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Shar2

IJN Submarine I53. 1:72

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IJN Submarine I-53

Lindberg 1:72

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I-153 (ex-I-53) was a Kaidai-class submarine (KD3 Type) of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. She was laid down 1 April 1924 at Kure Naval Arsenal as submarine No. 64, launched 5 August 1925, completed 30 March 1927. She was renumbered I-53 on 1 November 1924. During the war she sank Dutch merchant ship Mösi on 27 February 1942, sank RMS City of Manchester on 28 February 1942 and sank unknown merchant vessel on 27 February 1942. On 20 May 1942 The I-53 renumbered again as I-153. Sometime during 1943/44 she was modified by having an enlarged casing fitted fore and aft to allow the carriage of Kaiten suicide torpedoes. This necessitated the removal of the main gun and the breakwaters around it. She was decommissioned on 20 November 1945 and scuttled in Iyo Nada on May 1946.

Lindberg originally released this kit in 2008, unfortunately to much derision. The bow was wrong, the sail structure was wrong and the Kaiten were wrong. Yet, since receiving this kit for review, Dave Wardle and myself have been researching why and how it was so inaccurate. What we eventually deduced, thanks mainly to Dave remembering that the Japanese renumbered their submarines a number of times, was that the kit does indeed look like it should but the number is wrong. The few available photographs on the net only show the submarine in it's pre-conversion guise, but does show a downturned bow and a similar bridge structure. The rest of the deck, including the step and thin walkway would disappear when the extended casing was added. The horn radar and it's mounting are missing in the kit, but this could be down to it being used for training and a light fitted in the radars place. So, if you buy this kit, and start building it, keep in mind you are building I-153 not I-53. As for the Kaiten, well they too look pretty accurate in accordance to photos and line drawings seen on the next when compared to the later versions.

The kit itself arrives in a large are very sturdy top opening cardboard box with a picture of the sub on the top. On opening, you realise just how big this thing is going to be. The hull is split longitudinally as per a lot of maritime kits, but it is also split laterally amidships. Dry fitting on front and one rear section shows exactly how big this will be, measuring out at a total of 58.5” or 1485mm long. The plastic is quite hard and rigid so there won’t be any requirement to add any bulkheads etc to those already provided. On top of the black styrene parts, there are also some black vinyl strapping sections for the Kaiten tied downs, some thread and a fair number of screws. Initial fit appears to be pretty good although there is a fair amount of flash and areas that have been trimmed off by the company that will need cleaning up. Details are generally oversized in appearance and will need to be reduced. There is plenty of scope for scratch building and refining the exaggerated details, but if you’re not up to this than just give them a light sanding to reduce their prominence and you should get a decent result. The hydrophone arrays on either side of the bows would be better if they were removed completely and replaced with suitably thin circles of brass or other such material. The model should build fairly easily, partly due to the screwed together nature of the large hull sections and other details. The drain holes all along the bottom and lower sides of the hull could be opened up and a brass mesh fitted followed by a backplate of sheet styrene. The free flooding holes on the hull are deep enough to be kept as they are, unless of course you really want to go to town and construct the pressure hull, then they can be opened up fully.

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The build begins with the fitting of the bow tube doors to each front hull followed by the tube openings themselves which are screwed to the insides of the hull. The foreward and aft sections of each hull are then screwed and glued to make one full hull half and the two main deck sections joined and fitted to one side of the hull, (although it might be prudent to leave this until the hull parts are joined together). Each half of the hull is then screwed and glued together after which there are separate panels to fit over each area of the hull in which the screw holes are visible, a very neat solution which also alleviated much filling and sanding. On the underside on each hull a bilge keel is attached. The construction then moves on to the assembly of the foreplanes, lower and upper rudders, sternplanes and the fitting to their respective positions. The various plane and propeller guards are also fitted at this time, but they appear rather thick and it may be better to make them out of a suitable diameter brass rod instead. The propeller shaft skegs are now attached along with the shafts and propellers.

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Moving the deck, there are a number of gratings to be attached both fore and aft, along with mooring bollards and cleats. The large deck hatches are also fitted, unfortunately they do seem impossibly large for this scale, but without further research I couldn’t ascertain whether they were really this big. The build then moves onto the island/tower. The construction starts with several sub-assemblies including the lower conning position and its large clear window section, the three piece periscope tower, onto which a lookout position is fitted, made up of three ladder rungs, platform and railings, plus the two periscopes. The tower itself is a large single piece moulding and the above sub-assemblies are attached, as are two large lookout binocular stations, foremast and a strange mast like structure with a number of aerials fitted. On the conning position roof a two piece DF loop aerial is fitted and aft of the periscopes the distinctive snorkel, made up of two halves with separate intake and exhaust grilles is fitted. The main railings on either side of the tower are attached as is the ensign staff right aft. The instructions call for the rigging to be attached at this point but, again, it may be best to leave it till last. The completed tower can now be fixed to its position on the main deck.

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With the submarine essentially complete it time to build its external war load of five Kaiten. Each is built up from two halves, upper and lower this time, with the entrance hatch, upper and lower rear fins and the contra-rotating props. Each Kaiten is mounted onto two cradle blocks affixed to the deck with the vinyl straps glued to one side, wrapped over the Kaiten and fixed to the other. It’s possible to build the Kaiten strapped to their blocks and yet still be removable to aid painting and weathering of the main submarine.

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Decals

The small sheet of decals includes the submarines number, which will need some careful repainting to add a 1 in front of it. Alternatively the modeller could replace the numbers with large Rising Sun flags which the subs used occasionally use. There are also several kill markings and some other spurious markings which I can’t quite make out. There is also a single self adhesive ensign, which, if fixed to something like tin foil could be made into a fluttering or certainly something rather less stiff.

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Conclusion

The bad press this kit got when it was first released was perhaps justified with respect it looked very little like the submarine it purported to be. Dave and I may not be right in our theory, but it does make for a good case in why the model looks the way it does. If Eduard re-release their etch set for this then it can be built into an impressive and very imposing model otherwise it’s out with the styrene and brass to do it yourself. Oh, and remember to give yourself plenty of time to do the weathering, if I haven’t said this before, this is a BIG model. Good luck. Recommended with some slight reservations.

Review sample courtesy of
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Imagine the I-400 in 1/72 scal now that would be big!

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Good reivew, nice to see some research being done and not just relying on other reviews.

Julien

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Hi nice review, got mine to build with the eduard photoetch, Nice to see your research, as this does show up a few surprises quite often, as ive found myself when modelling submarines.

All the best Chris

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