The Japanese battleship Shikishima was ordered as a part of the Ten-Year Naval Expansion Program, implemented in 1896. As with other contemporary Japanese battleships, she was built by a British shipyard, in this case Thames Iron Works. She was laid down in March 1897, launched in November of the following year, and completed in January 1900. The design was based on the British Majestic class battleships. Shikishima took part in the bombardment and blockade of Port Arthur during Russo-Japanese War, and participated in the Battles of Yellow Sea and Tsushima. She was reclassified as a coastal defense vessel in 1921, disarmed in 1923, and served as a training ship until 1947 when she was broken up.

Here are her specifications, from Tony Gibbons' "Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships and Battlecruisers":

Displacement: 14,850 tons normal, 15,453 tons full load
Dimensions: 438ft x 75ft 6in x 27ft 6in/133.5m x 23m x 8.38m

Machinery: Reciprocating Vertical Triple Expansion Engines; 25 Belleville boilers; 2shafts, 14,500 IHP
Armor: Harvey nickel-steel 9in-4in main belt; 6in upper belt; 4in-2.5in deck; 14in-8in barbettes; 6in-2in casemates; 14in-3in conning tower

Armament: 4 x 12in (305mm); 14 x 6in (152mm); 20 x 12pdr QF; 6 x 3pdr; 6 x 2.5pdr; 5 x 18in (457mm) TT
Performance: 18kt; radius 5,000nm at 10kt; coal 1,722 tons
Complement: 836

A note before I go further. This is my first resin ship review, well, this is my first ship review of any type! I've been building scale models for years, but they have all been injection-molded plastic kits, and 1/35 armor & 1/72 aircraft at that, too. Just recently I've been bitten by the ship bug, and have been adding various plastic and resin ships to my collection. My first resin ship was WSW's Schleswig-Holstein, which took my breath away--the kit is absolutely stunning. This past week I received from Pacific Front Hobbies two more kits, Modelkrak's Shikishima (this review!) and H-P Models' SMS Gneisenau. It was interesting to compare the three kits from three different manufacturers and see where they shine and fall short.

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As I am very new this area of the hobby, I'll limit my review to the photos of the kit parts and just some general commentary. I won't be measuring the kit for accuracy or correct forms. Before I purchased the Shikishima and Gneisenau, I looked high and low for reviews of those kits and couldn't find any--so I thought other modelers could draw their own informed (and more experienced) conclusion from seeing the photos of the kits. The Gneisenau review will follow later. Now, on to the review!

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The kit comes in a sturdy card box. The instruction consists of just a single page, showing a not very well detailed line drawing of the ship. There is also a drawing of the ship showing where the parts go. All the parts are contained in a small zip-lock bag. That bag and the hull are contained in a larger zip-lock bag, which is protected by a bubble-wrap sheet inside the box.

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The hull itself seems well done. There are no gaps, deformed parts or missing parts in the copy that I received. The bottom of the hull, however, is not smooth, as were the hull bottoms of the Schleswig-Holstein and Gneisenau, the other two resin ships in my collection. This leads me to believe that the bottom "layer" of the hull needs to be sanded off. This would seem to make sense, since the bottom later is slightly concave and there is quite a bit of resin flash on the sides of that layer. (Editorís Note: Modelkrak kits have a significant resin overpour on the bottom of their hulls, which must be sanded flush with the waterline.)

The smaller parts are all contained in a single ziplock bag. Most of them are attached to resin trees (in injection-molded kits, I'd call them sprues, but I'm not sure what the correct terminology is for resin kits). Despite the packaging, nothing seems to be broken. A couple of the 12" gun barrels are slightly bent. While some of the other resin kits I've seen have their smaller parts as a part of paper-thin resin wafer that needs to be sanded off, in this kit the resin "wafer" is quite thick. In case of the turret pieces, it would require considerable and careful sanding to make it usable.

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The Shikishima only cost $30 from Pacific Front Hobbies, which I thought was a bargain but which also reflects the extra work required to clean up and assemble the kit. However, the hull looks good and the individual parts mostly look good, and I'm sure it'll make an attractive addition to my Sealsmodels' Mikasa.