The Suzutsuki was one of a class of very modern looking and well balanced destroyers built over quite some time by the Japanese during WWII. Rather well armed, they were almost small cruisers in appearance and were also quite quick. Several examples of the class were tested postwar by some of the Allied navies.
Throughout the war, modification programs saw some changes in appearance, mainly to do with the mast and radar. The kit appears to be a relatively early ship, with the earlier style of mast.
The Aoshima Kit
You get several complete sprues of parts moulded in gray, including a generic 'Japanese Aircraft, Weapons and Fittings Set', which yields only a few parts for the subject.
The parts are crisply moulded, and fairly well detailed, though there is scope for improvement. A reddish base piece, which can have a fairly heavy steel weight added to it are also supplied.
It looks pretty accurate to my eye, but I must qualify this a bit as I was not able to access a volume of information on this class that I would normally hope for. I was able to obtain a detailed sideview of a later sister, several photos and some descriptions of the class. I would have liked more info on the rear mast, the radar and some of the variations in upperworks, particularly when using the Tom's Modelworks Etched Brass set, which was also supplied at the same time as the Aoshima kit.
Usually I would do a step by step review as suggested by the kit manufacturer, but in this case Aoshima have approached the model differently (when it comes to construction) to the way I'd prefer to approach things. Consequently I'll simply describe the process as I've followed it to date. Note that at the time of submitting this review, the model is complete to the point where I have a series of painted sub-assemblies, but I have not actually attached all these sub assemblies together. Consequently it is likely this review will be updated as final completion approaches.
First I removed most of the parts from the sprues, cleaned them up and prepared some for extra detailing. Aoshima have done a creditable job here; most parts are crisply moulded, with a reasonable level of detail for a smallish model, though not up to Skywave or Tamiya standards. My memory of past Aoshima kits is not a good one and this kit's quality happily exceeds what I remember of their past kits. Just the same I decided to add a little extra detail as the review kit was supplied with a nice set of etched brass designed for WWII Japanese destroyers, and I always add a little detail in the form of card doors, and protrusions not usually offered by 1/700 kits.
To that end, using my reference drawings and photos as a guide, I drilled some holes in each of the turrets, and on the faces of same added small squares of five thou plastic card. I don't know if these holes are supposed to be vents, portholes or another form of fenestration but the small 0.5mm drill bit did the job! I also added card vents, hatches and mountings on the deck surface of the one piece hull (though I must confess to a little artistic license here).
Moving to the hull proper, I scribed some plate detail along the full length of the hull. This is the first time I've tried this, and in 1/700 the scribed lines are probably grossly overscale, however I was trying for an effect and thought I'd give it a whirl! After the scribing, I also drilled some scuttles into the relevant positions on the hull sides, referring again to my drawings and the few photos I have of this class. Next I added what I presume was a degaussing cable around the outer length of the hull, from 8 amp fuse wire. It was fixed using cyanoacrylate glue. This gauge of fuse wire seems to be the right thickness, and it was quite easy to get it to follow around the upper hull edge.
Large watertight doors and smaller card protrusions and boxes were added to some of the integrally moulded deckhouses in this hull part, and scuttles were also drilled in too. These parts can usually be expected to be devoid of detail because (I presume) of moulding and cost control limitations; once added they really liven up the model.
Once the bridge components were removed from the sprue, and cleaned up, I joined the three main parts together (11, 12 and 19) and sanded them down when dry. I added similar detail to that described in the hull/deck house detailing exercise, mainly following the reference drawing. I painted this sub-assembly Japanese shipside grey and the remaining bridge components, using a slightly different shade of grey for the horizontal surfaces.
The various gun tubs and mounting pieces were similarly painted. The guns were painted but left unattached at this point. I also painted the main guns, before attaching them to the turrets. The generic weapons sprue offered with the kit also provided the torpedo tubes and this part was painted and detailed by picking out the raised surface detail in a lighter shade of the overall shipside grey.
On this note, and to digress a little, I find this form of highlighting of details very useful when a monotonous, single shade of colour is used for the entire ship; it serves to draw the eye to what detail there is and adds more contrast to what is usually a rather drab finish. The fact that is not entirely realistic doesn't concern me that much - I wrestled with the idea when starting out in 1/700 scale many years ago, but decided early on that such artistic license was necessary to make the most of such small models!
Finally, all the sub-assemblies so far were painted, with all necessary detail picked out in the lighter shade of grey. I also used two shades of grey for the decks, to create some contrast again, though when I weather the model with some pastels, and coat everything in a coat of matt varnish this contrast will not be quite as marked. The windows in the bridge assembly were painted black to add depth.
After completing the sub-assemblies and painting them, I next considered the masts and some of the 'maze like' tubing that seems to have existed around the Suzutsuki's rather massive funnel casing. Those parts provided in the kit were rather overscale in thickness (though no more so than most other 1/700 ship kit manufacturers efforts). I replaced most of them in the end, using parts 33, X9 and X15 as supplied. X15 seems rather too heavily moulded if the box art is to be believed, but I did not posses enough reference to dispute it, and I could not make out from the Tom's Modelworks etched brass instructions if there was an intended brass replacement.
Perhaps the instructions as supplied in the brass set could be added to a little for those of us who do not know so much about the subject matter?
Next came the use of the etched brass detail set also provided to me for the review. Many of this brass set are actually specific items for earlier period Japanese destroyers, so not very much could actually be used for this kit. I could use the railings. However, I tend to be somewhat sparing in the application of brass railings. I find that they are nearly always way over-scale, so fully railed 1/700 ships don't look right to my eye. Acknowledging that it is virtually impossible to produce scale thickness rails even from etched brass in 1/700, and that they do add some value to a completed model, I usually add a few strategically placed railings in a sparing manner to any new model I'm working on. The effect is there, but to my eye at least, it doesn't then look overdone (it's also a lot less work!). Having said that Tom's etched railings are the finest I've seen, and can be recommended highly if you are well practised in the brass application department (they are VERY fine!)
Other etched brass items used were the beamways 'walkway' aft of the torpedo tubes and the depth charge stowage racks and launch rails. The walkway item was actually too wide for the Suzutsuki class boat. I added it as supplied anyway, but to be more accurate for this subject it really should have a couple of millimetres removed, and this could be rather difficult (or at least a very fiddly process). I think it looks OK though as it is.
The depth charge stowage (I think that's what they are; Tom's instructions is rather brief and vague here) and the launching racks are very finely done but are also very fiddly; my lack of recent experience working with brass no doubt shows! In the end I wiped my first attempts at the launcher racks off, and lost them in the carpet.
Finally there was a thing like a small centrally mounted trig station for addition onto one of the beam straddling AA gun tubs/walkway, and this was fairly challenging too!
This ship as depicted in the instructions and the box art appears to have been in standard Japanese wartime dark grey, overall. The exact shade is not known to me - no doubt I will be advised once this goes to press! However, I used a fairly dark grey, with a shade of bluishness about it (I used a stock Humbrol Grey enamel). I have a preference for Humbrol enamels, and although I usually spray much of those ships I paint in light shades, I felt this one was small enough, and dark enough for my rather rough handpainting skills to survive OK! I will still be spraying matt enamel overall, after the pastel weathering process, and this should further enhance the finish (it also seems to disguise any minor painting errors) as well as give a nice uniform matt finish. I wanted to render a fairly streaky rustiness on this ship, and I will be using pastels for the first time in 1/700 (I usually use them for weathering in 1/72 scale model aircraft).
I also picked out the raised deck detail on the hull piece. This was achieved by dry brushing a slightly lighter shade of grey than any I used on the decks, particularly where the simulated, raised 'checkerplate' pattern was moulded. I'm actually not sure what this 'non skid texture' or checkerplate is supposed to represent. Could it simply be ridiculously overscale raised non skid surfacing, or could it actually be something like the early 1960 RN practise of having large, black, zig-zag 'non-skid' patterns on the basic deck finish. I don't know and my reference couldn't help here. Perhaps some readers may be able to assist?
The scribed side plating wasn't a great success, so I won't be rushing to do this next time, although the fusewire 'degaussing cable' seems to have worked OK.
Finally, I added some stretched sprue aerials and rigging. I did not add everything the reference indicated, just enough to supply a certain effect.
This is a good kit and a great etched brass set.
I suggest you will need to get yourself a good source of reference to build the model accurately, but I found detailing it was fairly easy, and modifying would seem to be fairly straightforward to.
The etched brass goes on well and looks incredibly fine once applied (with the exceptions mentioned above - and these are more due to my inexperience with really fine etched brass, and my lack of knowledge of WWII Japanese destroyers generally).
It certainly is the most realistic etched brass set I've used. Just the same, I suggest this set of brass requires some degree of experience to get the best out of it.
I look forward to more products from both manufacturers in the future, particularly any modern ships and items they may choose to offer.