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New Review: The Japanese Battleship Kongo 1944 - Top Drawings


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Review Author: 
Luke R. Bucci PhD
Kagero Publishing

Kagero Publishing, from Poland, is one of the major military history publishing houses. Since 1998, when Kagero started publishing in English, over 600 titles have been produced at a pace of 60 per year or more. Topics focus on specific planes, armor and ships, along with a bevy of focused topics, such as a class of warships or an armor type. Kagero caters to ship modelers by turning out books filled with line and 3D computer-generated illustrations, with incomparable accuracy to details. For warships, Kagero has two series: 1) Super 3D Drawings and 2) Top Drawings, focusing on a single ship per book. The topic of this book review is one of the Top Drawings series, which are designed for modelers to have a reference for detailed appearances of individual ships. Top Drawings consist of color covers with black & white (B&W) line drawings of the ship, particular features, and equipment, especially armament. But the main attraction is the separate, large foldout in black and white of scale drawings - the ship's size determines the scale, but usually 1/200, 1/350 or other scales are shown.

 

The author, Waldemar Tubus Goralski, is a prolific author of illustrated warship books for Kagero Publishing. He also makes exhibitions of his illustrations in Poland where visitors can virtually walk on ships. Waldemar is lucky to turn his passion into a career, igniting passions of many modelers around the world.

 

Kagero Publishing's latest installments of its Top Drawings series - 110 - is the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Kongo 1944 (at the time of her loss). The book is a softbound European A2 size with both English and Polish languages throughout. The outside covers are in color, but the rest of the book is B&W. The front cover has a bow view of Kongo pointed right at you, and the rear cover has five full hull views of Kongo (each side, top, bow, stern) in realistic color. There is a one-page short history and characteristics, followed by 22 pages of B&W line drawings detailed enough for scratch-builders, accurizers and modifiers for building the 1944 Kongo in any scale. The last page is an ad for the Volume 1 hardback book on Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The Top Drawings show the overall appearance and then focuses on ship sections, superstructure levels, armament, fittings (ship's boats are extremely well-done) - the whole ship. B&W line drawings, especially the detailed close-ups, are actually easier to see thedetails than color 3D computer-generated images used in Kagero's excellent Super Drawings in 3D series of books. And yes, Waldemar is an author of the earlier  IJN Kongo 1944 in Super Drawings in 3D color book out since 2015 and available via Casemate Publishers.

 

You also get a large, A4 size foldout of the Kongo in her final sortie on November 1944, sunk by the USS Sealion submarine. Sheet A has full-hull starboard, top and port profile views in 1/350 scale. Sheet B has 9 views ship segments in unlisted scale, except for bow and stern views in 1/350 scale. One of the drawings is the hull frame sections.

 

IJN Kongo was the first of a four ship class of fast battleships built in England from 1911-1913. At the time, she and her sisters were among the most powerful battleships of the world, with faster speed, sufficient armor and 14-inch main guns, the largest afloat. They gave notice to the world that Japan was a seapower to be reckoned with. The Kongo was refitted extensively in 1929-1931 and 1935-1937, ending up with the tall pagoda-style bridge structure favored for Japanese battleships. She was heavily used in the beginning of the Pacific War of WW2, refitted again in 1943 and then a part of fleet actions in 1944, including Leyte Gulf, where she participated in sinking the USS Gambier Bay and destroyer escort Roberts. She returned to Brunei for refueling and on the trip back home to japan was spotted and sunk by torpedoes from USS Sealion with over 1000 dead.

 

Kongo is a popular ship for modelers and this Top Drawings book is welcome to help build the many kits of the Kongo. It is easily portable, has the foldout for large drawings, and is easy to see details.

 

Summary

Although this book is small it is intensely focused on modeler's needs for building this ship in any scale. As usual, the B&W drawings are clean, simple, detailed and accurate - one would need authentic blueprints to be this accurate. This book is a must-have for building any scale of IJN Kongo in her last fit, as well as IJN Haruna, and even the two earlier war losses IJN Hiei and Kirishima. Highly recommended for building the four Japanese fast battleships, and also for details of fittings used throughout the fleet.

 

Thanks to IPMSUSA for the privilege of reviewing this helpful book!

 

Figures:

Figure 1: Front cover of The Russian ASW Guided Missile Cruiser Petropavlovsk.

Figure 2: Back cover of The Russian ASW Guided Missile Cruiser Petropavlovsk

Figure 3: A detailed line drawing of amidships structures.

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