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Lindberg 1/72 scale IJN I-53 submarine and Kaitens

Subscriber-only early access review
Lindberg 1/72 scale IJN <i>I-53</i> submarine and Kaitens
Kit: No. 70818
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Lindberg Models, 319-365-5842,
Price: $149.99
Comments: Injection-molded, 220 parts (21 metal, 10 vinyl, 22 screws. 2 vinyl markings)
Pros: Clear design for a very large kit; good fit overall; excellent formed-metal railings
Cons: Toylike features; downturned bow; grossly oversized hatches
Issue Published: January 2010
Lindberg 1/72 scale IJN <i>I-53</i> submarine and Kaitens
Lindberg 1/72 scale IJN <i>I-53</i> submarine and Kaitens
Lindberg 1/72 scale IJN <i>I-53</i> submarine and Kaitens
Lindberg 1/72 scale IJN <i>I-53</i> submarine and Kaitens
Lindberg 1/72 scale IJN <i>I-53</i> submarine and Kaitens
Lindberg 1/72 scale IJN <i>I-53</i> submarine and Kaitens
Lindberg 1/72 scale IJN <i>I-53</i> submarine and Kaitens
One of the largest submarines of World War II, the Imperial Japanese Navy's I-53 was launched in early 1944 and converted a year later to carry as many as five of the manned Kaiten "suicide torpedoes."

This fitting is reflected in the new Lindberg kit, which ranks as one of the largest plastic model kits ever. Finished, it is just shy of 5' long - an impressive model. And, surprisingly, building it was not difficult. The hull is molded in quarters, and the top deck in halves, so the lion's share of plastic is quickly assembled. The hull pieces are brought together by screws, which are then covered with additional hull plates.

However, inaccuracies and toylike details diminish the giant's credibility. While not stated in the instructions, it is apparent that the torpedo tubes' outer doors were made to be operable: they are cut short so they can be slid forward with the trailing edge moving inboard, exposing round holes where torpedoes would exit the pressure hull. Each of the six doors has a tab grip for sliding it open. I glued them closed.

Once the torpedo doors are in place, the hull is assembled. The screw-together construction worked great. To save time and effort with masking, I painted the top deck and hull assemblies before installing the deck and tightening the screws.

Deck details include grated hatches and four pressure hatches. The latter measure nine scale feet in diameter, clearly a mistake - imagine trying to lift a hatch that size from the inside! The fairwater deck is mostly wood planks on a metal frame, with circular metal plates surrounding the hatch trunks to the pressure hull. It appears the kit designers mistook the size of the trunk and made the hatches to match. Two of these massive hatch covers nearly touch, too.

While few photos of I-53 are available, I could find none that show the downturned bow of the kit.

The hatch and bow problems would be difficult to correct. But there are nifty things about this kit, too. I loved the formed and prefinished metal railings and ladders on the submarine's sail. They fit perfectly into the predrilled holes. The Kaiten torpedoes are good, too, but the vinyl straps that hold them to the deck mounts have three blocks; photos of the straps show more. Metal axes are provided for the rudder and screws, but I found each to be about 1/4" too long to fit. Out came the motor tool and cut-off wheel.

A big model like this takes a lot of paint. I used Krylon spray cans for the deck, hull, and the assembled sail and Kaitens. It took two cans of Tamiya dull red to paint the bottom of the hull. Before final assembly, I sprayed Krylon clear flat over the model.

One page of the instructions is dedicated to painting and weathering tips. Deadlines kept me from doing much weathering, just some dry-brushing to highlight rivets and edges. The pressure-sensitive I-53 placards went on perfectly. I found rigging with monofilament easier that untangling and straightening the fine copper wire Lindberg supplies.

The finished model is impressive as all get-out, but enthusiasts may be disappointed with the inaccuracies and basic features. I spent 43 hours on my I-53. less than I would have predicted.

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