Japanese Automobile Transport, 1988
HB, Model # HB-C31
by Steve Backer

"The Master of MV Nissan Courier hadn’t received any notice at all. His was a surpassingly ugly ship that looked for all the world as though she had begun life as a solid rectangular block of steel, then had its bow scooped out with a large spoon for conversion into something that could move at sea. Top-heavy and cursed with a huge sail area that often made her the plaything of even the gentlest winds, she required four Moran tugboats to dock at the Dundalk Marine Terminal in the Port of Baltimore." (Debt of Honor by Tom Clancy at page 154, describing an automobile transport) 

Click to Enlarge
QAce2319HBC-31.JPG (52279 bytes) QACE2312HBC-31.JPG (76302 bytes) QAce2320HBC-31.JPG (57703 bytes)

When I read this passage from Tom Clancy’s Debt of Honor, I became curious about the appearance of Japanese automobile transporters. With the Queen Ace by HB (C-31) I discovered that Clancy’s writing did accurately portray these unique vessels. Queen Ace was not designed for beauty. She was designed for one purpose, to efficiently and economically transport automobiles from Japan to the United States. All other design facets were subservient to that mission. It has created a ship that is asymmetrical and angular, with a towering freeboard with loading ramps on both sides and the rear. A Roll On/ Roll Off (RO-RO) vessel she clearly can unload her cargo by driving the cars off of the ship rather than having them lifted off. 

Click to Enlarge
QAce2318HBC-31.JPG (76120 bytes) QAce2323HBC-31.JPG (27159 bytes) QAce2322HBC-31.JPG (53899 bytes)

Heavier than any battleship ever built with the exception of the Yamato and Musashi, the Queen Ace displaces 55,380 tons. She is a PCC (Pure Car Carrier) in charter to Mitsui-OSK-Lines on the Japan to USA run. She is 199.5 M (650 feet) in length and carries 5,560 automobiles at 19.2 knots.

The Queen Ace is available from East Coast Miniatures