Akagi entered the Sasebo Naval Arsenal in 1935 to begin a long refit that would last until 1938. Her lowest deck was removed as was her original short top deck. The small starboard side island was removed as were her 8” guns. The lower and upper hanger decks were extended giving the carrier the capacity of 90 aircraft, she only carried 72 at any one time.
Akagi also received a new island on the port side of her flight deck. Only two carriers were to have this feature, Akagi and Hiryu. The purpose of this was to allow for a tighter formation while sailing and thus a tighter aircraft formation. Two carriers would sail close together, Akagi and a carrier featuring a starboard island.
Her hull also underwent upgrades. The most notable was a four foot wide bulge to the hull of the ship on both sides of the Akagi, which provided better protection under the waterline, as well as offered improved stability. The final most noticeable improvement was the addition of a third aircraft elevator. When she left refit she was the most advanced aircraft carrier in the Imperial Japanese Navy. She returned to her position as flagship of the carrier force.
Her flight deck was not only extended it was given a sloping downward forward section. This was thought it helped in landing and taking off. However this was not the case. Her upward pointing funnel was removed. The funnel was enlarged and only faces downward now.
Akagi was the lead ship in many of Japan’s early actions against the allied military in World War II. She led the attack against Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. During January 1942 she then took part in Japanese raids into the Indian Ocean. Her aircraft helped deal the British squadron in the area a serious blow.
After the Doolittle raid she went in search of the hornet and her screening ships but came up empty handed. Spending time near the home islands prevented her from taking part in the Battle of Coral Sea. However destiny was not to favor Akagi much longer. Japan set in motion the battle that would change the course of the war, Midway.
Oddly enough during war games just before the actual engagement the Japanese officer acting as the American player rolled his dice and sank 4 Japanese carriers. The Japanese side complained that it was not possible for this to happen and had him re-roll. The end result was 1 carrier sunk and 2 damaged, just an odd bit of foreshadowing.
Akagi and her three companions left Japan for the last time and headed off into history. She was struck by bombs from Enterprise aircraft. The fires could not be controlled and soon devoured her entire flight deck. One near miss caused the rubber to jam later that same day. She continued to burn over night and into the next day. Admiral Yamamoto ordered her to be scuttled. Her original design as a battle cruiser may have been the reason she did not sink as quickly as the companions.
She sank at 5:20 am local time on June 5th, 1942 at the hands of her fellow country men. 263 souls went down with the ship, the fewest of any carrier lost at Midway. In 1999 her wreckage was found on the ocean bottom.
Specifications 1938 fit…
Displacement: 36,500 tone
Length 260.68 meters (885 ft 3 in)
Beam 31.32 Meters (28 ft 7in)
Propulsion: Steam turbines, 19 boilers, 4 shafts 99.2MW (133,000hp)
Range 8,200 nautical miles (15,200 km) 12 knots (22 km/h)
The kit comes in a regular lidded box with Akagi getting ready to send her aircraft in harms way. Compared to the recent release this kit is very limited in parts content. This is an older kit and some of the details are not as crisp as some of the newer kits. But with that said we shall she what the final version of Akagi has to offer us.
First off we have the waterline plate and counterweight. These are standard practice for the waterline series of kits. The base fits nice and snug against he hull. The hull is molded in one piece from the waterline up to just below the flight deck. The port holes molded in the sides are unevenly done. Some are deeper and some are shallow. They lack the upper water lip above then. So, to make things look correct there will be a good deal of drilling ahead of you.
The hull does have some other details molded into it. Ladders, boat davits, and even support bracing are actually nicely done. The name of the ship is even molded at the stern of the ship. The support girders for the ship are fairly bulky and thick looking. Many of the gun tubs have ejector pin marks, so they will need to be cleaned up. Other parts have flash and will require cleaning.
The provided weapons are also bulky and thick looking. There are three extra sprues of weapons, boats, and aircraft. These are all much better than those supplied in the kit. The parts which go together to make up the bridge fall into that bulky category. Again the port holes are uneven and will need to be drilled out.
Now to the top of the ship and its flight deck. The flight deck does have the proper shape of the real ship. The downward slope of the forward section and the curved stern section. Then we come to the raised line running all over the deck. The deck markings are all raised. The arrestor wires and wind deflectors are heavy and over done. Then there is the problem of the elevators. They do not fit all that well. The two I dry fit were loose and left gaps around their edges.
Included in the kit is one sprue of aircraft. There are three types represented. These are all very basic and plain. They have raised panel lines, solid canopies, and little pegs for landing gear. The other aircraft included are on the weapons sprues and do not actually go with the carrier, they are all float planes.
There are decals for the aircraft and one sheet of paper flags. The aircraft decals are simple and look to be decent. The paper flag represents the national ensign.
The instruction sheet is one large sheet of paper printed on both sides. The drawback is everything is in Japanese. The construction steps are logical and well laid out. However since everything is in Japanese the painting instructions are up in the air, unless you know the language. But with the number of reference materials that are available there should not be a problem with finding the correct colors.
Well, this kit has been a let down. Yes, it does give you the Akagi as she looked headed off to meet her fate, but the is an old worn out kit. The details are hit and miss and in order to correct some of the problems there will need to be some good deal of work. There are a good deal of AM upgrades to help move the base kit along the way to a wonderful build.
Nav History, Akagi
Global Security, Akagi