An adaptation of a design by Hotchkiss, the Japanese Type 96 25mm gun was the standard light/ medium AA gun of the Pacific War. It was a ubiquitous weapon that was found in one form or another in nearly every ship in the IJN's fleet. It came in single, double, and triple mounts, and despite its widespread use, was actually a mediocre gun. It was plagued with slow training and elevating speeds (even in the powered triple mount), vibration and muzzle flash. To make matters worse, the gun had to stop firing every time the ammunition was changed due to its fixed 15 round magazine- this slowed its rate of rate of fire to only half of its theoretical rate of 260 rounds per minute. All of these issues added up to a gun that fell far short of the IJN's needed AA abilities as the war progressed.
Despite the gun's low performance, it is nonetheless an essential aspect of nearly any Japanese surface ship (and some submarines).
For the longest time, IJN modelers in 1/700 have been plagued by the issue of lousy 25mm weaponry. While there were plenty of after market upgrades to large and medium guns as well as other aspects of the ships, the light AA always fell short. Photo etch replacements came along to take care of this, and for many people that worked out well. The only issues were the relative complexity of these guns and the fairly flat appearance of the guns' barrels in PE (although the PE was thick enough to be close to scale).
Fine Molds answered the challenge of a well-detailed, simple, scale 25mm replacement with their Nano Dread line. These guns come in two sets: WA-01containing double and triple mounts; and WA-02 containing single and double mounts.
contains eight double mounts and sixteen triple mounts. They are divided up with two doubles and four triples per each interlocking sprue.
contains eight double mounts and twenty-four single mounts. They are divided up with two doubles and six singles per each interlocking sprue (double mounts were the least populous of these guns, so that's why there are less of them overall in both sets).
Fine Molds has really pushed the envelope with these amazing little pieces-- they each measure less than 4mm in length. Jewelry-like craftsmanship and precision throughout, each gun is only one piece and easy to use. I was concerned that with such tiny complex pieces, there would be flash, but there is hardly any (you really have to look for it). What flash is there, can be melted away with a swipe of liquid glue. And unlike the complex assembly of PE guns, these excellent pieces are pretty much "clip and glue". The singles have a small nub of plastic on the ammo magazine that will have to be carefully removed, but nothing terrible. The price is also very competitive, resulting in one of the best cost/ usability/ quality ratios in the the after market.
The only drawback I can see is availability. These little items are already getting very scarce, so make sure to snatch them up right away. If you build IJN ships-- or even if you don't but think you might, these guns will take your build to the next level!
Here's hoping Fine Molds releases the IJN 5" AA gun series...
Larger magnification pictures than what can be displayed here can be found on the Fine Molds website on this page.
Just click on the Japanese link under each product's number to be taken to an image that can be zoomed in to a very high magnification.