Model Review:  Hasegawa 1:700 Kaga
submitted by: John Redman

Depending on which sources you believe, Kaga was either the largest or second largest IJN carrier until Shinano, and like her was based on a converted battleship.  The name supposedly means "Increased Joy", but as battleships were named after prefectures and there's a Japanese prefecture called Kaga, I take leave to doubt this.

It took me a long time to track this kit down and even longer to build it. Although one of the better 1:700 IJN kits, there is a great deal you can do to spruce it up.

Looking at the kit as it comes out of the box, parts quality and fit is good, as is scale.  The usual plastic kit "issues" apply.  Radio masts are (unavoidably) overscale and brittle, the checker plate edging to the flight deck and the boat deck likewise over scale, and the AA positions, which on most Japanese carriers hang out over the sides like an afterthought, are mounted not on struts but on wedges.  There is nothing here that a a good set of photo etch and some time with a knife and sandpaper won't fix.

A more troublesome area is the crane assembly under the boat deck.  What you get here is a couple of plastic wedges with a girder pattern embossed onto them. Being picky, I cut that part away and reconstructed them using plastic strip.  The boats themselves are also a bit lacking in detail; I drilled out the interiors of the outer ones so as to give some impression of depth.

A feature unique to this kit is that, unlike most other 1:700 scale carriers which have a one piece hull molding, it has a double-decker hull assembly.  The fit is good, but it's not perfect, and the result is a visible horizontal join that runs the whole length of the ship. Fixing this took me longer than anything else on the kit. It calls for a set of riffler files (i.e. angle headed), or very small fingers.  Kaga had a number of large ventilation panels along her hull sides, and I also drilled out and shaped those.

I cannot find any photos of the hangar configuration of Kaga, but I have strong feeling that it was nothing like the arrangement included in the kit. this essentially calls for you to glue a box underneath the the flight deck if you want to show the after lift open. Since you don't do this if you want it closed, I conclude that no such configuration existed! Instead I put in a hangar deck floor from sheet plastic, and parked a few aircraft down there. It may not be right but it doesn't look wrong!

On the flight deck itself, there is molded on deck planking, markings, and overscale arrester wires. I have formed the conclusion, having built quite a few of these kits now, that the best thing to do with this is sand the whole lot off. The deck marking lines, in particular, defeat all attempts to paint in a straight line, since it is all but impossible to trace a straight course with a paintbrush onto a curved surface. I find the best approach is to paint both the deck and line colors in, then mask up to the edge of the line and sand the lines away. The sandpaper leaves the markings and deck paint work intact but takes away the raised, molded in area where they meet, so you're left with a dead straight white line edged with a very thin band of gray. This disappears when you weather with pastel dust.  The arrester wires look fine if drawn in with a ruler and hard pencil.

All in all a good kit - quite acceptable out if built of the box and "improvable" too.  I used Gold Medal Models' photo etch, sourced from White Ensign. The result is a menacing beast of a ship, with a precipitously high flight deck big enough to pack almost all of her 60 odd air group complement onto. That's the next project....

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