Kajika 1/700 IJN Hiei 1915

The second ship in the Kongo-class line of battlecruisers, the Hiei differs from her predecessor the Kongo in that she was the first of the class to be built in Japan. Designed by British naval architect George Thurston, the majority of the parts for the Hiei were still manufactured in England, however, final assembly took place at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal. Launching in 1912, the Hiei went through a number of reconstructions until finally being sunk by American aircraft at the Battle of Guadalcanal on November 14, 1942, the first Japanese battleship to be lost in WWII.

This new kit from Kajika follows up on their previous release of the IJN Kongo and depicts the Hiei as she would have appeared in 1915 shortly after her commissioning.

I can find 13 1/700 Hiei kit releases over the years, but I think this is the first of her as she was in 1915. All the other ones are by just Fujmi and Hasegawa and are of the 1942 version of the ship after a major rebuild. That makes it the best Hiei available depicting her between 1915 and 1929. In 1929 she was demilitarized and used as a training ship. In 1937 she was rebuilt as a fast battleship.

Their next release will be the Hauruna, also of the Kongo class.

The box is a standard top opening box and inside everything is bagged. Some bags have a couple of parts inside, but they are bagged so that nothing will be damaged. I suspect there will be quite a few parts left over as there are quite a few sprues the same as in the Kongo kit. Sprue M of the Kongo kit is gone, replaced by a larger sprue X,  new main hull and some new superstructure parts, hence the larger count of parts in the kit.

The box contains:

  • 7 sprues of varying sizes holding 324 parts
  • 5 larger parts
  • 1 metal base plate
  • 1 small decal sheet

The instructions are on a single sheet of glossy paper. The build is covered in 11 steps and all look to be clearly laid out and easy to follow.

  • Step 1. Putting the bridge together
  • Step 2. Putting the masts together.
  • Step 3. Putting the funnels together along with other pieces such as ships boats that are in the centre of the superstructure.
  • Step 4. Putting the 16 secondary guns together.
  • Step 5. Putting the main turrets together.
  • Step 6. Putting the 2 part deck together and adding the secondary guns before the deck goes in place.
  • Step 7. Putting the rest of the ship’s boats on their davits.
  • Step 8. Putting the ships boats and other small pieces on the ship.
  • Step 9. Fitting the main parts of the superstructure and main armament onto the ship.
  • Step 10. Adding small parts at the bow.
  • Step 11. Adding small parts at the stern.

The level of details on the plastic parts is as good as you will find anywhere. Attachment points are small and ejector pin marks are unobtrusive. There are lots of small parts, but they will build into a finely modelled kit of the Kongo. I noticed that the funnels are one piece and hollow and the stacks are also a framework and not a solid piece of plastic.

The paints are called out in Mr. Hobby and Tamiya. The colour chart in the instructions is in colour which makes things a lot easier. The ship does not have a camouflage pattern so it should be a pretty simple painting job.

The decals are 2 Japanese flags and look to be good quality with a minimal backing sheet.

I can see this kit is currently available for pre-order at HLJ for $28.55.

Overall it’s an impressive kit from Kajika with a lot of fine detail and a high parts count. They are continuing with their WW1 time period that will appeal to many people and has not been touched upon before for this ship. The quality of the kit is as good as any out there and on a par with their sister company, Flyhawk.

Several extra parts are available for this kit, detailed below. These are not part of the kit itself but available to purchase as optional extras.

  • PE fret of approx 123 parts. It covers the usual railings as well as replacing several plastic parts throughout the ship.
  • Wooden Deck.
  • Painting Masks. Paint the deck and then mask it all so you can paint the small parts on the decks quickly and easily with an airbrush.
  • Nameplate. made from perspex with the ships name in Japanese etched into it.
  • Stand. Made from one piece of black perspex and one piece of etched clear perspex with small stands to raise it all off the surface. The base has the ships name etched into it in Japanese and English.

Many thanks to Kajika for sending the kit along for review.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International

Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.


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