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


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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2018/12/11/1-72-akitsushima-%e7%a7%8b%e6%b4%a5%e6%b4%b2-ijn-seaplane-tender-scratchbuild-part-ii/

17 thoughts on “1/72 Akitsushima (秋津洲) IJN Seaplane Tender Scratchbuild Part I

  1. Your description of the process is very helpful. Did you have much trouble keeping all the bulkheads true? Even when using a squaring tool or jig, I find that it is difficult to truly keep things square.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The rafter squares worked in this case, but probably not as useful for a full-hull build. At least, I didn’t have any errors big enough to translate into something visible in the finished model.


  3. I’m glad I found this— an Akitsushima as an RC model in 1/144 scale is on my project list. (Your model in 1/72 must be 5+ feet long! ). I have the 1/700 Waterline kit and the Profile Morskie booklet for references so far.
    I would build an RC model the same basic way, but use thin plywood for bulkheads, and plank with balsa or basswood, then a coat of fiberglass.

    Regarding the Morskie issue- I think you’re saying the beam in the body plan was greater than the beam in the half breadth plan? Could it just an issue with the two not in scale with each other?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bill,

      The hull breadth issue was just one of many, the Morskie plans are inaccurate. Do yourself a favor and set them aside, you cannot build an accurate model using those plans. Find a copy of NAVY YARD Volume 10. There are line drawings from the original builder’s plans printed inside. They are small, but quite useable when enlarged to 1/72. You will have no problems working from them in 1/144.

      Good luck on your project, I’d love to see it once you get started!


      1. That is the only place I have ever seen them. I believe the Hasegawa 1/350 scale kit was mastered from those plans. I wrote to them but never received a response.


      2. Thanks. Amazing kit with incredible detail; how modeling used to be. I have the Hasegawa 1/350 kit in my stash waiting for enough research to do it justice. I really got a kick out of the fantasy boxtop…

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I remembered seeing the first post but I forgot to view more of what you did since my head was spinning too much.

        Liked by 1 person

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