IJN Tone, and her sister Chikuma were the last heavy cruisers completed for the Imperial Japanese Navy. Unique in layout, the two had all main armament mounted forward of the superstructure in four twin-mount turrets, leaving the entire after
section of the ship free to operate seaplanes. IJN doctrine of the time largely relied on surface ship seaplanes as search aircraft, leaving the limited number of carrier-borne aircraft free for combat duties. Although some carrier-borne types were designed
for purely search purposes, such as the beautiful C6N Seiran “Myrt” and others, they never completely took over the task of search from the old tried and true seaplanes. These ships normally operated 5 “Jake” seaplanes or similar types each, launched
from two catapults, but having no protected storage area for the aircraft.

Both ships were highly active during the entirety of the Second World War, until
Chikuma’s luck ran out in 1944 when she succumbed to mass air attacks by the Big Blue Wave at Leyte Gulf. Tone finally ran out of time in 1945, when she was bombed
into a wreck in Kure harbor by aircraft initially from the US light carrier
Monterey. Her carcass was scrapped from 1947-48.

Tamiya’s engineering skill shines in this kit. Things fit, tightly, to where they go, without having to be “convinced” to go there…for the most part. A few small holes had to be slightly reamed, but no big deal. The decks actually bolt in place, and fit very
nicely, too, thank you. A little MEK along the edges seals them down for good. The complicated masts absolutely “click” together, and even the mixed plastic/photoetch crane is no problem if you follow the instructions.
Said instructions are clear, concise, and well-illustrated. There are numerous extra detail sketches thrown in here and there to show the builder how to align certain items. Along with the instruction booklet, a nice 1/350 scale color plan and profile is
included, along with a multi-lingual booklet describing the ship’s history. In my kit, there was even a small addendum calling attention to a minor error in the instructions! Now THAT’s thorough!

The model may be constructed as full-hull, or waterline. As this was a commission build, the customer requested a full-hull vessel on timbers, and I was happy to oblige. The split hull halves are joined and sit on top of a single bottom piece and are
partially bolted to that! Again…superior engineering. Separate anchor chains are provided in metal, as well as metal prop shafts for the running gear. Tamiya even gives you several long pieces of thin piano wire should you wish to display the aircraft
“flying” around the ship. Those went right into the spares box…I have plans for them later.

Tamiya supplies a fairly comprehensive photo-etch detail sheet, which even has props for the aircraft! 8 “Jakes” and 4 “Petes” are supplied, but the decal sheet has only the markings for 5 “Jakes”. One really needs to add only railing to make the ship a
real looker. Mine came from
Tom’s Modelworks.
Detail is…well…Tamiya. Excellent, in other words. Sharp moldings, zero flash, the aircraft even have sharply raised canopy framing – some of the best float planes I have ever seen in any kit. Mold lines are faint, and ejector pin marks are nearly non-
existent. The bridge glass railing is sharply raised, just like the aircraft canopies.

About the only nitpick I have with the kit is the fact that most of the main deck details are molded on, making painting a bit tedious – my method is to spray the Linoleum Deck Brown (Tamiya Lacquer, naturally) first, then pick out all the gray details
with a fine-point brush over several nights and several pints of cold, dark lager. The latter takes the sting out of the former. Once the brown is all down, the brass strips between the linoleum plates are relatively easy to pick out with a Prismacolor
pencil, due to Tamiya’s sharp molding. I use a pale yellow, as exposed shiny brass strips at sea would weather very quickly, no matter how industrious your sailors are. The linoleum itself got the Pacific sun fading courtesy of several applications of
progressively lighter pastel chalk dust.

Most of the paint was Tamiya Acrylics, with just a touch of craft paint used for weathering here and there. The rigging is 1lb fly fishing line from the local outdoor store, and the model was cemented primarily with MEK applied by brush. Photo-etch
was attached with cyano. My darling wife wood-burned the Kanji characters of the ship’s name into the base, adding a touch of class to the build’s overall effect.
The kit was a real pleasure to build, offering no “fight” whatsoever, and repeatedly calling me away from the TV to work on it. I hope the customer enjoys it as much as I did!

Rick Cotton
Katy, Texas