Pontos Models
1/700 IJN Battleship Yamato 1945

Reviewed November 2021
by Martin J Quinn

Another of those ships that really needs no introduction, the Japanese battleship Yamato has attained almost mythical status, and is a popular subject for armchair admirals, who wonder how she would have faired against an Iowa-class battleship in a duel, especially if Admiral Halsey hadn't left the entrance to San Bernardino Strait unguarded, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944.  

Here's a snapshot of what Wikipedia has to say about the behemoth:  

"Yamato (大和) was the lead ship of her class of battleships built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) shortly before World War II. She and her sister ship, Musashi, were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed, displacing 72,800 tonnes at full load and armed with nine 46 cm (18.1 in) Type 94 main guns, which were the largest guns ever mounted on a warship.

Named after the ancient Japanese Yamato Province, Yamato was designed to counter the numerically superior battleship fleet of the United States, Japan's main rival in the Pacific. She was laid down in 1937 and formally commissioned a week after the Pearl Harbor attack in late 1941. Throughout 1942, she served as the flagship of the Combined Fleet, and in June 1942 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto directed the fleet from her bridge during the Battle of Midway, a disastrous defeat for Japan. Musashi took over as the Combined Fleet flagship in early 1943, and Yamato spent the rest of the year moving between the major Japanese naval bases of Truk and Kure in response to American threats. In December 1943, Yamato was torpedoed by an American submarine which necessitated repairs at Kure, where she would also be refitted with additional anti-aircraft guns and radar in early 1944. Although present at the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, she played no part in the battle.

The only time Yamato fired her main guns at enemy surface targets was in October 1944, when she was sent to engage American forces invading the Philippines during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. While threatening to sink American troop transports, they encountered a light escort carrier group of the U.S. Navy's Task Force 77, "Taffy 3", in the Battle off Samar. The Japanese turned back after American air attacks convinced them they were engaging a powerful US carrier fleet.

During 1944, the balance of naval power in the Pacific decisively turned against Japan, and by early 1945, its fleet was much depleted and badly hobbled by critical fuel shortages in the home islands. In a desperate attempt to slow the Allied advance, Yamato was dispatched on a one-way mission to Okinawa in April 1945, with orders to beach herself and fight until destroyed, thus protecting the island. The task force was spotted south of Kyushu by US submarines and aircraft, and on 7 April 1945 she was sunk by American carrier-based bombers and torpedo bombers with the loss of most of her crew."

For more details on the design and history of Yamato, see her Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_battleship_Yamato.

The Pontos Yamato

As can be expected, due to her elevated status, Yamato has been offered many times in kit form, most recently with offerings from both Fujimi and Pit Road (the latter being the previously acknowledged standard for Yamato kits).   Pontos Models, who've been a well-known and long-time producer of high quality multi-media upgrade sets, has followed in the steps of Flyhawk models and released their first injection molded kit, choosing the 1945 Yamato as their first subject.

The model comes in a large, glossy white box with a very nice drawing of the ship on the cover.   The entire box (including the sides of the bottom half) is covered in computer generated renders of the model.  Inside the box are six injection molded sprues, an injection molded display stand and associated parts for the stand, over 200 turned brass parts, 5 frets of photo-etch, a wood deck, decals and flags.  There is also an instruction booklet, and two different pieces of artwork depicting Yamato, including that duplicates the box art.


The hull appears to scale out pretty much perfectly in length and beam.   It's a two piece affair - split in halves - that's well molded in light gray plastic, with some of the nicest hull plating I've ever seen.  It's there, you can see it, but it's not overstated.  There are openings in the lower hull (to be covered by photo-etch) for the sea chests.   Some of the chocks are molded integral to the hull halves.  Inside the hull is a groove along the waterline, for those wishing to cut the hull down to a waterline version.   The sprues are also labeled "1/700 Yamato/Musashi", so that seems to indicate at least one more version of this class is coming. 


On this sprue, you'll find decks, struts, shafts, rudders and hull stiffeners   Like the hull itself, the stiffeners have a groove to allow them to be cut down to the waterline.  Also included is the very tip of the bow and the very tip of the stern, with chocks molded into the parts.   The way this kit is designed with wood and photo-etch decks, all the decks have zero detail on them.  

The large central superstructure is prominent on this sprue, along with the parts for the tower bridge, funnel, the bases for the 6" secondary weapons as well as various other superstructure parts.   Much of the detail on this kit will be added via photo-etch, but what's molded on looks good.

The large superstructure sections for the ships extensive AA armament are included on this sprue, along with various gun tubs and other AA related parts.

There are two of these sprues in the kit.   Here you'll find the main and secondary battery turrets (4 of each), along with their respective blast bags.  There are the open and closed AA gun batteries, props, range finders, a boat and the "sandbag" shields that protected the AA guns on the deck.  There is some nice detail on the turrets and what looks like small locator holes molded into parts, to accommodate the photo-etch.   As with some of the parts on the other sprues, there are also parts are devoid of detail, due to the extensive amount of photo-etch included.  
A display base, with finials and mounting hardware is included in the model.  
The kit comes with multiple decals and markings.  There are waterslide decals, printed by Cartograf, dry-transfers printed by Hobbydecal, a small decal sheet with the ships names and chrysanthemum, along with paper flags.    The waterslide decals include mostly markings for the aircraft, and look to be perhaps a bit on the thick side.   The dry-transfers have mostly draught markings, but also alternate decals for the emblem carried on either side of Yamato's funnel. 
The wood deck is usual Pontos quality and looks good  It's designed to fit into the plastic deck, which is recessed so that the wood deck will be flush with the sides of the hull.  This is unlike aftermarket decks, whose edges will rise above the sides of the hull and deck fittings.  My only other comment would be that while the wooden deck is left natural wood, since this is a 1945 version of Yamato, it should be stained, like Yamato's were at the time of her loss. 

There are 229 turned brass parts included in this kit!!  Among the plethora of parts are:  gun barrels for the main, secondary, open and closed AA guns; bitts; range finders; davits; masts; yards; the base for the crane and more.   Everything looks well done.  There's also a blackened anchor chain included.


The Pontos Yamato is a photo-etch intensive kit.   There a four large frets of photo-etch and one very small "addendum" fret.   You'll find many, many, many, very, very, very small PE pieces on these frets, which Pontos labels as "sheets".   Overall, as you may expect from a company that specialized in aftermarket upgrade sets, the quality is very good.  

This fret, which is the largest in the kit, appears to be made of stainless steel.  On it, you'll find the foredeck, well deck, aircraft handling deck, name plates (in both English and Japanese), railings and assorted other platforms.  Also, you'll find templates to be used to drill portholes specific to this version of the ship.

The is the smallest of the main sheets.  On it are hatches, decking, vertical and inclined ladders, vents, W/T doors and more.   Lots of relief etched parts. 

Here are the catapults, wings for the floatplanes, cranes, "faces" for the searchlights, davits, details for the rudders, platforms and more.   As mentioned, there is a small "U addition" fret which has what looks like rigging for a crane, or something similar.

On this fret there are AA platforms, lot and lots of parts for AA guns, more vents, more railings, details for the main battery turret range finders and more. 


The instructions are in booklet form - 32 pages, printed on glossy paper.  The first 5 pages cover the parts manifest before getting into the actual construction, which is basically a series of sub assemblies.  The instructions seem logical to follow, but there are lots of diagrams and lots and lots of parts, so take your time and follow them closely.  That may be heresy for most modelers, but with the complexity of this kit, probably warranted.   

Included in the box are two pieces of artwork.  One folds out to reveal a profile rendering of Yamato.   The other is rolled, and has multiple renderings of Yamato on one side, and a duplicate of the box art on the other side. 
Pontos has certainly entered the injection-molded kit arena with a bang.   They've taken an interesting and somewhat innovative approach, with wood and photo-etch upgrade parts being used in lieu of traditional injection-molded detail.   Overall, I think this is a good looking kit of this famous Japanese battleship, one which should make IJN aficionados and "Yamato-philes" very happy.   It also appears that we will get future releases out of these molds as well.  

This is Pontos Models 1/700 Yamato 1945, kit number 70002R1. The model lists for $149.95, and is available from FreeTime Hobbies - who I'd like to thank for this review sample.   Considering all the photo-etch included in the box, I think that's actually a very fair price.   My only nit-pick is the natural wood deck included for the 1945 version.   This kit is highly recommended, with one (big) caveat:  with the prodigious amount of photo-etch included to bring out the details, this kit is NOT for beginners.  

This is an in-box review, and while everything looks great in the box, your mileage may vary, once you commence construction.