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The 19 ships of the Kagero class were arguably the best of the early war Japanese destroyers. Problems encountered in the preceding Asashio class were resolved in the Kageros, which combined speed, armament and the potent Long Lance torpedo in a reliable package. Early war versions, as depicted by my model, lacked sufficient anti-aircraft armament, radar, and sonar. These deficiencies were partially addressed in wartime refits, though from a purely aesthetic point of view, I prefer the spare, uncluttered look of the early war Kagero. Itís the essence of a destroyer designed for lethally engaging surface targets with a devastating load of 16 torpedoes. 

 



KAGERO
Laid Down: 3 Sept 1937  Launched: 27 Sept 1938  Completed: 6 Nov 1939
Length: 389'9" oa  Beam: 35'6" Draft: 12'4"   Displacement: 2,529 tons full load
Armament (early war): six 5" 50 cal (3x2), four 25mm AA (2x2), 
Sixteen 61cm torpedoes
Range: 5,000nm @ 18 knots Maximum Speed: 35.5 knots
Complement: 240 officers & men 

Fate: Sunk 8 may 1943 by mine and US aircraft in the Blackett Strait

I built this Blue Water Navy kit, which depicts Kagero early in WW2, straight from the box with the exception of the fore and aft tripod masts. Using the etched brass versions as templates, I fabricated replacements using brass rod. The kit is excellent, requiring only minimal clean-up. I photographed the model prior to rigging and touch-up. I find that good, close-up photos are useful in locating bare spots, gaps and sloppiness that would otherwise escape detection. If you want to build a 1:350 Kagero class DD, the BWN kit is the way to go. 

 

My inspiration for this model was the book Japanese Destroyer Captain by Tameichi Hara. This remarkable account, out of print since the early 60ís, is the most compelling book by a fighting commander I've ever read. By IJN standards Hara was a rebel, questioning tactics and outdated traditions from within a very conformist naval culture. He forbade the beating of enlisted men aboard his ships, and bent the rules when necessary to escape the straightjacket of rigid IJN thinking. He literally wrote the book on torpedo tactics and participated in some of the fiercest surface engagements with US forces in and around the Solomons. Destroyers under his command damaged or sunk major US warships. Hara became a legend in IJN circles and had so many near misses that his surviving the Pacific war was nothing short of miraculous. More than anything else, Hara comes through as a thoughtful and perceptive commander with great regard for his crew. Their terrible casualties and the pressure to engage in stupid or wasteful strategies (he was aghast at late war suicide tactics) took a toll on Hara. Increasingly cynical and disillusioned , he drank heavily towards the end of the Pacific War. His last command was the light cruiser Yahagi, which accompanied Yamato on its final sortie. Hara knew the mission was hopeless, but did his duty and fought the ship to the best of his great ability. Overwhelmed by US Navy airpower, Yahagi was sunk and Hara bobbed in the water along with other survivors. US Navy pilots then strafed and killed many of them, though Hara once again survived. This book is his story. If youíre able to find a used copy, count yourself lucky. Itís a great read.

 

 

All Photos by Rob Mackie

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