Hasegawa 1/350 Nagato, with Hasegawa’s own three PE sets and L’Arsenal figures.
This has to be one of the best fitting plastic kits I have worked with; parts just fit right as they are supposed to fit, and most seams are hidden. Locating pins snap into their locating holes. There is no flash to remove. The quality of molding is outstanding.
Hasegawa has taken care of make the various elements quite sturdy; the hull is criss-crossed with braces, that also serve to support the deck, such that there is no warping and no seam cracking when you press superstructure elements into their mounting holes on the deck. Same for the main superstructure; internal supports make them very strong and give the finished model some welcome bulk. Parts are grouped on their sprue trees in logical order, so searching of part Q67 is rarely a hassle. One exception is for small detail parts such as guns or director tops; these are on four identical, generic “IJN accessory” sprues. I see that Hasegawa is selling these sprues separately, so it will be interesting to see how they compare to those similar pieces from Aoshima and Fujimi as we enjoy a glut of 1/350 IJN subjects in 2008.
Much has been said about the hull plating, the so-called Excel-spreadsheet look. I did not do much to my hull out of the box, other than a coat of primer and then a coat of Tamiya Hull Red. I have included some closer photos of the lower hull, as well as some from a “normal” viewing distance so that you can judge for yourself how it looks and what work if any you would do to change it.
Included with the kit is a very nice poster-sized 1/350 scale plan of the ship which was helpful in assembly and looks cool on my wall now. Less helpful is a mostly-Japanese language historical book. I read some Japanese and the text is basic history; what is less helpful to the modelers is that most of the photos are of the sister ship Mutsu, not Nagato, and the photos are sort of random, showing slightly grainy distant views or odd close-ups that did not assist me at least in detailing the ship.
I can’t say I was happy about the nasty price of the three PE sets but I can say I am reasonably pleased with the results. That said, if you are not in a hurry to get started on your Nagato, it might be worth waiting a bit to see what the aftermarket comes up with. I couple of shortcomings on the PE:
Hasegawa markets the PE in three distinct sets, meaning you get three separate sets of PE instructions plus the kit instructions. The three PE sets all contain separate items but all contain items for most areas of the ship. So, when working on the pagoda superstructure, you have to juggle four sets of two-sided instructions, a real pain. More than once I left something off and had to backtrack. In the end I had some odd bits of PE left over that I needed to scan the instructions for help with.
For reasons best known only to Hasegawa, the PE sets contain only handrails for the many vertical ladders/stairs; you are expected to use the solid plastic stairs and add PE handrails. I replaced all of mine with PE stairs from others. Kind of annoying given the price.
All of the ships’ railings are the old-style, with “feet” instead of a solid bottom rail as is now common among the aftermarket. This makes for easier curves but is harder to work with, especially for those new to PE.
On the plus or maybe not side, the PE is quite thin and flexible. This makes it easier to cut and fold, but harder to keep aligned and straight. Good for experienced users, less good for newer users though is comes down to more of a preference than an absolute. I’d compare the PE to Eduard or maybe WEM’s style, not that typical of Gold Medal Models’ thicker photoetch. The PE is brass, not stainless steel.
One of the PE sets comes with nice brass main gun barrels but not barrels for any of the smaller guns. The same set includes resin small boats with canvas covers, a nice look compared to the standard open boats.
The PE AA guns are from Lion Roar. Hasegawa does not include PE for the AA guns, another omission in my mind.
Lastly, on the omission topic, Hasegawa does not include PE for the searchlight tower supports. In the interests of time and sanity I did not scratchbuild these and to be honest, they are pretty well hidden on the finished model. Still, it would not be too much to see these realized in photoetch in some aftermarket set, and that would add a nice “busy” IJN touch to the midships’ section.
Peter Van Buren