Midway - So Judy's is excluded as to my knowledge they have never been on board. My aircraft on the model came from the extra boxes of Fujimi. (Very fine models of the aircraft, but the Zero's had a bit too thick wings) My choice was to show KAGA as on the opening phase of the Battle of Midway, when the carriers launched their attack on Henderson airfield all loaded with bombs. I show 9 Zero's as a fighter screen + 9 Val's and 9 Kate's. The PE. metal on the aircraft is from Lion Roar. The spinning propellers is clear sheet of plastic, punched out and glued on. (This is giving the model "Life and action")  as well as the steam from the wind director (Household cotton) . Crew are PE-set from Eduard. Also many other PE-set's are used from Tom's model work's, Lion Roar and Voyager + steel treads wires lines etc. small pieces of paper and styrene plastic from Ewergreen.  


  As said before the old Hasegawa kit is still fine after all those years on the marked, but you will need additional extra plastic parts (Boats, guns, aircraft etc.) And willingness to rebuild major parts of the ship and some PE- metal set's to upgrade the model in "Super detail mode". All this can sound as a project one is trying to avoid. When I started the building I knew that this was a bit more challenging, and time-consuming than other newer kits, but along the road I had so much fun, that suddenly the model was finish and ready to join the rest of the fleet in the glass cabinet. I hope this little story can give you a inspiration to build one of the most overlooked beautiful ships of the IJN in scale 1/700.  
  Aeronautic Mar. 2009