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Building the Nichimo 1/200
David Turner

My in-laws bought the Nichimo 1/200 Yamato model as a 1996 Christmas present. It took me just over two years to build, being completed in March of this year. It depicts Yamato as she appeared in Oct 1944.

My advice to other modelers is to avoid starting this project unless you are a glutton for punishment, have a lot of patience and an understanding wife and family. ( At times I worked on it 10-12 hours a day on weekends,1-3 hours a day, 2-3 days on week days.) They would also be well advised to construct the model in sub-assemblies, completing each one before moving on. Organizing construction in the following manner worked well for me: hull, primary and secondary guns, superstructure, deck (catapults, crane assembly, aircraft hangar deck, etc.) and finally rigging and touch up. Each of these sections have their own problems that require time and patience to resolve. (Editor's note: Click here for a a look at the parts comprising the Nichimo 1/200 Yamato kit)

The kit is a good starting point as far as overall shape is concerned, but I was disappointed by the fit (or lack thereof) of many kit parts. They required cutting, filling and sanding. I was also surprised at the lack of detail. Examples of added detail and scratch built parts include: the resin cast blast bags using my master pattern, scratch built signal bridge to represent Yamato at Leyte Gulf, six pieces in each of the 15 binoculars on the combat bridge, the crane base, funnel division plates and 12 inspection ladders, eyebolts at the bow (from Revell's USS Constitution), lowered stern open aircraft hangar deck and addition of hangar shutter door and frame, the 12.7cm gun barrel stops (fabricated from round styrene), 1/32" masking tape to simulate the 5" wide decking (which covered up the filler that had to be used to fill the cracks between the deck pieces), addition of photo etched railings, ladders, water tight doors, etc. as well as many cast metal fittings. Among the numerous details added to the tower bridge were many photo etched 1/350 scale water tight doors. Taped white-painted arrows were placed atop the 4.5m rangefinders on the aft section of the superstructure. The white stripes painted on Yamato's decks for gauging the ships heading at night were made from white-painted masking tape, while the navigation lights added to the 4.5m rangefinders (on the aft portion of the superstructure) were scratchbuilt.

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Gold Medal Models 1:200 Yamato fret artwork for the Nichimo kit.
Note that the fret's extensive relief-etched detail does not show up in this scan.

I highly recommend using the Gold Medal Models photo-etched 1/200 Yamato set. GMM etches the individual chain links of the deck railings. This gives them a realistically rounded appearance. The only short coming with Loren's set is that he provides too many inclined and not enough vertical ladders. Another must for this project is Janusz Skulski's book "The Battleship Yamato" from the Anatomy of the Ship Series. Without this book it would be almost impossible to do justice to this magnificent battleship.

If I was to build this kit again, I would do away with the plastic wood deck and replace it with real wood scribed at 1/32". I would also scratch build the tower bridge rather than using the kit-supplied version,which is too long at deck levels 5-11. This makes placement of the inclined ladders at the signal bridge impossible without modification to deck level 4, which then creates a problem with the catwalk between the funnel and the tower bridge. I might also consider opening the boat hangar doors, located on the port and starboard sides aft, and showing a crane hoisting a boat being hoisted from this opening.

About the builder, David Turner: I'm 44 years old and a chiropractor residing in Huntington, WV. I built my first model at eight years of age, a Revell USS Arizona that  my dad would not let me paint. I built the usual assortment of  ships, planes,cars, etc. until 1969 when my love of ships ships finally won out. I stopped building models in 1973-74 and restarted in 1993. Currently I'm gathering information to scratch build the IJN aircraft carrier Akagi, but I haven't decided yet on scale. I'm considering 1/200 or 1/100, Although 1/72nd scale would allow for a full deck of planes. I'm also considering scratch building the IJN battleship Nagato.

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Stern Starboard Yamato.jpg (91672 bytes) Top Port Aft Yamato.jpg (113679 bytes) Stern View Yamato.jpg (73307 bytes) Bow View Yamato.jpg (43310 bytes) Broadside Yamato.jpg (46373 bytes)

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