The modeler is faced with many choices. For a 1:350 scale Nagato Class battleship the choices are Hasegawa kits for Nagato or Mutsu. If it is the Hasegawa Nagato then there is a choice between fits. Do you want the 1941 fit when Nagato was flagship of the Combined Imperial Japanese Fleet with Admiral Yamamoto in command or do you want the 1944 fit of Nagato when the battleship followed the Yamato into the Battle off Samar. Regardless of these basic choices, you’ll probably still want to super-detail your Nagato or Mutsu with photo-etched parts. Again, you’ll face choices, one of which is shown here. The White Ensign Models 1:350 Scale Nagato Class photo-etch set provides two large photo-etch brass frets designed by Mad Pete to totally outfit your ship. The two frets have different gauges of brass, depending upon function and are thoroughly relief-etched.
This is the smaller of the two sheets and the thinnest gauge brass. On this fret you’ll find the more delicate items. There are 99 different brass patterns on this fret but the actual parts count is far higher as many patterns have multiple copies. Among the more unique items are the top hand rail for the stack, foretop antenna array and two other types of antennae arrays, the Type 21 and Type 13 arrays. Although those are the three major arrays, there are still many smaller electrical sensors and related items found on this fret. Among these are tripod antenna bulwark, small pole antenna platforms, foretop antenna mast, foretop anemometer, and foretop DF antenna. The fret has different versions of the last three for Nagato and Mutsu. The thin brass parts for the armament on this fret include 25mm single gun sights, gun barrel sighting platforms, gun barrel sighting platform supports, turret top antennas, 127mm gun mount details and main gun turret ranger finder lens. Armament railings include separate design railings for all four main gun turrets and barbette handrails. Of course the seaplane detail for the Dave seaplanes would also be found on this fret with struts, pontoon supports and propellers. Other catapult/seaplane related material on this fret are catapult deck railings, aircraft crane sponson railings, crane hook assembly, crane rigging and catapult mechanism. There are also various yardarms and foot ropes on the fret.
More than half of the fret is devoted to railing and ladders. The railing is designed for specific parts of the ship. This minimizes adjustments of railing size and speeds up attachment time of the brass railings to the model. Not only are there railings for the main deck but railings for other decks, platforms and positions are included. Among them are railings for: catapult deck; bridge roof; searchlight platforms; boat deck; leadsmen’s platforms; lookout platforms; and maintop platform. Likewise WEM provides multiple designs of inclined ladders. The most impressive are the large double-wide two way ladders running from the aft end of the shelter deck to the quarterdeck. No matter the size, each ladder is well done with individual perforated voids in each trainable tread. But then, that is hardly a surprise because WEM never stints on providing the smallest detail. There are some generic parts included on this fret in the form of three long runs of vertical ladder but that is very easy to cut to the right length.
In contrast to the thin brass for the finer parts found on fret A, the parts on Fret B are thicker gage, heartier more robust parts. They consist mostly of the heavy-duty stuff of platforms and structures. This fret provides for a complete replacement/rebuild of the towering, multi-level searchlight assembly surrounding the stack. Beautifully relief-etched parts provide not only the side panels but also the platform decks. If you are building the 1944 fit for Nagato, you’ll need the large AA platforms mounted over the crowns of B and X turrets. With a criss-cross relief-etched anti-skid deck pattern and foldable side railing, these parts provide the optimum parts for these very prominent positions. The flight deck comes in for a comprehensive refit of superb WEM parts. This starts with a complete catapult replacement and only expands from there. To complete the metamorphosis are parts for catapult turntables, deck spotting turntables, deck trolley railings, and seaplane cradles. There are quite a few parts associated with weapons systems. Many of these are relief-etched panels for solid splinter shielding for antiaircraft guns. Each splinter shield position comes with a base plate and individual triangular interior face supports. Other heavy-duty armament parts on this fret are: platforms for the 127mm guns; side plates for twin and triple 25mm mounts; and seats/control mechanisms for the twin and triple 25mm mounts. Other very prominent items are anti-skid upper searchlight platforms and their latticework supports.
So far about only half the parts of fret B have been covered. Many of the heavier parts go into the superstructure and masts. Included in this group are timber rack, pagoda platforms, funnel caps, catwalk supports, mainmast starfish and top platform; mainmast fittings. All of the different ship’s boats have their own individual fittings. These include railings, masts & yardarms, cockpit windows, rudder/running gear, hatches, anchors, staffs, conning wheels, thwarts, oars and boat chocks. Among the many additional parts on this fret are smaller bracing for the stack gun positions; ammunition locker facia; accommodation ladder including canopy and davit; sea-boat davit assembly; wire spreaders; multiple levels of pagoda bridge windows; paravane parts; stream anchors; voice pipe; hawse grills; main gun turret antennae for earlier fits.
The instructions are fully up to the exceedingly high standard that has for so long been pro forma from White Ensign Models. They consist of thirteen pages of finely produced drawings and text providing a truly comprehensive assembly of each part. Page one starts simply with a photograph of the Nagato and general instructions. Page two shows Part A with every part numbered and textual identification by part number. Page three just has the photograph of Part B with parts numbered, while the textual description starts page four. The four assembly modules that complete page four cover main gun turret fittings. Page five continues the armament theme with modules on barbette fittings, twin 25mm fittings, triple 25mm fittings, Type 21 radar and Type 13 radar. Page six concentrates with modules on pagoda fittings with foretop platform, foretop antennae, platform railings, bridge roof, and walkways. Page seven finishes up the pagoda modules and then shifts amidships with modules for the stack, timber rack and massive searchlight gantry. Page eight and nine continues with the searchlight gantry assembly and ends with modules on various platforms and mainmast fittings. Page ten has only four modules for mainmast top, boat crane rigging, catapult assembly and aircraft trolley. Page eleven concerns aircraft and ship’s boats with modules for cradles, aircraft fittings, aircraft crane, 17-meter boat fittings, 11-meter boat fittings and 12-meter launch fittings. The wrap of the modules is on page twelve with assemblies for 9-meter cutter, sea-boat davits, accommodation ladders, AA gun assemblies, ammunition lockers and life-buoy assemblies. Other specific textual instructions finish page twelve and carry over to page thirteen.
The only modeler that would be disappointed with the White Ensign Models 1:350 scale Nagato/Mutsu photo-etch set would be the terminally jaded. Those that are terminally jaded are looking for something different for WEM, something that is not top drawer. The terminally jaded will have to keep on looking because White Ensign Models has again sallied forth with a first class product. The WEM Nagato set provides two large frets of plentiful parts of sparkling quality, beautifully designed and executed and topped off with the best instructions in the industry.