Salutations Lego warship buffs! Finally completed my 1:125 scale Lego model of the light cruiser MOGAMI. Almost 7 months in the making the model measures 63 inches in length; certainly my longest model to date. This full hull replica was constructed after a dear friend sent me a book and numerous photos of the MOGAMI. He thought that the ship would have made a good Lego model – guess he was right.
About this creation
Port side view shows to good effect the keel blocks which support the model.
MOGAMI – a brief history
The MOGAMI was the lead ship of a class of 4 light cruisers; her sisters were the MIKUMA, KUMANO and SUZUYA. As commissioned, here are the ship’s statistics:
• Length 200.6m (661ft)
• Beam 20.6m (67ft)
• Draft 5.5m (18ft)
• Displacement 11.000 tons (full load)
• Speed 35+ knots
• 5 x triple 15.5cm main guns
• 4 x twin 12.7cm AA guns
• 4 x twin 25mm AA machine guns
• 2 x twin 13mm AA machine guns
• 4 x Type 90 61cm triple torpedo mounts
The class was converted to heavy cruisers from 1939 when their main armament was replaced with 5 x twin 20.3cm guns. While these cruisers were designed to incorporate updated armament at some point, a fair bit of modification had to be preformed to take on the new higher caliber guns. Interestingly, it is stated that the MOGAMI’s original triple 15.5cm gun turrets ended up on the battleship YAMATO. (I understand four turrets were mounted on the YAMATO although two were later removed to make way for more anti-aircraft armament.)
In June 1942 during the Battle of Midway, the MOGAMI and MIKUMA were involved in a collision in which the former lost her bow. While in dock undergoing repairs, she was converted to an aviation cruiser. The end for MOGAMI finally came in OCT 1944 during the Battle of Leyte Gulf; she was so heavily damaged after repeated attacks that she had to be sunk by own forces.
MOGAMI – model reference
Reference for the model was taken largely from the book, SUPER ILLUSTRATION – IJN MOGAMI. This indispensable work in Japanese / English comes with superb drawings including cross sections of the ship and its equipment. Though the book does not offer scale plans, I found the featured drawings good enough. Other reference sources like the GAKKAN series of Japanese books offer superb photos of IJN warships for reference. And of course, there’s the Internet.
The MOGAMI is modeled as a light cruiser (1935 – 1938). Her original sleek, uncluttered lines with the original armament of 15.5cm main guns were quite unlike most IJN cruisers – the main reasons I chose to model her. However, she was not without her shortcomings and underwent several modifications, including the fitting of additional hull bulges & anti-aircraft armament. In one modification her tall mainmast was replaced. Sighting stability problems & hull fractures, this mast was eventually replaced with a shorter lighter one. The original mainmast is modeled.
The MOGAMI retained her appearance even after conversion to a heavy cruiser, although in her final aviation cruiser configuration her silhouette was drastically changed.
MOGAMI – model construction
Here is a short description of how the model was built.
• The scale of the model was determined by building one of the turrets first and then using it as a reference to construct the superstructure. As more of the superstructure, deck fittings & equipment were built, I had more material to cross-reference the ship’s scale with.
• The model is constructed around a rectangular box frame running almost the entire length of the hull. Plates of various sizes form the frame and the structure is actually quite rigid.
• Dark Bluish Grey was used predominantly for the hull & superstructure and Reddish Brown for the deck. Only Lego elements were used throughout, without any modification. However, in order to straighten / shape some of the 3mm rigid hoses, I inserted brass rods into them. The masts, funnel piping and even some of the gun barrels have brass rods inserted.
• The hull above the waterline was constructed by attaching 'pre-fabricated' hull panels onto the frame using specially constructed hinge assemblies. These hinge assemblies enabled each panel to be positioned at a slightly different angle to the previous one. When finished, they generally give the hull a smooth continuous look. Gaps however, were necessary between each adjoining panel although I’ve tried to place each panel as close as possible to the next. I’ve used this method before, back in 2006 for my Slava cruiser, and this is a refinement of the technique.
• For the hull below the waterline, the superstructure / deck fittings were removed and the model turned over. With the model upended, it was easier to work on the bottom hull. I used an insane amount of Dark Red 3 x 1 curved slopes for the bottom hull; they certainly work well to replicate the bottom hull towards the keel.
• For the display base, I wanted something that would distribute the weight of the model throughout its entire length. Modeling the ship on keel blocks solved that. The base runs almost the entire length and was added with the hull still upended.
• The model was then righted and everything was re-assembled and then checked to see if all proportions were accurate.
What I have listed is only a brief account of the MOGAMI’s construction in Lego. Factor in the many rebuilds, modifications and time spent just trying out ideas, and you will get a more accurate picture of the time involved. I worked on the model a couple of days per week and there were times when construction was hindered due to lack of parts. (I get my parts through overseas mail order.) In all, I must admit that this was a challenging model, but I enjoyed the build nonetheless.
Well, there you have it, my 1:125 scale MOGAMI. For the most part the model is finished although I’m actually waiting to change-out a couple of elements. My goal was to build a fairly accurate replica of the ship in Lego – in all, I believe I’ve done a decent job. The paneled hull method certainly holds promise although it still needs work – something I intend to address in future models.
Guess that’s it for now. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to read this; till the next time – Cheers Mate!
Starboard Bow view with triple 15.5 cm main guns of A, B & C turrets. Turret C was fitted with an 8m rangefinder.
Mogami’s wonderful double-curved bow. We also get a good view of A turret. Initially, the ladder was only found on the left side of all the turrets.
The tower bridge of the MOGAMI was much simpler than other IJN cruisers. 1 x 2 hinge bases were used for the bridge windows. Note the air intake for boiler 1 & 2 at the base of the tower bridge. Both MOGAMI & MIKUMA had ten boilers. This intake was missing on the eight boiler SUZUYA & KUMANO.
The uncluttered quarterdeck looking towards the stern; what looks like a launcher is actually the AA gun loading trainer. The 1 x 2 grille tiles running along the port & starboard sides represent crew's washing areas. The stern anchors differ on either side.
The rail deck with a Nakajima Type 95 reconnaissance aircraft on a cradle. The tracks and turntables were used to handle the aircraft during launching & recovery. Aircraft were transferred from the cradle to the catapult by the crane. (On the model, this area was rebuilt many times over, but I kept the original door rail plates as I thought that they simulated the deck rails perfectly.)
View showing the 12.7 cm high angle AA guns on the starboard waist; and machine gun platform around the funnel - mounted with 4 x 25mm twin AA machine guns. Funnel detail can be clearly seen.
Another view of Mogami's 12.7 cm AA guns.
If you were one of the crew returning from shore leave, this is how you would probably have seen her upper works.
A really great model. I just wanted to point out that the MOGAMI was given partial credit for the sinking of the USS Houston and the collision during the battle of Midway was a result of a submarine....the Tambor I believe.
I sincerely wish to thank everyone for their encouraging comments and valuable feedback. I am very grateful and proud to be part of this community that has become part of our lives. I will certainly do my level best to better my efforts for the next project. Just taking a short breather now while I decide on what's next, and also to admire the the Art that is Lego from the many talented builders out there. Regards, mark.
What a impressive suprise! I am happy to see a new model from you. Your lego ships are the best I have seen in Lego. Very good description also - Thanks. The little aircraft and its handling equipment is my favourite. If possible I would like to see more close-up photos especially of the main guns.