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  1. IJN Pre-Dreadnought Mikasa 1:200 Hobbyboss History Mikasa is a pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in the late 1890s, and was the only ship of her class. Named after Mount Mikasa in Nara, Japan, the ship served as the flagship of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō throughout the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, including the Battle of Port Arthur on the second day of the war and the Battles of the Yellow Sea and Tsushima. Days after the end of the Russo-Japanese War, Mikasa's magazine accidentally exploded and sank the ship. She was salvaged and her repairs took over two years to complete. Afterwards, the ship served as a coast-defence ship during World War I and supported Japanese forces during the Siberian Intervention in the Russian Civil War. After 1922, Mikasa was decommissioned in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty and preserved as a museum ship at Yokosuka. She was badly neglected during the post-World War II Occupation of Japan and required extensive refurbishing in the late 1950s. She is now fully restored as a museum ship and can be visited at Mikasa Park in Yokosuka. Mikasa is the last remaining example of a pre-dreadnought battleship anywhere in the world The design of Mikasa was a modified version of the Formidable-class battleships of the Royal Navy with two additional 6-inch guns. Mikasa had an overall length of 432 feet, a beam of 76 feet, and a normal draught of 27 feet 2 inches. She displaced 15,140 tons at normal load. The crew numbered about 830 officers and enlisted men. The ship was powered by two vertical triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one propeller, using steam generated by 25 Belleville boilers. The engines were rated at 15,000 indicated horsepower, using forced draught, and designed to reach a top speed of 18 knots although Mikasa proved to be faster during her sea trials in December 1901. The ship reached a top speed of 18.45 knots using 16,341 indicated horsepower. She carried a maximum of 2,000 tons of coal which allowed her to steam for 9,000 nautical miles at a speed of 10 knots. Mikasa's main battery consisted of the same four Elswick Ordnance Company 40-calibre twelve-inch guns used in all of the preceding Japanese battleships. They were mounted in twin-gun barbettes fore and aft of the superstructure that had armoured hoods to protect the guns. The hydraulically powered mountings could be loaded at all angles of traverse while the guns were loaded at a fixed angle of +13.5°. They fired 850-pound projectiles at a muzzle velocity of 2,400 ft/s. The ship's secondary armament consisted of fourteen 45-calibre 6-inch quick-firing guns mounted in casemates. Ten of these guns were positioned on the main deck and the other four guns were placed above them at the corners of the superstructure. They fired 100-pound shells at a muzzle velocity of 2,300 ft/s. Protection against torpedo boat attacks was provided by twenty QF 12-pounder 12 cwt guns. Lighter guns consisted of eight 47-millimetre three-pounder Hotchkiss guns and eight 2.5-pounder Hotchkiss guns. The ship was also equipped with four submerged 18-inch torpedo tubes, two on each broadside. The waterline armour belt of Mikasa consisted of Krupp cemented armour that had a maximum thickness of 9 inches over the middle of the ship. It was only 4 inches thick at the ends of the ship and was surmounted by a six-inch strake of armour that ran between the barbettes. The barbettes were 14 inches thick, but reduced to six inches at the level of the lower deck. The armour of the barbette hoods had a thickness of 8–10 inches. The casemates protecting the secondary armament were 2–6 inches thick and the deck armour was 2–3 inches in thickness. The forward conning tower was protected by 14 inches of armour, but the aft conning tower only had four inches of armour. Mikasa, like all the other Japanese battleships of the time, was fitted with four Barr & Stroud FA3 coincidence rangefinders that had an effective range of 8,000 yd. In addition the ships were also fitted with 24-power magnification telescopic gun-sights. The Model Originally released by Merit International in her 1905 fit, Hobbyboss have now released her as she was completed in 1902. The large top opening box with a very nice painting of the ship at anchor, contains 19 sprues, and four separate parts, all in a light grey styrene, one black stand, five sheets of etched brass, a length of chain and a smallish decal sheet. Whilst not having the Merit kit to compare it with I have checked the hull and fittings with my book on Japanese Battleships by R A Burt. From what I can see Hobbyboss have the hull correct, which makes a nice change, as their Trumpeter colleagues seem to have a problem with this area in their ship kits. The mouldings are superb, especially for what is still quite a large model, there is no sign of flash or other imperfections and a fair few moulding pips to clean up. The only real problems appear to be the masts and the yardarm positions in particular. The kit calls for the lower yardarms to be attached above the lower platforms, whereas all the pictures and photos show these were fitted below the platforms, easily remedied during the build. Talking of the build, construction begins with the gluing the two hull halves together, along with the three bulkheads, rudder and lower gun deck. This all produces a really strong hull and certainly won’t collapse when handled. The ten 6” mounts on the gun deck are then fitted, each pinned into place, while four two piece 3pdr guns, each with PE gun shield are also fitted to their respective positions, two forward and two aft. The three piece main deck is then added and the model turned over to fit the two bilge keels, four propeller shafts with separate A frames and the four propellers. Each of the PE guns shields around the 6” and 3pdr guns are made of PE, they come in alternate parts and can be posed open, (three parts) or closed up, a single part). The main deck is then fitted out with a variety of winches, skylights and decks houses, as well as the two funnel bases. The multitude of large ventilators, each made from six parts are the glued into their respective positions around the midships section, followed by more skylights, hatches and smaller winches. The lower front, lower rear and two centre sections of the main superstructure are then fitted, after which two mote 6” guns are fitted fore and aft of the upper deck and eight 3pdr guns amidships. Each of the openings for the guns are shielded by PE parts much like those on the lower gun deck and are also able to be posed open or closed. Two mezzanine decks are fitted with nine support columns then glued into place over the gun mounts. The upper front and rear sections of the upper deck are then attached. For the myriad of ships boats there are fourteen cradles made of plastic and four of PE, these are all positioned within the well that the upper gun deck bulkheads created. Four more large ventilators are assembled and fitted in the same area. Each of the eight boats are made up of multiple parts, the rowing boats can be assembled open or with canvas covers fitted, they are also fitted with PE rudders. The steam launches have separate boilers and masts, but can also be assembled with a canvas cover in place, whilst the steam pinnaces are fitted with three ventilators mast and PE rudder. The boats can be attached to their cradles later in the build to allow easier access to the boat deck. There are lots of deck furniture to fit next, these include hatches, windlasses, anchor chains, haws pipe covers, (PE),storage boxes, raised deck hatches with PE grilles, cleats, bollards, Jack staff, Ensign staff, and breakwaters. With these all in place, it’s onto the bridge and the armoured conning position, including separate roof and rear screen, also on the lower bridge deck are three small deck houses, two flag lockers and two, two piece 3pdr guns. On each side there two support frames for the upper bridge deck wings. The upper bridge deck is then fitted with ten support columns before being glued into position. The single piece command bridge is then attached, along with four mast stay blocks. The same procedure is carried out for the aft positioned auxiliary steering position. The bridge and aft positions are then fitted with searchlights, binnacles, rangefinders, and PE cross braces for the outboard wing supports. The two bridge decks are also fitted with their respective railings, and inclined ladders, all made of PE. The main gun turrets are assembled next, each being made up from a turret base, onto which the four separate trunnion mounts and two guns are fitted. The turret is then slid over the guns and glued to the base, being finished off with three unidentifiable parts to the roof. The two masts are then assembled, each should be the same, but remember to fit the lower yardarm beneath the lower observation/gun platform. They are each made up from three mast sections, two platforms several PE support braces, two yardarms, a gaff, and a 20m boat handling crane. The lower platforms are fitted with two 3pdr guns, while the upper platform has a single searchlight. The two funnels are next to be assembled. Each one is made up from two halves into which the inner top section is sandwiched. Two steam pipes are fitted to the forward funnel, while the aft has three. The forward funnel also has a platform attached to its forward face to which two pipe are attached from below and two horns are fitted to the upper surface which is surrounded by a PE railing. Both funnels have a PE ring which needs to be rolled to shape before being attached, followed by the funnel cap grille. Both are then glued to their bases, before being attached to their respective positions on the boat/upper gun deck. The masts and main turrets are also fitted at this point. The mezzanine decks are fitted with eight 3pdr gun assemblies before the main railings are attached. The main deck railings are also fitted at this point, along with the main anchors in their stowage areas, their handling cranes. There are several derricks on each side of the hull which I presume are for handling the anti-torpedo netting which is provided in folded form in PE, as well as their associated storage decking which is also PE. Life-ring containers are folded to shape and a lifering added before being attached to their locations on the main hull. Four boat davits are fitted wither side of the boat deck and eight anti-torpedo net booms attached to the low down, near the waterline. Either side of the quarterdeck are four more davits onto which are attached four more of the ships boats. As with the previous boat assemblies, these can be assembled either open or with their canvas covers fitted. The two PE accommodation ladders are folded to shape, assembled and fitted either side of the quarterdeck and lastly, but by no means least, the prominent three piece covered walkway is added to the stern, and fitted with the ships name plate. Above the walkway is a small PE platform which, once attached completes the build, with the exception of painting and all the rigging has been added. The kit comes with a large black plastic stand, a name plate backplate and the name plate in etched brass, which is a nice touch. Decals The smallish decal sheet contains two Ensigns, one straight, the other as if flapping in the breeze. Not quite sure why they have done this, but in their infinite wisdom Hobbyboss have made the flags quite complex in that the sun, and the sun’s rays on either side have been printed separately which could be fun to get right. I presume it’s to prevent bleed through but I’ve not seen any other manufacturer do this. The other decals on the sheet include the prominent funnel bands and the ships name. Conclusion The last pre-dreadnought in existence deserves it’s place in maritime lore, and it’s great to see this ship given the 1:200 treatment, as it’s the perfect scale for what is in fact quite a small ship. Once built, it will look superb in any collection, but I suggest you invest in a nice case to keep the dust off it. There are a number of upgrades for this ship produced by the likes of Mk1 Design if you wish to take it to the next level, but with all the etch that’s included some modellers may feel that is a little extravagant, That said, it could certainly do with a wooden deck and turned barrels, such as those reviewed HERE. Review sample courtesy of
  2. IJN Pre-Dreadnought Mikasa Gun Set 1:200 Master Models As the number of 1:200 scale warships increases so does the number of sets that Master Models release. This set is for the Merit International IJN Pre-Dreadnought Mikasa, but should also be ok to use on the recently released Hobbyboss kit. They are well up to the standard we’ve come to expect from Master Models. [200-009] This set is a combination of turned brass and aluminium barrels, the larger items, such as the four 305mm and the fourteen 152mm are aluminium, whereas the twenty 76mm and twelve 47mm are in brass. The 305mm main guns also have brass trunnions, which are inserted into the hole near the rear of the barrel, these then fit into the kit trunnion mounts. All the barrels are so cleanly machined, so it’s quite unusual to find any swarf or imperfections, although there are one or two of the 152mm barrels in this particular set that will need some swarf to be cleaned off before use, fortunately this is only found around the joining pin, so doesn’t affect the look of the barrels. Conclusion Even in this large scale, injection moulding cannot always get the look and size of the barrels quite right, and this is where these amazing sets come into their own. Being meal they also have that “weighty” look that is difficult to explain, but you know when you see it. Review sample courtesy of Piotr at
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