IJN Light Carrier RYUJO building process

Part 1.

This is the FUJIMI kit (No. 43082)  IJN. light Aircraft carrier in scale 1/700 waterline series. (The only kit of the ship available at the moment)


The beautiful box art show the IJN. Ryujo as seen approx in 1938. But not in a perfect rendering, maybe because the ship was rebuilt 3 times after her completion! This ship was  acting as a test bed of the IJN. for future aircraft carrier designs (The IJN. was in that time way ahead in the development of the new weapon - Naval air power, with all its complex problems in its wake).

I have always had a ambivalent relationship with this very ship. On one side I think it's one of the "ugliest" ship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, but on the other hand I've been impressed by her performance in speed, aircraft carried and versatility etc. All put in a hull in a size of a light cruiser!

The kit.

Right up until the end of 2008 the only ship of Ryujo available in plastic-kit , was the old mould from FUJIMI. And I most say that I'm not a fan of this company's early mould ships (They make fantastic kits now in the 1:350 scale -and later will emerge with a new mould kit of the Kongo-class in scale 1:700 -But this is another subject of its own) When the book "ModelArt #27" came out, it had a marvelous article of how to convert this old kit to a beautiful Ryujo in June 1942 timeframe. This started my interest in jumping on this project, and I realized that it will be a hard job because of the magnitude of the rebuilding with styrene plastic PE-set's etc. But the challenge was set, and I want the ship among my other models to fill the gab in the Aircraft carrier development. So I ordered the kit from Germany and the book from France.

 I know if I had to improve my model building skills, I had to face with the challenge of building a entirely new aircraft deck - This was a milestone in the building project, so instead of wait to later I started to build the ship "upside down" - So I faced the "enemy" and started with a clean sheet of styrene plastic from Evergreen.

I used the old part of the aircraft deck to construct the new build deck. It was an easier task to measure where the holes will be of the elevators and windbreaker etc. With the help of heavy duty double-sided carpet tape, the styrene deck and steel ruler was secured parallel.

The new deck will not be realistic without the deck planking, I made my own tool to cut the wood planking - 15 blades from a hobby knife stacked together with every second blade used only as a spacer - The grip is masking tape - Now I'm ready to make 8 parallel lines at a time.

New evidence has shown that Ryujo planking was laid across the deck (As in US-style) and at the front of the ship the planking was laid longitude (As in IJN-style). After the groves is made a layer of graphite from an pencil is applied in the groves to highlight the planking.

A very thin layer of paint in applied to the deck, this will give the effect of some of the planks has a lighter tone of color, and other places has a darker color (This is due to the white color underneath)

A extra layer of mix of the colors (sand and ocher) is given to resemble the more orange color - Famous of  the Japanese aircraft carriers.

At last a mixture of matt vanish and black paint is applied very very thin (Matt varnish is better to give it a weathering- dirty look than water itself)
Before the layer is completely dry, I wipe the deck with tissue paper to remove the mixture (The tissue paper can not reach the groves between the planking with a result of darker spacing)

Here is a comparison of the old deck and new


Close-up photo of the "wood deck"



I have used HUMBROL Enamel Matt # 27 for all my IJN. ships. This color is spot on to "Kure naval grey" (If applied with a topcoat of "Vallejo" matte vanish)

  At the very rear of the aircraft deck the Red/White markings is made by masking tape covered over a white surface. After the stripes of masking tape is applied -every second is removed again (This is to ensure the consistence size of the stripes).  
  First a layer of white paint is applied! (just to seal the white color underneath). Hereafter a coat of red is painted. When dried the masking tape is removed (later I used decal markings to the white markings also)  
  There are no decals included in the kit, so I had to make my own by a white sheet of decal-paper - All stripes were cut - But before this, a coat of gloss varnish were applied  on the deck, to hide any ghost shadows around the decals - Later a layer of matte vanish will be added again.  
  Some sort of a "slide rig" was made of styrene plastic to ensure the right spacing between the decals through the length of the deck, that helped me a lot, instead of making measurements of every markings  

Note also the 2 mm wide "spacing-bar" to ensure the right length between the stripes.

  The aircraft deck had a downward slope at the rear end - I made this with the help of some heavy tool!  To soften the plastic up I gave the backside of the styrene plastic a "coat of liquid plastic glue and seal it with masking tape (To ensure the fumes get into the plastic) and make it soft. Later when the glue had evaporated the plastic retained its hardness with its new shape!  
  On every aircraft carrier deck there is small slots in the deck for attachments of the aircraft in heavy seas. Here is a solution to make a template for this kit. First I draw a grid on a sheet of millimeter paper. Grid size 3 x 3 mm.  
  Then the grid is finish I lay a sheet of clear plastic over the grid. With a help of a steel needle I can now punch small holes in the plastic sheet were the lines cross.  

Here is the plastic sheet with all the holes with exactly 3 mm between the holes.


Now the "template" is ready for making holes in the deck (Both the deck and plastic sheet is secured with masking tape) I have now the marks to punch the steel needle through the clear plastic sheet and down on the deck. A very easy way !


All the small slots in the deck for attachments of the aircraft


The wires to catch the aircraft (Arrestor gears) is made of "Invisible tread" the tread is nearly clear, but with the use of a permanent marker the tread is painted black