Modelkrak's 1/700 Hatsuse Japanese Battleship

By Brent Theobald

History

The Japanese battleship "Hatsuse" had a very brief career. She was laid down under the 1896 "Ten Year Naval Expansion Programme" at Armstrong, Whitworth & Co., Elswick, on 10 January 1898. She was designed by Phillip Watts and was similar to the British "Formidable" class. She was launched on 27 June 1899, and her trials took place on 18 January 1901. Before sailing to Japan she represented the Emperor at Queen Victoria's funeral.

When the Japanese fleet was reorganized on 28 December 1903 she was incorporated into the 1st Squadron, 1st Division together with the other six modern battleships, flying the flag of Rear Admiral Nashiba Tokioki.

On 14th May 1904 Admiral Nashiba put to sea to relieve another Japanese blockading force outside Port Arthur. Nashiba had with him the battleships Hatsuse (flag), Shikishima, and Yashima, the cruiser Kasagi, and the dispatch-vessel Tatsuta. On the morning of the 15th he reached Encounter Rock and continued N.W., till he was about 15 miles off Port Arthur. Here Nashiba proceeded to patrol to the E. by N. across the mouth of the port. This course brought him straight into the midst of a minefield laid by the Russian minelayer Amur.

At 10.50 the Hatsuse fouled a mine and she began to heel over with her steering engine compartment flooded and her port main engines useless. Only minutes later the Yashima was also struck (and later sank). By 11.30 the Kasagi was alongside the Hatsuse but the battleships stern-walk was under water, and she was heeling four degrees. A hawser was passed and the Kasagi was just hauling in when the flagship struck another mine. Her funnels fell; her mainmast broke off; her upper deck flew into the air and in a minute and a half she had gone down with her ram high out of water. The loss of life was appalling. The Tatsuta and Kasagi managed to save the Admiral and Captain Nakao with 21 other officers and 313 men. 38 officers and 458 men went down with the ship.

Principal source: Sir Julian S. Corbett, Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War

Tony Gibbons, The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships and Battlecruisers

R.A. Burt, Japanese Battleships, 1897-1945

Source on the battle of Tsushima: Richard Hough, The Fleet that had To Die (a quick glance through it shows no mention of Hatsuse at all. She sank too early).

All this great history information was obtained through the courtesy of the people at j-aircraft.com. Itís a great place to search for answers about the military history of Japan. I would like to thank all the people who answered requests about the Hatsuse. Special thanks to Dave Pluth for hosting such a useful web site.

The Kit

This kit resembles other model kits from Model-Krak in that it arrives well packaged in a very sturdy box. A less positive trademark is the poor instructions, which consist of one vague exploded drawing. The largest problem is the lack of information provided about the masts for this ship. These will have to be scratch built. A drawing from another source is going to be very helpful indeed with this kit. The photo-etched fret is nicely done. There appears to be plenty of tiny railings for the whole ship. The resin parts have the typical Model-Krak quality. There is a large amount of these tiny, fragile parts too. Very fine molding quality with extremely thin sidewalls and thoughtfully located casting plugs. It should be easy to remove the casting plugs without damaging any detail. The admiralís barge and lifeboats appear to be particularly fine. The kit is very impressive in terms of quality of casting and level of detail.

Conclusion

This looks to be a great kit to build an obscure vessel from a conflict that has been overshadowed by the larger conflicts later in the century. The model is still going to be a challenging build, but Model-Krak supplies a great starting point to make a very satisfying model. Judging by this kit the rest of the ships offered by Model-Krak ought to be interesting to build as well.

These kits, and the complete line of Model-Krak models, are available from Roll Models. The price of the Hatsuse is $36.00.


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