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

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Chinese philosopher Laozi, 604-531BC

 

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In this case the first step was the announcement of a new-mold H8K2 in 1/72 scale by Hasegawa in the fall of 2016. The “Emily” was a long time favorite of mine, but I had held off fighting the 1970’s era rivet monster hoping for something better.  With the planned release came the research, and thoughts of how best to display the finished product.  One option, at first rather tongue in cheek, was to model a seaplane tender as a display base for the Emily.  Increasingly that became the direction of my thinking.  Why not?
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It is standard for works in progress threads to show the kit box and contents to kick things off. No problem.  Here is the box art for the Japanese Seaplane Tender Akitsushima in 1/72 scale.  This was amusing to most and confusing to a few, but I had a lot of fun with this.
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Here are the instructions. I’ve had this copy of “Building Warship Models” since my teenage years and it shows, I discovered Broadart book wraps far too late to help this dustjacket.  An outstanding reference providing both inspiration and guidance.  Coker illustrates a myriad of scratchbuilding tips and techniques and shows the finished work of master builders from around the world, all without the benefit of kits.
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Here are the contents for the “in box review”, a stack of 0.060″ sheets and 0.188″ and 0.125″ square strips from Evergreen. No flash on any of the parts, and not a single ejection pin mark to be found anywhere!
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These are the references on hand at the beginning of the project, more would be added as things progressed. I purchased a booklet and plan set from Profile Moresky, but they proved to be inaccurate and were soon set aside.  The most useful item was the photograph of Akitsushima running sea trials.  Fortunately this is quite clear and large, my Father was able to enlarge the picture file to scale and print it on a roll printer.  Resolution is such that the image is clear even at that size.  References on other Imperial Navy warships also proved vital as, like most navies, the IJN had standardized many pieces of equipment carried by many classes of warships.
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One misconception is that the Akitsushima carried and could launch a flying boat. She was never intended to do so.  She could hoist a flying boat onto the deck cradle using her large electric crane for servicing, but the aircraft would take off and land on the water.  This was intended to be done while the ship was anchored in a sheltered harbor, her flock of aircraft would moor to buoys around her.  So, for an aircraft to be on the deck the ship would be at anchor.  In 1/72 scale at least some of the hull would be visible under the water, so I constructed the model with 2″ (5cm) of hull below the waterline.  Neither a full hull nor a waterline model, but one intended to be mounted to a base.
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One advantage to mounting the model to a water base is that the bottom can be flat which makes construction easier. Here are the first steps in building up the hull.  The bottom outline was cut out and laid flat on the workbench.  A longitudinal structure was laid down the center over the entire length of the ship.  In the center is a bulkhead where the weather deck steps down amidships.  0.188″ square stock is glued to both sides of the center bulkhead to support the deck and longitudinal stringers.
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This is a stack of half hull formers with notches for stringers. The hull lines in the Profile Moresky drawings were used to determine shape, but the dimensions were  recalculated because the hull lines were drawn wider than the beam of the ship.
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The hull formers were kept square using rafter squares from the hardware store and glued with MEK. MEK is the active component in most of the thin liquid glues for styrene available to plastic modelers.  It is also available in volume from the hardware store, and is much less expensive.
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With all the formers in place the stringers can be attached. This builds up much faster than one would expect, and is satisfying because at this point it the general size and shape of the ship is seen.
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Once the glue has set the structure is surprisingly strong and can be moved around as needed. If you look closely you can see that all the frames are numbered, a necessity to keep everything organized properly.