by: Tim Reynaga [ ]
What model ship builder doesn’t know the story of the Yamato? Designed as the ultimate big gun battlewagon, she was commissioned the same month her own naval air force proved her obsolescence by blasting both the U.S. and British Far East battleship fleets virtually out of existence. Her own frustrating war began as Combined Fleet flagship for the disastrous Battle of Midway, followed by years of shuttling back and forth across the South Pacific in response to U.S. Navy moves she was never able to counter. Finally in 1945 she was tragically and uselessly expended in a Kamikaze attack against Okinawa, going down under a fusillade of aerial bombs and torpedoes against which her massive guns were useless.
Most recently released by Revell Germany , this small scale Yamato was originally produced the Italian company Casadio as one of their pre-assembled "Miniships" waaaaay back in the early 1970s. Over the years It has been reissued many times as an unassembled kit by Revell UK and Almark in England, Revell/West Germany, ESCI in Italy, Sablon in France, and by both Model Power and MPC in the United States. The same plastic has also been marketed as the Musashi. The only differences among the various releases have been in the instructions and box art.
This toy/model from the early 1970s is a very simplified, snap-together affair designed for quick building. When I built it as a kid back then I was among those for whom the kit was apparently designed – wargamers and young modelers. At the time I liked the snap together design, but the poor fit of the parts was annoying. And the model is very basic: while the one piece hull is recognizably a Yamato, the shape is vague and toylike. The complex main guns and funnel are reduced to single parts, and the prominent mainmast is missing entirely. The bow profile is not accurate (although it is fixable with a little shim and sanding – see the picture). The decks look nice with a delicate wood plank pattern and other details. The first superstructure deck should not be planked, but again – not perfect, but fixable. Aircraft are only generalized single float monoplane representations, in any case wrong; if they are meant to be Aichi E13A "Jakes", they should have twin floats, if Mitsubishi F1M "Petes" they should be biplanes. The 127mm type 89 guns are only vaguely correct, and the numerous 25mm triples are molded directly to the decks and turrets. Finally, there is a problem with the configuration of the antiaircraft guns. The model is pretty accurate for Yamato (or Musashi) in October, 1944 (Battle of Leyte Gulf) with all those 25mm singles on the main deck. Unfortunately, it also has the six additional 25mm triples along the deck edge amidships which were added later when the single mounts were removed. The simplest fix would be to remove the six 25mm triple mounts and go for a Leyte Gulf Yamato.
Still, the kit has its good points. The bridge windows are neatly represented as recessed squares, and two alternate main turrets are provided so you can depict the ship at an earlier point in her career before she got the extra antiaircraft guns on the turret tops, or as her sister Musashi. Perhaps the best aspects of the kit are its affordability and simplicity; at less than ten bucks and a mere 33 snap-together parts, you can have a finished battlewagon cheaply and quickly. And although basic, the completed model does resemble the great ship; with a scratchbuilt mast and a few other minor improvements, the kit can be built into a presentable little Yamato (see picture).
This model is certainly no masterpiece of the kit maker's art, but when it appeared in the early 1970s it was superior to comparable Pyro and Lindberg offerings, and it is still way less expensive than the various pre-assembled wargaming and collector models out there. Taken for what it is, this little Yamato isn’t a bad kit at all.