Pacific War Series Gakken 26 - IJN Ise Class Battleships
by Tom Kristiansen

Many of those who model IJN-ships and have been looking for references material, will sooner or later have heard about the Gakken Pacific War Series. These books have been around for a while and are highly regarded by IJN modeling enthusiasts. This is because the trademark feature of the Pacific War Gakken book is a photographic section of a super-detailed large scale-model. Even for a non-Japanese the book-series is a fantastic source of information of Japanese IJN ships. The books are written in Japanese, with a handful English headings for those chapters that would interest English speaking readers. For a westerner who has never looked at a Japanese book before and is not aware of how the Japanese read books, it might get confusing with the chronological order of the pages. For a westerner they appear backwards. You start off with the last page and end up with the beginning.

The IJN Ships Series no.26 is about the two Ise Class battleships; Ise and Hyuga. These two ships were constructed during WWI and were inspired by British battleship designs. They were meant to be the third and fourth ships in the Fuso Class but delays and improvements in the Fuso design lead to the design being greatly altered. Thus a new class was born which had the #3 and #4 main turrets aft of the funnel. From 1934 until 1937 these ships underwent major reconstruction resulting in the pagoda-style bride area so characteristic for IJN battleships. Later in WWII these ships was reconstructed as hybrid battleship/carriers, BBCV for short.

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Gakken 26 contents:
Softbound, dustjacket
ISBN: 4-05-602066-3
Gakken 26-17210
181 Pages
88 B/W -photographs
33 Color 1:110 scale supermodel photographs
36 Drawings
4-pages Fold out plans:
- Model photograph battleship Ise 1937-41, port
– Model photograph BBCV Ise 1944, starboard
– Model photograph 1:450 battleship Ise 1937-41, top & starboard
– Line drawing of battleship Ise 1937-41, cross sections & top & starboard views
– Line drawing BBCV Ise 1944, cross sections & top, starboard & internal views
– Construction drawing of 14-Inch, 365mm barrels

The book is softbound with a dust jacket. It starts off with a photo-document which consists of full and half pages photographs with some columns of text dealing with some chosen photos taken during Ise and Hyuga's lifetime. It shows the evolution of the class and also the air raids which crippled these two sisters. Since they settled in shallow water it was possible to inspect and photograph the battle damage. Some of these photos are included in the photo-document.

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There are some very good fold-out photos of Ise as battleship and as BBCV. The battleship photographs are sharp, but the BBCV photographs seem to be somewhat out of focus, but it still satisfactory. Line drawings are good and show the rigging in detail. The 1:450 scale foldout-photos include comments and information of the various ship’s installations in Japanese. The star of this book is a 24-pages of photographs from an 1:110 scale model of Ise. These photos are sharp and an excellent source for modelers. The model is superbly detailed and would ensure inspiration for additional details to add to a ship’s project of this class. Judging from the drawings, the history section seems to me to tell about earlier battleships from Japanese ships to the ships from other navies that inspired the design of this class. Some small line drawings of other ships as well as an early Ise design are included show the evolution of the class.

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A construction section has photographs, tables and the text shows the history of the construction. The research section shows the structural differences between Ise and Hyuga as well as the structural differences on the ships as they were as battleships compared to their structure as hybrid battleship-carriers. A large drawing of Hyuga’s brigde structure is very useful for seeing the small differences between Hyuga and Ise. Details such as 25mm cannons and searchlights are omitted in these drawings in this section in order to see the superstructure details better.

For those who can read Japanese, this book must be a fantastic source of information. For us others it still is a magnificent source of visual information in the understanding that an image is worth more than a 1,000 words. This book is highly recommended to those who are interested in Ise Class battleships, both to those who read Japanese and those who don't. Let us hope that these fabulous books someday will be translated to English so IJN enthusiasts could fully benefit from them.

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This book is available from Hobby Link Japan ( and costs 1800 JPY, which is about $17 USD or €14 EUR. Disclaimer: I do not work for Gakken or Hobby Link Japan. I have no connection to these companies other than being a customer.

Tom Kristiansen