Here's a set of photographs of a mildly unusual submarine model. The modern JMSDF UZUSHIO SS-566, circa 1980s. Not a bad model from this odd kit. The modern Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force upgraded its submarine fleet with their own design based on the U.S. BARBEL-class hull form, putting conventional power and hydrodynamic efficiency into a sleek package. In 1969, Japan's JMSDF built the first of its new, advanced submarine designs with the JMSDF UZUSHIO SS-566. These were among the world's finest diesel boats at that time. The JMSDF launched seven units of the UZUSHIO class before following up with the newer YUUSHIO class in 1980. 

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I managed to get hold of this somewhat obscure resin kit from a somewhat obscure Japanese cottage industry known as Raccoon -- if not for a friend in Tokyo, I'd never have been able to find this one. Cast in solid resin, this 1:200 scale submarine came in a Japanese-labeled box with no instructions and no decals. All the parts were cast resin, except for a few white-metal masts. The sub's hull was in two pieces, but split fore and aft rather than the usual upper and lower or side-to-side halves. The quality of the casting wasn't too bad, but it wasn't too great, either. Had lots and lots of pocks and pit marks that needed to be filled in, and lots of flashing to be trimmed off. But the assembly went well, and the kit yielded a nice model of a modern Japanese diesel-electric submarine. Scrupulous research provided a necessary guide for accurate deck detail scribing, and a few brass wire railings and grab handles, a couple of whip antennae, and the UZUSHIO was looking pretty good. The decals, however, were a very difficult hunt. The style of shaded numbers on modern Japanese warships are not the same cut-cornered boxy style the U.S. uses. The many draft mark numbers measured in meters, were just as elusive. Loren Perry, of Gold Medal Models, helped me find what I needed. My friend in Tokyo also helped me find a few issues of MARU Special magazine (1982, No. 61), a Japanese publication dedicated to the study of warships. From them, I gleaned all I needed to produce a workable set of drawings with scribing and placement details.

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The JMSDF UZUSHIO model is a pretty cool little modern Japanese submarine - nothing particularly special, but a bit unusual in a submarine hobby world dominated by 1/72 scale WWII fleet boats, U-Boats, and a host of hokey modern resin and plastic sub kits.

Ken Hart