Thursday 20 July 2023

Imperial Japanese Navy Fleet Completed

I managed to complete the last ship in the IJN a few weeks ago so thought it was time to post a few photos for the sake of posterity. There are sixty-two vessels in this contingent so, rather than drag them out in a series of individual posts I thought I'd deal with them all in one hit, especially as I am still hopeful WWII naval will only be a relatively short segue before I plunge back into my ECW project. 

First off, the two giant battleships Yamato and Musashi, with their massive 18" guns that can inflict a lot of damage:

Followed by the Kongo, Nagato, Hiei and Kirishima. Like so many of the Japanese battleships apart from the Yamato class, the Kongo was a pre-WWI design. It was actually designed and built in the United Kingdom, and launched in 1912. The agreement was for the Japanese to take the design and use it as a blueprint for future constructions so it is quite ironical that the British designs were subsequently used against them:

I purchased a set of WWII Japanese naval colours which contains such exotic colours as Sasebo grey, Kure grey and so on, which are all different shades of grey used in the various shipyards after which the colours have been named. I took some time therefore to dig into which ships were constructed in which shipyards and applied the relevant shade of grey. The remaining battleships are the Ise, Hyuga, Fuso and Yamashiro, with the Hyuga post its conversion to a hybrid battleship carrier:

The Japanese heavy cruisers were very good, most being of a relatively modern design and launched in the 1930s. Below are the Tone, Chikuma, Takao, Atago and Chokai:

Followed by the Aobo, Kinugasa, Mogami, Mikuma and Myoko:

With the Ashigara and Kako completing the contingent of heavy cruisers:

By contrast the Japanese light cruisers were of an earlier vintage and generally outclassed by their US Navy counterparts. Below are the Kitakami, Oi (I have always loved that name), Jintsu, Tenryu and Tatsuta:

The Kitakami and Oi were converted into torpedo cruisers and carried forty tubes each, a lot more than the usual six that is found on most other light cruisers, and can therefore wreak havoc if they survive long enough to get close. 

Next up are the Katori and Kashima, two training ships which are seriously under-gunned and would struggle against a decent destroyer, alongside the Kuma and Kubari:

With the Agamo, Tama, Nagara and Natori completing the contingent of light cruisers:

Also completed are fifteen destroyers, with the Makinami, Yugumo, Onami, Asashio, Asagumo and Oshio:

The Nenohi, Hatsuharu, Wakaba, Teruzuki, Akuzuki, and Niizuki:

And the Suzutsuki, Wakatsuki and Hatsuzuki. The Japanese destroyers were mostly pretty good and, to be fair, many of the light cruisers were really only intended to act as flagships to flotillas of destroyers.

I also completed a supply ship in the form of the Tatekawa Maru, a fleet oiler:

and four submarines with the I-17, I-19, I-26, and I-29. 

These 'B-Class' submarines all carried a Yokosuka E14Y seaplane for spotting purposes, which I have modeled on two of the submarines. As I was painting them I wondered how many unlucky pilots either lost their bearings or returned to the correct spot to find the submarine had submerged and buggered off. The I-17 was actually the first Axis ship to shell mainland United States. It surfaced off California and tried to shell a fuel storage facility but only managed to damage a pier and a pump house. It did however trigger a mass hysteria event which caused the city of Los Angeles to believe it was under aerial attack the following night, resulting in the air defences showering ten tons of shrapnel and unexploded ordnance on the city. Quite understandable given the uncertainty of the times and not dissimilar to episodes elsewhere.

Finally, and well done if you have got this far, I completed seven aircraft carriers. Below are the Taiho, Zuiho and Shoho, the Taiho with its steel-reinforced flight deck and the latter in Midway colours, all courtesy of Flight Deck Decals:

Next the Hiryu and Soryu:

and finally the Kaga and Akagi:

Here are the latter two next to a pencil, just to give an idea of scale:

The planes are very fiddly, not just to paint but to glue in place without ruining the decal on which they are attached. On average I am finding that larger ships such as battleships, carriers and heavy cruisers are taking around three hours each to assemble, base and paint, light cruisers around two hours, and destroyers around fifty minutes to an hour each.

All up then the Japanese fleet is comprised of sixty-two vessels, all of which except the carriers fit nicely into one of my usual storage boxes:

The carriers will probably join the US and Royal Navy carriers in a separate storage box:

That's it for the Japanese fleet. One thing I did find interesting is that out of all the above ships only the battleship Nagato and heavy cruiser Takao survived the war. 

I'm currently completing the last dozen or so US Navy ships so will hopefully have that contingent completed within the next two to three weeks.

Friday 7 July 2023

Kriegsmarine Ships Completed

I haven't posted for a while, mainly because I have been totally immersed in the WWII naval project and have managed to finish nearly two hundred vessels in the past two months, with just over a hundred left to go. Rather than bore everyone with endless photos every time I complete half a dozen or so, especially as WWII naval is not everyone's cup of tea, I'll limit it to completed fleets from now on so at least I can record my progress and can return to the summaries from time to time to see what I have actually done.

First up is the now completed Kriegsmarine fleet:

The final additions include three more destroyers; Z26, Z27 and Z29:

The light cruisers Leipzig and Nurnberg:

And a second aircraft carrier, which was laid down as the cruiser Seydlitz but earmarked for conversion into the Weser, but never actually completed:

I also completed the supply ship Altmark, an oil tanker which spent the first part of the war shadowing the Graf Spee and ended up transporting 299 British sailors from ships the Graf Spee had sunk back to Germany. Langsdorff, the Captain of the Graf Spee, sought assurances from the captain of the Altmark that the prisoners would be treated well, but the Altmark's captain was apparently something of a Nazi fanatic and the prisoners were fed little and kept in appalling conditions. Although Norway was still neutral at that time, the ship was detained three times by Norwegian authorities at the request of the British who on each occasion failed to find any of the close to 300 prisoners detained below decks. It was subsequently boarded by sailors from the destroyer HMS Cossack, apparently some with cutlasses, who freed the prisoners and transported them back to Britain.

I also completed the Pinguin, a German raider which masqueraded as a Greek merchantman  to pounce on unsuspecting allied shipping, even having concealed gun compartments fore and aft which could be flung open at the last minute. It sank or captured 28 Allied ships before it was finally sunk by HMS Cornwall in May 1941, the Pinguin exploding when a compartment containing mines it was carrying suffered a direct hit and killing not only the majority of its 400 crew but also most of 200 merchant seamen prisoners on board:

Finally, five U-boats in U-47, U-48, U-96, U-99 and U-100, all of them among the most successful U-boats of the war:

Plus a submerged U-87, which I did mainly to amuse myself:

There are rules for submarines, supply tankers and merchant ships in Nimitz, so I plan to do similar vessels for each of the other navies.

That is the German contingent now completed, with a total of 32 vessels (not counting the "submerged" U-87). Next up, the recently completed Japanese fleet, nearly twice the size with 62 vessels.