"But when will it be here old Wise One?" asked the young student to his teacher. "Ah grasshopper, a mighty oak grows from a tiny acorn." was the reply. "But I need it now great and ancient master." came back from another young charge. The answer was not long in coming, "A lofty mountain is built one pebble at a time." Oh Gray Geezer, I donít believe I can continue unless it is released soon." came from another young acolyte. "A voyage of 5,000 miles is but one step at a time" "But when will you give us what we want, Reverend Master?" As he gazed at his pink faced students clustered around him, the Grand Master slowly responded, "For want of a nail, a kingdom can be lost." But the students would not stop with their impatience and pestering questions. Finally Grand Sensei Hall gave in and replied, "OK, here is your White Ensign Models brass photo-etch set for the 1:350 scale Takao class Japanese cruiser! "

Yes young grasshoppers, it is here! But perhaps I should say they are here, since the White Ensign Models brass photo-etch set WEM PE 35100 has two sheets of marvelous relief-etched brass. Long have modelers waited for any large-scale model of the largest and most powerful class of Japanese heavy cruiser, the Takao class. That is why the poor Nichimo 1:500 scale Takao models continued to sell. There was no other game in town. That long absence is now over with new 1:350 scale kits from Hasegawa. Hard on their heels is this superb set of brass, which further elevates the new releases to new realms of detail. As is common with WEM releases one brass sheet is thicker than the other for heavy-duty items. 

One sheet was the fine-items that have to be in thinner brass. For one thing, if you examine a Takao class cruiser you will notice a number of large ventilator louvers. These have grid covers, which of course are solid in any plastic kit. WEM provides realistic open grid louver covers for unparalleled detail. These have raised frames and recessed open grid screens and come in various sizes and patterns. Another large open grid structure is the Type 21 Go Radar array, as well as the Type 13 array. Again, here is a s subject that cannot be adequately portrayed in plastic. The main parts for the brass catapults included in the set are found on the thicker gage sheet but catapult mechanisms for both Model 3 and Model 5 catapults are found on this sheet. On both sheets there are parts for a complete revamping of the turrets. On this sheet are found turret sight windows. These sighting apertures could be closed with sliding segmented covers to protect the optics from weather. WEM provides both open and closed apertures relief-etched parts. Other turret fittings on this sheet are crown safety railing, rear ladders and side ladders. 

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Smaller brass parts on this sheet include detail for a great number of areas. Normally I would mention generic items such as inclined ladders and railings in closing but not so with this set. For the railings and inclined ladders are so detailed that there is no way that they could be described as generic. Look at the inclined ladders. Each is heavily detailed with weight-saving circular voids not only in their frames but also in each foot-tread. For the chain link railings, you can even see individual links if your eyesight is keen enough or under magnification. All of the various float aircraft donít get overlooked. You get propellers, struts and cradles for the Jakes; propellers, float struts, window struts and fuselage struts for the Petes, Daves and Alfs. Rigging assemblies come for boat booms and mainmast boom with complete rigging, block and tackle. If you have ever examined the funnels of Japanese cruisers, you will have observed rows of hand/foot railing. WEM provides all of these on this sheet. Other funnel parts include grate tops, forward funnel support frame and catwalk. Shipís boats fittings include davits, crane assembly, windows, railings, handrails, masts, yards and rudders. In addition to the link chain railings, WEM includes the sharply curving deck railing to fit on the strong sheer of the forecastle. Additionally there is a full complement of other pattern railing and vertical ladder. 

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As mentioned, the second sheet is of an increased thickness. The largest part on this sheet is the metal quarterdeck found at the stern. The relief-etched anti-skid pattern is the most noticeable feature found on this part. Although this part may be the biggest, the most spectacular additions to the plastic kit presented by this set is provided for the far enhanced turret detail. The Japanese needed a way to reduce heat build up in the turrets caused by operations in tropical waters. So they added a thin shell around the turrets separated from the turrets by a layer of air. Ventilation holes allowing the heat to escape from this void were found in the thin strip of metal, which attached these panels to the turrets. WEM provides superbly crafted relief-etched panels for the cruiser. Of course the connecting strip has openings that were on the original design. Even the door opening on the rear face of the lower turrets has an open void step plate. The doors are separate parts and include door slides. Turret faces get sighting panels. If it were not for the huge impact of the turret heat shielding, it would be the WEM handling of catapult detail that would have taken the prize with this set. First of all there are two types of catapults. Earlier long catapults were replaced by shorter, lighter catapults. Therefore, which set you use depends upon the year that you are modeling. Either way, WEM provides relief-etched parts for both styles of catapults. Also included are the catapult turntable bases, also in two styles. Other aircraft handling gear found on this fret are aircraft rails used to move the aircraft on its trolley from the hangar to the catapult and handling turntables used move the aircraft from one set of rails to another. Aircraft trolleys and cradles are also included. 

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The main turrets are not the only armament to receive the WEM touch. Both the early single 5-inch guns (retained by Chokai) and the later twin 5-inch guns of later fits receive three detailed brass parts for enhancement. AA weapons are also pumped up. If your ship has triple or twin 25mm AA gun mountings, you can use the kit supplied parts and add greater detail. WEM provides four detail parts for each triple and twin mount. However, if you prefer, you can use all brass twin 25mm mounts provided on the fret as well as brass single 25mm mounts found in this set. Latticework also receives Sensei Hallís ministrations. These come in many forms, from amidships gun tower supports, to turret mounted tripods, to bridge roof tripod, to mast assemblies. Both foremast and mainmast get a thorough overall that will provide intricate detail that will blow your sandals off. With numerous open void platforms and starfish arms, plastic can not hope to even approach the detail of these parts. A new lattice crane and rigging is included. If you wish to portray the ship in harbor, WEM has an outstanding accommodation ladder with textured canvas platform cover. 

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Grasshoppers! Your time has arrived. More perfect than any cherry blossom at Kyoto is the White Ensign Models brass photo-etch set for 1:350 scale Takao class heavy cruisers. With the fittings found in WEM PE35100 your Takao class will be the pride of the Pacific. 

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