1/72 Akitsushima (秋津洲) IJN Seaplane Tender Scratchbuild Part VII

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To prevent personnel from slipping on wet decks most navies apply a textured coating, giving decks a rough or sandpaper feel. The Imperial Japanese navy covered decks on their warships with either a reddish brown linoleum surface or welded 200mm x 20mm flat bar stock diagonally to the deck.  The linoleum is easy enough to reproduce with paint, the bar stock was reproduced with sections of 0.010″ x 0.010″ Evergreen strips cut to slightly less than 3mm in length.  A large portion of Akitsushima’s weather deck was covered in these small strips as a form of treadplate, approximately 10,000 were applied to the model.
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Here the after deckhouse is getting the detail treatment. The “Y-gun” depth charge thrower and reloads are 3D printed items, as are the mushroom vents and collapsible davit.  Lifeline stanchions are laser cut items from VectorCut.  The rack for the depth charge reloads was built following detail drawings of racks on IJN destroyers.
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The after deckhouse from the opposite angle, now with the covered mooring line reels in place. The deckhouse assembly can be set aside to prevent damage and permanently attached later in the build.
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Here the fo’c’sle has received some additional detail prior to priming and painting. The roller chocks on either side are part of the fittings for rigging paravanes.  The brake wheels for the capstans are more laser cut goodies from VectorCut, and two more 3D mushroom vents are added here.
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From the breakwater to the change in deck level amidships Akitsushima’s weatherdeck was covered in linoleum. The deck hatches have all received inclined ladders which are a stock item from Evergreen, handrails were added to these.  Along the deck edges various chocks, bits, and cleats are added, and the holes for the lifeline stanchions have already been drilled.
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This is the midships deckhouse area. The frame structure at an angle forward is a mechanical stop to prevent the midships 127mm gun from firing into the stack.  Some illustrators are confused by this structure and show the guns trained aft at zero elevation within this frame, pointed directly at the stack!  There are a number of “doodads” on and around this area, several were fabricated using parts from the spares box.
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This is the turntable and tracks for the aircraft cradle. The gray parts to the right are cradles for some of the ship’s boats, a pair of 13m utility boats and an 11m motor boat in the center.  On my build the motor boat will be off on other duties.
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The aft deckhouse test fit on the fantail. Just forward of the deckhouse is a capstan, and at the corners are rollers used to bend the lines around to the chocks at the stern.  At the deck edge are three roller racks on each side for depth charges.
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The after main deck from a different angle. You can get a feel for the number of treadplates required in this view.
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From this angle the recesses under the main deck are visible. These would provide some shelter for watchstanders on the quarterdeck in port.  The frame structures on the deckhouse are for stowing a spare float for an A6M2-N “Rufe” floatplane fighter.
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16″/50 Main Battery Gun Shoots, USS Missouri (BB-63)

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USS Missouri (BB-63) firing the center guns of Turrets 1 & 2 during WWII. The 16″ guns on the Iowa class battleships could be elevated and fired independently, as this photograph illustrates.  The propellant charge required to fire each projectile was 660 pounds.
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Another photograph from WWII, this time a salvo from Turret 1. The effect of the heat and the blast on the water has lead to the myth that the recoil of the guns firing would push the ship sideways through the water.
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A firepower demonstration conducted for the Australian press while off Sydney in October 1986. This was actually a fifteen-gun broadside, nine 16″/50 guns and six 5″/38s, although the firing of the 5″ guns is not noticeable in the photograph.
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A detail of the photograph above, showing two 16″ projectiles in flight. The initial velocity of a 1,900 pound high capacity round was 2,690 feet per second, or Mach 2.45.  While elusive, they could be seen and photographed if one knew where to look and the timing was right.
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Another view of the Sydney broadside, this time from the fo’c’sle. This proved a popular vantage point for photographers as the heat and overpressure from the gun firings was tolerable there.
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More projectiles in flight, this time fired from Turret 3 with the photographer on the fantail.  Double hearing protection was required for those observing a main battery firing topside.
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An overhead view of a broadside. The blast effect on the water is clearly distinguishable, note that there is no lateral “wake” at the bow or stern, only under the fireballs.  The four Iowa class battleships all carried different patterns of non-skid and teak on their fantails, Missouri had the largest area of non-skid of the four sisters.
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Another projectile in flight, this picture was taken during the RIMPAC exercise in 1990.
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A black and white picture of Missouri firing NGFS off Korea. During gun shoots the bridge windows were rolled down to prevent the blast from breaking the glass.  Bridge watchstanders quickly learned to duck upon hearing the salvo alarm!

1/72 Akitsushima (秋津洲) IJN Seaplane Tender Scratchbuild Part VI

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Remember me saying to treat each subassembly as its own model? In the middle of the grind each subassembly complete equals a small victory, and visible progress towards completion helps keep morale up.  At least that’s how it works for me.  These three components are the collapsible deck structures located amidships.  They are shown completely erected, completely struck down, or with only the supports and stays in place in the various surviving photographs (see the earlier reference post).  The builder’s drawings show the forward structure was used to store spare propellers and control surfaces for the aircraft, but I could not determine the purposes of the remaining two.  I suspect they might have been engine maintenance and storage but that is speculation.
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The main mast assembly built as a separate project. The structure is made from Evergreen tube, reinforced wherever possible with music wire cores for strength.  The pulleys hanging from the yardarms are for the signal hoists.  I found the ladders to be rather unforgiving, a rung is needed every 5 mm and the pattern makes even a slight misalignment noticeable.
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The mast test-fit in place. Using the wooden construction base allowed me to handle the mast so I could easily work on it on the bench without damaging either it or the rest of the model.
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While working on the mast on the bench I began detailing the fo’c’sle, alternating between tasks if I needed a break. The mounts for the main gun positions have a raised platform surrounding the gun to aid the shell passers in supplying ammunition to the loaders, who were on platforms alongside each gun breach.  This is shown on the drawings and is visible in Akitsushima’s shakedown photograph, but is a detail missed by kit manufacturers.
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Detail on the fo’c’sle is beginning to shape up. Seams between the deckplates were reinforced with strips, and in the Imperial Japanese Navy flat stock was welded to the deck diagonally to prevent slippage.  I represented the reinforcing sprips with 0.010′ x 0.020″ Evergreen, and the non-skid bars with 0.010″ x 0.010″.  On the fo’c’sle alone there were almost 1,100 non-skid bars.  Anchor chain is a 3D printed item from Shapeways.
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Moring lines in the IJN were typically stored on reels mounted to the decks. After the lines were stowed the reels were covered with battens and canvas and secured with line.  Using detail drawings I selected four sizes of reel designs to represent what I could see on Akitsushima’s drawings and photographs.  The large reels were made from wooden dowel, the smaller ones from plastic tube.  These were covered with masking tape to represent the canvas, which was then sealed with superglue and Mr. Surfacer 500.
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Akitsushima carried six depth charges in roll-off racks on her main deck aft. These are 3D printed depth charges from diStefan’s Shapeways shop on Evergreen racks, secured with masking tape straps.
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Various cowl vents, each made to represent a specific vent on the decks of Akitsushima. The vents were easier to construct than I anticipated.  The trick was to build them with square corners, then fill the inside of the joints with superglue.  This allows the corners to be filed off round without sanding through the material, and prevents the joints from working apart during sanding.
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Here is the parts farm, primed with Mr. Surfacer 1200 to reveal any flaws before assembly. Most of these fittings are 3D printed parts from diStefan Shapeways shop (Sasa Drobac), the mushroom patch visible in the box is from Model Monkey (Steve Larson).  Both gentlemen were very accommodating and easy to work with, but the printing technology utilized by Shapeways requires quite a bit of clean up.
diStefan 3Dprint Shapeways shop here: https://www.shapeways.com/shops/distefano_3dprint
Model Monkey direct shop here: https://www.model-monkey.com/
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An overall view with the major components posed in place. Ready to start detailing the main deck!

1/72 Akitsushima (秋津洲) IJN Seaplane Tender Scratchbuild Part V – Building the Hasegawa H8K2 Emily Flying Boat

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The 1/72 scale Hasegawa H8K2 Emily kit is what originally planted the seed for this entire project. The kit does not disappoint, and is everything you would expect from a new mold Hasegawa offering.  Fit was outstanding throughout, molding is crisp with many fine details.
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On the underside of the hull there is a grid pattern of raised detail. I believe that is meant to represent the internal structural framing, but it should not be visible.  Easy enough to sand off but be aware of the need.
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Internal detail is impressive right out of the box. I added some detail to the nose section as I wanted to pose the crew access door open, but even that was almost impossible to see on the finished model.
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One area where extra detail will be visible is the engines. These are the kit engines with the push rods replaced and wiring added.
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Akitsushima had deck storage for four wingtip floats, two against the midships bulkhead on the starboard side (shown in the photograph in the earlier reference post), and two shown in drawings on the main deck. The drawings also illustrate a main float for an A6M2-N Rufe fighter aft of the stack.  I cut an insert to fill the attachment recess on one of the kit floats and used that to make a mold for resin clones to provide the needed spares.
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Emily is a big girl, the fuel truck makes for a good size comparison.
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Here is the finished Emily on her beaching gear at the Inch High International Airport (and seaplane ramp, apparently).
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Emily in flight. I painted the Hinomaru using Maketar kabuki masks, but the stencils and tail codes are from the kit.  Hasegawa did a good job replicating the silver walkway stripes, but they are printed as one huge strip.  I cut the small stripes out separately to prevent any chance of the decal film silvering.
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Here is the completed Emily test-fit on her display base. The aircraft will be one of the focal points of the project so it is fortunate that Hasegawa produces such a fine kit.
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The Emily is secured to the cradle mechanically with long bronze rods. The rods penetrate the cradle and go into the hull itself to prevent the danger of a weak bond between any of the other components.  To prevent slippage, the contact points will be joined with MicroScale LiquiTape, which is an adhesive that remains tacky without drying hard.  This will allow removal of the Emily if desired.
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This long view of the Akitsushima with the Emily test fit shows everything in perspective. The Emily is a rather large aircraft, Akitsushima is probably about the smallest displacement tender design which could accommodate these large flying boats aboard.

1/72 Akitsushima (秋津洲) IJN Seaplane Tender Scratchbuild Part IV

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The superstructure was built up in a series of lifts. The pieces making up the bulkheads were beveled to make a sharp edge, and the seams were reinforced with superglue from the inside.  This resulted in a strong joint.
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One of the challenges of a lengthy build is keeping the mojo up when finishing the project is still months away. I thought of  each subassembly as a separate model.  It’s easier to focus on components, and each completed section is a small victory along the way.  This is the forward superstructure, the upper sections are not glued down as there are many details remaining to be added.
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The vertical structure of the crane was broken down into a stack of tapering cylinders. Disks determined the upper and lower diameters of each section.  The base of the bottom section is a pill bottle.
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Plastic sheet was wrapped around and cut off level with the disks to form the exterior. The seam is an obvious problem and caused more trouble than I expected.  More on this later.
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Pulleys were made from 1/35 scale armor bogey wheels. Grooves for the cables were carefully cut into the faces of each one.  Fortunately, the Japanese magazine Navy Yard vol. 10 published an article on Akitsushima which included pictures of builder’s drawings which showed this detail clearly.
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This is the crane assembly and after deck house. The builder’s plans and photo enlargement matched perfectly, although there were some details drawn as alternates on the plans so it always pays to compare the drawings with photographs.
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This is the rough shape for the stack. The ends are a piece of PVC piping split in half, with Evergreen spacers to achieve the correct width.
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The stack was wrapped in 0.010″ sheet. This gave the stack a smooth, seamless surface and allowed a lip at the upper edge.  Several exhausts were routed through the stack.  The center four are for the Kampon diesel engines, the remaining are likely for electric generators and galley exhaust.
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The major subassemblies posed on the hull. Test fitting is always important in any modeling.  If you look closely you can see some additional details have been added to the main deck.  Always good to see a project start to come together.
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A view of the port side. The platforms for the 25mm guns are fabricated and test fit in position.  The main guns and ship’s boats are 3D parts printed by Shapeways.  Everything is still loose at this point but it helps to visualize the progress and to check general appearance and dimensions.

1/72 Akitsushima (秋津洲) IJN Seaplane Tender Scratchbuild Part III

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With the basic hull built it is time to begin adding details. The first items were the hawse pipes for the anchor chains.  The locations for the penetrations on the fo’c’sle and hull sides were marked out and opened up with the Dremel tool.  Then a drill was used to enlarge both holes to the proper diameter.  Drilling them through in one push keeps the openings true and straight.  Plastic tube is used for the pipe.
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The plastic tube were marked at each penetration, then removed and sawed off. The pieces were then glued in place and any gaps filled with superglue.  Note the gray areas on the hull.  All seams were filled with superglue, sanded down, and then oversprayed with Mr. Surfacer 500 to check for flaws.  Easier to fix any problems now while the hull is still smooth!
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Hull plating is simulated by first scoring vertical recessed lines into the hull sides, matching the spacing and dimensions seen in the photograph. Then strips of 0.015″ Evergreen were also scored and glued to the sides.  The result is hull plating with both raised and recess panel detail.
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One of the functions of Akitsushima was to provide accommodations for the aircraft crews and maintenance personnel, including messing, berthing, and administrative spaces. Therefore she had a lot of portholes for a warship her size.  A lot.  These were carefully measured and drilled out on both sides of the hull and the superstructure, first with a small pilot hole and then to size with an electric drill.
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To simulate the rims of the portholes small sections of Aluminum tube were used. The tube was held in a slotted wooden form and then sections cut off with a Dremel abrasive wheel.  Burrs were removed with a second Dremel and the process was repeated.
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To get the portholes in place a push tool was fashioned from Aluminum stock and plastic tube. This allowed the pieces to be pushed in place to a uniform depth.  This wasn’t always successful, sometimes   the porthole wound up inside the hull and some are still there.
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Ridges are mounted above each porthole to deflect water running down the sides of the ship, these are called “eyebrows”. Here is a pile of eyebrows being made from bronze wire.
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The bow, showing details in place. The bracketed  strip winding its way along the upper edge is the housing for the degaussing cables.  An electric current was passed though these cables to reduce the ship’s magnetic field, thus hopefully reducing its vulnerability to magnetic mines.