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1/200 Customized Nichimo Yamato
It took me a total of about 1500 hours over 3 years (2007-2009) to finish this kit. More late nights and full weekends than I care to recall.
The ship was massively customized to make her correspond to the most up-to-date studies of her final April 1945 "Operation Ten‘ichigo" (Heaven Number 1) configuration.
In no particular order, an itemization of the customization done:
1. Metal replacement barrels for the AA machine gun barrels for the 24 turret batteries of triple barreled .25 cal AAA machine guns, 28 open mounts of triple barreled .25 cal AAA machine guns, 2 twin .25 cal AAA mounts and 8 single .25 cal AAA mounts, as well as for the 6 turret 12.7 cm (5”) guns were obtained from GPM Models in Poland;
The number, location and shield type of the 25 cal machine guns was based on the most up-to-date Japanese research - you will note that there is some difference from Skulski's diagrams - but his book was written before the wreck was found and examined.
2. The main 18.1 inch batteries were obtained from Konishi Model Works of Japan – they are accurate in shape and size and made from machine-tooled brass. A 1000% improvement on the inaccurate and too small Nichimo plastic main turrets; Blast bags were painstakingly hand-sculpted by me, one by one, from Quickplastic putty. Support struts were added to the sides of the 3 main battery barbettes from left-over Gold Medal Models photoetch parts;
3. The main forward fire director was re-sculpted into a semi-circle in the front with the aid of an exacto-knife and Quickplastic putty, in order to match the most recent research; the one supplied with the kit was rectangular;
4. Harry Ohanian provided the custom made lead binoculars for the command deck, as well as winches, additional ammo boxes, gold-leaf Chrysanthemum Crest for the bow, custom cast open mount 12.7cm (5”) guns and mushroom vents.
5. All of the open .25 cal AAA machine gun mounts were partially built from photoetch kits made by GPM Models in Poland (a true nightmare as, for example, each one of the 28 open .25 cal AAA 3-barrel mounts required about an hour APIECE to assemble; additionally I had to cast about a dozen new bases for the open AAA mounts as the original Nichimo kit is based on the 1944 ship configuration which lacks all of the extra AAA mounts added for Operation Ten-Go in 1945). The gold circles are the bulls-eyes on each side of the machine guns, which were manned by two sailors sitting down on each side of the mount, plus a third to re-load the cartridges. I left them gold so they would not disappear into the background;
6. Custom hexagonal AAA buckets were built for the tops of main turrets 2 & 3;
7. Custom AAA open deck mount protection walls were built on the deck and a custom platform was built for the two stern AAA gun batteries;
8. The open aircraft well was built in the rear (the kit makes it look like an elevator, flush with the deck - the problem is, it was not an elevator but a permanent well); custom doors were built and rails added disappearing into the opening below decks from whence the aircraft were brought out); the same railroad metal rails were added to the flight deck for additional realism;
9. 10 extra .25cal AAA machine gun turrets were resin-cast (note that I added custom-made metal hand rails to the front of each of the 24 AAA batteries) , I also cast 4 additional AAA fire directors needed to guide all the added AAA gun mounts - two replaced the lower deck search lights and two more were added on the second deck between the 5-inch turrets; I also cast numerous additional boat divots for the sides of the ship.
10. Besides adding both of the Gold Medal Models photoetch frets items, I also made some additional photoetch details for the tops of the main and secondary turrets, including the ladders and rear platforms/hatches on the back of each of the main turrets. Also made some superstructure platforms from left-over GPM photoetch parts.
11. Custom made girders supporting the rear aircraft deck were added to replace the flimsy ones supplied with the kit.
12. The fire-guards for the 5" guns were made from wire and attached based on the best available Japanese diagrams as to their location and shape.
13. The front pole and support struts to which the cables running from the superstructure are attached was replaced with metal wires to prevent bending which the plastic pole tends to do when you attach the cables tightly. Actually, the 2 support struts were IN FRONT of the main pole, not behind it as represented in the Nichimo kit. But it was too much trouble to fix.
The deck is not wood. Its the original Nichimo plastic deck, painted and dry-brushed with Acrylic paints.
I have undoubtedly forgotten some of the stuff I did to customize the ship, but, well, you get the general idea.
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