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Hikawa Maru, a dockside diorama...

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"MSW crew-mate Jim C. Smith (Frieghter) shares a fine gallery of images of his 1/700 scale Hospital ship dio, Hikawa Maru, in a busy dockside setting for this "On Display" feature!"

The vessel
The 11,622 GRT (gross Registered Ton) Hikawa Maru was built in 1929 by Yokohama Dock Co – yard 177, for the Nippon Yusen KK line, Tokyo.

She was launched on September 30, 1929 and commenced her maiden voyage Kobe to Seattle on May 13, 1930. Service combined with superb food saw her become a much sought after ship and passengers gave her the nickname “Queen of the Pacific.”

Amazingly Hikawa Maru and other N.Y.K. passenger ships were involved in assisting Jewish refugees escape from the Holocaust. There were those who escaped via Japan and sailed to Canada, as did a Mr. Zorach Warhaftig who later wrote a book entitled; “Refugee and Survivor, Rescue Attempts during the Holocaust. He and his family departed Yokohama on Hikawa Maru on June 5, 1941 bound for Vancouver Canada. His book describes the sailing as a summer vacation and with the war seeming to be so far away, although, he said “I didn’t have a peaceful mind because of the strong responsibility I had to help the Jewish refugees with the troubles they faced.” The book is by Zorach Warhaftig and was published by Hara Shobo.

Late 1941 Hikawa Maru became a hospital ship. For this role her hull and funnel was painted all white with a wide green band along her hull, as well as two red crosses on each side and on the superstructure and funnel.

On August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally and amazingly Hikawa Maru was to be the only mainstream Imperial Japanese passenger liner to survive World War II. She was immediately seized by the US government. From 1945 to 1947 she was used to transport US personal between the States and Japan. In 1947 Hikawa Maru operated as a simple freighter to the United States East Coast. This service ended in 1954. Thereafter she was refitted into a fine passenger liner once more and she re-commenced her original trans-Pacific service.

As passenger numbers dwindled, it was decided to end her service in 1960. Soon another role was found for her. In 1961 Hikawa Maru was fitted out to become a floating youth hostel and museum. Sadly some of her engine spaces and lower accommodation decks were gutted to facilitate dormitories. As the years passed visitors to the hostel declined and it closed in 1973. She remained at her berth to continue as a museum, but also as a restaurant and banquet facility. During the summer a beer garden was operated out on her open decks. Then, late 2002, the restaurant closed. Having only a museum and the summer beer garden numbers of visitor’s to the ship dramatically dropped, bringing the future of the Hikawa Maru in crisis.

Today she is a renewed tourist attraction in Yokohama, having reopened with a great fanfare recently, ensuring her future as a tourist venue and a fine maritime museum!

From ssMaritime.com

the model...
Base model kit-Hasegawa Models, kit #502, 1/700 scale Hikawa Maru

The other ships are from the 'Tugger set' and a Kobo Hiryu kit of the 'Kinesaki' supply ship. The cranes are scratch built and the diorama is populated with 'beach-head vehicles' and Eduard figures.
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About the Author

About Jim C Smith (Freighter)


I really like it Jim, nice feel to the scene and great to see an oldish kit brought to life. Mike
NOV 11, 2008 - 06:23 AM
Awesome work Jim. Kenny
NOV 11, 2008 - 09:22 AM
Lovely job Jim. Some really skillful work there.
NOV 11, 2008 - 09:36 AM
fantastic work! Im a newbie but looks to me like you captured some of the movement you would expect in such a setting...thanks for sharing!
NOV 11, 2008 - 11:21 AM
Overall a nice scene, well executed and good finish - I like the contrast the white ship gives. Cheers/Jan
NOV 11, 2008 - 08:20 PM
Thanks guys for all your comments. I'm planning to take this diorama, together with the Kashino diorama and some merchant ships to Telford. So look me up on the S E Essex IPMS stand (Hall 2) or the Fine Waterline Stand (Hall 3). I'm the ugly one with beard and glasses!! Jim S
NOV 12, 2008 - 05:29 AM
As opposed to the ugly ones without! Mike
NOV 12, 2008 - 06:08 AM
Great subject for a diorama! Good job!
NOV 12, 2008 - 11:09 AM
I can only echo the others' positive comments on this one, a fine job all around.
NOV 12, 2008 - 11:17 AM
Fabulous work!
NOV 13, 2008 - 11:46 AM