Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Battle of Guam: Japanese shore battery in 54 mm.



Guam is the home of the relatively new War in the Pacific National Park.  Back when I was a Park Ranger (I retired at the end of May) I used to think about how cool it would be to work there and to be on the island again.

When I was on the Island in 1971-'72 Japanese and American ordnance and materiel were still all over the place, generally, in their original wartime positions.  Now at the park, and some other privately-owned museums, the guns and tanks have been relocated - which is unfortunate, and is being maintained - which is good.

Before the Americans liberated the island the Japanese had heavily fortified it, with pillboxes, anti tank guns, anti aircraft guns, and shore batteries.  I wanted to find an inexpensive way to fabricate some shore battery guns like those pictured below.  It was a head-scratcher as to how I was going to make tapered barrels..and then, fate stepped in.

On eBay I found a dealer who was selling the gun assembly sprues for two Tamiya Japanese Chi-Ri tanks...cheap!  I jumped on that deal and watched my mailbox.




Turns out, the Model isn't Tamiya, it's Fine Molds. The modeling is very similar to Italeri  in that the parts were crisp, highly detailed and well-engineered, and like Italeri...sometimes the parts are way too small for easy assembly  Nonetheless, the gun subassemblies went together flawlessly. 



As this was originally a tank gun, some modifications had to be figured out.  I assembled it with the mantlet, as that is where the trunnions are - without the mantlet there would be no depression or elevation of the gun.  Frankly, I think I think the mantlet compliments, rather than detracts from the gun.  All along I was reminding myself that I wasn't making an exact replica of a particular gun, rather, a satisfying approximation of that gun, and I was definitely on the right track.Now I had to fabricate a pedestal and then figure out how to marry the two together.

I went to the scrap stack and cut down a piece of 2x2 into a one-foot length, clamped it in to the wood lathe, and started turning.  The wood was really bad, as dried-out pine can often be.  The grain was dry and open, but sanding was able to fix most of that.

As I had the sprue for two  guns, I turned both pedestals at the same time, to make sure that they would be as identical as possible.

When both were turned to my satisfaction, a quick trip to the small bandsaw cut them into two individual pieces. (I photographed them at the tablesaw simply because the light was better).
Now, I needed a ring-base for the pedestal.  This operation would take me to the drill press.

I found a hole-saw of the appropriate diameter and a nice scrap of craft plywood.I remind myself all the time how lucky I am to have a well-equipped woodshop,  As this blog has demonstrated over the years, the many, many things that I have fabricated for the toy soldier table, have all come out of this shop.
I found the centers, applied glue, and clamped. An hour later, the clamps came off and it was time for the next step.
Initially I thought it would be difficult to find a way to join the gun to the pedestal, fortunately, an elevation-wheel shaft went the whole width of the gun.  All I had to do was cut and drill a corresponding slot in the top of the pedestal, apply a dab of hot glue, and the two were joined together and ready to take to the spray-booth to prime.





I'm really happy with the result, and when I have the second one built, I will start fabrication the gun pits that they will be installed in.I hope you enjoyed watching the process as much as I enjoyed doing it.  I'm now convinced that my Battle of Guam project will be a journey, a personal journey into history and into my own experiences as a young sailor fifty years ago.I'm really enjoying this long process, I hope you'll stick with me to the end...whenever that is.Soldier on!Mannie

1 comment:

Beaty said...

Love seeing conversions. This is such and interesting project overall. Keep up the great work! :D