IJN AOBA

 
 

As seen in 1945

 
     
 

Hasegawa no. HSG 43447

Scale 1:700 

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

 
     
     
     

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  青葉 AOBA was the lead ship in the two-vessel Aoba-class of heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. It is named after Mount Aoba, a volcano located behind Maizuru, Kyoto.  
     
  Review of the model IJN AOBA from Hasegawa:

Aoba in her late war configuration had always been one of my favourite heavy cruisers and stand high on my list, of ships who I like to build. The ship graceful lines as a fast vessel, her sloping stacks, narrow hull etc. stands for a beautiful design with speed and manoeuvrability - a real hunter! Hasegawa had released a new series of cruisers in late 2007 (Furutaka and Aoba class) the four ships are half sisters, Aoba and Kinugasa as the last of the family with more newly design incorporated.

The four models from Hasegawa is in my opinion one of the best IJN. Scale 1:700 kits out now! The detail is fantastic, the fit is a joy, even if you chose to build right out of the box, with no extra detail parts, you will end up with a fine model with lots of sharp detailing such as : hull sides, deck, main guns, windows and masts.

I had a hard time to find a thing I don't like - If not the box art was sooo bad!! You may think that I'm a picnicker here. But in my "world" the box art is really something! Box art sell the box - it ticker the potential buyer to drop the item in the basket. I personal know model building friends or let me say collectors, who had many kit in their stash because of the box art! So Hasegawa "artist" most have been in a hurry, or the company may had chose to print a temporary drawing. In either way this decision was a flop and Hasegawa could have done better - way better!

Conclusion

******

5 stars out of 6 for: Fit, detail, high quality plastic, good decals.

Building the model:

My wish was to show the ship in her late war configuration. Extra 25mm AA guns and modified masts and floodlights placements. Let's start from below and work us up.

Hull:

The hull is very well detailed from the start, so only a small amount of modifications were needed. Aoba as the rest of the ships of the IJN. had their portholes partly covered lat in the war (approx 1943) to make the ships more watertight. So this was the first step to do. Lion Roar makes PE-set's for this, but I chose to make mine of thin slices of styrene plastic bars. Hasegawa had made all the portholes very fine, so the one that had to be left open was an easy job to drill out. The next step is to add the degauss cable around the hull. Again it can be done by Lion Roar PE-set, but I make mine of 0.5 mm styrene plastic bar. This feature was added to most all the IJN. Ships in approx 1940-41 (just before the outbreak of the war) but sometimes photos had reviled that; the cable was removed later in the war again. In this case with Aoba we can see the cables are missing in the wreck photos taken after the war in 1946. So it's hard to tell if she had the cables in 1945. All the scuttles are nicely done on the kit as well as the bulk on the hull. I added beams for the boats, extra davits of the companion ways and prop guards; all made of metal wires. New extra PE-set anchors at the rear. And also an emergency rudder on the rear starboard side, made of styrene plastic. With the kit comes a fine sheet of decals included depth markings, nameplate and stripes for paravanes cables. Therefore I added Para vanes-cables in the front of the ship. New fairleads and chrysanthemum symbol PE-set's from Lion Roar was added too. 

Deck:

A ship model with a lot of activity on the deck gives a busy model with eye caching pleasure for the observer. Again here Hasegawa had made a fine basic background here. I Added new anchor chains from Lion Roar, made vents from styrene plastic, new cable drums, winches etc. hawse platforms from PE metal grids, ladders, and extra depth charges was added at the stern from Pit Road spurs. Late in the war Aoba carried 15 single 25mm AA guns (The precise location is unknown, but mine is placed where most of the ships had theirs (behind the forward main guns and fore and after the rear main guns + one on the floodlight platform) As usual a lot of men, ropes, ladders, wood boxes, give the desired activity. At the ship stern four smoke dispensers are added too.

Guns boats and aircraft:

The ship guns are well made; the main 8´ guns barrels where drilled hollow, new ladders and railing and hand bars were added. The small antenna mast on the B- turret is made of brass and copper wire. The 25mm AA guns on the ship are all made of PE-set's from Lion Roar excepts the single that comes from Pit Road spur. There is some inconsistence about the amount of the tipple and twin 25mm AA guns at a certain time frame. La Croix and Wells (aka "The cruiser bible") maybe at this time also had it wrong compare to the wreck photos of Aoba. Anyway I had chosen to give the ship the following suite of 25mm AA guns: 3 III at the front, 4 II around the rear stack, 4 II on the torpedo loading devices. 4 III at the aircraft deck, 2 III at the stern + 15 I on the afterdeck and floodlight platform = (Total 58, 25mm AA guns).  All the boats have new window frames made of cut ladders, railings and fenders made of wire. The "Jake" aircraft is modified by PE parts such as propeller and open cockpit windows made by Grid PE-set from Fine Mold.

Superstructure:

Hasegawa had done a fine job also regarding the ship superstructure, so only small modifications were added: New PE-surplus companionways and ladders, binoculars, antennas, grill in front of vents and small platforms beneath the main mast. New pipes running along the stacks, top grill on stacks, open the windows on the bridge levels and radar, catapult and crane from Tom’s model Work’s - PE-set IJN Heavy cruisers. A lot of small details on the masts where made too and small parts as oars in boats signal flags J, G, T, A - pedant number 3 and 9 (My 39th model to date)

Post building conclusion:

Looking back at 2 months of joyful building, with on and off building time in the weekdays, I'm sitting here with a fine little heavy cruiser with no bad time in the process to cope. Hasegawa had really made a fine new mould of the ship-class. I can only give this model kit the fine words on the way, and hope you will follow me and build this ship, one of the few surviving specimen of the war.

 

History

Background

Aoba and her sister ship Kinugasa were originally planned as the third and fourth vessels in the Furutaka-class cruisers. However, design issues with the Furutaka-class resulted in modifications including double turrets and an aircraft catapult. These modifications created yet more weight to an already top-heavy design, causing stability problems. Nevertheless, Aoba played an important role in World War II.

Early career

Aoba was completed at Mitsubishi shipyards at Nagasaki on September 20, 1927 and was assigned to CruDiv5 until 1933 and thereafter to CruDiv6 and CruDiv7, serving as flagship during much of her career. She was frequently dispatched to patrol the China coast in the late 1920s and the 1930s. Aoba was extensively modernized at Sasebo Navy Yard from 1938 - 1940, receiving new torpedo tubes, enhanced anti-aircraft guns, improved fire controls and better aircraft facilities. Her bridge was rebuilt and bulges added to her hull in an attempt to compensate for the additional weight and improve stability. After re-commissioning in October 1940, Aoba returned to CruDiv6.

Early stages of the Pacific War

In 1941, Aoba was flagship of Rear Admiral Aritomo Goto as part of the First Fleet under overall command of Vice Admiral Takasu Shiro. CruDiv 6 consisted of Aoba, Kinugasa, Furutaka and Kako. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, CruDiv6 was engaged in the invasion of Guam, following which it participated in the second invasion of Wake Island.

From January through May 1942, Kinugasa was based out of Truk, in the Caroline Islands where it provided protection for the landings of Japanese troops in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea at Rabaul, Kavieng, Buka, Shortland, Kieta, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands and Tulagi.

Battle of Coral Sea

At the Battle of the Coral Sea, CruDiv 6 departed Shortland and effected a rendezvous at sea with light carrier Shoho. At 1100 on May 7, 1942 north of Taguli Island, Shoho was attacked and sunk by 93 SBD Dauntless dive-bombers and TBD Devastator torpedo-bombers from USS Yorktown and Lexington.

The following day, 8 May 1942 46 SBDs, 21 TBDs and 15 Grumman F4F Wildcats from Yorktown and Lexington damaged Shokaku severely above the waterline and force her retirement. Furutaka and Kinugasa, undamaged in the battle, escorted Shokaku back to Truk. Kako and Aoba continued to cover the withdrawing Port Moresby invasion convoy.

After refueling at Shortland on May 9, Aoba returned to Kure Naval Arsenal on May 22, 1942 for repairs, and returned back to Truk on June 23, 1942, and from Truk to Rekata Bay, Santa Isabel Island, where it was assigned patrols through July.

In a major reorganization of the Japanese navy on July 14, 1942, Aoba was assigned to the newly created Eighth Fleet under Vice Admiral Mikawa Gunichi and was assigned to patrols around the Solomon Islands, New Britain and New Ireland.

The Battle of Savo Island

On August 7, 1942, an Aichi E13A1 "Jake" from Aoba spotted "one battleship, one auxiliary carrier, four cruisers, seven destroyers and 15 transports" off Lunga Point near Tulagi.

In the Battle of Savo Island on August 9, 1942, CruDiv 6, Chokai, light cruisers Tenryu and Yubari and destroyer Yūnagi engaged the Allied force in a night gun and torpedo action. At about 2300, Chokai, Furutaka, and Kako, all launched their reconnaissance floatplanes. The circling floatplanes dropped flares illuminating the targets and all the Japanese ships opened fire. USS Astoria, Quincy, Vincennes and HMAS Canberra were sunk. USS Chicago was damaged as were the USS Ralph Talbot and USS Patterson. On the Japanese side, Chokai was hit three times; Kinugasa twice, Aoba once, and Furutaka was not damaged. As CruDiv6 retired towards Kavieng, Kako was sunk by USN submarine S-44, but Aoba escaped without further damage. Through the rest of August and September, Aoba and CruDiv6 provided cover to the "Tokyo Express" reinforcement convoys to Guadalcanal.

Battle of Cape Esperance

At the Battle of Cape Esperance on October 11, 1942, CruDiv 6's (Aoba, Furutaka and Kinugasa), and destroyers Fubuki and Hatsuyuki departed Shortland to provide cover for a troop reinforcement convoy by shelling Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. Two American OS2U Kingfisher reconnaissance aircraft spotted the fleet coming down the "Slot" at 30 knots.

So alerted, the radar-equipped American cruisers USS San Francisco, Boise, Salt Lake City, and Helena and five destroyers steamed around the end of Guadalcanal to block the entrance to Savo Sound.

At 2235, the Helena's radar spotted the Japanese fleet, and the Americans successfully cross the Japanese "T". Both fleets opened fire, but Admiral Goto, thinking that he was under friendly-fire, ordered a 180-degree turn that exposed each of his ships to the American broadsides. Furutaka was sunk. Aoba was hit by up to forty 6-inch and 8-inch shells. The bridge was wrecked, the No. 2 turret was knocked out and the No. 3 turret destroyed. Other hits put four of the Aoba’s boilers off line. Admiral Goto was mortally wounded and 80 other crewmen were killed. After temporary repairs and Shortland, Aoba limped back to Truk on October 15, where Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto personally inspected the damage and ordered the ship back to Japan.

Aoba returned to Kure on October 22. During repairs, the wrecked No. 3 turret was covered over with steel plates, and a Type 96 triple-mount 25-mm AA gun installed in its place. Aoba was sent back to Truk on February 24, 1943.

On April 3, while moored at Kavieng, New Ireland, Aoba was bombed by Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of the Fifth Air Force's 43rd Bomb Group. A direct hit on Aoba caused two Type 93 Long Lance torpedoes to explode and set the ship on fire while the B-17's strafed the decks with machine guns. Aoba had to be beached to avoid sinking.

After being towed back to Truk, and again to Kure on August 1, Aoba was again repaired and re-fitted. The 8-inch gun was restored to the No. 3 turret and a Type 21 air-search radar and two Type 96 twin-mount 25-mm AA guns were installed. However, Aoba's maximum speed was reduced to 25 knots due to irreparable engine damage.

Aoba was reassigned to the First Southern Expeditionary Fleet and arrived at Singapore on December 24, 1943. It remained based out of Singapore to the end of February 1944, escorting supply convoys to Burma, the Andaman Islands and along the Malaya coast. On 25 February, it was assigned to CruDiv16, with which it participated in the Indian Ocean raid during March 1944. Through April, May and June, Aoba resumed its escort duties through the Dutch East Indies and New Guinea. During a refit at Singapore in July, Aoba gained four triple-mount and 15 single-mount Type 96 25-mm AA guns and a Type 22 surface-search radar.

On October 11, Aoba accidentally collided with Kinu, but the damage was minor. However, on October 23, 1944, Aoba was attacked by the USS Bream. One of six torpedoes hit Aoba in the No. 2 engine room. Aoba limped into Cavite Navy Yard near Manila, but while under emergency repairs the following day and on October 29. it was bombed by carrier based planes from Task Force 38. Repairs still incomplete, Aoba was assigned to a convoy returning to Japan. The convoy was attacked on November 6 off Luzon by USS Guitarro, Bream, Raton and Ray. Altogether the submarines fired 23 torpedoes, two of which hit Kumano, but Aoba escaped without further damage. On arrival at Kure on December 12, Aoba was examined but declared irreparable, and re-rated as a reserve ship.

During a US air raid on Kure harbor on April 24, 1945, Aoba was further damaged by bombing, and settled on the shallow bottom of the harbor. Rather than repair the crippled vessel, four additional twin 25-mm AA guns were fitted around the mainmast bringing the total number of 25-mm guns to 50 barrels (5x3, 10x2, 15x1) and Aoba was re-rated as a floating AA battery. On July 24, 1945, about 30 planes attacked from TF38 attacked Kure, and bombed Aoba again. At 2200 hours, Aoba settled to the bottom in 25 feet of water at 34°14′N 132°30′E / 34.233°N 132.5°E / 34.233; 132.5. On July 28, 1945, the hulk was again attacked by ten of Task Force 38's carrier aircraft. Four more direct bomb hits set it on fire, and the fire attracted 7th Air Force B-24 Liberator bombers, which hit it again with four more 500-lb. bombs, breaking off the stern.

Aoba was formally removed from the Navy List on November 20, 1945. Her wreck was scrapped in 1946-47.

 

Technical specification:

  • Laid down at Mitsubishi's shipyard 4 Feb. 1924
  • Launched 25. Sep. 1925
  • Completed 20. Sep. 1927
  • Rebuild refit 1938
  • Scrapped Sep. 1946-1947
  • displacement: 10,651  tons full load
  • length: 185.17 m
  • beam: 17.96m
  • draught: 5.66 m
  • ship horse power: 102,000 Shp.
  • speed : 32 knots
  • crew: 657

Armament:

  • Main guns 6 8 inch(3x2) 203mm
  • 4 (4x1) 4,7´inch Dp guns
  • unknown amount of Depth charges
  • 58 25mm AA guns (3x9+2x8+15x1)
  • 8 (4x2) 61 cm Long lance torpedoes
  • 2 aircraft ("Jake")

References:

Books form my own library :  

 photo de

Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War by Lacroix / Wells

(USA)

Reference: History, tables, drawings, background

 

Japanese Warship at War, Vol. 1  by: Trojca, Waldemar, Lengerer / Hans

(Germany)

Reference: Pictures

 

Gakken 44  by: Gakken

(Japan)

Reference: Pictures, drawings, history

 

Model Art, Furukaka and Aoba-class  by: Model Art

(Japan)

Reference: Pictures, drawings, models

 

 Websites:

Apastar had made a marvelous model of Aoba:

http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_45b724070100c4k9.html

Roodo have made one model of the ship here:

http://blog.roodo.com/nautilus/archives/6307005.html

 

The building time was 8 weeks.

Aeronautic Nov 30 2009.

 
 
     

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