Sunday, April 4

Build review: Takom's 1/72nd scale Battleship Yamato no. 2 main turret

We could not believe it when we first heard of Takom's upcoming product of 1/72nd scale battleship Yamato no. 2 turret kit. What a departure for a mostly AFV making model company - So when it arrived we thought it only pertinent to build and review it for you. See how it goes together and what it looks like in our build review...

Japanese Battleship Yamato Type 94 46cm Gun Main turret No. 2
1/72nd scale 
Kit no #5010
50cm long from guns to the rear of the deck
Nameplate included
Nylon monofilament (fishing line)
The kit consists of injection moulded plastic for No.2 turret and platform
Price: ¥5,371 JPY / USD$ 47 from the Hobbylink Japan Website
We thought someone was joshing us when we first saw this kit, but then again, if you have looked at Takom's only short history, they have continuously brought us some weird and wonderful stuff that no one else was thinking about. Recently the AK 130 turret blew us all out of the water (😆) so we could fathom this new release once we made a few calls...

But why the turret from the Yamato? let's look at the real thing...

The Battleship Yamato
Yamato was truly enormous as ships go, especially for the time, measuring 263m (863ft) stem to stern. She displaced 70,000 tons and was 40 per cent bigger than the battleships of the Iowa class, the US Navy’s largest. Its superstructure, dominated by the mast and raked funnel, was like a fortress bedecked with guns. Enough steel went into the hull to lay a railway track between Tokyo and Osaka. Yamato bore a full load of munitions for all of its weapons on 7 April 1945.

A helpful cut-out of the ship

The main armament of Yamato consisted of nine Type 94 46cm (18.1in) naval cannons mounted in three turrets. These guns, each weighing 162 tons, were the largest ever emplaced on a ship and were capable of hurling a 1,400kg (3,200lb) shell to a maximum range of 40km (135,000ft). The ship carried 1,080 of these. Each triple turret weighed a hefty 2,774 tons. These guns were officially designated by the Japanese as 40 cm/45 Type 94 (15.7 inch) in an effort to hide their actual size, which was a closely guarded secret until after the end of World War II.

Yamato is known to have fired at enemy ships on only one occasion. This was at the Battle off Samar in October 1944 against the U.S. Taffy 1 and Taffy 3 escort carrier groups, with rounds possibly hitting USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73). Musashi is known to have fired her guns in anger only once when she fired "sankaidan" (incendiary shrapnel) anti-aircraft shells during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea in October 1944. One of these reportedly exploded in the barrel, disabling the gun.

A Type 94 Naval Gun being calibrated (minus the blast bags) on the Yamato during construction
The muzzle blast of these main guns is said to have been able to rip the clothes off personnel who were standing too close when the guns were fired, but this story is probably apocryphal. Blast pressure measured during trials at Kamegakubi test range was 7.0 kg/cm2 (100 psi) at a point 15 m (50 feet) in front of the muzzle. This was twice as high as that for the 41 cm guns used on the Nagato class.

Yamato running trials and testing, October 1941
Turret Specifications
Designation Three-gun Turrets: Yamato (3)
Weight 2,730.2 tons (2,774 mt)
Elevation -5 / +45 degrees 1b
Elevation Rate 8 degrees per second 2b 3b
Train about +150 / -150 degrees
Train Rate 2 degrees per second
Gun recoil 56.3 in (1.43 m)
Loading Angle +3 degrees

A sketch of 46 cm/45 Triple Mounting from "US Naval Technical Mission to Japan report O-45 (N): : Japanese 18" Gun Mounts."
Gun Characteristics
Official Designation: 45 calibre Type 94 40 cm Gun
(40 cm/45 Model 1934)
Actual Size: 46 cm/45 (18.1")
Date Of Design 1939
Date In Service 1941-46
Gun Weight 363,000 lbs. (164,654 kg) with breech
Gun Length of 831.9 in (21.130 m)
Bore Length 815 in (20.700 m)
Rifling Length about 806 in (20.480 m)
Grooves (72) 0.181 in deep x about 0.478 in (4.6 mm x 12.14 mm)
Lands about 0.312 in (7.93 mm)
Twist Uniform RH 1 in 28
Chamber Volume about 41,496 in3 (680 dm3)
Rate Of Fire 1 1.5 - 2 rounds per minute

This new kit from Takom:
OK so we know a little more about the turret and the ship that bore it, what do we know about the kit?
The feature set of this kit:
1/ The kit comes in 1/72nd scale, which is still massive - the turret and kit is 50cm long from guns to the rear of the deck
2/ The nameplate included for the Yamato only - we are not sure if the sister ship the Musashi is included or if that could be another release
3/ There is only one marking choice included in the box (for the Yamato)
4/ The kit consists of injection moulded plastic for No.2 turret and platform
 The kit includes is a length of clear nylon monofilament (fishing line)
The parts in the box...
The large box frame that the turret sits on mimics the deck of the Yamato, with a slight, very slight, wooden deck texture on the top of the box and smooth sides to mount graphics or to paint. The notches of the turret ring. 
There are rectangle mounts for the hatches on the deck, you can see the wood pattern a little better in this photo...
Sprue A houses the blast bags of the buns, each n two parts split down the middle. Each of these is moulded slightly different, and there are two positions that each blast bag caters for, either horizontally or straight up to the gun's maximum elevation, I would not have minded one more elevation angle in the middle, but these will do.
There are two sprue C's in this kit. Dominated mostly by the halves of the 15-inch guns split down the middle. There are also parts for the rangefinders and the gun elevation locking pivot and the railing stands for the top of the turret.
Sprue D houses many railings, lines and ladder and the large three-holed gun wells for the front of the turret. The two rounded rectangles of the deck hatches and the roughly square door of the rear doors (these must have been massive) is there also.
The gun wells are covered, unless you want to show the blast bags off, this would require some scratch building to show a more detailed interior and I can't see anyone else doing that.
Sprue B has the parts that cover the large pivoting rangefinders. It also has the base part that the rangefinders pivot within the housings of the turret. They are hardly visible once place in there, and you do not really need to make the pivot if you don't want to.
The bottom of the turret has three mounting ports which the base of the guns can rotate on (just like a see-saw) this sits inside the top of the turret neatly once all of the gun mounting and rangefinder gear is installed...
The biggest part of the kit after the large rectangular deck is the turret roof. This is a great big piece to be moulded in one part, but the detail of the piece is nice, with rivets and angled facets of the turret all adding up to something that will look great under paint.
The rear of the turret, showing the large door opening and the side ports that the rangefinders poke out of. These are covered but the parts that make up the fairings on sprue B.
The Photo etch of the kit is minimal but small in some parts, with long strips of railings for the top of the turret and walkways for servicing the guns and the rear door. A large nameplate for the kit is also supplied which is a nice inclusion.
So that is what's inside the box, a lot of kits is not too many parts, this looks promising, but let's build it to show you how it really fares...

The build:
The build sequence for this kit is twelve steps. and forgive me, but I haven't really followed them in strict order, and probably neither will most people as the construction is so basic. 

The rear deck hatches could go on now, but a lot of you might wait until the kit is painted so you do not have to mask them.
Step two sees the installation of the plates around the turret ring exterior. the instruction sheet does show how they align, but they look like this once on the ring...
The gun wells are placed inside the turret now on step four. . These can go into place once you remove some extra mould ejector parts inside the turret. You will not see any of this inside the turret once the blast bags are in place.
Step five: The base of the guns are put together now, these are made of two halves and the lugs sit atop of the swivel mounts on the turret base...
Now at step six, the going gets a bit superfluous. I say that because, in a way, you do not need to make these gun bases and place them on the see-saw mounts! The reason for this is they do not pivot, and the blast bags are in fact what attached to the turret face. If you do build these you will notice the lugs inside the holes which the rest of the gun sits inside.
An interesting pictures of the turret bae being installed on the real thing in the Yamato, it is surprisingly similar to the kit's base don't you think?
The range finders sit inside the turret on a swivelling mount that gives them the ability to rotate partially to either side. This rotation again does not need to happen, so you can just secure the rotating mount in place if you like.
A view of the rangefinders inside the ports on either side of the turret. Notice once the housing is on you will have to add some slight seam filler - I tried not to have the gap, but there was always a slight gap no matter how much I held it tightly together.
Here the top of the turret is with the "ears" installed...
Step seven: There are a few spare railings included just in case the ones you cat break in the process which was helpful for me as two did bite the dust. These are hollowed out so you can pass either the fishing line that is supplied with the kit in through them or EZ line or even lead wire which I used.
Step seven, eight, nine and ten see you adding everything to the top of the turret, the poles that hold the walkway railing ropes and the small guards around the edges of the turret. The ladders also attach to the sides of the turret and front, and they need some "loving touch" to get off the sprue undamaged as they are pretty thin so take care here...
These poles are a bit sensitive to misalignments o you have to spend a while getting them straight. The photo-etch parts also need a lot of straightening to look neat. Also, there are fold-over tabs at the ends which act like thicker points to anchor the photo-etch in. These are more hassle than they are worth and I simply snipped these folding tabs off for the same result with less effort. 
During step eight the platforms under the blast bags are folded to insert under the main left and right guns (the centre has no platform). I use my RP Toolz bender and a rather rusty razor blade I must have smuggled out of prison to fold these.
To touch the squareness up the Xuron flat-nosed pliers always help get the edges as neat as you can.
Here the platforms are installed on the front of the turret face...
The rear door of the turret is then attached with a ladder on the side of it and a platform made from photo-etch under the door. The size of this door informs you of the scale and size of this turret...
The massive 15-inch guns are the next thing to be made in step eleven. You will notice that the tips of these guns are rifled inside which is great and will definitely be noticed. I used a paintbrush handle to hold the tops of the barrel while I sanded off the connection points from the sprue that remained after removal.
Those gun barrels huh - step eleven sees you cutting, removing excess, sanding, fitting then sanding again then fitting again then gluing them together. Take your time in these parts, as they are the focus part of the kit, and too much sanding after they go together will knock out the shape of your gun, especially around the tip of the barrel (like I did). No one (I didn't want to) wants to add lots of filler to make them look right later on (like I had to😒)…

I also cut a few milimetres from the locating tabs to ensure there was no gap made by incorrect spacing when the barrel halves go together.
The six blast bags are next - six? you say - well there are twelve halves to make six individual bags - each is slightly different - with only two variations of elevation. Either flat or fully elevated. As I said earlier a mid-point would have been nice, but we will deal with what we have here. A few gaps are present once put together that may or may need extra reaming, sanding or filling depending on your pleasure...
The blast bags attached to the guns. I will be making mine with two on the lower and one on the highest elevation for some change in the look of the turret.  These connections, guns and bags need some little filling and as I said earlier either fit into the lugs of the base of the guns in the turret - or to the turret flush if you are smart and omit the pivoting mounts that are kinda' superfluous as the guns do not pivot once installed.
You can make the ropes that feed into the vertical railings via the fishing line supplied in the kit, via something like EZ-line, or do what I did when I could not find any EZ-line and use lead wire to make the ropes scale thickness correct.
I spent most of one whole night straightening up, fixing the stance on the poles, railings and wire used to replicate rope. I secured the "rope" with super glue and then spend a lot of time going around the turret in order, gently rubbing on the wire to create the right angle of sag needed to replicate the rope.
That's all folks!
…AND with that, the kit was completed! It took a weekend of afternoons to build the kit, then another three nights to make the photo etch, poles and wiring stand and sit straight. The completed turret and deck sure is imposing and it "packs a punch" (😂) in its physical stance on the desk.
A walk around the kit from various angles giving you more of an idea of the kit once completed... (note the barrels are only push fitted in as I will paint this sometime in the future so there is a slight gap on the blast bags...
I liked building this kit. The photo-etch was a pain in the bum, but nothing that needs to be complained about as it was indeed effective in the end product and needed to be there. The gun barrels are time-consuming also, but such a simple kit needs not much concentration and it all goes together very easily.
This is a great crossover kit for armour lovers looking to get into ships especially and something those ship lovers (I think ) will really appreciate…

Adam Norenberg

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