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Tamiya 1/350 scale I-400 submarine

RELATED TOPICS: SHIPS
Kit: No. 78019
Scale: 1/350
Manufacturer: Tamiya, available from Tamiya America, 800-826-4922, www.tamiyausa.com
Price: $62
Comments: Injection-molded, 155 parts (34 photoetched-metal, 4 metal, 7 poly caps), decals
Pros: Beautiful detail; optional parts
Cons: Fair fit of the conning tower; heavy panel lines on aircraft; no hand rails
The I-400 was the largest submarine built during World War II. Its mission was to deliver three attack planes to a large target (such as the Panama Canal), but the war ended before it could be used. The captured examples were examined by the U.S. Navy.

Tamiya's I-400 features fine panel lines, a derrick crane, a fret of photoetched-metal parts, a deck gun, and anti-aircraft guns. Construction options include a waterline or full hull, collapsed or extended periscopes, extended or stowed bow planes, extended or stowed derrick crane and stern antenna, and an open or closed hangar hatch. A stand and nameplate also are included.

The kit-supplied Aichi M6A1 Seiran attack aircraft include two with wings deployed and four with folded wings. A display stand is included for one aircraft. Markings are provided for one ship and six aircraft.

I chose to build the full hull. Construction of the lower hull was straightforward; I left the deployed bow planes off until final assembly. Two steel bars are supplied for weight; I fixed these to the hull bottom, then attached the hull top.

I put two of the folded-wing aircraft in the hangar, but you need a flashlight to see them. Before I could glue the conning tower in place, I had to sand the inside edges of the opening in the deck so the conning tower would fit all the way down.

Despite the nice fret of photoetched-metal parts, no hand rails were included. Hopefully, we will see an aftermarket hand rail set for the kit. The icing on the cake was putting the Seiran on the catapult.

I painted all the surfaces above the waterline Tamiya XF-24 dark gray, and the hull bottom Floquil zinc chromate primer. All the brass parts were painted Hawkeye bronze. After weathering with an oil wash of burnt umber and black, a dry-brushing of light gray over the deck, conning tower, and hanger brought out the highlights. The aircraft were painted Tamiya XF-70 over Tamiya XF-12. The decals went down fine over a gloss coat.

I used the excellent book I-400: Japan's Secret Air Strike Submarine by Henry Sakaida, Gary Nila, and Koji Takaki. From the pictures and naval documentation, I believe only the upper half of the submarine was covered with the rubber anti-radar/sonar coating.

The kit builds into an impressive model. With all the optional parts, it was hard to choose which version to model. Fans of WWII Japanese submarines will be happy with this kit.

- Tom Foti

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