My Workbench

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

1/700 IJN Pre-Dreadnought Battleship Mikasa

For my birthday this year my wife and daughter gifted me with 1/700 waterline ship models. The IJN pre-dreadnought battleship Mikasa is the first one of these waterline ship models I have built since I was a kid. And holy cow, some of the parts were smaller than those on my 1/1200 scale AOS ships! LOL

The model is the Hasegawa 1/700 Waterline Series Kit No. 151. The Mikasa was 432 feet, making this model about 7-1/4" long. She was ordered in 1898 from the Vickers, Sons & Maxim, Barrow-in-Furness in Great Britain. Like the earlier Fuji and Shikishima class battleships, Mikasa was built in the United Kingdom because Japan lacked the technology and capability to construct its own modern battle wagons. While she closely resembled the other battleships, Mikasa was the only ship of her class and, at the time of her launch in November of 1900, she was the most powerful ship in the world.  Mikasa was designed as a modified version of the Royal Navy Formidable class battleships with two additional 6" (152MM) secondary guns. She had an overall length of 432ft, a beam of 76ft, a normal draught of 27ft 2in, and a displacement of 15,140 long tons at normal load. The crew numbered around 830 officers and men. Power was provided by two vertical triple expansion steam engines, each driving one propeller, using steam provided by 25 Belleville boilers. Each engine was rated at 15,000 horsepower, using forced draught. Top design speed was 18 knots (21 mph). She carried a maximum of 2,000 long tons of coal, allowing a range of approximately 9,000 nautical miles at 10 knots.

The main battery were four of the same Elswick Ordinance Company 40-caliber twelve inch guns used in the preceding IJN battleships. They were mounted in twin-gun barbettes fore and aft of the superstructure. They were additionally protected with armored hoods, resembling true gun turrets. The guns fired 850 pound projectiles at 2,400 ft/s. Mikasa's secondary guns consisted of fourteen 6-inch guns mounted in casemates. Ten of these guns were mounted on the main deck and the other four guns were placed higher up at the corners of the superstructure. They fired 100 pound shells at a muzzle velocity of 2,300 ft/s. For protection against torpedo boats, Mikasa sported twenty QF 12-pounder 12cwt guns. The 12-pounders fired 3-inch (76mm), 12.5 pound projectiles at 2,259ft/s muzzle velocity. Lighter guns consisted of eight 47-millimeter (1.9 in) 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns and eight 47-millimeter 2.5 pounder Hotchkiss guns. The 3-pounder guns fired 3.19 pound projectiles at 1,927ft/s, while the 2.5 pounder fired 2.5 pound shells at 1,420 ft/s. I found it interesting that the ship also carried four submerged 18-inch torpedo tubes, two on each broadside.

Mikasa, like all other Japanese battleships of the time, was fitted with four Barr & Stroud FA3 coincidence rangefinders that had an effective range of 8,000 yards. The ship was also fitted with 24-power magnification telescopic gunsights.

IJN Mikasa as she appeared in 1905

At the start of the Russo-Japanese War, Mikasa was assigned to the 1st Division of the 1st Fleet and participated in the Battle of Port Arthur on 9 February 1904 when Admiral Togo Heihachiro led the 1st Fleet in an attack on the Russian ships of the Pacific Squadron anchored just outside Port Arthur. It was planned to be a surprise attack, but the Russian cruiser Boyarin was patrolling offshore and alerted the Russian defenses. Togo attacked the Russian coastal defenses with his main guns, and engaged the Russian ships with his secondary guns. This proved to be a bad idea, inflicting little damage to the Russian ships, while all of the Russian guns concentrated on the Japanese ships with effect. Togo chose to disengage with 60 killed and wounded. The Mikasa was hit by two ten-inch shells that wounded seven crewmen. During the Battle of The Yellow Sea on August 10, Mikasa was at the head of the column of IJN battleships and, being Togo's flagship, was the primary target of the Russian fleet. She was hit twenty times. Her aft 12-inch gun turret was knocked out, and she suffered 125 casualties. In turn she concentrated her fire power on the battleships Poltava and Tsesarevich, both of which were only lightly damaged. At the battle of Tsushima (also known as the battle of the Japan Sea) on 27 May 1905, Mikasa again led the fleet, this time against the Second and Third Pacific Squadrons detached from the Baltic Fleet. Mikasa opened fire on the battleship Knyaz Suvorov, the Russian flagship, at 14:10 and was joined by the battleship Asashi and the armored cruiser Azuma. Within an hour a serious fire started aboard the Russian ship, the Russian fleet commander Vice Admiral Zinovy Roshestvensky was badly wounded, her rear twelve-inch gun turret was knocked out, and her steering was jammed so that she fell out of formation. During this time, as the lead Japanese ship, Mikasa was the focus of all of the Russian fire, and was hit by 6 twelve-inch and 19 six-inch shells. They did very little damage and Togo was able to cross the T of the Russian squadrons. At 18:04 a twelve-inch shell detonated prematurely in the barrel of the right gun of the forward turret, disabling the gun and and knocking out the left gun until 18;40. Another twelve-inch shell had exploded in that same barrel almost two hours earlier without damaging the gun. One six-inch gun jammed after firing 19 rounds. Mikasa fired 124 twelve-inch shells during the battle, second only to Asashi's 142. In total she was hit more than 40 times during the battle, including 10 twelve-inch and 22 six-inch shells, but none of them seriously damaged her. While Mikasa suffered 113 personnel casualties, the entire Japanese force combined lost 117 men killed and 583 wounded. Six days after the treaty of Portsmouth was signed, ending the war, Mikasa sank at her moorings after a fire and magazine explosion at Sasebo on the night of 11/12 September 1905, that killed 251 crewmen. She was refloated, repaired and reconstructed with upgrades. She was restored to active service on 24 August 1908. During World War I, she served on coastal defense duties, based at Msizura during 1914-15, and was then assigned to the Second and then Fifth Squadrons for the rest of the war. Mikasa supported the Japanese intervention in Siberia during the Russian Civil War during 1921 and was reclassified on 1 September 1921 as a first-class coast-defense ship. Mikasa is preserved and on display in Yokosuka, Japan, and is the only surviving example of a pre-dreadnought battleship in the world. There are some really good YouTube videos I watched about this ship and her history, plus some good videos about the battles.


Stew said...

Great job on the construction and pics. They seem to know what gifts you would like. 😀

A Miniatures Hobby Room said...

Haha, that's because I leave hints everywhere!

caveadsum1471 said...

Excellent looking pre dreadnought, I've always been fascinated by the Russo Japanese war, really interesting transition period, lovely detail as always!
Best Iain

A Miniatures Hobby Room said...

Thanks Iain. It's my first pre-dread, from any war, haha. And 1st non-sail plastic ship model since about 1966. The detail was strictly out of the box. I did no scratch modification at all on this one. I wish now that I had added the canvas railings around the superstructure decks, but I didn't think of it until I had finished all of the rigging. Things are just too tight to try now. Next one.....