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Two Hyugas: A Fantasy Kantai Kessen Task Force
My 1/700 scale fantasy Japanese battle fleet
The Imperial Navy maintained faith in “Kantai Kessen,” a doctrine of decisive battle, until almost the end of World War II even though it ran against all the tactical trends of the time. One curious effect of this myopia was that their treasured reserve of battleships had no air reconnaissance support. This is why the Yamato was equipped with seaplanes, a common feature on fighting ships of the era, though in such a radically different, integrated design.
Less well-known is the Hyuga. Built during the First World War, she was still powerful, but increasingly obsolete in 1943 when she suffered a catastrophic turret explosion. With the navy’s “Kido Butai,” or carrier force, at the bottom of the Pacific, Hyuga was converted into a battle-carrier hybrid to be equipped with seaplanes and Judy dive bombers.* The conversion happened, but the airplanes never did.
I have been developing a wall display of Japanese surface combatants and these air components. Above, the two Hyugas are side by side in profile, framed on the stern half of the ships. Below, the two Hyugas are side by side from overhead, which is how I intend them to be viewed in the final display. The last of the Zeros is coming up the elevator to stand ready for scrambling. Putting all the little ‘rising sun’ decals on the wings of the teeny tiny planes was exhausting, but worthwhile.
In the real world, none of this nifty ad hoc air power ever saw service. The Hyuga was used for escort duties until she was sunk in harbor by an air raid. American occupation troops shot film of the damaged vessel before she was scrapped; you can watch that on YouTube. The IJN had started a war it was materially unable to win.
Seaplane aviation is one of the more endearing features of these Japanese warship kits from Hasegawa. Almost every box comes with a tree of parts for four different types of flying boat, each with its own annoyingly flyaway-prone itty bitty fiddly parts, such that I have only successfully built less than three quarters of them. Which is more than enough, however, to have whole squadrons that will buzz around these ships when the scene is done.
There is much more to show you, including the so-called “Super Yamato,” a variant design of the famous ship that was never built. She would have been armed with dual 20-inch gun turrets instead of triple 18-inch — absolute lunacy, as the IJN was rubbing right up against the engineering limits of naval gunnery.
However, I am not posting pictures yet because I am supposed to leave you wanting more so that you will subscribe for updates. So. Want to see more? Subscribe!
*Correction: this post has been updated to correct the type of planes on the Hyuga. As a kind reader pointed out, they are Judy dive bombers, not Zero fighters. Apologies for the error.