The Imperial Japanese Navy made an incredible leap from a feudal, wind powered naval force to a modern, first class, steel and steam navy in one
generation. Lacking the infrastructure to build larger modern warships at the start, the Imperial Japanese Navy relied upon the Royal Navy and the ship
building yards of Great Britain for their largest and latest warship designs. All of the battleships with which Admiral Togo faced the Tsar’s Pacific
Squadrons were British built, with the exception of a couple of German built ships captured by the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese War.
This status ended with the Kawachi class dreadnought battleship. When Great Britain upped main gun caliber from 12-inches to 13.5-inches, in 1909 other
navies continued to build ships still mounting 12-inch guns but not the Japanese. Always heavily influenced by the Royal Navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy
was not going to build an inferior battleship. In addition to heavier armament the Japanese were intrigued by the British battle cruiser concept. For one
more time the Japanese ordered a first class fighting unit to be built in Great Britain in order to employ the most advanced concepts and equipment. The
Kongo laid down January 17, 1911 at Vickers Armstrong was the last major Japanese warship built outside Japan. Instead of merely copying the Lion
class battlecruiser, the Japanese jumped ahead of British designs by selecting a 14-inch main gun. The
Kongo class also had a heavy secondary gun battery
with sixteen 6-inch guns. The
Lions had only 4-inch gun secondary armament. The other three ships of the Kongo class were built in Japan with the
Vickers Mk I 14-inch guns imported from Great Britain. The last of the four,
Kirishima was laid down March 17, 1912.

Now the Imperial Japanese Navy needed battleships armed with 14-inch guns. This had started with the order for the
Kongos. The Fuso and Yamashiro
were slower than the battlecruisers but with a speed of 22.5-knots, they were faster than contemporary British and American battleship designs. They had
50% greater firepower with twelve 14-inch guns mounted in six twin turrets. The
Fuso class also carried a battleship armor belt of 12-inches, compared
to the 8-inch belt of the
Kongos. The first of the class, Fuso, was laid down on March 11, 1912 at Kure Dock Yard, six days before the last of the four
Kongos, Kirishima was laid down at Nagasaki. Everything with the Fuso class was produced in Japan as the Japanese naval construction infrastructure
had finally reached full maturity.
Japanese designers didn’t waste much time before they improved upon the Fuso class. Authorized and funded in the Emergency 1912 program, the next
pair of battleships,
Ise and Hyuga, were designed from the start as improved Fusos with no major jump in capabilities over Fuso and Yamashiro. As built,
there was little difference between the two pairs of battleships. Overall length was 10-feet longer at 683-feet (208.18m), compared to the 673-feet (205.13
m) of  the
Fuso class. Beam was the same in both classes at 94-feet (28.65m). Likewise, displacement only nominally increase with the Ise class at 29,990-
tons standard (36,500-tons full load), compared to the
Fuso class at 29,326-tons (35,900-tons full load). The most noticeable difference was the length of
the forecastle and arrangement of funnels and amidship main gun turrets. With the
Fuso the forecastle extended all the way to X turret with only Y turret
located on the lower quarterdeck level. Also the two amidship turrets were widely separated due to the funnel arrangement. The
Ise class saved weight by
dropping from forecastle level to quarterdeck slightly less than half the length of the ship with Q and Y turrets at quarterdeck level, A, P and X turrets at
forecastle level and B turret one level higher to superfire over A turret.  The
Ise class grouped the amidship turrets together by rearranging the funnel
placement in order to prevent the separation of the turrets of the
Fuso class.

Although the armor scheme was similar, the armored deck sloped downwards to join the main belt near the bottom of the belt as opposed to the scheme in
Fuso with the armored deck joining the armor belt near the top of the belt, making this juncture less likely of taking shell damage. Barbette armor was
increased to 12-inches over the rather weak 8-inch armor of the barbettes of the
Fuso. Conning tower armor was reduced to 12-inches from the 13.75-
inches of the
Fuso. The Ise was given a more powerful propulsion plant developing 45,000shp, compared to the 40,000shp plant of the Fuso. As a
consequence the
Ise had a good turn of speed with a maximum speed of 23.5-knots. There was a change in secondary armament in that the Ise class
mounted twenty 5.5-inch guns. The armament fit concluded with four 3-inch HA antiaircraft guns and six submerged 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Ise was laid down on May 10, 1915 at the Kawasaki yard in Kobe. Hyuga was actually laid down four days earlier on May 6, 1915 at the Mitsubishi yard in
Nagasaki. The building of the pair paced each other closely with
Ise launching November 2, 1916 and Hyuga on January 27, 1917. Ise completed on
December 15, 1917 and
Hyuga on April 30, 1918. Minor modifications occurred in 1921 when the ships received four single mount 3.1-inch AA guns
with two placed on each side of the bridge and the other two placed in the aft control platform. More significant changes were made in 1930 to 1931.
Completed with a tripod foremast, a whole series of platforms were added to the tripod, creating a solid appearance as a tower, rather than an open tripod.
Additionally a rather unique cowl was added to channel the smoke from the forward funnel away from the forward superstructure. Additional changes
included searchlight towers added on either side of the aft funnel and the inclusion of an aircraft derrick, although no catapult was fitted at this time. The
pair could operate one or two aircraft but would have to come to a dead stop to deploy the aircraft. This shortcoming was rectified in 1933 with the fit of a
catapult.

A major rebuild was then scheduled for the pair. Both ships received the rebuild at Kure with
Hyuga under refit from November 23, 1934 to September 7,
1936 and
Ise from August 1, 1935 to March 23, 1937. The hull was lengthened by 25-feet to 708-feet (215.8m) overall and the beam increased by ten feet
to 104-feet 1-inch (31.75m). The previous 24 boilers were replaced by eight large Kampon oil fired boilers, greatly reducing engine space and Kampon
turbine engines replacing the original Parsons and Curtis turbines. The reduction of required machinery space allowed for the elimination of the aft funnel.
The new power plant was so much more powerful with 80,825shp that maximum speed increased to 25.3-knots, even though displaced leaped upwards to
35,800-tons standard (40, 169-tons full load). The pagoda superstructure was increased and heightened with modern fire control systems installed.
Additional deck armor was worked into the design and the ships received torpedo bulges. The maximum elevation of the main guns were increased. Four
of the 5.5-inch secondary guns and the four 3.1-inch AA guns were landed, as well as all of the torpedo tubes. A new heavy AA fit was installed consisting
of  four twin  Type 88 5-inch/40 HA guns mounted in gun shield mounts, with two mounts on each side of the forward superstructure. Initially light AA
consisted of Vickers 40mm and twin 13.2mm machine guns. These did not remain long as they in turn were replaced by the new 25mm AA single guns.
The catapult was moved to the stern, mounted on the starboard side of the quarterdeck. The ships could carry up to three Type 95 Nakajima E8N2 Dave
floatplanes.
This was their appearance at the start of the war in the Pacific. In spite of their increased speed, the Ise and Hyuga were still considered too slow to
operate with the fleet carrier strike force, so the
Ise class in common with the Fuso class spent the early war years in home waters. Both Ise and Hyuga
formed the 1st Division of the 2nd Battle Squadron. The pair did sortie from December 8, 1941 through December 13, 1941 to support the return of the
Pearl Harbor Strike Force.
Ise became a gunnery training ship in January 1942 and spent most her time in the inland sea. From March 12 to March 16 Ise
sortied east of Honshu in search of reported American forces. The next month saw a repeat sortie but this time it was in response of Doolittle’s airstrike
from
Hornet. She was at sea from 18 to 24 April but of course was too slow to catch the fast stepping American carriers. Ise was detailed to support the
attack on the Aleutian Islands at sortied from May 29 to June 17, 1942. For the balance of 1942
Ise was on training duties in the inland sea. While Ise was
supporting the Aleutian Operation, which in turn supported the main effort, the capture of Midway, the result of the Battle of Midway in large part
determined the future of the battleship. With heavy losses to naval aviation assets, it was decided to convert
Ise and Hyuga to hybrid battleship/carriers by
landing the aft two turrets, and replacing the turrets with a flight deck and hangar.

On February 23, 1943
Ise steamed to Kure to go into the yard for conversion. She was placed in reserve March 16 because with the extension conversion
work, she couldn’t be in active status. A single elevator lead from the hangar to the flight deck. Once on the deck the aircraft would be maneuvered by rails
and turntables for launching on catapults, as the flight deck was too small to support an aircraft launch or recovery. Originally it was planned to be provided
22 13-Shi D4Y4 Suisei Judy bombers, which were wheeled aircraft and once launched would have to return to a true carrier or a land base. Instead the 14-
Shi Aichi E16A1 Paul dive bomber floatplane was chosen as the aircraft for the
Ise, which also carried a handful of Aichi D3A1 Val dive bomers in August
1944. In addition to the flight deck, all secondary guns were landed and the ship was mounted with eight twin 5-inch HA mounts. Other additions were 57
25mm light AA guns and Type 21 radar. Since the flight deck was far lighter than the gun turrets that they replaced, the ship required additional weight
astern for trim so the flight deck was covered with 8-inches of concrete. The work lasted almost a year and it wasn’t until February 10, 1944 that
Ise
rejoined the fleet. Early 1944 was in training and workup until September when she was assigned a midshipman training mission.
In September it was realized that the aircraft that Ise was intended to carry would not be available and the reason for the conversion was no longer
applicable. However, the now unneeded flight deck provided a great expanse for additional anti-aircraft armament. Sponsons were added to each side of
the flight deck and six 28-barrelled 4.7-inch rocket launchers were added. Similar in concept to the British UP mounts tried out on Royal Navy capitol
ships in 1941, the Japanese system proved to be equally ineffectual, except for the intimidating image produced when they were fired in mass. Additional
25mm mounts were added to the flight deck, which was covered in concrete and both catapults were landed to provided better fields of fire for the
amidship 14-inch gun turrets and admidship AA guns. In October
Ise and sistership Hyuga, which had also received the same conversion, were added as
the main support ships for Admiral Ozawa's diversionary force in what was to become the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Every operational carrier available was
included in the force with a total complement of 108 aircraft of which none were carried aboard the
Ise or Hyuga. On October 20, 1944 the force left
the Inland Sea with the mission to draw off the USN Fleet carriers so that battleships and cruisers could sneak into Leyte Gulf  and destroy the
transports and support ships found in the Gulf. The carriers, along with
Ise and Hyuga, would be sacrificial lambs in order to allow the surface forces to
accomplish the operational mission. On October 24th Ozawa's force was spotted by Halsey's scout aircraft and Halsey took the bait and charged north
with all his forces leaving the San Bernadino Strait unattended, allowing Admiral Kurita unopposed passage. The two battleships, light cruiser
Tama, and
four destroyers under Rear Admiral Matsuda were the advance force for Ozawa and were 20 miles south of the carrier force in order to "
divert the
enemy effectively
". The engagement between Ozawa and Halsey's overwhelming force would be known as the Battle off Cape Engano.  

In the afternoon of October 24, USN scouting planes sighted the battleships, followed by the carrier main body one hour later. Around 10PM the
battleship force was ordered by Admiral Ozawa to rejoin the main body. Night searches by the 3rd Fleet regained contact with the battleships at 0205 and
the main body at 0235. Admiral Mitscher exercised tactical command of the target shooting of October 25 and had five fleet carriers and four light
carriers at his disposal. Without having an updated contact report he sent off his 1st strike out of six sent out that day at just before 0600. The strike
orbited ahead of TF38 until the morning sighting came in at 0710, ninety miles to the north of the orbiting first strike. The first strike went for the
carriers, sinking the light carrier
Chitose and destroyer Akitsuki and damaging the flagship Zuikaku and light carrier Zuiho. Ise and Hyuga were
untouched. Strike 2 was a small 36 aircraft strike and left the carriers one hour before the initial strike returned. Strike 2 arrived over Ozawa at 0945 and
concentrated on the last untouched Japanese carrier, the light carrier
Chiyoda, which was left burning. Hyuga was diverted to try to take Chiyoda under
tow. After strike 2 Ozawa's force was strung out. Furthest from the American carriers was the main body, still making good speed to the northwest
with
Zuikaku, Zuiho, Ise and 4 destroyers. Twenty miles behind was the Tama limping at 12-knots and still training oil. Another six miles to the south
was
Chiyoda, which was dead in the water and was being circled by Hyuga and a destroyer. Even further south were the light cruisers Oyoda and Isuzu
and another destroyer. Strike 3 launched around noon and with 200 aircraft was the largest of the day. The main body with fleeing
Zuikaku, Zuiho and
Ise was the main target. Zuikaku was fatally damaged and sank at 1410. Zuiho was badly damaged but continued to make her getaway. Also about this
time
Hyuga and the destroyer left doomed Chiyoda behind and sped up to close the rapidly diminishing Main Body. Strike 4 was another small strike that
took off at 1315 and this time paid attention to
Ise. The pilots from Lexington and Langley reported that the converted battleship put up an exceedingly
intense antiaircraft fire.
Ise had four near misses but Zuiho was sunk, leaving Ise and escorting destroyers as the Main Body. Strike 5 consisted of full
deck loads from five carriers with one target in mind, the old converted battleship
Ise. The full strike "concentrated on Ise but got only 34 near-misses
and failed to sink that tough old 'hermaphrodite.
" Leyte, Volume XII, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, by Samuel Eliot
Morison, page 328. The aft rocket launchers in the galleries on either side of the flight deck were fired in salvo volleys and made a tremendous
impression on the American pilots. Streaming skyward in mass, trailing smoke and wire, they appeared fearsome but were all sizzle and no substance.
Inspite of their intimidating appearance, they failed to bring down a single aircraft. However, just their appearance served the purpose of dissuading some
of the attackers from pressing their attacks too close than prudence would dictate. Strike 5, the last attack, left the carriers shortly after 5PM but failed
to sink anything. That night Admiral Ozawa aboard light cruiser
Oyoda, led Ise, Hyuga and the other survivors of his force northward to safety during
the night.
Ise and Hyuga regained home waters on October 28, 1944. After undergoing repairs they were transferred to the Southwest Pacific. Because the
USN submarine campaign had been very successful in strangling the Japanese homeland from receiving supplies and resources from her conquered
empire, the was almost no fuel oil available for the warships in the home islands. They had to go to the source of the fuel oil, the British and Dutch
East Indies. In January 1945 the joined the 10th Area Fleet based at Singapore and became the fleet carrier squadron, even though they were not
operating aircraft. The next month it was decided to load them down with resources, especially aviation fuel, and send them back home as large fast
cargo ships. They left Singapore on February 10 and arrived home safely on February 19. Both ships were based near Kure in order to supplement
the anti-aircraft defenses of that critical port. They lacked fuel oil so basically were stationary floating batteries. A USN carrier raid on March 19,
1945 found both of them.
Hyuga was at Hiro Wan, 15 miles south of Kure, and was hit by two bombs. Ise was closer to Kure at Eta Jima and had
only minor damage. The next strike against them was on July 24.
Hyuga again got the worst of it with 12 bomb hits. Her stern settled to the bottom
in shallow water with the forward hull remaining afloat. Again
Ise escaped with only minor damage. The raid of July 28, 1945 put paid to both of the
sisters. By that time
Hyuga was a partially manned derelict but Ise was still full of fight. Hyuga was sunk and was flooded to A barbette. Ise had only
the 14-inch guns of B turret, most of her 5-inch DP guns and her numerous 25mm guns operational. It took two separate strikes on
Ise to sink her
but after receiving at least 11 bomb hits, she to settled to the bottom of the shallow harbor. Both sunken hulks were broken up after the war.

As I walked into the Palace of Modeling,
Freetime Hobbies, located in scenic Blue Ridge, Georgia, I already knew that my quarry was there. In the
three hour Pilgrimage to
Freetime, I was not the driver. Instead I was the searcher. Using my smartphone I spent a couple of hours pouring over
the items in stock at
Freetime on their web site. After all I wanted a prize that would be accessible. The top three items on my wish list were all
from the same company. I wanted one of the 1:350 scale Japanese battleships,
Ise 1944, Yamashiro or Fuso from Fujimi. Oh No!!! Freetime had
multiple models of all three. Now I was faced with a conundrum, which one to get. I liked the
Fuso’s funky towering pagoda superstructure but I
also liked the
Yamashiro’s more symmetrical superstructure. However, how could I resist the hermaphrodite battleship carrier, the Ise as she
appeared at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. It didn’t matter that she never did operate aircraft off the ship, I have always been fascinated by this ship after
the conversion. My first model of her was a metal 1:1250 scale model of
Ise 1944 from Framburg. The idea of acquiring a 1:350 scale model of this
curious design had my toes curling. After getting my copy from
Brandon, it was time to return home. Again, my best friend, David, was the driver,
as it was his car that we took. That gave me plenty of time to rip off the shrink wrap and examine the treasure. Would it measure up to my
expectations? Indeed it did. It is a marvelous kit.
I looked for something on the box that indicated the number of parts in this kit but either its not there or I missed it. With 22 sprues of parts it has to be
a high number. The molding quality is excellent with abundant detail but not overdone detail.
Sprue A has only two parts, the two halves of the hull
divided along the centerline. This is a full hull kit and there is not indention or other waterline indicator on the inside of the hull parts that would make it
easy to waterline. If you are going to model it on a sea base, you’ll have to exercise patience and caution in removing the lower hull. The hull detail is
very good with weld lines, thin bilge keels, degaussing cable with brackets, porthole rigoles (eyebrows) for the portholes that have been plated over,
suitably thin open chocks on the upper edge, and climbing rungs.
Sprue B is mostly concerned with internal lateral support. There are 13 pieces that are
basically lateral bulkheads that strengthen the hull, just as in a real ship. However, about one-quarter of the sprue is for the lower hull running gear, such
as propellers, propeller shafts, and shaft struts. Six of the parts are for narrow deck edge boat deck amidship and accommodation ladders, which would
be better replaced by photo-etch.
Sprue C is dominated by the flight deck. This part reflects the detail of this kit at its best. Most of the flight deck, the
part that covered the hangar, had a layer of cement laid on top of the metal to provide inexpensive deck armor. The texture of the deck with a matte
appearance appears like a rougher concrete texture rather than smooth metal. On the outboard edges and at the stern are metal decks with a nicely
subdued anti-skid pattern. Since the trolley system designed to spot aircraft on the flight decks required a system of rails and turntables. These are
recessed into the concrete deck, further accentuating the unique appearance of this deck. Underneath the aft flight deck are underdeck support ribbing.
Also included on this sprue are the two AA sponons, each mounting four triple 25mm AA mounts that are outboard and slightly lower than the flight
deck. The metal decks also have the anti-skid pattern. Solid and lattice-work supports for the AA platforms are also on this sprue. Other parts
connected with the flight deck found on this sprue are the elevator, rocket AA deck, aft flightdeck bracing and parts for the aircraft crane.

Sprue D shifts the focus to the superstructure, primarily the aft superstructure. The decks and platforms have the metal anti-skid pattern and gun
positions on platforms have support struts underneath. Bulkhead detail is primarily doors with dog detail and portholes with rigoles. Also included on this
sprue is the mainmast with upper frame detail.
Sprue E concentrates on the boat deck from B barbette to the searchlight tower just forward of the
funnel. The boat deck has excellent detail with planking with butt-end detail, skylights and thin boat cradles. The recessed 5-inch positions have the
metal anti-skid pattern. Most of the bulkheads are separate parts. This sprue starts on the forward superstructure with a series of levels, decks and
platforms, all of which have excellent top deck and bottom deck detail.
Sprue F continues on with parts for the forward superstructure with the two
level base, aft face and upper platforms. Through out this kit, Fujimi provides solid inclined stairs and some of them are found on this sprue. Don't mar
this kit by using those solid parts. If you are not going to use a full bodied photo-etch super-detail set for the Ise, at the very least use brass photo-etch
inclined ladders with railings and trainable treads.
Sprue G consists of clear plastic parts for the superstructure and equipment. Included are numerous
windows for the various pagoda levels, boat covers, searchlight lenses and signal lanterns.
Sprue H turns attention to the funnel position and ship's
boats. There is the funnel itself with separate steam pipes, shroud to ventilate funnel heat upward and provide heat deflection from the numerous
manned positions surrounding the funnel, top clinker screen and grate, searchlight towers and platforms, search binocular platforms, and triple 25mm
gun platforms. There certainly is no wooden plank decking here, so all of the different platforms have the anti-skid pattern.
Sprue I has only two parts, the forward and aft decks. The forward deck extends rom the top of the cutwater to the P barbette amidships. It overlaps
the lower aft deck, which is one level lower. Q barbette is found on the aft deck part. As is true about the boat deck detail, these decks also have deck
planking with butt end detail. Since they are the main decks, large and medium size twin bollard fittings are found at deck edge. The forecastle has solid
anchor run plates running between detailed deck anchor hawse fittings and anchor windlass positions with detailed fittings over the deck openings for
the chain locker. The forward deck has extensions over the bow for leadsman platforms, detailed deck access coamings and open chock fittings
amidships.
Sprue J is a mixed bag of major parts. Included are the curving hull side bulkhead underneath the flight deck and the numerous supports for
the gun gallery deck above that flank the flight deck. The main gun turrets are included with clearly segmented crown armor plates and vertical ladder
detail on the sides and front face. Other detail on the crows are walkway and rivet detail and sighting cupolas and the front face gets under barrel
platforms. Two identical
K Sprues are included. Each sprue has one catapult with side, top and bottom panels, if you don't use photo-etch supplemental
parts. The amidship 5-inch protective structures are here, another steam launch, open boats with separate decks with oar detail, and rudders are here.
Turret crown targeting sites with individual site opening fittings, anchors, searchlights,paravanes, boat davits and small cranes, binocular pedestal
fittings, sound direction detectors, HA AA directors, 25mm triple gun mounts, main guns with separate blast bags and a host of other smaller fittings
and pieces of equipment are are on these sprues. More clear plastic parts are found on
Sprues P and Q for the aircraft. They were never used in
combat, just in training. Four aircraft are included with two wheeled Judy dive bombers, fire and forget as they're not coming back and two pontoon
Jake recce birds. In addition to fuselage and wings, landing gear/pontoons, propellers, canopies, drop tanks, tail wheels for the Judys, and tails for the
Jakes. Two
X Sprues and two Z Sprues are included which contain the 5-inch DP gun mounts, 5-inch barrels and blocks, triple 25mm guns, twin
25mm guns, single 25mm guns. The 25mm guns are very fine, although not as fine as photo-etch. They have ammo clip detail and can easily be used
without any appearance of plastic blobs. A black stand for full hull assembly, plastic bushings for turnable rudders and metal anchor chain round out the
parts included.

Three decal sheets are included. A traditional decal sheet has battle flag and aircraft markings. A peel-off sheet has command flags and signal flags. A
small black and gold decal is a peel off name plate for the stand. A large beautiful color plate is included with profile, plan, bow and stern scale prints
included. It includes a painting guide and shows the aircraft on deck. The large 20 page instruction booklet is easy to follow and due to the large size, no
squinting is required. Pages one and two have photographs of the actual ship while page three has photographs of the assembled model. Pages four and
five have Japanese text instructions. Starting with page six actual assembly modules appear staring with the lower hull. They are presented as 25
separate modules, most of which include multiple sub-steps. They are clear and comprehensive. Pages 18 and 19 have a parts laydown and page 20
concludes with two more photographs.
The Imperial Japanese Battleship Aircraft Carrier Ise at the Battle of Leyte Gulf was one tough old hermaphrodite, as Samuel Eliot Morison called her. No
one would accuse the
Ise as just another pretty face but the Fujimi 1:350 scale model of the Ise is one beautiful kit.
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