This is an unboxing review for Tamiya’s impressive 1/350 kit of the IJN Mikuma light cruiser.
The Mikuma was the second vessel in the four-vessel Mogami class of 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.
Built under the 1931 Fleet Replenishment Program, the Mogami-class cruisers were designed to the maximum limits allowed by the Washington Naval Treaty, using the latest technology. This resulted in the choice of a 155 mm dual purpose (DP) main battery in five triple turrets capable of 55° elevation. To save weight, electric welding was used, as was aluminum in the superstructure, and the use of a single funnel stack. New impulse geared turbine engines, coupled with very heavy anti-aircraft protection, gave the class a very high speed and protection. However, the Mogami class was also plagued with technical problems due to its untested equipment and proved to be unstable and top-heavy as well, due to cramming too much equipment into a comparatively small hull (From Wikipedia).
Opening a Tamiya kit is always a treat and this one is no exception. The box is full with gray plastic sprues which include most of the parts for building the model, a clear sprue with additional parts, rubber poly caps if the modeler desires to change positions of guns on the display, screws and a screwdriver, paper flags of the IJN, the hull parts in red plastic, some metal rods, a PE fret, a full size color instructions page, and the instructions sheet.
All parts are molded at Tamiya’s high standard, and the additional items such as the instructions sheet are also produced very well.
The design is very interesting, as instead of relying on cement only to fix the large parts together, Tamiya’s kit includes screws and mechanic means for additional support.
The instruction sheet is very clear and includes the step by step black and white instructions, but with additional comments and explanations to avoid mistakes during construction. In addition, Tamiya provides information on the real ship during construction phase, and for me this shows Tamiya’s dedication to providing a high-quality kit.
The first couple of pages in the instruction book include a detailed history of the ship, followed by a painting tips section, and info on using instant cement and photo etched parts. A list of paints is provided with Tamiya’s paint codes.
The model can be built either a water line model or as full hull display model.
Construction starts with the hull. At this stage the modeler needs to decide which version of the model he is going to build – full hull or water line. For each version there are plastic ribs to glue to the hull that will provide additional strength when building the body of the ship.
In addition to glue, as stated before, the kit includes screws that can be used to fix the two hull halves together. I think this is a nice touch, as the screws will make sure the hull orientation and shape is fixed and precise.
Next the decks are fixed to the hull. This is also strengthened with screws. The decks can be painted in deck brown at this stage but it depends on the modelling style.
The instructions’ next step is the propellers’ sub assembly, but I prefer to leave this section for last, as handling the model may break them along the way.
The hull can be fixed at this point to the display base. I prefer to replace plastic bases with wood bases, but for handling the model it can be a good idea to screw the hull to the base at this point.
The next step is adding details and sub-assemblies to the hull. I recommend building and finishing all the deck details separately and gluing it in place after the hull painting is done, as it would be more difficult to paint them when they are glued to the deck.
These include torpedo launchers, and additional torpedoes for re-arming, and the gun batteries. Both launchers and guns are movable if desired by using poly caps. When construction of the hull details is done, the next step is to build the funnel.
The Mikuma had a very unique funnel array which looks like a bent slick funnel fixed to a vertical one. I recommend painting the inside of the funnel black at this point, as later it would be very difficult to do. Some PE details are provided to detail the funnel and instant glue may be used for fixing them in place.
The next sub-assembly is of the crane mast and main mast which are enhanced with PE parts. The funnel and masts can be fixed at this point to the hull, but in my opinion should be painted and completed apart and fixed in place later on.
The bridge section is done at this stage and includes many small parts such as binoculars and direction finders. There are many small details to add, so I recommend marking what was fixed and what is painted and finished before gluing on the instructions page.
Adding the AA gun decks is next with additional bits and pieces added to the hull. The gun batteries can be placed in various gun positions which are replaceable depending on the modeler’s decision.
The last items to add are the cutters and motor launches, the airplanes and the catapults which are enhanced with PE parts.
Three airplanes are provided with the kit: two Nakajima E8N and one Kawanishi E7K. Each plane is a little kit, and they will provide some color and interest for the finished ship as they are painted in a brown and green camo pattern. The kit includes hexagonal black plastic bases with metal rods to simulate the airplanes flying.
The ship was painted in IJN wartime dark gray (Kure arsenal) which is readily available as part of the Tamiya paint range. The hull should be painted in hull red color, and the decks are painted in linoleum deck brown.
I plan to use Eduard two PE detail sets and metal replacement barrels when building the kit. It is an impressive model which can be made even nicer with railing and PE bits.
Highly recommended, this is a wonderful model from Tamiya.