by Gary Barling
(Author’s note: I have just started the construction of this model, after a fair bit of information gathering and "thinking through" the project. My intent here is to present my current impressions and, throughout the completion of the model, to update our readers on progress made (or not, as the case may be.) Comments and questions throughout this project are most welcome, as will be any suggestions, criticisms and information from you.)


The Japanese built twenty B-1 cruiser submarines. One of these, the I-19, fired perhaps the most devastating torpedo salvo in history. On September 15, 1942, she launched six torpedoes, which sank the carrier USS Wasp and the destroyer USS O’Brien, and seriously damaged the battleship USS North Carolina. My interest in this model, however, is an incident that occurred on the other side of the Pacific earlier the same year.

In 1907, the Canadian Government built a 125-foot lighthouse at Estevan Point on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This large island is off the west coast of the province of British Columbia, and north of the state of Washington in the United States. With the coming of war in the Pacific, blackout conditions were generally imposed. However, the Estevan Point light was kept operating as a safeguard to navigation, due to the treacherous nature of the coastline in it’s vicinity. This was especially useful during the summer of 1942, as both Canadian and American forces were operating in Alaska against Japanese incursions at Attu and Kiska. 

At 9:25 PM on June 20, 1942, the lightkeeper sighted smoke to the southwest. It was the Japanese B-1 submarine I-26. The submarine stopped opposite the lighthouse and, from a range of about two miles, commenced shelling the light with its deck gun. Accounts give the number of rounds fired as between eighteen and twenty-five. Apart from broken glass and several hits from shell fragments, the lighthouse sustained no major damage. After about thirty minutes, the I-26 submerged. She sailed for home via the Aleutians, arriving at Yokosuka Naval yard on July 7, 1942.

This was the only direct gunfire attack launched against Canadian territory by the Japanese during World War Two, and marked the first time that a foreign power had shelled Canadian territory since the War of 1812. This incident, coupled with my interest in Canadian Military history and the gift of a Nichimo 1/200th scale I-19 submarine, led to my project of building the I-26.


The Nichimo kit is approximately twenty years old. Although out of production for a while, it is now available from a variety of sources in the $USD 40.00 range. My references indicate that the kit is quite accurate as to scale. Ninety-three parts are included in the kit, molded in a dark grey plastic to a very acceptable standard, given the age of the kit. The model can be built as a full-hull, waterline, or motorized version. Some parts are in brass, such as the bow planes and the propeller shafts.

The hull is divided horizontally along the waterline, and this leads to the first, and most serious, problem. The fit of the two parts is poor, with about a 2mm difference in width between the two at midships. I was able to join the two parts using cyanoacrylate gap-filling glue. Holding the two parts together, and working section by section (about 2") from the bow, I applied the glue along the seam, applied Zip Kicker, and held the parts until the glue had cured. Then on to the next section. This took a total of about twenty minutes. After sanding down the cyano, I filled the seam with auto body filler, sanded it down and applied a thin spray coat of ModelMaster primer. Spot touchups were done with Mr. Surfacer 500 and 1000, using masking tape to protect hull details along the seam. Eventually, I achieved an acceptable join.

Other areas of challenge (rather than actual "problems") are as follows. Most of the hull panel lines are raised, requiring a sanding to remove or, if wished in some areas, reduce them (to represent welded seams). Raised lines also represent the teak deck planking. If desired, these can be sanded smooth, and then the decking can be rescribed, replaced with other material such as scribed plastic sheet or balsa, or the teak planks can be replicated with small strips of Scale Lumber. The conning tower has its windows molded in place, and these can be opened by drilling out and sanding square. More raised panel lines are found on the tower, and can be quickly removed and/or rescribed. Fittings such as the deck gun, periscope, 20-mm cannon and binoculars are satisfactory, but can all be improved with clear styrene, photo etched brass and/or other after-market materials. At a minimum, the deck gun can have its muzzle drilled out and the recoil mechanism augmented. 

Many features can be replaced by brass rod, although the kit parts are satisfactory: cranes, stays, booms, and the like can be easily measured and replacement lengths of rod cut and fitted. Railings are not provided, but were carried on the actual boat. These can be made from thin brass rod. Alternatively, Gold Medal Models produces a photo etched fret of two-bar railings, which can also be used. This fret also provides grab-handles (used on the conning tower) and several other applicable details. You will not use most of the fret on this model, and it is expensive at about $USD 36.00, but the additional and enhanced scale effect may be worth it to you.

One of the best features of this kit is the instruction sheet. In addition to the actual building instructions, several detailed drawings are provided: conning tower, crane, stern and lighting details. These excellent references allow a clear idea of the appearance of the finished model, and provide a wealth of detailing information.

The decals are new to me, or, more accurately, their manner of application is new. They are printed in reverse, so that they are applied by positioning them face down, with the backing paper up, and then moistening the backing paper. Eventually, the decal releases from the paper, which is then gently removed. You are provided with sufficient numerals to provide a choice of several of the B-1 cruisers, and I expect to use the extra numerals to practice this (to me) new decaling technique.


This is a very satisfactory model in its own right, and can be made up into an exceptional reproduction of a B-1 cruiser submarine with a few advanced techniques and aftermarket items. I recommend it to the naval modeling community.


Webber, Bert, Retaliation: Japanese Attacks and Allied Countermeasures on the Pacific Coast in World War Two, Oregon State University Press, ISBN 0-87071-076-1.

Wells, Linton II, Painting Systems of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1904-1945, in Warship International, Volume 19, Number 1, 1982

Pizzi, Paulo, Classic Kit: Nichimo’s 1/200 IJN I-19 Submarine, in, found at

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