Furutaka and sister ship,
Kako, were among the first of the Washington Treaty heavy cruisers. Designed six months prior to Japans signing the treaty,
they were intended to outclass the British Hawkins and US
Omaha class cruisers. The IJN
drew heavily from the experience gained in developing the earlier, ultra light cruiser,
Furutaka introduced what were to become signature features of IJN
warships; an undulating
sheer line, and the use of side armor for longitudinal strength. The Furutaka design also
incorporated a high length- to-width ratio, creating a long, narrow hull for more speed.
The armor was designed to withstand six-inch rather than eight-inch shells. In spite of
these weight conservation efforts, the ships came in 1,000 tons in excess of design
Laid Down: 5 December 1922 Launched: 25 February 1925 Completed: 31 March 1926 Sunk: 11 October 1942
Displacement: 7,200 tons (standard); 9,692 tons (full load) Length: 607 feet (185m) (oa); 580 feet (177m) (pp)
Beam: 54 feet (16.5m) Draught: 15 feet (4.50m) Protection: 3 inch main belt, 1 3/8 inch deck, 2 inch magazines
six 7.9 inch (200mm) guns; four 4.7 inch guns; eight 24 inch "Long Lance"
torpedoes in two mounts
As originally built, Furutaka and Kako featured six single 8-inch guns covered by lightweight, unarmored gunhouses. Between 1931 and 1933 both ships underwent extensive reconstruction. The heavy AA armament was revised and a catapult added. In 1936 and 1937 the ships underwent yet another reconstruction. The six 8" single-mount guns were removed, to be replaced by three twin 7.9 inch turrets in positions similar to that of the following Aoba class. Other noteworthy changes included: revised bridge arrangement; heavier catapult to accommodate the E7K2 Alf floatplane; addition of two quadruple 24 inch revolving "Long Lance" torpedo mounts in place of the previous fixed torpedo positions; reload storage for each torpedo mount; addition of light 25mm and 13 mm AA positions; new boilers; and widened bulges. Both ships retained in this fit until their loss in 1942.
Furutaka and Kako, along with the two ships of the Aoba class, formed the sixth cruiser squadron at the start of WW2. In December 1941, they supported the second and successful attack on Wake Island and from January to April 1942 supported landings at Kavieng, Lae, Salamaua, Buka, Bougainville, Shortlands, and Manus. In May 1942 they participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea. They were very active participants in the Solomons campaign. On August 10, 1942, Kako was sunk by the US submarine S-44, as she was returning from the overwhelming Japanese victory at the Battle of Savo Island. On October 11, 1942 Furutaka was battered by US cruisers during the Battle of Cape Esperance and finished off by a torpedo from the USS Duncan, which in turn sank the next day as a result of the heavy damage inflicted upon her by Furutaka and Japanese destroyers. .
The 1:350th Blue Water Navy Furutaka includes 47 resin parts, comprised of the hull, turrets, superstructure, stacks, and two Alf floatplanes. The parts are of uniformly high quality. The two-piece hull is divided at the waterline, so the model can be built either full hull or waterline. Most parts appear to have been cast in open-face molds, so some sanding is necessary to eliminate resin overpour. The decks have superstructure locator points to facilitate correct placement of superstructure assemblies.
Sanding the parts down to the correct thinness is especially crucial when assembling the bridge. Dry fit the pieces as you go along to insure that you have right shape for each bridge level. I recommend using white glue rather than superglue when assembling the bridge levels. This will make it much easier to remove and correct mistakes. White glue will also give you sufficient time to adjust alignment of bridge levels, exceedingly important in building the marvelous multi-leveled bridge structure.
The resin parts are finely detailed, especially the turrets, torpedo mounts, and torpedo reload cannisters. The deck detail is also of this same very high quality. It features intricate cross-hatched non-slip grid at the bow and stern, and nicely done aircraft dolly railing on the after superstructure. Most of the deck is covered in red-brown linoleum strips joined by brass runners, typical of all WW2 era Japanese cruisers and destroyers. Even the bridge interiors have deck detail. Lastly the resin Alf parts build into two beautiful aircraft models in their own right. There is some question as to whether Furutaka or Kako carried two Alfs at the time of their loss. Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War by Eric Lacroix and Linton Wells II indicates at pages 259 and 803 that the ships had one E7K1 Alf (Type 94) seaplane and one E8N2 Dave (Type 95) seaplane. Starting in 1941 the Alf and Dave were phased out in favor of the F1M2 Pete (Type 0) and E13A1 Jake (Type 0). Although the Alf and Dave were the main seaplanes used by the IJN in the first few months of the war, the Pete and Jake replaced them from 1942 on. By August 1942 it is likely that the Furutaka and Kako had received the latter types but it is not definite.
White Metal Parts
The kit includes 78 white metal parts, mainly gun barrels with blast bags, gun mounts, torpedo tubes, shafts, masts, directors, binocular mounts, searchlights, paravanes, and the two aircraft engines. They require minimal cleanup, mainly smoothing the mold seams. As with the resin parts, they are expertly cast. The twelve binocular mounts, five searchlights and six gun directors (in four different styles) really stand out. Suggestion: Dry fit the foremast to assure the correct positioning, alignment and rake before making a permanent attachment.
Stellar!!! When I read Rob Mackie's in-box review of the BWN Furutaka and looked at the photos of the parts, especially the fret, I decided that I just had to buy this kit. When I received my copy from Pacific Front, the PE exceeded my extremely high expectations. The Blue Water Navy PE in this kit has to be among the best Ive seen in any scale. Japanese warships feature many details best rendered in photo-etched brass and Blue Water Navys renderings are uniformly superb. Its a large fret that includes - among its many outstanding parts - fine 25mm gun details (base, seats, guns, sights and frame), various platforms, searchlight towers, boat rudders and inserts, aircraft dolly, stack gratings, recognition lights, catapult, various support frames, floatplane details, detailed cranes with pulleys and hose reels et al. There are fifteen sets of rails pre-cut to fit various platforms and superstructure levels. The best feature, hoiwever, is the brass window faces for the two bridge levels. It gives the bridge a see-through look thats far more convincing than the usual black-painted resin windows.
Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War by Lacroix and Wells is 882 pages crammed with photos, drawings and history of the ships of the class. Still available from www.bn.com for $44.00, it is a tremendous value and a must buy. The Japanese Cruiser Book published by Grand Prix is an outstanding reference book for the details of Japanese cruisers. Almost every page has multiple drawings of fittings and small detail found on decks and superstructure. This 307 page book is in Japanese and doesn't have a title in English on the cover. It should be available from Pacific Front. It is the best source for superdetailing information. Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, volume 11 by Kojinsha features 136 pages of photos of Furutaka, Kako, Aoba and Kinugasa. This Japanese publication is available from Pacific Front and Kitlink. Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia by M. J. Whitley is an excellent general source for all of the cruisers of the war. Most of the history of the ship in this article is from this source. Random Japanese Warship Details in two volumes and published by Tamiya, contains detail on fittings, hulls, and superstructure of all of the ships of the IJN. They are good sources but not as comprehensive as the Grand Prix title. Mechanism of Japanese Warships: Heavy Cruisers also by Kojinsha. consists of 166 pages of photos and drawings distinguishing all of the minute detail among the ships of the different classes of heavy cruisers. It comes in two sizes, large hardbound size and small, more economical, softback size. I recommend the more expensive hardbound eddition. It's larger size is better to show numerous photos that are too small in the other version. Available from Pacific Front and Kitlink.
The instructions are consistent with the kits many other outstanding features. They are comprised of ten pages of blowups and isometric drawings that show each building step in great detail. They include a full page parts list, two rigging plans, building notes, color and markings notes, history and bibliography. In addition there is a large decal sheet with ships flags, and markings for both the ship and her floatplanes.
Painting & Modifications
The ship was spray painted in Gunze Sangyo Kure gray. Very easy to spray, this brand gave good coverage. I brush painted the decks with Gunze Sangyo deck linoleum. Gunze Sangyo sprays much better than it brushes. Brass runners connecting the linoleum strips were brush painted with Armory brass. There is little need to add detail to this kit. Its so detailed to start with that one is hard pressed to find areas needing improvement. Reel hoses were added to the brass frames, formed by sections cut from Evergreen plastic rod. Spare Alf wings were formed from resin scrap. The kit contains a brass parts cage, which is located next to the port side aft superstructure. Rigging was done with stretched sprue. Handrails atop the torpedo mounts were made from brass ladder cut lengthwise along the rungs. This same technique works for the handrails atop the three turrets.
SUPERB!!! This model is one of the best 1:350 scale cruiser models available. It will more than hold its own against any ship model, regardless of class or scale. At this time it is the only 1:350 Japanese cruiser out there. That should change when ICM releases their previously announced 1:350th injection molded Chockai and Takao. The latest Iron Shipwright product listing shows a 1:350th Yahagi, and there is rumor of an unnamed company releasing a 1:350th resin Mogami before the year is out. One can only hope that its Blue Water Navy and that the Mogami will be as good as their magnificant Furutaka. Regardless of who releases the next IJN cruiser, Blue Water Navys Furutaka has set the bar almost impossibly high.