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Built Review
Submarine I-365
I.J.N. Submarine I-365
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

I.J.N. Submarine I-365
Mfg. ID: 00568
Series: Iron Clad

This review examines the Aoshima 1/350 Iron Clad series model of the Imperial Japanese Navy Sensuikan (submarine) I-365.

Quick history
While their war started out well for Imperial Japan, their rapid expansion strained Japan’s ability to supply their ill-gotten gains. Japan had transports and a few purpose-built ships similar to specialized Allied amphibious vessels, yet by mid-1943 these were disappearing courtesy of Allied air and submarine interdiction. Indeed, to provide even a near-starvation trickle of supplies to their formidable garrisons in New Guinea and the Solomons, Japan relied on fleets of daihatsu, small steel barges, that swarmed wraith-like from innumerable coves and groves at night to ferry men and supplies. Interdicting them was a major bugbear of Allied forces, tying down squadrons of aircraft and fleets of light naval assets. In 1943 barge hunting precipitated many viscous night surface actions between Japanese and Allied destroyers and cruisers.

Eventually Allied production made surface runs hazardous. Japan counted by designing and launching huge transport sensuikan. Those desperate vessels prowled the oceans bringing supplies and reinforcements, positioning midget submarines, and even carting Nazi technology halfway around the world to Japan. Ironically in contrast to post-war Japan’s leadership in nuclear nonproliferation, both the Imperial Army and Navy had robust programs to build their own atomic weapons (Some accounts maintain they were much closer to a working weapon than the Nazis and even were within weeks of VJ Day of fielding a nuke.) and one cargo sub disappeared off Africa, supposedly with Nazi nuke components aboard.

    Type D1. This type was designed in mid-1942 specifically to carry cargo. Until recently it was assumed that no submarines of this type had torpedo tubes, but newer research has shown that at least some D1s (including I-361, I-363 and I-367) carried two bow tubes, either as built or retro-fitted. Initially, 104 units of the D1/D2 Types were planned. I-361, I-363, I-366, I-370, and I-372 were later fitted to each carry five Kaiten. *

And I-365?
    14 August 1944, I-365 is completed at the Yokosuka Navy Yard, commissioned in the IJN and based in the Yokosuka Naval District. The I-365 is a Type D1 "Tei-gata" transport submarine and has no torpedo tubes.

    29 November 1944: 75 mile SE of Yokosuka. LtCdr Frederick A. Gunn's USS SCABBARDFISH (SS- 397) on lifeguard duty off Japan. The I-365, running on the surface, is sighted by the SCABBARDFISH's high periscope.

    LtCdr Gunn tracks the submarine for over three hours and attempts an "end-around" to outrun the target and reach a favorable firing position. The SCABBARDFISH is spotted by a Japanese aircraft (that fails or is unable to warn the I-365). Gunn is forced to dive, but finishes his approach submerged and launches two stern torpedoes at 1,625-yards. At 0940, a torpedo explodes on the Japanese submarine's starboard side in the forward battery compartment. The I-365 sinks in 30 seconds at 34-44N, 141-01E.

    The SCABBARDFISH surfaces and finds five survivors amid the oil-strewn debris. Four refuse rescue. PO Sasaki is the sole survivor. He identifies the submarine as the I-365.

In the slipway
The model is held in a conventional lid-tray box. A nice portrait of submerged I-365 sneaking through the sea decorates the entire lid. Box sides show the completed model and also advertise that Aoshima offers separate photo-etch wooded decks, railing, masts, etc., for I-365 (sprue EA). Inside is the kit, long booklet-style instruction sheet and vessel history (in Japanese) plus a small decal sheet.

My first impression was that this is a very well molded model. I noted the there were only a few sprues sealed in plastic baggies. The box seemed kind of empty. That was quickly replaced by marvel at the large number of very small parts which, I happily noted, were void of flash, noticeable seam lines, sink marks, and almost devoid of visible ejector marks. I write ‘noticeable seam lines ‘because I only notice them after cropping and enlarging my photographs.

Six sprues are provided:

* Sprue A: Conning tower, middle weather decks and Daihatsu
* Sprue B: Those numerous parts? Don’t be intimidated as I was at first glance. As is the fashion these days Aoshima engineers their models in a modular manner to allow kitting of several similar – yet definitely different – subjects of a class or variant. I do not know how many of these specialist subs were launched in the class. It appears that sprue B (The “B” is uniquely molded as an open void in the sprue data tab!) is of generic IJN submarine parts: decks; masts, periscopes; davits; capstans, windlasses and winches; bow and stern dive planes; rudder, miscellaneous fittings.
* Sprue B (detached): I-365 hull halves
* Sprue C: Parts specific to I-365 and perhaps for her sisters
* Sprue H: Black display stand with posts and internal brackets
* Baggie of display stand mounting screws and nuts.

Plenty of pieces to whet your assembly appetite! Test fitting indicates that the model will go together as well as it looks apart.
Impressive! Admittedly I have little experience with this generation of 1/350 models. This model leaves me wanting more. Surface detail is predominately molded on in both relief and recessed, as appropriate. Each hull half sports fine cleats on the gunwale fore and aft – be careful handing your model! Antennas and masts and poles are very thin, many about .4mm in diameter. Some of the rigging masts are multi-piece assemblies. The styrene Aoshima used is malleable enough that I was able snip them from (sometimes hefty) sprue attachment points without breaking them. However, they are susceptible to bending in your fingers.

I do not know what all of the equipment on the crowded conning tower weather deck is yet my aging eyes are impressed with the minute surface detail. A pair of Type 96 25mm light automatic anti-aircraft guns show good stand and barrel recoil spring detail. A couple of main deck guns are included and while they sport good detail, compared with the tinier Type 96 guns they are less crisply molded.

The little daihatsu is built up with seven pieces. Most Daihatsu I’ve seen have tall shields for the wheelhouse. The kit lacks this.

Two types of propeller shaft hull fairings are provided. Each shaft is separate, as are the different screws. This model has a lot of separate parts enhancing the overall detail.

Instructions, painting guide, decals
A black-and-white booklet presents the history of this submarine and probably the class and variants. I do not read Japanese so I don’t know the specifics. There is a close-up photo of the conning tower of I-365 (Good reference!). It reveals a very interesting insignia details: the IJN Hinomaru and the I-365 identification were not painted on; rather they were fabric banners ties to the conning tower! Aoshima also illustrates the sprues and contents with line art. Parts not used for I-365 are shaded out. Steps for assembly are well organized and clearly illustrated. Each part is keyed to a paint color.

To mount the many masts on the main decks, you will have to drill out the holes. Aoshima clearly indicated this and lists the bit sizes required. Interestingly, they molded open the holes for attaching the conning tower.

Confusing at first sight, the step in the instructions for attaching the decks only references the separately sold premium special photo-etched decks. That led to a moment of franticly searching the box contents for sprues that did not exist.

Two types of paints are referenced: Mr. Color and GSI. Not many colors are used. Fortunately the colors are also named in English. One is odd; the anti-fouling below-waterline color is listed as “cocoa brown”.

The decals are sharply printed, opaque, and appear thin. Not many to worry about: two styles of national insignia; I-365 identity plates, and other markings.

Building I-365
The model went together with ease. Fit is good. Aoshima cleverly engineered the assembly process. Filling and sanding required was de minimis. Probably 95% of assembly was with superglue. I estimate I spent about 12 hours in assembly, not including painting and decaling:

    4 hours assembling the hull, conning tower, decks
    1 hour for the Daihatsu
    6 hours removing, cleaning and attaching all the masts, davits, and jib cranes
    1 hour for all those fiddly miscellaneous model making maneuvers

As I created a build-log in the forum, I will not present a step by step description here. Please see Related Link: Building I-365, below in the summary box, to access the build-log. I advise you prepare a well-lighted work area with plenty of room to hold or catch very small parts. Remove the pieces from the sprue as carefully and cleanly as possible because many parts are very fine and can be damaged. Aoshima sprue attachments are not big; rather many parts are thin of girth, e.g., four capstans on the stern are attached by their sides and while the attachment is fine, the parts are tinier. I managed to only break two pieces and loose the broken parts. I dropped (or had sprung from my grip) several pieces although I was able to find them. Be advised that after drilling out the mounting holes in the deck segments that some parts still did not fit. Fortunately the holes are easy to enlarge with a hobby knife, or you can nip away the mounting pegs. To access a link to a conversion table from millimeter to "no." go to Click here for additional images for this review, below.

Use fine needle-nose tweezers. You’ll see why in the build-log. Keep you knife sharp.

As stated above, there are a few confusing steps in the assembly instructions.

These are the three most challenging “sub assemblies” (pardon the pun). The barge - seven pieces construct it and none of the alignment features are big. Another is the conning tower - 11 willowy parts planted in less than a square quarter-inch! The third is getting each propulsion assembly aligned and glued tight: stern tube bearing, strut, propeller shaft and screw – then positioning them within the aft dive plane.

Adding the decals is quick. As far as I can tell only four decorate this Sensuikan. Unfortunately, the Nisshōki ("sun-mark flag") is too big for the conning tower, as would be the Kyokujitsu-ki (Rising Sun Flag). They overlay the conning ladders.

Ultimately, I completed a very satisfying model Type D1 Tei-gata transport submarine.

after action report
Aoshima has been one of my favorite producers of waterline series models since my first one some 40 years ago. I am happy to report that with this model they still have my esteem. Compared to other 1/350 naval kits I have, this big sub is a small model. Yet it is big with detail. Fine raised and recessed detail enhances its appeal. Some surface detail is molded on, i.e., ladders. Aoshima makes a photo-etch detail set to upgrade the kit. They also produce a laser-cut wooden deck set. I am happy with the appearance of this model straight from the box. Fit is good. Molding of parts is to a very high standard, as is the finesse with which small parts are made. The instruction sheet has some mistakes but mainly is good. Decals are top notch, too. However, since most of the text is in Japanese, you will have to expend effort to figure out which of the national insignia is appropriate for your model.

Complaints are minor. The plastic the display stand is made with does not seem to take glue well. What no doubt is an interesting history is only for those who speak Japanese. The step in the instructions for attaching the decks only references the premium special laser-cut decks. The instructions are also vague with the alignment of the jib cranes and, to me, contradict themselves in the assembly step compared to the sub planform and profile. Additionally, Aoshima identifies two parts to mount on the foredeck yet not only is the printed part number for a different piece, there are no other pieces that remotely match the mounting holes. Further, there are no decal placement directions with the sole exception of a photograph of the prototype’s conning tower. That photo also reveals the IJN insignia and I-365 identity banner decals are much too big.

I am very impressed with the kit and look forward to having this model on my shelf. Aoshima still holds their pride of place in my modeling hierarchy and I happily recommend the model.

Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this model here – on ModelShipwrights.

Source: Combined Fleet.com.

* Submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy. [Web.] n.d.

** SENSUIKAN! HIJMS Submarine I-365: Tabular Record of Movement. Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp. © 2001-2002.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Excellent molding, detail, and fidelity of parts.
Lows: Excess carrier film around the decals. Some ambiguous instructions.
Verdict: Aoshima still holds a pride of place in my modeling hierarchy and this model is a good flagship for my naval collection.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:350
  Mfg. ID: 005682
  Related Link: Building I-365
  PUBLISHED: Mar 06, 2014
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.



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