In the 1920s the Imperial Japanese Navy experimented with new warship design theories and construction in an effort to pack more offensive power into a cruiser design on less tonnage. After the major naval powers signed the Washington Treaty, which restricted the building of battleships, naval construction focused on the next most potent surface ship, the heavy cruiser. Great Britain wanted a greater quantity of cruisers with an individually lighter tonnage. The United States and Japan however, were more interested in building up to the tonnage limit of 10,000. However, Japan started out with two smaller classes of heavy cruisers, the Furutaka and Aoba Classes. The weight saving measures employed on these two classes were not entirely successful and the cruisers came in heavier than designed. For the next class the Japanese went in the other direction and tried to design the heaviest possible cruiser with the heaviest armament. This design was the Myoko Class.
There are a number of publishers in Poland that specialize in volumes on naval subjects. One of these is Wydawca. This publisher has four different series. Okrety Wojenne (Warships) is a soft cover magazine on warships of the world from past to present. Barwy Okretow (Warship Colors) is a new series on camouflage and color schemes. Bitwy Morskie (Sea Battles) is also a new series that so far has covered the Battle of Savo Island and Operation Pedestal. The fourth series and probably the best known, is Okrety Swiata (Warships of the World). The 14th volume in this series is Japonskie Krazowniki Ciezkie Typu "MYOKO" (Japanese Heavy Cruiser Type Myoko), written by Grzegorz Bukata. This volume covers the design, construction and history of the four cruisers of the class in a hard cover, 80 page (plus inside covers) title.
The text and photo captions are entirely in Polish, so unless you read the language or wish to translate, you will not be able to fully utilize the volume. However, there is much more to this title than text. There are 76 well-reproduced photographs in the Myoko title. Some have been seen before and some are new. The publisher always gives credit for the source of the photograph. Whether the photograph is from the publisher, Maru Specials, Siegfried Breyer, or any other individual, the source is acknowledged. The photographs cover earlier Japanese cruiser designs of the Yubari, Furutaka and Aoba Classes. The bulk of the photography is obviously on the four cruisers of the class, Myoko, Haguro, Ashigara and Nachi. Most of photographs capture the ships prior to World War Two but wartime shots are also included. Wartime shots are much rarer because most of the photographs taken by Japanese sources were destroyed before the war ended. Also included are photographs of allied cruisers that were engaged by members of the class.
Also included throughout the volume are a series of seven drawings illustrating the armor scheme, three half sections in 1:200 scale, eight-inch (203mm) turrets in 1:100 scale, 127mm L/40 89 twin secondary guns in 1:100 scale, 25mm L/60 single AA gun in 1:50 scale, 25mm L/60 triple AA guns in 1:50 scale, and Aichi E13A1 Jake floatplane and catapult in 1:200 scale. All of the drawings are crisply done and have the outline of a sailor to give scale. There are also 24 tables that list or compare a number of topics such as weapons systems, ship comparisons & statistics, floatplane characteristics among others. The tables are also written in Polish.
Armament Photograph & Plan Detail and Comparisons
The inside front and back covers show color plate plans and profiles of Haguro in 1930, Ashigara at Spithead in 1937, Myoko in 1942 and Myoko at Singapore in 1945. Japanese warships were normally different shades of solid gray, depending upon the naval base where they were refitted. So there is no startling camouflage schemes, except for the Myoko in 1945. This color plate reflects the two-tone color camouflage scheme employed on the cruiser at the end of the war.
If all of the above does not tempt you, the publisher has enclosed five separate fold out plans and profiles (P&P) in 1:400 scale. These plans are enclosed in a pocket at the inside cover of the volume. The five come on three sheets measuring 21 ¾-inches (55.5cm) by 10 ½ -inches (27cm), two back printed and one printed one side only. Each fold out sheet is three pages in width. Sheet One includes: front- Haguro as built 1930; back- Ashigara when she visited Europe in 1937: Sheet Two: front- Myoko at the high tide of the IJN in 1942; back- Nachi when lost at Manila in 1944: Sheet Three: Myoko as surrendered in 1945. These bonus plans are outstanding! They alone are worth more than the cost of the volume. Very well drawn, they trace the evolution of the class from birth to death in constant 1:400 scale.
Even if you cannot read Polish, the photographs, drawings and above all separate plans and profiles make Japonskie Krazowniki Ciezkie Typu "MYOKO" (Japanese Heavy Cruiser Type Myoko) an excellent reference for any modeler even remotely interested in the cruiser designs of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Japonskie Krazowniki Ciezkie Typu "MYOKO" (Japanese Heavy Cruiser Type Myoko) should be available from Pacific Front or White Ensign Models, as both carry this publisher’s line of titles.