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Japanese Navy Battleship
Hi-Mold 1/700 Waterline Kit

Reviewed by Rob Mackie

Read Jim Gordon’s Mutsu article to learn more about the  Mutsu and Nagato, as well as the 1/700 Aoshima alternative to the Hi-Mold Nagato

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Read Jon Warneke's review of the excellent Monograph Morskie #5 book covering Nagato & Mutsu.

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Exploded view

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Skywave E-3

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Skywave E-4

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Skywave E-10

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Hull & Deck Structures

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White metal parts and brass 16" barrels

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Deck levels

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16" gun, launch, stack etc.

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More resin parts

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Float plane deck

Click the thumbnail to view full-size pic

Hi-Mold (part of the Pit Road group that includes Skywave and Waveline) has released the IJN battleship Nagato. This is an entirely new model and not a re-hash of the Nagato/Mutsu resin upgrade previously available from Waveline. The kit depicts Nagato in her 1941 fit.  Unlike her sister ship Mutsu - and just about all other IJN capital ships - Nagato survived the war mostly intact, only to be expended post war in the Marshall islands A-bomb tests.

This 1/700 scale waterline kit sells for a breathtaking 14,800 yen, which equates to $115 at current exchange rates. What, you may ask, do you get for your money? HMnagfore.jpg (8264 bytes)A stunning kit that defines the current state-of-the-art in 1/700 scale.  I could run out of superlatives in describing the Hi-Mold Nagato. The hull and deck structures are expertly resin cast and larger components snap into place via locator tabs. There were neither air bubbles nor voids in any of the resin parts. You will need to remove casting sprues, but this is less cleanup than is required on better injection molded models.

Be warned, there are a lot of parts - 60 resin, 39 white metal and 4 sprues of Skywave injection molded fittings. Pagoda masted IJN battleships were chock full of decks, catwalks, gun tubs, directors, fittings…you name it. This is not a model you will throw together while watching Victory-at-Sea.  Take a look at the exploded view.   The hexapod pagoda mast consists of  9  levels penetrated by six legs fabricated from brass rod. Hi-Mold's superb engineering will keep you from taking to drink during this step,  but newcomers to 1/700 resin should consider something less complex before taking on this beauty.

HMnagparts.jpg (13641 bytes)The extraordinarily sharp and clean resin components are fully detailed on all sides. These are not flat sided parts cast in open-faced molds. TheHi-Mold caster has utilized two piece molds throughout and has done so with consummate skill. This makes the modeler’s life easier. You won’t be adding underside detail to the many deck levels. It’s already there.



Some other highlights:

  • 16" main gun barrels machined from brass stock
  • Diamond-like white metal parts better than anything I have seen outside of Japan
  • 4 sprues of Skywave injection molded IJN accessory parts(Skywave parts E-3 (2x), E-7, and E-10). Your spares box will be forever grateful to you for buying this model.
  • 7 sizes of brass rod
  • Decals
  • Illustrated parts list, exploded view diagrams (albeit with Japanese language captions), and scrap subassembly views to guide you through construction.

Is there anything wrong with this kit, you ask? No etched brass! The illustrated parts list shows a brass fret, but with a black line through it. What gives? According to Bill Gruner of Pacific Front, the kit is marketed in Japan with a generic Gold Medal Models IJN battleship fret. The export version does not include the GMM brass, which retails for US $12.  Fix this shortcoming by purchasing either the GMM fret or the upcoming Tom’s Modelworks IJN battleship brass.  Or at least affix generic IJN 3-bar railing to your Nagato.

By any measure this is a stunning kit, but not for the beginner. Casting, accuracy and execution are flawless. Jim Gordon showed that hard work and skill can create a silk purse from the  $25 Aoshima Mutsu's sow's ear, so there is an inexpensive alternative.   But the Hi-Mold Nagato will look great right out of the box.  And if you choose not to build it, then savor it like a fine wine while you watch Victory-at-Sea.  Either way, this is the best 1/700 kit I have ever seen.

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Hi-Mold Nagato box art photo