HIJMS Yamashiro was the second battleship in the Fuso class. Fuso, the lead ship and laid down in March 1912, was the first battleship in the world armed with twelve 14" guns. The USN’s answer, USS Pennsylvania, was not laid down until 19 months later in October 1913. As constructed the two sisters were almost identical, except that Yamashiro had a stern walk, slightly different foremast control top and a  larger conning tower with different director arrangement. They were built with tripod foremast and mainmast and two funnels. During the 1920s the IJN kept adding additional platforms to the fore tripod to this class.


VITAL STATISTICS

LAID DOWN: November 20, 1913 LAUNCHED: November 3, 1915 COMPLETED: March 31, 1917
MODERNIZED: December 1930 to March 1935
SUNK: October 25, 1944 at the Battle of the Suriago Straits (part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf)

DIMENSIONS: (as modernized): Length- 698 ft (212.75m) (oa); 689 ft (210m) (wl)
Beam- 100 ft (30.64m), 118 feet (wl), 127 feet underwater at bulge;
Draught- 32 ft (9.69m) (mean); Displacement- 35,255 tons (std), 39,780 tons (fl);

ARMAMENT: twelve 14"; fourteen 6"; eight 5" DP; sixteen 25mm AA; three aircraft; one catapult

MACHINERY: six Kampon oil fired boilers; 76,889 shp; 24 knots

ARMOR: Main Belt- 12 in tapering to 4 in; Casemates- 6 in; Turrets- 12 in; CT- 13.75 in; Bulkheads- 2 5/8 in max;
Deck- 1.25-2 in; Barbettes- 8 in; Total Armor Weight- 12,199 tons (42%)

COMPLEMENT: 1,400 (1941)

In 1930 both ships were placed out of commission in order to receive a major modernization. Fuso’s lasted from April 1930 to May 1933, while Yamashiro was in the dockyard from December 1930 until March 1935. Their hulls were lengthened by 25 feet and new machinery installed which almost doubled the horsepower. These changes more than compensated for the addition of torpedo bulges, and the ships’ top speed increased by two knots. Both ships were reduced to one funnel. The biggest difference between the two was the shape of pagoda superstructure. Still supported primarily by the tripod foremast, Fuso’s pagoda had an undulating, almost baroque appearance on a small base. Apparently, the designer’s learned from their experience with Fuso, because Yamashiro's superstructure base was larger and extended further aft. Fuso’s P turret faced forward whereas, because of the enlarged superstructure, Yamashiro’s P turret faced aft. The Yamashiro also had a support structure built into the after face of the pagoda. This very prominent support structure provided a back-brace (and additional strength) for the pagoda. Instead of undulating, the Yamashiro pagoda went almost straight up. Also, Yamashiro's   pagoda at 135 feet above waterline was not quite as high as Fuso's 150 foot structure. Other noticeable differences included the searchlight towers around the stack and the catapult arrangement (Fuso’s on top of P turret and Yamashiro’s on the quarterdeck). Fuso returned to the dockyard in September 1934 for additional changes. The catapult was moved to the quarterdeck, as in Yamashiro. Both ships received eight five inch DP guns in four mounts mounted high on the superstructure and sixteen 25mm AA guns in twin mounts.

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At the start of the War both ships remained in the Inland Sea as a strategic reserve because of their age and relatively slow speed, while the even older Kongo class ships were very active because of their much higher speed. They were capable of supporting the fast carriers. On April 18, 1942 both ships sortied in an attempt to catch the USN carriers (Hornet and Enterprise) that had launched the "Doolittle" raid. They were recalled three days later. On May 20, 1942 both sortied again as support for Northern Force Aleutian campaign but returned to Japan on June 17, 1942 because of the disaster that befell the IJN at Midway. Neither ship was used in the Guadacanal campaign primarily because of oil shortages. During the war most of their time was spent in training on the Inland Sea, although Yamashiro did load supplies for the Truk army garrison and make a supply run to Truk, departing October 15, 1943 and arriving at Truk on October 20. After unloading the supplies for the army, she sailed back to the Inland Sea from October 31, 1943 to November 5, during which time she evaded a submarine attack. 

YAMASHIRO REFERENCES
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Anatomy of the Ship: The Battleship Fuso, by Janusz Skulski. This volume is on Yamashiro’s sister, Fuso. Although not on Yamashiro, I include it because it is one of the best titles in the series. Many of the details of Fuso also applied to Yamashiro. The title is superb in every respect. If you can look at this volume without wanting to build one of these unique naval creations, then you have a will of steel. The title is 256 pages filled with beautiful line drawings, numerous photos and a concise history.

Fuso and Yamashiro: Gakken #30. The single best source on Yamashiro. This volume is 181 pages in length and written in Japanese. However, knowledge of the language is not required to benefit and enjoy the wealth of graphic information contained in this extremely valuable work. The centerpiece of this book is the extensive color photograph coverage of 1:200 models of Fuso and Yamashiro. The photos show these magnificent models at almost every conceivable angle. The models themselves show Fuso, circa 1935 and Yamashiro circa 1941and have a tremendous amount of detail. Other highlights are a four page color foldout of Fuso, 52 pages of quality photographs printed mostly with one full sized photo per page that show not only standard distance shots but also close-in shipboard shots, armoring diagrams and many large line drawings of the pagoda towers and platform levels of both battleships. Of special note is a four page back-printed foldout of the plans and profiles of Fuso and Yamashiro that includes schematic layouts of every level on the bridge. This title is a gold mine of information.

Mechanism of Japanese Warships: Battleships by Kojinsha. Written in Japanese, this title is available in two sizes. The hardbound version measures 10 x 7 inches (166 pages) and the softbound, handy sized version measures 8 x 6 inches (160 pages). The titles portray each class of Japanese battleship from Kongo to Yamato in sections. The length of each section is; the pagoda superstructures, 42 pages; the bows and forecastle decks, 12 pages; turrets and guns, 22 pages; funnels and stack fittings, 19 pages; mainmasts and after superstructure, 20 pages; aircraft arrangements, 18 pages; stern and quarterdeck, 20 pages; and miscellaneous photos (boats, radar, fittings, AA guns), 5 pages. On average there are four photos per page with some line drawings. The photos are a mixed bag, due to the quality of the originals. Some are grainy, some are blurred, some are dark, some are very clear. Because so many photos are packed on each page, their individual size is rather small. Because of this, get the hardbound version. Since the book is larger, the photos are larger and it is easier to identify the features and variations among the ships.

Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy #2; Fuso, Yamashiro, Ise and Hyuga by Kojinsha. Written in Japanese, the title is 180 pages in length and portrays the warships in photos, mostly one per page, with some line drawings. The section on Yamashiro is 25 pages long. The title contains quite a number of interesting photos.

Ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, by Kojinsha. Written in Japanese, this title is 416 pages long and covers all classes of Imperial Japanese warships from battleships and carriers down to auxiliaries. The coverage is broken down into historical eras: The Meiji Era (1868-1912); 1. The Beginning – second half of the 19th century; 2. To the End of the Sino-Japanese War; 3. To the End of the Russo-Japanese War; 4. To the End of the Meiji Era: The Taisho Era (1912-1926); 1. Battleships and Battlecruisers; 2. Cruisers; 3. Destroyers; 4. Submarines; 5. Other Warships; 6. Auxiliaries: The Showa Era (1926-1947); 1.Battleships; 2. Aircraft Carriers; 3. Cruisers; 4. Destroyers; 5. Submarines; 6. Other Warships; 7. Auxiliaries; 8. Converted Merchant Ships; 9. Special Attack Weapons. There is also a section on Naval Reviews. The format for this book is one to three photos per page on high quality glossy paper. The captions for the photos are also in Japanese but includes the ship’s name in English.

Japanese Battleships 1897-1945, by R.A. Burt. This title is a soft-cover fotofax volume of 46 pages. It has two to three photos per page with explanatory captions. The only drawings are a two page center-spread plan and profile of Ise 1945, after conversion to a BB/CV, with smaller profiles of Ise as of 1918, 1932 and 1937. Six pages are of statistics of the various classes of Japanese battleships.

Battleships of World War Two; An International Encyclopedia, by M.J. Whitley. This volume of 318 pages is an excellent overview of all of the battleships of World War Two. It contains six pages on the class that provides the statistics, design history, modifications and service history of Fuso and Yamashiro. The bulk of the historical portion of this review comes from this source as well as the ship’s statistics.

Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945 by Hansgeorg Jentschura, Dieter Jung, and Peter Mickel. This volume of 284 pages is a fair overview of the subject. It contains two pages on the class with a plan and profile of Yamashiro as of 1937 and additional profiles of Yamashiro in 1917 and Fuso in 1928 and 1939. It includes statistics, brief paragraphs of ship’s features & service history, and one photograph of Fuso.

Lacking sufficient numbers of more capable battleships, the Imperial Navy was forced to commit both Yamashiro and Fuso to the defense of the Philippines in October 1944. Using a circuitous rout, the two sisters were backbone of the southern striking force, which planned to enter Leyte Gulf through Surigao Strait. While transiting the strait, a magazine explosion caused by torpedo hits from USN destroyers sank Fuso. Yamashiro, force flagship, continued North up the straits until she was confronted by and literally blown apart by Admiral Oldendorf's battleline, comprised of five battleships, four of which had been at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, as well as numerous cruisers. In the process of being overwhelmed by US and Australian shellfire, the distinctive pagoda of Yamashiro toppled into the sea, before the ship succumbed to the coup de grace provided by the torpedoes of USS McDermut. From the crew of the two ships, only ten, all from Yamashiro, survived. There is a disagreement as to whether Fuso or Yamashiro was the ship that survived to meet the USN battleships. For a more detailed discussion on this point, see David Lilly’s excellent review of the Hi-Mold Fuso (click for review of the Fuso) and the article "Shell Game at Surigao: The Entangled Fates of Battleships Fuso and Yamashiro " by Anthony Tully in www.combinedfleet.com   Last year a diving expedition discovered the remains of both ships, and next month (August 2001) the expedition will return.. Perhaps, this mystery will finally be solved. The results of these efforts can be found at www.jbdori.homestead.com and www.combinedfleet.com.

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RESIN CASTING
The Hi-Mold Yamashiro is beautifully cast. My copy did have a slight warp, as did one very thin bridge level, but that is easy to cure. Other than that all resin parts were damage and defect free. The quality and detail cast into the hull is tremendous. The paravanes are cast into the deck but have such fine relief that they look like they were separate parts. Other excellent features cast integral to the hull are the capstans, reels, hatches, aircraft railing & turntables, ladders and a multitude of other deck fittings. The anchor chains are even cast in two sizes. The various deck coverings, teak deck, linoleum on the quarterdeck and grid-work pattern of the steel-decks, are beautifully reproduced. The portholes are rather shallow, so I used a hand drill to deepen them. One thing that I noticed about the bottom of the hull was the name of the master craftsman who created the master pattern, Mr. H. Takeyama. The craftsmanship and beauty of his creation truly deserves to be "signed".

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At first glance, the pagoda levels and platforms look like they will lock into place. However, slight adjustments in alignment still need to be made because the three legs of the tripod run through the levels. I suggest using white glue or other slower drying adhesive on these levels to allow time to make these slight adjustments. These adjustments were much less than any other comparable kit that I have built. With the attachment of each level, dry fit each of the tripod legs to insure proper fit and alignment. As with the hull, the casting of the pagoda levels and after superstructure is outstanding. They have all of the fine baffles, fluting and bracing of the original.

The fine casting doesn’t stop with the hull and pagoda pieces. This quality is consistent with all of the resin pieces of the kit. The turret crowns are packed with fittings, the blastbags cast integral to the turrets are beautifully done with a natural droop and the open boats have plank bottoms. The crosshatched steel deck grid pattern was found at the DP positions and at various other positions on the fore and after superstructures.

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PLASTIC PIECES
The kit comes with three plastic sprues of parts. These are from the Waveline series of parts sprues for the warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy. However, you only use a few of these parts, the five-inch DPs, 25mm twin mounts, and six piece Dave floatplane among them. The quality of the plastic parts is also excellent. I had originally planned to use PE 25mm guns but after seeing the fineness and detail of the plastic 25mm mounts, I used the parts provided in the kit. The Dave floatplane has discernable fabric covering, windscreens and aerilons. Since you use only a small portion of the plastic parts, you’ll have a great number of excess parts for your spare parts bin.

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WHITE METAL PARTS
The Hi-Mold Yamashiro comes with quite a number of white metal parts. As with the resin and plastic pieces, the quality is superb. The largest and most spectacular metal piece is the support "backbrace" for the pagoda. The arches and metal work of the original is finely captured. There are six different types of directors, six inch casemate guns with blastbags, six side braces for the pagoda, two types of anchors (one type for the bow, one type for the stern), three parts for the mainmast & boat crane, searchlights, signal lights, recognition light structure, aircraft catapult, aircraft crane and two inclined ladders. The metal parts are easily identifiable, some parts are numbered on the metal runner and others can be easily discerned by looking at the parts lay-down template in the instructions. In assembling the pagoda, you will need to attach the metal side-braces (parts M3,4,17-20) before attaching the back-brace (part M-2). The side-braces slip into place and lock with the resin pagoda platforms and the back-brace slides into place and locks with the back of the pagoda. If you install the back-brace first, you’ll be unable to attach some of the side-braces.
For such a complicated structure, the pagoda was surprisingly easy to build.

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Hi-Mold kits include brass parts as well as white metal. Brass rods of two sizes are supplied for the tripod legs (one for the center leg and one for the side legs). I used plastic rod for the side tripod legs because it was easier to cut to the proper length. Another highlight of this kit is the inclusion of machined brass barrels for the twelve-inch guns. They have the muzzles bored out and support bands on the barrels. They are the best gun barrels that I have ever seen in any 1:700 or 1:350 scale kit.

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PHOTO-ETCH ADDITIONS
The Hi-Mold kit does not come with Photo-Etch. Japanese warships designs and the battleships in particular featured open braced search light towers and other structures. No matter how well cast, solid resin and metal parts don’t capture this open, lattice like appearance. Yamashiro is no exception, so I used brass PE parts in lieu of a small number of the cast parts that came in the box. I considered PE parts from GMM (IJN Battleship fret), Tom’s (IJN battleship fret and Kongo Class battleship fret), Edouard (Kongo Class battleship fret) and Flagship Models (Kongo Class battleship fret). The items that I wanted to replace were the three types of search light towers around the stack, catapult, aircraft crane arm, aircraft dolly and aircraft catapult cradle.

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The Yamashiro/Fuso specific parts in the GMM and Tom’s IJN battleship frets were designed for the old Aoshima kits. Because of this I had difficulty finding the right part to substitute. For the tower aft of the stack, I used the GMM Yamashiro/Fuso part. The GMM part did not have the right design. The tower is three frames high by two frames wide on the sides and rear. The GMM part was three frames high but only one frame wide on each side. However, it was a perfect fit in height and width. The Tom’s equivalent Yamashiro/Fuso part was more accurate in design but was too large and couldn’t be used. Although the Hi-Mold solid cast part matched perfectly the tower design as shown in my references, I chose to use the less accurate but open PE tower. Yamashiro has a search light tower on each side of the stack. The towers are partially solid and partially open latticework. Again, no PE parts quite fit the design. However, I found that parts in the Tom’s Kongo fret came very close to matching the upper two frames of these side towers. Since the Tom’s parts were three frames high and matched the height and width of the resin pieces, I cut off the lower frame of the three on the Tom’s part and the upper two frames of the resin towers and attached the resin one story bases to the resultant two story brass PE from Tom’s. None of the frets had anything that came anywhere close to duplicating the search light tower in front of the stack, so I used the solid resin part that came in the kit. Both the GMM and Tom’s IJN battleship frets came with PE parts that could be used for the catapult, aircraft crane arm, aircraft dolly and aircraft catapult cradle. I substituted the Tom’s PE for the solid cast parts for these items. I chose the Tom’s parts over the equivalent GMM parts because the Tom’s parts had greater detail with each of these parts.

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I also substituted Tom’s inclined ladders for the two cast ladders in the kit, leading from the quarterdeck to the boat deck. My references also showed inclined ladders going from the forecastle to the 01 deck base of the pagoda. These ladders are not in the kit, so I used Tom’s inclined ladders there as well. Tom’s railing from the IJN battleship fret was used for all railings on the kit. Take your time with the railing and use short stretches. The railing from adjacent to the pagoda to X turret has a lot of angles because of the seven casemates on each side. A long run of railing won’t work here, unless you have super-human accuracy in measuring and bending the railing. You can use some longer runs on the forecastle and quarterdeck but even here you will find angles along with the natural tapering curve of the deck. Note that the railing on the stern runs inboard of the aircraft crane sponson on the port side, along the edge of the linoleum deck.

INSTRUCTIONS
The Hi-Mold Yamashiro instructions comprise two sheets. The assembly sheet is two pages in width and is printed front and back. Text is in Japanese but the diagrams and drawings are more than sufficient to enable any modeler to build this kit. The two pages of assembly diagrams are logically laid out and extremely clear. All the parts and their attachment locations are clearly shown. One page of the instructions has a complete parts lay-down template for the resin and metal parts. Each part is identified clearly and, other than the hull, each part drawing on the template is the same size as the part.

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The only possible pitfall that I could see is the placement of the different directors. This is not because of the instructions but because of the similar size of the directors. The directors of similar size have unique crown designs on the part that are also shown on the template. Just double check the crown design with the template before gluing the part and you can’t go wrong. Note that the directors above the conning tower (parts M-21) have a flat edge along a portion of their crowns. The instructions clearly show that with the port director, the flat edge faces forward and with the starboard director, it faces aft. The second sheet contains a 1:700 plan and profile of Yamashiro.

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VERDICT
This kit has no weak points. Every facet and component has been logically planned and executed with the highest degree of craftsmanship. All of the parts, resin, plastic, white metal and brass barrels are top of the line. Other 1:700 kits may equal the quality of the Hi-Mold Yamashiro in some areas but I have yet to see a kit that surpasses the total package that you get with this model. Thank you Mr. Takeyama and please, produce many more master patterns.