Mikuma was the second vessel in the four-vessel Mogami class of the heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was named after the Mikuma river in Oita prefecture, Japan.
Commissioned in 1935, it participated in the Battle of Sunda Strait in February 1942 and the Battle of Midway in June 1942. It was sunk the last day of the battle, June 6.
Beginning in 1939, Mikuma was brought in for substantial reconstruction, replacing the triple 155-millimetre (6 in) turrets with twin 203 mm (8 in) guns (the 155 mm turrets going to the battleship Yamato). Torpedo bulges were also added to improve stability, but the increased displacement caused a reduction in speed.
Mikuma participated in the occupation of Cochinchina, French Indochina, after Japan and Vichy French authorities reached an understanding on use of its air facilities and harbors from July 1941, from its forward operating base on Hainan. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mikuma was assigned to cover the invasion of Malaya as part of Cruiser Division 7 under Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa‘s First Southern Expeditionary Fleet, providing close support for landings of Japanese troops at Singora, Pattani and Kota Bharu.
In December 1941, Mikuma was tasked with the invasion of British Borneo, together with Mogami, covering landings of Japanese troops at Miri and Kuching. In February 1942, Mikuma was tasked with covering landings of Japanese troops in Sumatra and Java. On 10 February, Mikuma and Chōkai were attacked by the submarine USS Searaven, which fired four torpedoes, but missed.
At 2300 on 28 February 1942, Mikuma and Mogami, destroyer Shikinami, light cruiser Natori and destroyers Shirakumo, Murakumo, Shirayuki, Hatsuyuki and Asakaze arrived and engaged the cruisers USS Houston and HMAS Perth with gunfire and torpedoes after the Allied vessels attacked Japanese transports in the Sunda Strait. At 2355, Houston scored hits on Mikuma that knocked out her electrical power, but it was quickly restored. During the battle, Mikuma lost six men and eleven others were wounded. Both Houston and Perth were sunk during the engagement, as was transport Ryujo Maru with IJA 16th Army commander Lieutenant General Hitoshi Imamura—although the general survived the sinking.
From 1 April 1942 Cruiser Division 7 based from Mergui joined with Cruiser Division 4 to participate in the Indian Ocean raids. Mikuma, Mogami and destroyer Amagiri detached and formed the Southern Group, which hunted for merchant shipping in the Bay of Bengal, while Chōkai, Destroyer Squadron 4’s light cruiser Yura and destroyers Ayanami, Yūgiri, Asagiri and Shiokaze covered the northern areas. During the operation, the Southern Group claimed kills on 7,726-ton British passenger ship Dardanus and 5,281-ton British steamship Ganara and the 6,622-ton British merchant vessel Indora, en route from Calcutta to Mauritius.
On 22 April, Cruiser Division 7 returned to Kure, and Mikuma went into dry dock for overhaul. On 26 May, Cruiser Division 7 arrived at Guam to provide close support for Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka‘s Midway Invasion Transport Group. Mikuma’s crew was advised that upon the completion of the Midway operation they would proceed to the Aleutian Islands and from there to Australia.
On 5 June, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, CINC of the Combined Fleet ordered Cruiser Division 7 to shell Midway in preparation for a Japanese landing. Cruiser Division 7 and DesDiv 8 were 410 miles (660 km) away from the island, so they made a high-speed dash at 35 knots (65 km/h). The sea was choppy and the destroyers lagged behind. At 2120, the order was canceled; however, due to a mixup, Cruiser Division 7 did not receive the order till 0210 the following day, when it was just 50 miles (80 km) off Midway. This placed Cruiser Division 7 within range of the submarine USS Tambor, which was spotted by the cruiser Kumano. Kumano signaled a 45° simultaneous turn to starboard to avoid possible torpedoes. The emergency turn was correctly executed by the flagship and Suzuya, but the third ship in the line, Mikuma, erroneously made a 90° turn. Behind her, Mogami turned 45° as commanded. This resulted in a collision in which Mogami rammed Mikuma’s portside, below the bridge.
Mogami’s bow caved in and she was badly damaged. Mikuma’s portside oil tanks ruptured and she began to spill oil, but otherwise her damage was slight. The destroyers Arashio and Asashio were ordered to stay behind and escort Mogami and Mikuma. At 0534, retiring Mikuma and Mogami were bombed from high altitude by eight Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses from Midway, but they scored no hits. At 0805, six USMC Douglas SBD Dauntless dive-bombers and six Vought SB2U Vindicators from Midway attacked Mikuma and Mogami but they did not achieve any direct hits. A Vindicator flown by Capt. Richard E. Fleming attacked after being set ablaze by anti-aircraft fire. His bomb missed and he crashed into the sea.
The following morning, 6 June 1942, Mikuma and Mogami were heading for Wake Island when they were attacked by three waves of SBD Dauntless dive-bombers, comprising 31 aircraft, from the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise and Hornet. Arashio and Asashio were each hit by a bomb.
Mogami was hit by six bombs. Mikuma was hit by at least five bombs in the forecastle, bridge area and amidships and set afire. The hit on the forecastle put the forward guns out of commission. The hit near the bridge area set off some AA shells and caused considerable damage to the bridge and personnel. The hit amidships set off several torpedoes and the resulting explosions destroyed the ship. Captain Sakiyama was severely wounded. Mikuma rolled to port and sank. (It has also been suggested that either Asashio or Suzuya scuttled Mikuma the following day).
Asashio rescued Captain Sakiyama, who was transferred to Suzuya for medical attention, but he died 4 days later. Mogami, Asashio and Arashio rescued 240 survivors, but 650 men went down with the ship. On 9 June 1942, the submarine USS Trout rescued two survivors from Mikuma and took them to Pearl Harbor as POWs.
Mikuma was removed from the Navy List on 10 August 1942.
In building the model I’ve used the following items:
- Tamiya 78022 – IJN Mikuma in 1/350
- Eduard 53166 – IJN Mikuma railing PE detail set
- Eduard 52167 – IJN Mikuma superstructure PE detail set
- Eduard 17520 – Life buoy pre painted PE set
- Master model 350-052 – IJN Mikuma armament set
- Tamiya 12622 – Navy crew set
I’ve written an in-box review of the kit which can be found via the following link:
Before starting building, I needed to make a plan on how to tackle it.
The Eduard PE parts are very nice and add a lot of detail, but they are comprised of two separate sets, so in order to use them effectively, I started by marking on the instructions which parts are used and from which set. I planned to build the kit in separate sub-assemblies so that it would be simpler to handle and control.
The initial step was to rinse all the parts with soap and water. I use an old toothbrush and scrub all the plastic sprues to remove mold release oils and to better prepare the parts for painting. The parts were left to dry.
Next I started by building the hull. Tamiya provides both full hull and water line versions of the model, and I opted for the full hull.
Tamiya’s engineering is superb. All the parts slide into place without effort, and the only place I used some filler was in some gaps between the deck and the hull. Not much was used but at this step it is easy to fill the gaps.
I started building the various sub-assemblies at this step.
To ease painting and building, I divide the work for the following main steps:
- Hull and decks
- Gun batteries
- Super structure
- Small sub-assemblies (catapults, cranes, ETC)
- Additional details
Building the hull and decks is done with painting in mind.
I always prefer to glue everything I can in place before painting as it is easier for me to paint the model parts after building it. The downside of this method is that many PE parts are glued before painting, and they do break with uncareful handling.
Some of the parts I fixed after painting but this was done because it would have been much more difficult to paint them while on the model.
Hull and decks
The lower part of the hull is comprised of one red plastic part. Strengthening ribs are inserted to provide structural strength and a base on which the deck is placed. The kit uses screws to fix the deck in place so nuts are placed and glued in at the bottom of the hull part.
The main body of the ship is built from two halves of gray plastic. They are fixed in place to the plastic ribs and strengthened using small metal screws. I like this method as the model is very big, and small deformities of the plastic may result in gaps. Tamiya’s parts fit perfectly.
Next, the deck is glued in place and strengthened with screws. I used some Vallejo filler as there were slim gaps between the hull and the deck, but easily filled.
At this step according to Eduard’s instructions I removed some of the plastic details of the hull. Especially the cranks molded on the deck, and the life boats cradle part. Eduard provides detailed parts to replace those parts.
The rudder and propeller shafts were glued in place. Take notice that the metal shafts are a bit short, so they need to be placed carefully while adding super glue to fix them in place.
The hull construction includes torpedo launchers that are fixed using poly caps to allow them to turn. I preferred to glue them so they will not get out of their place later on. They can be painted before placing them as later on they can’t be accessed.
I also glued the gun batteries bases and the sides of the superstructure. Again, I removed the door details as instructed by Eduard.
The small parts which are placed on the hull such as ventilation shafts I decided to paint while on the sprues, to make painting the deck easier.
As I planned to replace the plastic base with a wood base I drilled open the two holes on the bottom and widened them. I used larger screws to fix the ship temporarily to the plastic base so I can paint it.
This was done so I can spray a strong layer of dark red acrylic color from a spray can. I masked the upper part of the hull, so only the dark red part will be painted. I find that it saves time when the base is dark red, when painting the hull red color. I left it to dry, and removed the masking tape.
For masking I use a mix of Tamiya’s tape, and ordinary masking tape bought at the hardware store.
Eduard provides plenty of details for the hull and decks.
Railing was added to the deck by cutting the long sections to shorter ones and applying them one after another. I used Tamiya’s masking tape to adjust the railing in place, and then added superglue to fix them. When cured, I removed the masking tape and added glue for the masked places.
Additional details placed at this time were the hatches on the decks, and the doors and port holes for the superstructure on the hull.
To build the gun batteries I started by removing the plastic barrels, and then drilled holes to attach the metal barrels from the master model. I used strong super glue to fix them in place, and left them overnight to completely dry. Next, I removed the molded details such as the ladders on the gun battery parts, and after gluing the plastic parts together, added the new PE details.
Eduard’s main detail parts include the railing, ladders, and the antenna tower to which the rigging will be glued later on.
The 5 gun batteries were completed and placed aside until painting.
The 12.7cm gun batteries were constructed in the same way, replacing the plastic barrels with metal ones and adding the PE details.
The super structure of the Mikuma is fairly simple, and consists of a couple of main sub-assemblies which were constructed first by removing the molded details, then gluing the plastic parts together, and lastly adding the PE parts.
Care should be taken when handling the pieces to prevent breaking the PE additions.
Starting with the chimney complex, I painted the inside of the chimneys black, as later on they would not be accessible. There are many PE parts to be added, including railing, ladders, and observation ports which need to be glued in place.
I preferred to leave the main grills on the PE fret and add them after painting. They will be painted while on the fret, and then glued to the chimneys.
The airplane crane complex needs some surgery on the plastic parts, to replace them with PE parts. I glued the PE parts, and let the glue set for a long time. Where needed, I added some more glue on places it would not be seen to strengthen the bond. For best results, the crane itself was soldered, as gluing it would be a bit difficult as it is a big part. Where gaps remained, I added thick superglue to fill them.
For the mast I’ve used the PE provided with the kit. Tamiya’s PE parts fit perfectly, so no trouble was found adding them on the side of the masts.
For the main bridge complex I glued most of the parts before adding the PE details. I left the binoculars on the sprues to paint them separately, and the top part of the bridge as well, as the floor is linoleum color and would be easier to paint of not closed by the top part.
These parts include the catapults which are made entirely from Eduard PE parts. Again I think it is better to solder the long catapult parts for best construction strength.
Eduard’s catapults are little kits by themselves, and look much better than the ones provided with the kit.
The three search light towers are comprised of PE and look much better than plastic. The only part used from the kit was the search light itself. The parts are very delicate, so they need to be assembled with care. The railing was bent using a round rolling tool.
The airplanes carriages were replaced with Eduard parts which are more detailed and delicate than the PE ones offered in the kit.
I constructed all four, even though there will be only 3 planes on the ship.
The kit provides two Kawanishi E7K and two Nakajima E8N floatplanes.
I constructed them according to instructions, and finished them as follows.
Starting with a coat of gray primer, I than painted the under sides with Vallejo gray green. Then I mixed dark green and brown from Vallejo colors to match the color templates provided by Tamiya’s color painting sheet.
I touched up with light gray where necessary and painted the details such as the propeller and the seats.
When dry, I brushed Future floor wash as a base for the decals. Any light glossy material will be ok. The decals were added using Micro set and Micro sol decals softeners. The decals were the only weak point in Tamiya’s kit. Compared to other decals I’ve used they are very thick, and it took a lot of softening material to make them stay on the model. I would recommend replacing them with other decals from the spare box.
When the decals were dry, I added a wash of Raw umber oil color, and then lightly dry brushed with the base colors to get back to the original colors. The planes looked nice enough for me, so I set them aside to attach them later on.
There are 10 life boats with the kit including motorboats and rowboats.
Eduard provides detail parts for all of them. Some of the parts are very small, such as rudders, railing, steering wheel, and super structure. They even provide tiny oars, and carriages to replace the plastic ones.
For painting, I started with a gray primer coat. I sprayed the boats with Tamiya XF-75 Kure arsenal gray using an airbrush. The wood parts were painted with Vallejo sand, the canvas with Vallejo khaki, and the white parts with Vallejo white. The boats were then washed with raw umber oil color and left to dry. I noticed that the Vallejo sand was too shiny, so I glazed it with a light Khaki glaze (Vallejo khaki with water and Vallejo glaze medium).
The oars were painted gray-brown, and fixed to the boats.
There are many parts which were left on the sprues and the PE fret, such as stairs, air vents, binoculars and cranes. I preferred to paint them separately from the ship, and fix them in place after painting was done.
Eduard provides cable reels, and I cut small pieces of evergreen tubes to fix them on the PE parts.
I usually build 1/700 models, which require small amounts of paint. I was lucky with this model that the paint I had was enough. Next time I’ll prepare a couple of more paint tins because 1/350 ship are much larger…
At this point, the lower hull was masked and spray painted in dark red from a spray can. I use this as a quick initial coat for the hull red.
The upper hull was masked again, and I sprayed the lower half with Tamiya’s hull red. I sprayed a coat of Tamiya’s clear for a base for the weathering later on.
When dry, I masked the lower half, and sprayed the model with light gray primer. I also sprayed all the parts remaining on the sprues, the sub-assemblies, and the PE fret. The light gray primer provides a consistent base for the paint later on.
I sprayed Kure arsenal gray XF-75 acrylic paint by Tamiya on the model and parts, and then a light layer of Tamiya’s clear.
This was left to dry overnight, and then the masking of the lower half removed.
The next step was to paint the Linoleum brown deck. I tried a couple of colors, and read about what color to use on the web, and decided to use Vallejo flat brown paint. I think it looks very nice and not too reddish. I painted the deck using brushes. It doesn’t have to be perfect, as after weathering it will look better.
I touched with dark gray where needed to fix painting errors.
Some more brush painting was needed: black for the chimney and aft mast, silver for the propeller shafts, white stripes for the chimney, and some dark metal mixed with black for the cable reels and the crane cable. The propellers were painted with brass color.
I mixed a dark wash of black and burnt umber oil paints, and pin washed the linoleum deck. After the wash was cured, it looked too dark for me. I decided to glaze it over using Vallejo flat brown, glaze medium, and water. I didn’t want to ruin the pin wash, but after using the glaze as a filter, it looked much better.
A similar pin wash was done for the lower hull’s red part.
To weather the red hull, I mixed a palette of oil colors including white, light gray, dark brown, and raw umber, and painted streaks on the lower half. You can see in the pictures that it looked a bit lifeless when dry. I needed some way to subdue the contrast.
I decided to try a glaze for that, too. I mixed Tamiya’s hull red, a bit of Vallejo yellow ochre, lots of water, and glaze medium. The semitransparent dark orange mix was brushed on all the hull red parts. The result was that all the streaks were tied together, and it looked much better. I was a bit concerned about how it would turn out, but it looks weathered without over doing it, I think.
The silver shafts were pin washed with black-brown wash.
Next, I added streaks for the gray parts, this time much more subdued, using light gray and dark gray. Then I mixed a dark gray wash from black and white oil colors and mineral white spirits (odorless) and washed the entire model. It took a couple of sessions, as there are lots of parts to do, and it is important to not overdo it.
When this was dry after a week or so, I very lightly dry brushed the model with gray and light hull red mixed from oil colors. I wanted to pop out the details without ruining the paint work, so the dry brush was really only on the most prominent parts.
After everything was dry, I started gluing the main structure in place and all the little details remaining such as paravanes reels and ventilation ports to which I added the small grills from Eduard set. Over a couple of nights I stretched sprues to make the rigging wire. I already ordered Infini model’s lycra black wire so next time I hope it will be simpler.
I painted the stretched sprues in black, and started adding them to the model with superglue.
When this was done I fixed the rest of the sub-assemblies such as the life boats and airplanes.
The figures from Tamiya’s kit were painted in the following way:
- Base coat of flat white.
- Light wash of light gray wash from Vallejo.
- Touch with flat white from Vallejo, so that some of the light gray remains and give depth.
- Touch the faces and hand with Games workshop elf flesh. Make sure to paint both sides.
- Paint the belt, neck collar and hat with dark blue with a fine 3/0 brush.
- Paint the shoes and hair black.
- Fix with Vallejo white.
I added some figures to show scale and add more interest to the model.
The base was made from a cheap piece of wood I got from an arts and craft store, on which I placed two wood base parts which I got from a wood ship store. I screwed the model to the base and used superglue to add some strength.
That’s it, the model is done 🙂
I enjoyed this model very much even though it is not so complicated compared to battleships. I very much enjoyed doing a larger scale model, and hopefully next time I can improve and try better painting and weathering techniques.