Ship Models

Model Reviews - German Models

IJN Yamato - Bill Waldorf
Model Data
Model build by Bill Waldorf
Kit Manufacturer Nichimo
Scale 1:200
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IJN Yamato - Bill Waldorf
Model Review - Introduction
Yamato is Japan's oldest poetic name. It is the name of the territory on which the 1st seed of state was sown, and later became the name of the province on the Kii peninsula, In southwestern Honshu, Whose capital is Nara. This mystic and especially potent name was given to the largest and most powerful battleship ever built, which entered service in the Pacific War at the beginning of 1942. Throughout the Second World War, YAMATO was not only Japan's modern ,new generation battleship but also the pride and symbol of its Imperial Navy. With the greatest displacement, biggest guns and heaviest armor of all time, YAMATO and her sister ship MUSASHI were the ultimate battleships and they proved to be a formidable opponent to the US Fleet.
Model Review - Part 1 - Hull Construction and Main Armament
Well I am back again. After a short respite from building CVE-73 in 1/72 scale I was ready for a new project. I had purchased the Yamato kit by Nichimo a while back and it has been in the box waiting. I decided it was a good time to start construction. After all it is winter. A great time of year to model. No yard work, etc.!!!! Upon opening the box and examining the contents I knew this kit would be a challenge. First of all, it is an old mold and getting older. There is flash on the parts, not real bad but in the worst places. Mostly around smaller parts that are difficult to clean up due to the fact that they are very delicate. Second, the majority of the kit, if not all, is molded from ABS Plastic. ABS differs from polystyrene in that it is a softer material and is difficult to tool. It tends to burr allot and clean up of parts can be time-consuming. I found that wet sanding with automotive paper is the best bet. 220 to 320 works well. Third, the parts do not fit very well. They require a lot of patient work and fitting. A little word of advice if you are thinking about this kit as your next build. 1st is the cost. The kit ranges from $280.00 to as high as $500.00. YOU WILL NEED TO ADD A PHOTO ETCH KIT. This is a must. Gold Medal Models kit is the best bet. About $80.00. Then, if you want to get serious, get J. Skulskis book, Anatomy Of The Scale, Battleship Yamato. The book is out of print but I was able to find it on-line relatively easily. About $30.00. In addition, you may want to pick up some more small parts from HR Products. Cast metal fittings in 1/192 scale. Close enough to 1/200. Watertight doors, deck hatches and louvers is what I used, about $35.00. So all in all, you are looking at shelling out about 500 bucks. As I proceed with the build I can say that it is worth it!!!! Yamato is a little over 51" long when completed and makes an impressive display piece, either waterline or full hull. I chose to do the latter. AS with all Japanese kits there a some motorized goodies you can include and I decided to do that. Turrets move 90 degrees as does the main range finder and 4 searchlights. Pretty cool when done although it requires more work. The kit is just as good without them. So, If you are up to spend some bucks and are up for a challenge, lets have at it!! Now, lets get to the photo's!! *
A shot of the stern view. Note that I have added the hanger bay for the a/c. White areas are sheet styrene. This is relatively easy to do. Cut out the molded portion on the deck, add the walls and floor, add an overhead door and some trolley rails and you got it!!
A close -up of the stern/hanger deck area almost completed. Compare this shot with photo above it.
Another view of the stern deck area. Note the opened hanger area and the p/e parts. The arched frame inside the lifeboats is to hold the canvas weather covering when boats are in storage.
Starboard side view of the boat hanger deck opening. Note that I have opened it up. Later I'll add other details and a boat hanging from the crane girder on each side of the ship. This assembly is in 2 pieces out of the box and is one of the areas that need fine tuning due to the poor fit. You can see in the photo the rough sanding marks. Due to the fact that the kit is mostly molded from ABS Plastic I chose to use Model Master Liquid cement for models rather than super glue (CA). The liquid cement actually welds the plastic together so that when dry you can file and sand without the need for a lot of filler.
Here is a shot of the bottom of the 2 piece plastic wood deck in the kit. You can see the main turret holes. Notice that I have cut out all the molded in details on this deck in preparation for the new real wood deck. I then sanded the plastic wood deck totally smooth saving what parts were large enough to clean up and re-attach after the real wooden deck is installed. After smoothing things out I glued 1/16" thick scribed basswood, scribing spaced at 3/32", directly on top of the plastic deck. I then cut out the holes for the main gun turrets and whatever other openings need to be there. Next step is to lightly sand the wood with 600 grit sandpaper. Do this lightly or you'll sand out the scribed lines in the wood. I then stained the deck, 2 coats and painted and re-attached all the parts I had previously removed.
In this photo you can see that I have attached the new wood deck to the hull and have re-attached some of the parts that were previously removed from the plastic deck. I'll get into a brief description on attaching the decks to the hull. In the kit the deck comes in 5 pieces. The bow deck, then the 2 piece plastic wood deck, the catapult deck, and finally the stern deck. Since I glued the new wood deck directly on top of the old plastic one, when attached to the hull it will stick up 1/16". Therefore you must also raise the bow deck by the same amount, to keep everything the same height. I did this by gluing a 1/16" thick piece of sheet balsa to the BOTTOM of the bow deck. The catapult deck and the stern deck doesn't need to be raised in this manner. By adding the aft breakwater at the joint between the wood deck and the catapult deck you won't see the slight difference in height.
The stern deck is one whole different level too so no need to raise it. This sequence of assembly worked well for me; fit and glue the bow deck first. Then attach the wood deck. Work slowly and cement things a little at a time and clamp as you go. Add the stern deck next then finally attach the catapult deck, which is the most difficult to line up. As I mentioned before the fit of the kit is poor so the more time you take the better end result you will get. After all the decks were attached to the hull, I then added 1/16" strip styrene around all of them, the whole length of the hull. You'll see a very fine gap between the strip and the decks 1, 2, and 3. This works out perfectly to attach the photo etch railings. The railings fit rite into the small gap and makes them easy to attach. Also in the photo you will notice the two arms beneath the deck. These are the push rods that move the turrets. More on that later.
Here is a couple of shots of the bow area. If you look close you can see the strip styrene that I mentioned earlier. Notice  that the fit is pretty good now after the above procedure. Also notice the p/e parts. These are a must if you are going to do a good display piece. I have also added a few scratchbuilt items as well. The anchor chains have not yet been added.
A note on painting and finishing. I stained the wood deck before attaching it to the hull. All other areas were left unpainted until most of the other small parts were attached including the railings etc. I then carefully taped off the wood deck and airbrushed the entire structure at one time. This makes for a better job. Any parts that were removed from the plastic wood deck were then painted and attached to the decks.
Lets get on to the turrets! Type 94 46 cm 45 caliber guns. The 46 cm (18.1") guns with which Yamato and Musashi were supplied were the only modern guns of this caliber ever mounted in a ship and represented quite an achievement for the IJN. Up to that time, 16" guns were the largest in general use. The maximum weight of one of these triple turrets was 2774 tons, about as heavy as a big destroyer! Each gun could fire a projectile weighing 1360 kg a distance of 42,000 meters at an angle of 45 degrees. Three different types of projectiles were used for these massive guns. 1.- Armor piercing, Type 91, 2.- 46 cm Type common 'San Shiki' Model 3., and 3, Type HE (high explosive).
The photo's on the right show the #1 and #2 main gun turret. All 3 turrets are the same as far as the details are concerned. Note that it is still unpainted. Also notice the details that have been added. Some are photo etch while the others are scratchbuilt. Also note the blast bags. I used white bed sheet cloth to make these. I'm not sure how accurate they are as there are not a lot of original photos. I figure they have to be pretty close. I assembled and painted all 3 main turrets first before adding them the the deck. I then installed the turning linkages. The turrets only move in one direction and only 90 degrees. (unfortunately) Turrets 1 and 2 move to port, while the aft turret, #3, Moves to stb. The main gun director also moves at the same time as #1 and #2 turrets, and in the same direction. It is moved via a vertical shaft turned by the gearbox assy. mounted beneath the superstructure, which also actuates the turrets. Lindbergh did the same set-up on their Blue Devil Destroyer kit. Theirs moves 180 degrees and is an improved version than the one in the Nichimo kit. I wonder where they got the idea???? You don't have to install all the motorized gizmos that are included with the kit. You don't get the motor by the way, you must purchase that separately. I did it just for fun! I have tested all this stuff and it really works pretty cool! Make sure you follow the instructions and diagrams closely if you add this feature as it is real easy to screw up. This shows the #1 18.1" turret.
Here we have the secondary turret, a 15.5 cm 60 caliber 3 "Nendo Shiki "Gun. These guns were the finest in use during the 2nd World War. Yamato originally carried 4 of the turrets, but only 2 remained after her 1940 re-fit. One fwd. and one aft. The weight of these shells was about 56 kg and had a range of 27,000 m. at 45 degrees elevation. These guns were also used allot on IJN Cruisers as their main armament. Note that in this photo the turret is painted and given the same detail treatment as the main guns. I did not add blast bags to these as I couldn't figure out a good way to do it! Too small of an area to work with.
Here is the aft main turret and secondary turret. Both are finish painted and installed. Note that I need to do a little touch up yet! Also note they are turned to 90 degree firing position.
Here again is the #2 main turret, finish painted and mounted. Compare this with photo's above.
Main # 3 turret looking fwd. from the stern deck. Note the aft. breakwater I spoke of earlier mounted between #3 deck and catapult deck.
On to the stern deck areas. In this photo you can see one of the Aichi E13A 'Jake' Float planes. These are a small kit in themselves. Each one has 10-12 pieces. I folded the wings on this one. Note the p/e trolley that the a/c sits on. Also visible is the crane girder for the boat hanger deck. Also note the Type 96 'Shiki' Triple 25 mm AA Guns with shield Adopted at the end of 1941 with a crew of 9. Note that I have not attached propellers yet.
Another shot of the crane girder which leads into the boat hanger deck, port side. I will add a lifeboat suspended on cables from the crane girder soon.
Here again we can see the Jake float plane and the catapult deck area, Starboard side. I made the decals for the a/c out of other decals I had in my grab box. The ones in the kit are no good, so toss 'em. Again notice the a/c trolleys. a nice little item in the p/e kit from GMM.
Here's a good shot of the boat hanger deck door area, port side. Note the supports by the crane girder. These come in the kit and are tricky to install. The are flashed up pretty good too. Note that I have opened the boat hanger door also. This is a solid piece in the kit so you must cut it out. (If you want) Take your time on this area.
Port side catapult. A little blurry but you can get the idea. I did not use the p/e props for the a/c as I could not figure out a good way to mount them. The ones in the kit are OK, and are in one piece, prop and spinner. Note that this aircraft has wings extended, locked and ready!
Here is a dead on view of the stern deck. You can really see the advantage of the Photoetched parts. The catapults, crane, and the aft antenna assy. are all p/e. I'll add some more aircraft also. A Mitsubishi F1M2 'Pete' float plane (biplane) will be added to each catapult.
Port side shot of the whole ship. Not a great picture but it will give you an idea of the size
* Introduction from J. Skulski's book, Anatomy Of The Ship, Battleship Yamato.
Model Review - Part 2 - Superstructure details
Hello again fellow modelers. Having completed the hull areas of Yamato except for some smaller details, it is now time to move on to the Superstructure of the ship. Construction is pretty straight forward so I did not get into all the smaller details. The superstructure is basically in 4 main parts. The Base, the Fwd bridge and main Gun Director, the Funnel, and the aft. Bridge and secondary Gun Director. Lets move on to the photos.
Here we have an overhead view looking slightly to Stb. Note the white areas. These are the areas that I have rebuilt, namely, the Fwd Gun Director, the Signal Bridge, and the Catwalk between the lower fwd. bridge and the Funnel. Some of the kit parts are wrong as compared to the drawings in J. Skulskis book, Anatomy of the Ship Series, Yamato. This publication is a must if you are going to build Yamato in any of the larger scales.
Aft end of the superstructure. Again notice the white areas. These are made from sheet styrene. The W/T doors (silver color) are cast metal fittings from HR Products available through Loyalhanna Dockyard. Also notice the many photo-etch brass parts. These are from Loren Perry's Gold Medal Models kit for the Yamato. The kit is about $80.00 but well worth it as it really adds a lot to the model. A few more vertical ladders would have been good as I ran out before things were finished, so I made my own from brass mesh available from Special
The fwd. bridge and main gun director looking from port side and slightly aft. Note the ladders going up the rear of the bridge. These are tricky to line up so patience is in order here. The searchlight platforms are made from balsa wood and then topped with sheet styrene. The gun director moves with the turrets.
A good shot of the port side. Again notice all the photo-etch parts. I built all the guns first and then added them along with all the other small stuff a little at a time. I decided to assemble the entire structure before paint work. Also note the barrel stops on the lower aa guns. These are made from steel wire. I used the wire supplied with the kit that was intended for fabricating the railings. Its too thick for that but good for other things. Also notice the mainmast. This is particularly tricky to do. Just cutting it from the parts tree is somewhat difficult. It is a very delicate structure and is in 4 parts. The other thing is that it is wrong! The mast should have 2 legs fwd and 1 aft. As it is in the kit it is backwards. I noticed this too late to change it! Studying the book real good is advised as there is a lot to the Yamato and some obvious things are easy to miss.
Port side view again a little more fwd. Note the two large searchlights along the funnel sides. These are a little out of scale but they light up when the turrets and gun director move. They are supplied with the kit as well as the bulbs and all the wiring and switches. You can choose not to use these as there are smaller scale ones in the kit as well. I just thought it would be kind of cool!
Another shot of the fwd bridge area. You can see the wire barrel stops a little better here. Also note the binoculars on the Air Defense Deck just below the gun director. These were scratchbuilt from some plastic ratlines in an old Cutty Sark Revell Kit.

Another view of the signal bridge.

Model Review - Part 3 - Final Assembly
Hello out there again fellow modelers. In Pt. 2 of this series I discussed the Superstructure of the ship.Having had the hull nearly complete and the superstructure built,It was time for paintwork and to join the two sections together.In this final section we will see how things have turned out. I must say I had fun building this kit albeit a little pricey. With the right reference materials and a few added parts the Nichimo kit builds into a nice display piece.Big, too.If you decide to tackle it, good luck! I am always available for questions or comments. Lets move on to the photos.
A nice 3/4 view of the port side. Note weathering on the hull. I tried to do this rather subtle as I did not want to over do it. Yamato was not badly weathered. Also note the display base. Made from oak. The battery box and switch for the turrent tuning gear are located underneath the base.
A shot of  the main gun director. I scratchbuilt this as the one in the kit is incorrect.Also you can see the binoculars on the air defence platform just below the gun director, also scratchbuilt.
A shot of the fwd bridge area.Note rigging. The signal flag halyards were a bit tricky. The rigging line is from Model Shipways,Hollywood, Fla. I used black at .008". This line is available in different sizes and colors and is great stuff. Much better than regular thread.
A good shot of the Pt. side superstructure, midships.Note the two large searchlights on the side of the funnel. These are a bit large scalewise, but they light up as the turrents move. Japanese flag from LH Dockyard. Also note details on the boom just below the superstructure. The lines were made from stretched plastic sprue.
Same area of the ship only from stb. side in this shot. Note the barrel stops for the guns. These are made from thin steel wire, supplied in the kit.
Another shot of the superstructure from pt. side and slightly aft. Again note rigging.The mainmast is a real challange to get correct. It is a real delicate part in 4 pieces and must be assembled and mounted with great care. You don't want to break this.I replaced the cross bracing between the two mainmast parts with steel wire to give more support and
rigidity. Important when you get into rigging this area.
Stb. side view from aft.You can see the large searchlights here a little better. The lenses are clear plastic, supplied in the kit.
Stb. side midships. Note the 18" turrents and main gun director are in the turned position.
One of my favorite shots here. Stb. side midships looking fwd. Again note the boom assy. on the side of the hull. You can see the added details here a little better.
Port side looking aft. Note the color in this shot. The lighting was a little different in the room. Also note the wood deck is probably not the correct color. It should be a little more yellow and slightly greyish. I like this color better just for the visual effect albeit a little too teakish. Yamatos deck was made from Cypruss and is rather bland looking. I felt the teak color a bit more appealing.
Port side main 18" guns in the turned position. Note blast bags on gun barrels. Made from bedsheet cotton.
The two fwd. main 18" guns. You can see the blastbags a little better here. Probably a little overdone. I could not figure out a good way to do these other than real cloth. Note details on breakwater. The white markings you can see on the deck were used to help guage the ships heading at night.
Another 3/4 view from port looking aft.
A good shot of the catapault/hanger deck area. The aircraft are little kits in themselves.I added a few more details to them and made the decals. The ones in the kit are junk so throw them away. As soon as they hit water they disintegrate,probably too old. Loren Perrys photo etch kit really helps out here as you can see.
Port side view of the stern. Again notice small details added to the aircraft and the photo-etch stuff.
Stb. side view of the stern deck areas. Note that I have opened up the hanger area so that the elevator is in the down position. Note props have been added. I handpainted the lettering on the stern. Again the decal was no good. I don't write Japanese very well!
Stb. side view of the boat hanger deck. I have opened this up also and added the boat coming out of it.
Port side view. A little too dark of a photo but you get the idea. Yamato is a little over 51" long when completed.
Well thats it folks. Hope you all enjoyed the photos.  As I said I hade fun building the Nichimo version of the great ship.I spent a little over 7 months on consruction and about $600.00. A bit on the pricey side but worth it in the end I think. Thanks to the following:

Loalhanna Dockyard
HR Products
Gold Metal Models
Janus Skulski

Any questions or comments anyone has or if I can be of any assistance, please feel free to e-mail me at

Bill Waldorf
Lowell, Michigan, 49331

Photographs: © Bill Waldorf