Tuesday, June 23, 2020

How is your Hokoko Maru this morning?

The Japanese were invited by the Germans and Vichy French to use Madagascar to attack the allies.  As a result of this invitation the Japanese command dispatched two merchant cruisers and four A-1 class Submarines to Madagascar, they also brought along 8 aircraft and six midget subs. 

A smaller force, but powerful in its own right.

The Hokoko Maru and her Sisiter ship the Aikoku Maru were over 11,000 tonnes each before their conversion to armed merchant cruisers and came in at about 12,000 after the conversion.  On paper that makes these ships bigger than most British and American Heavy cruisers in WWII.  Armed with 8 six inch guns and two 80mm anti aircraft guns, plus four heavy machine guns and three torpedo tubes, these vessels held the potential of dishing out a lot of pain on opponents.  However their careers did not live up to their lofty promise. 

Here is a painting guide rendering of the ships camo pattern in spring 1942 as they were dispatched to Madagascar. 

Here is what I unpacked from my ebay retailer, they look a little different, I know. 

This is what the boat looks like complete as intended.  However, I quickly decided that it was too big for my purposes so I resolved to remove two sections.  I will leave out the majority of the open cargo hold, and the taller end of the covered cargo area. 

For scale purposes I am showing what I am using of the boat alongside the in progress French boats previously reviewed.  The model is bigger, much bigger than the French Armed merchant cruiser, but then at nearly three times the displacement it should be pretty big. 

Using four of the six sections of the boat I Gorilla glued the front half together and the back half together.  Next I would glue these two halve together to complete the basic boat.  As you can see the interior of the boat is fully included.  I later decided to Gorilla Gluethe superstructure in place so these details are lost for gaming purposes, but they do exist in case you are wondering.  The actual model is 1/100 scale. 

As I waited for the large amount of glue involved in gluing the hull sections together to dry I began work on the guns which I got from the same seller.  These ended up coming in two sizes, these are the smaller guns.  Here you are seeing how the guns arrive and what they look like when done. 

The guns come in two halves that have to be removed from a printing matriix, think of it as sprue on steroids.  Here I am working a removing the actual gun from the backing matrix.  With these smaller guns it proved VERY difficult to get the guns off. 

There was also a rather large amount of excess material to remove.  Did I mention that it was VERY difficult? 

And there is a LOT of excess material.

Eventually, the excess was removed and the guns were ready to be assembled, painted and mounted.  By the way these ended up being the 80mm AA guns on the Japanese merchant cruisers.  Fortunately the larger guns separated from the sprue much more easily. 

Here the Camo has been added and I am arranging the guns to try and fit them all in, ten guns and four machine guns require some wrangling to arrange on a model. 

Here we see the ships nearly completed.  You will notice the odd black rectangle towards the back on the side of each boat.  This is the Torpedo bay.  Literally, there was one torpedo bay in the boat and it had a false side that could be removed to allow the torpedoes to be fired out either side of the boat.  The novel feature led to a problem for the Hokoko Maru shortly after the Japanese left Madagascar in the summer of 1942.  As the Hokoko Maru and Aikoku Maru were sailing back across the Indian Ocean they ran into a small convoy.  Two merchant men and a tanker escorted by a sloop.  The two merchantmen and the sloop ran leaving the tanker behind.  The Captain of the Hokoko Maru stayed behind to finish off the tanker while the Aikoku Maru ranged ahead to begin the process of running down the fleeing convoy.  The Hokoko Maru's six inch guns vastly out ranged the armament on the tanker and many hits were scored.  However, the tanker was double hulled so while there were many hits, they did little significant damage.  Not grasping the situation the captain of the Hokoko Maru decided to close the range to deliver more telling fire on the hapless tanker.  Unfortunately for the Japanese all this did was brng the smaller guns of the Tanker into their extreme range so hits started registering on the Hokoko Maru, although nothing serious.  Getting exasperated, the captain of the Hokoko Maru decided to move into torpedo range and finish off the Tanker with a salvo of the new Torpedoes (they had only just been installed before the vessels left for Madagascar).  This mistake brought the Hokoko Maru into range of the Tankers guns.  Just as the HokokoMaru was about to fire their torpedoes, a shell from the tanker struck the Torpedo bay detonating all three long lance torpedoes they were about to launch.  The resultant explosion literally blew the stern off the Hokoko Maru off and she sank in moments taking about half the crew down with her (including the captain).  The Aikoku Maru broke off its action and returned to pick up survivors.  The Aikoku Maru suffers its own catastrophic fate a few years later when she found herself in Truck lagoon the morning the American carrier fleet went in to destroy Truk once and for all. 

Here is a rendering of her today as she sits on the bottom of Truk Lagoon where she is one of the most commonly dived on wrecks in the world. 

Here is my Japanese Submarine.  The Japanese sent I-10, 16, 18 and 20.  My model is a modified Nachima 1/200 scale Type IX Uboat.  I reversed the deck gun to the rear of the conning tower and used an ear plug to form the airplane hanger in front of the conning tower. 

Here is a model of a sub from the class. 

Once again here is the family picture of the Japanese element from this campaign.

So Anton now that I have scrounged up all the difficult vessels, all you have to do is knock out a couple of cruisers, a couple of destroyers, and maybe a couple of odd ball small vessels.  Nothing too difficult for you and Proxie. 


  1. Too bad you did let me. I have a STL file for a freighter it 1/72/20mm scale. Plus I got to printers. Just saying. Currently I got a Hannicar glider in 1/72 is work.

  2. Never knew anything about this slice of WWII.

  3. Gary, 1/100 is what I went with and it is too big as produced, hence I dropped 1/3 of the boat. 1/72, would just be too large. I did think about your offer, and they probably would have been better matches for design, but too big was just too big.


    Thanks for the comment. I love these sorts of things the campaign is perfect as both sides are completely dependent on getting air superiority. The Brits have two of their carrier (40 planes each) and a few twin engine bombers ranging over from South Africa, about 100 planes total. The Vichy have about 60 fighters, about 40 fighter/recon planes, and about 40 bomber/recon planes. More planes but generally lesser quality planes.

    To complicate the situation more, the British carrier borne bombers are swordfish and albacore biplanes and the Vichy primary bombers once again old Morane 25 biplanes.

    In both cases the biplanes would be simply destroyed if they get caught in the air by the monoplane fighters on both sides. So until the fighters do their work, the bombers are paralyzed.

    Historically the Brits managed to destroy the French scout/patrol planes without while jamming their transmissions so the Vichy got caught completely flat footed in port. But that would need to be played out on the table to see how it actually goes in our recreation. Then the war of attrition is on.

  4. I can't find my Hokoko Maru, but I just finished my boko-maru and I feel wonderful

    1. You are so full of love running through the woods of happiness ;)

  5. The file can be scaled down to 1/100/15mm. I done this with all my WW2 and cold war building. My 28mm is samurai, dark ages, ACW so far. I just printed up some bamboo forest parts. I should be posting them some. As my eye are still adjusting from surgery. Noe I can't see up close with out cheaters.

    1. Must be nice, I need cheaters to read the computer screen.

    2. Gary,

      Upon further consideration can you scale it to 1/144? If so can you give me a guesstimate on how longxwidextall the model would be? I could use two more as general merchants.

  6. TMI!!!! TMI!!!!!!!!! Way WAy WAY TMI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. So, there are not many Vonnegut fans out there, what a shame

    1. OOOOHHHH! You were referencing "Bokononism". That is very different. You should look up "Boko-Maru", like I did ... then you can issue your retraction/apology.

    2. There was a reason I used lower-case text; no apology likely, you know me better than that

  8. I will never take my shoes off at your house again.

  9. Let me figure out what I need to do. EMail me.