by: Felix Bustelo [ ]
Originally published on:
The Japanese Kongo class of guided missile destroyers is a modification of the U.S. Navyís Flight I Arleigh Burke class. The four ships in this class form the core of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF)'s fleet. The Kongo class employs the highly advanced Aegis fire control system. They are armed with the RIM-66 SM-2MR Block II surface-to-air missile, RUM-139 vertically launched anti-submarine rocket, the RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile, two Mark 15 20 mm CIWS gun mounts, two torpedo mounts in a triple tube configuration and an Oto Melara 127 mm/54 caliber gun. The Mark 41 vertical launch system can hold 90 missiles. Since the JMSDF role more defensive, they do not carry Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The current Hasegawa release of the JMSDF Kongo is marketed as an upgraded kit. As far as I can tell, the only new parts are the antennas and SatCom domes which are all on a small sprue and a revised decal sheet. Other than that, it is essentially the original kit.
Sprue A has the main deck and the starboard hull half.
Sprue B has the waterline base and the port hull half.
Sprue C has the majority of the superstructure parts and some smaller fittings.
Sprue D has the bridge parts and some other superstructure parts as well as the parts for the lattice mast.
Sprue F has the transom stern.
Sprue K, which is attached to Sprue F, has a mast platform.
Sprue N has various fittings like the boat and boat davits, raft cannisters and racks, funnel exhausts, and anchors Ė you get two of these sprues.
Sprue P, which you also get two of since they are attached to Sprue N, comes with various JMSDF weapons and equipment. The 127mm gun, helicopter and rotors, Harpoon missile launchers, CWIS, torpedo tubes, chaff launchers and SPG-62 radar dishes are on these sprues.
Sprue Q, which is the new parts sprue, contains the NORA-1, NORQ-1, USC-42 communication antenna domes as well as some other equipment.
You also get a metal strip to use as ballast and some double-sided tape to attach it to the waterline base.
The decal sheet is very complete and contains the hull numbers and name for the stern, flight deck markings and deck walkway demarcations and flags. It also has markings and windows for the helicopter, warning signs for the VLS, life rings and even markings for the two boats.
Molding is very clean, with no flash or visible ejector sink marks. The bulkheads and decks have molded on details, such as the AN/SPY-1 radar antennas panels, watertight doors, vents, bitts and the VLS arrays. The hull has some raised lines that I am not sure what they are supposed to be, but looking at photos of the ships in the class, I really donít see them so I would sand them smooth. The anchor chains and propeller guards are molded on and I would remove them and replace with photoetch if possible.
All of the superstructures require assembling the bulkheads to form the individual structures. The decks have the outlines to help fit the structures into place. The lattice mast parts are molded as well as they can be in 1/700 scale, but appear a tad thick. The numerous smaller parts are all pretty good.
The instructions are printed on a double-sided sheet of paper. The first side of the sheet starts with a brief historical description of Kongo in English and Japanese. The next section has painting and decal placement instructions that are very thorough. Paint references are primarily for Mr. Color, but some have GSI Creos Aqueous Hobby Color and Tamiya call outs. The colors are also listed in English, with the FS numbers for the different grays. Now I could be mistaken but I am fairly certain that the decks of JMSDF ships have a darker color than the hull but the paint guide says to use the same color for both horizontal and vertical surfaces. I would suggest looking at photographs of some of the ships in this class to confirm this. The flip side of the sheet has numerous illustrations showing sub-assemblies and how these all go together. The diagrams are clear and well done. At the very bottom of the page are small illustrations of the sprues with the parts that are not used shaded.
Overall this is a very good kit and will build into an accurate representation of the Kongo in her current fit. The kit would benefit from at the very least photoetch rails and flight deck netting. Gold Medal Models has generic modern USN/JMSDF set while Flyhawk has a dedicated super detail set designed for this kit.