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Takao
Imperial Japanese Navy Heavy Cruiser, 1942
Skywave
1:700 Scale Model

In-box review by John Sheridan



Vital Statistics
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TAKAO
IJN Heavy Cruiser

Laid Down:   28 April 1927 Launched:  12 May 1930 Commissioned: 31 May 1932
Yard: Yokosuka  Shipyard
Length:   688ft 6in  Beam: 59ft 2in  Draft:  20ft
Displacement:
14838 tons
Armament (1942) : 10 x 8in 50 cal,  8 x 5in 40 cal,  8 x 25mm AA,  4 x 13.2mm AA
Torpedoes: 4 x 4 610mm 

Performance: Range: 8000nm @ 14kts
Complement: Approx 761

Other Class Members: Atago, Maya, Chokai

HISTORY

The Takao Class Heavy Cruisers were the largest of the heavy cruisers built for the Japanese Navy. Four ships of the Takao class were built; TAKAO, ATAGO, MAYA, and CHOKAI.  They  were built in response to the heavy cruisers under construction by the United States and Great Britain during the 1920's. She was comparable in armament and speed with the NORFOLK and NORTHAMPTON  classes. These ships were fast, powerful and heavily armed with enough firepower to hold their own against any ships built. All four ships of this class were formed into Sentai 4 and operated together for most of their careers.

TAKAO, the lead ship of the class, served in many campaigns during WWII, including some of the more famous battles in the South Pacific. She slugged it out with the Battleship SOUTH DAKOTA during the Battle of Guadalcanal on November 14-15, 1942, and escaped with minimal damage. During the latter half of 1943, TAKAO operated out of Truk Island in the Carolinas to support naval activities in this area. She was damaged by bombs during a raid by U.S. Naval Aircraft on November 3rd while at anchor in Truk Lagoon. After repairs in Yokosuka, she returned to her duties patrolling the areas  and spent the first half of 1944 in the Palau area. She and her sister ships of Sentai 4 were summoned for operation SHO Go (Battle for the Phillippine Islands) . 

On October 23, 1944, during transit from Brunei to San Bernardino,  TAKAO was hit by two torpedoes fired by the Submarine USS DARTER.   During this same encounter, TAKAO's sister ships, ATAGO and MAYA were both sunk by torpedoes fired by USS Darter and USS Dace.  CHOKAI was unharmed during this encounter but later succumbed to bombs dropped by US Naval aircraft two days later at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. 

Heavily damaged TAKAO managed to return to Brunei under her own power for repairs. After emergency repairs in Brunei, TAKAO left Brunei bound for Singapore for more permanent repairs and refit. When TAKAO arrived in Singapore for repairs, it was discovered that the damage was much more extensive than could be repaired at the limited facilities in Singapore. While at anchor in Singapore, TAKAO suffered more damage as the result of Allied air attacks. Too heavily damaged to participate in naval operations, it was decided to keep TAKAO in Singapore harbor and use her as a floating AA Platform. On February 5, 1945, TAKAO fell victim to a British X-craft raid which blew a 21 foot hole in her side and caused extensive flooding.  All of her magazines were flooded. This action pretty much put TAKAO out of the war for good.  The ship was surrendered to the allies on September 21, 1945, in Singapore. On October 27th 1946, the last of Sentai 4, IJN TAKAO was scuttled in deep water off the coast of Singapore.

Reference Material
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Warships of the Imperial Navy 1869-1945
By: Hansgeorg Jentschura
       Dieter Jung
       Peter Mickel

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Anatomy of a Ship: 
The Heavy Cruiser Takao
By James Skulski

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Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War
By: Eric Lacroix and Linton Wells II

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Gakken #16 IJN CA Takao Class

The Kit

The model of the IJN TAKAO is built by Skywave / Pit Road in 1/700th scale. The ship is built to her 1941/1942 fit while she served in the South Pacific. The kit is packaged in the typical open-end box you find with most of their kits. Skywave kits are known for their box artwork and this kit is no exception. The cover art is beautiful painting of  TAKAO under power in a dramatic 3/4 bow shot with ominous gray skies. The back cover is used as a painting guide for the completed model. Although everything is written in Japanese, the colors in the drawing are close enough so that you can find the right paint matches at your local hobby shop.

All of the parts for the kit are in two packages. One package contains the hull and decals, the other package contains the detail sprues. The casting quality for all of the parts is simply beautiful; nice sharp detail with no flash or distorted parts. Skywave is known for their crisp, well detailed styrene parts but this kit has set the new standard for injected modeled shipmodels in 1/700th scale. 

The Hull for the kit is split down the centerline of the ship. The kit is a waterline kit, so there is no lower hull to work with. The hull has portholes which were still present in on TAKAO in 1942. The ports for the swiveling torpedo tubes are extremely thin and are simply wonderful. You will not need to sand away the inside of these to get an in-scale appearance.

The deck is in two pieces divided in the middle by the raised superstructure and second deck. The areas of the deck that were covered in linoleum have very thin raised lines for the brass stripping while the metal decks have tiny diamond plate that is not too raised to cause a distraction. There is considerable detail cast into the decks which gives it the busy look you expect to find on IJN warships.

The Superstructure parts are finely detailed with miniature hatches (with dogs!), life rings, and other assorted items you find along the outside walls of a ship. How Skywave manages to include this much detail in such a small kit is a testament to their expertise in injected-molded kit making.  All of the major superstructure parts are split into two halves down the middle. Minor sanding and filling will be required to remove the seam once built. Most of the upper decks are one-piece and fit around the superstructure parts; nice touch. AA platforms and Searchlight platforms all have tiny diamond plate tread imbedded onto the decking. The masts are finely cast and appear to be in scale. The masts have their platforms cast as part of the mast to ease assembly. Boat Davits are included with this kit and are thinly cast. 

Of course, what Skywave kit would be complete with their exceptional weapon and detail sprues?  This kit is no exception and there are lots of detail parts to work with. The 8inch, 5inch, and 25mm AA guns are nicely cast with very thin gun barrels. The Torpedo tubes contain a lot of detail and are well cast for such a small part. Ships' boats are well done as are the floatplanes that come with this kit. The ship's crane latticework is filled in with styrene, but this is normal considering how small it is. Two small sets of generic IJN decals; one for the ship, the other for the floatplanes round-out the kit.

The kit comes with a 4 page instruction set broken down into 9 assembly steps and one sub-assembly step. The instructions are clear and contain nicely done drawings. The instructions are in Japanese with some English but are quite understandable. I figured out how to build the kit just by looking at the drawings. As explained above, the back of the box displays the painting instructions for the kit.

If you are looking for the finest 1/700th scale injected modeled kit of a Takao class CA, this is the kit to have. Skywave has raised the level of detail in the kits to a new level with the release of this kit. The attention to detail and accuracy has made them one of  the top makers of 1/700 scale ships and this kit is no exception. It will be interesting to see what they are going to do next to top this kit!


Aftermarket Parts

This kit needs no aftermarket parts in my opinion. However, I do recommend that you purchase a photo-etch detail set to enhance the model. Here are several photo-etch sets that would work with this kit:

Tom's Modelworks 1/700th scale IJN Heavy Cruiser set (Part #726) Price $16.00 (Photo-etch fret shown here)

 

Gold Medal Models 1/700 scale IJN Cruiser / Destroyer set (Part #700-13) Price: $12.00
Railing in several styles, including pre-shaped sections for upswept bow, vertical and inclined ladders, aircraft catapults and recovery cranes, boat cranes, aircraft propellers, turret antenna masts, torpedo loading gantries, searchlight towers, cranes and flight deck girders for seaplane tender Chitose


Shots of Skywave IJN TAKAO kit

 

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Takao Deck funnels.jpg (191567 bytes) Takao Superstructure Mast.jpg (59394 bytes) Takao Accessory Sprues.jpg (251349 bytes) Takao hull sides.jpg (64062 bytes)
Takao inst 01.jpg (105141 bytes) Takao inst 02.jpg (81941 bytes) Takao inst 03.jpg (119888 bytes)  

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