Hasegawa 1/450 Scale IJN Battleship Yamato (Original "Z11" kit)
Special Update 5-12-2013
Hasegawa is scheduled to release in June of 2013 a totally retooled 1/450 scale IJN Yamato kit and from the pictures I've seen, she's a beauty. Everything I grip about is fixed and then some! Rumors say the Mfr price will remain about the same as for the old kit, about $45.00 USD. If so, it should be a very popular kit indeed. Here's a link to Hasegawa's new 1/450 IJN Yamato. If you plan on buying the new Yamato make sure the Mfr Number has Z01 in it and not Z11 (the old kit).
Great job Hasegawa! More new 1/450 scale please!
I was eager to get a review of this kit up on the web as I'd looked about for one to no avail before buying. Its fairly large scale, low price and subject matter made it irresistible to me and a rather favorable review of the Hasegawa Akagi kit also in the 1:450 scale closed the deal. First - My biggest gripe: The stern section of this kit needs extensive modding to make it reasonably accurate, as-is it's ridiculously bad. The aircraft handling area, quarter deck and boat decks all received a hefty dose of modification, I easily spent 1/2 of the build time on these areas.
A lesser gripe: For a fairly large scale warship the kit generally has a remarkable lack of fine details. Its early 60s roots are clearly showing. With the exception of the hull portholes, not one door, ladder, vent or even window or porthole is engraved anywhere on the ship. To be fair, there are faint ladders on the sides of the main turrets which become all but invisible after a coat of paint, the same is true for the two horizontal rows of windows on the main tower. Other problems are found around the main tower bridge, details missing and scratch built by me for this build include: the 2 fire control platforms halfway up the sides of the tower toward the back, the series of small platforms with ladder access on the backside of the tower, and the 2 sets of fire/searchlight controllers at the forward base of the funnel. Also the funnel itself is poorly detailed and practically level on top. I raked it back a bit by building up the front, though I just couldn't bring myself to address its poor detail. I could have easily spent several days reworking the steam piping and cowling and perhaps should have... but after a while I couldn't help but feel that if the same amount of effort were applied to a different kit, the end result would be a far superior product. I do like the outcome of this build, and I did enjoy the challenges of modding it, but still...
I did use the Gold Medal Models 1/350 PE set on this build, and it thankfully replaced some of the most offensive stock parts and added some much welcomed detail. However they are noticeably over sized and there's no doubt I should have used a 1/500 PE set instead - but at the time I didn't know one existed. While it may sound as if I'm down on this kit, it's really not so. Hasegawa did lots of things right too, the general shape of the main superstructure island is quite good as are the main turrets (except for the rangefinders), the overall hull shape feels right as well and in general the model's lines are reasonably accurate and really quite attractive, making this kit a good base for folks who like to tinker. Plus the price is right, it can occasionally be found for as little as $29.00 and consistently for $40.00, and for this price you get the chance (and the challenge) to construct a respectable tribute to an undeniably great warship.
Update: When I first purchased this kit the 1/350 Tamiya was selling for around $80.00, I've recently seen it at only $50.00 at www.tamiya-model.com. So unless you're on a tight budget or like me, want to display the Yamoto and Akagi in matching large scale for a reasonable price, I'd now recommend purchasing the Tamiya kit.
PS: The Akagi is a much nicer kit and well worth the price. You can find a review of that kit here: Hasegawa 1/450 IJN Akagi, Click the pic below to see the two built kits displayed together.
Update 2: Here is a link to the very best pictures I've seen of this model built as intended with no PE or modding. Hats off to the builder he did an excellent job. Hasegawa Yamato excellent stock build. Unfortunately for us English speaking folk the site is in Japanese though the pictures speak for themselves. I found it humorous that one of the few bits of intelligible text that Google's translator delivered allowed me to glean the builders dislike of the kit's stern! He's very kind and calls it overly simplified :)
Click pictures for full sized images.
The finished ship:
The kit and parts trees: