Book Review

Gakken Pacific War series 30 Fuso Class - by Tom Kristiansen
Pacific War
Book Title
Pacific War 30 - Fuso class
Gakken, Japan
ISBN Number
Retail Price
1800 JPY (ca. $17 USD / €14 Euro)
Imperial Japanese Navy Battleships Fuso & Yamashiro
Japanese text + a handful English captions
Gakken Pacific War series 30 Fuso Class - Book Review
The Pacific War series from Gakken are highly regarded by IJN modeling-enthusiasts as a fantastic source of information of Japanese IJN ships. Altough the books are written in Japanese, they contain enough visual information to be of invaluable help for a non-japanese IJN modeler.

Book Contents:

181 pages:

41 pictures of superdetailed 1/200 Fuso & Yamashiro on 24 pages

26 B/W- full-page photos of Yamashiro and crew in action on 26 pages

35 B/W-photos of Fuso and Yamashiro from WWI to WWII on 24 pages

15 B/W-photos and 2 drawing of searchlights at various placements on 5 pages

7 B/W-photos of 2 old largescale models of Fuso. Probably built in the 1920-30's

54 pages of japanese text with

17 drawings + 2 B/W-photos of the Fuso-class evolution

10 B/W-photos and 6 drawings of various subjects like 356mm breech, US&IJN seaplanes, US radars, Yamashiro under airattack

4-page foldouts:

- illustration Fuso in Oct'44

- overview of the different 365mm shells used

- linedrawings Fuso (prob. 1/450) + 1/700 drawing 30° ang. Fuso & Yamashiro

- linedrawingsYamashiro (prob. 1/450) + platforms and superstructure

- photo 1/700 scale top&side of 1/200 scalemodels Fuso & Yamashiro

- linedrawings + 4 BW-photos of IJN BB Nagato 406 mm barrels pivot point

Pacific War 30 gives a detailed visual view of the two battleships in the Fuso-class, Fuso and Yamashiro. Both ships was ordered by the Japanese navy in 1911 and completed in 1915 and 1917, and were the first battleships in the world armed with twelve 14" guns. When constructed they were almost identical except from some minor differences on the superstructure. Like many battleships constructed in this era, this class had tripod foremast and mainmast. Untill the first modernisation both shps had two funnels. In the 1920’s several platforms was added to the foremast. The sisters received a major modernization in 1930 in which their hulls was lengthened and had torpedo bulges added. The new machinery doubled the horsepower and gave an increase in two knots despite the increase in weight. The two funnels was reduced to one and the brigde was reconstructed into the very tall, characteristic pagoda-shape that these ships are famous for. I am not going to give an detailed description of the many differences that was a result of these modernizations, but limit myself to mention that Yamashirosbrigde-base was extended further aft and had a extra supportbrace that strengthened the brigdeconstruction compared to Fuso. As a result the 3.turret on Yamashiro had to face aft wereasFusos 3. turret faced forward.

These differences (+ many others) are evident as one compares the excellent photos of the 1/200 scale superdetailed models of the two sisters. The photos are taken from the same views side by side for easy comparation. The models are superdetailed (see the sample-picture of the funnel) and will surely inspire modelers and other detail-freaks.. Fuso is modeled as in 1935 and Yamashiro as in 1941. What strikes me when comparing the models themselves is that the Fuso-model has a much more poor finish than the model ofYamashiro. You can clearly see that Fuso was made from basswood or balsawood and it has not received the smooth finish that Yamashiro has. Also a greater portion of Fusos rigging is bent or twisted. But apart from this, Fuso has the same extreme detaillevel as Yamashiro has and both are a pure joy to look at. Altough poor surface-finish on Fuso, the modelers are to be commended for two spectacular models.

As usual with Gakken PacWar-books several foldout-plans are featured. Among other a illustration of Fuso in october 1944 showing the added single-25mm AA. The linedrawings are worth a while to study for a modeler facing the task of rigging his Fuso/Yamashiro. The page with Fuso has two 1/700 scale drawings of both ships taken from a 30 deg. angle. The Yamashiro side has a more extensive coverage of Yamashiro's superstructure. A foldout plan of the superdetailmodels is provided in 1/700 scale. These will be of good reference when it comes to painting. The quality is excellent. I have puzzeled with the idea of framing the plans and hang them on the wall, but I think I cannot not talk myself into removing the plan from the book. The paper is perforated so that you can rip it off if you like.

Two photochapters are included in this book. One chapter shows the crew of Yamashiro in daily activities like scrubbing the deck and other maintinance activities. These pictures are of good quality and will probably reveal some details that are not seen on any models. The next photochapter shows both Fuso and Yamashiro during their servicelife from 1915/1917 and well into the war. The technical chapter has some fine drawings of the brigdestructure and topview of the platforms. Also the aft secondary command-tower gets the same attention - the funnel however was not. But the funnel of both ships are heavily photographed in the supermodel-chapter, so in the end I feel satisfied. The arrangement of the AA-armament are marked on a top-down drawing of both ships. In the end follows what seems to me a history-chapter. Some pictures of barrels, US radars and seaplanes + a drawing of seaplane arrangements on Yamato-class (or perhaps a planned rebuild of Fuso-class into a BBCV) Most of the japanese text is in the technical chapter and this history-chapter.

Highly recommended!! This book is - like most Gakken books - an excellent source of visual information on the Fuso-class battleships. The superdetailed models have tons upon tons of details- and will leave you with accumulated hours of close examination if you are bold enough to superdetail the two sisters. The only extra thing I would have liked to see in this books is hullprofiles or some more information about the hull.

Tom Kristiansen

Gakken Pacific War series 30 Fuso Class - Scans from the Book

Where you can buy the book (if not sold out):
HobbyLink Japan, Ltd
Nishitakane-cho 43-6
Gunma 374-0075
Fax: +81-276-80-3067
Tel. kom: 0-601311877

WWW: http://www.hlj.com/