Tamiya 1/700
IJN Heavy Cruiser Mikuma
Box Art
Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The Mikuma was originally built as a light cruiser to comply with the Washington Treaty limiting warship sizes. However Japan secretly designed these ships to be upgraded to heavy cruisers by replacing the  triple main 6" guns with twin 8" ones. The ship emerged from this rebuilding with a displacement of 12,000 tons. The Mikuma was active in the South Pacific when the war began and took part in the Battle of Sundra Strait where the USS Houston was sunk. She operated in the Java Sea area for a time. She and her sister Mogami were part of the Midway Invasion force sent to bombard the Island. After that plan went awry with the sinking of the four main carriers, the ships were forced to retreat, the two ships collided while Mogami evaded a sub contact. The Mogami was seriously damaged and the Mikuma stayed behind to protect her. They were repeatedly bombed by  aircraft from the Hornet and Enterprise. The Mikuma was sunk that day and now rest on the sea floor northwest of Midway.

The hull is molded in two halves with a waterline insert and separate bow and stern inserts. The kit is well engineered with the superstructure fitting nicely between the bow and stern making seam filling easier. The Mikuma had enclosed torpedo that are represented by a deck insert. The only thing I don't like is the molded on paravanes, I'd rather these details be left separate.
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The superstructure is nicely done and lends itself to super detailing. Surface detail is not overdone and items such as the stack grills are very fine. 

The weapons sprues have a lot of extra parts on them. Main gun turrets and gun barrels look good, but is really amazing is how fine the light anti aircraft guns are done. These parts are at the limits of what is currently possible with injection molding machines and it is a wonder that such tiny details such as the gun barrels can survive the manufacturing process. There are four different types of float planes on these spures and Nakajima E8N1 Dave even has an it's cockpit opened up. The panel lines are even recessed. There are two each of these spues so you will have extra parts for the spare parts bin on your hobby bench.
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Close-up of weapons sprue details
The instructions are very good they are well illustrated and show the various subassemblies. Even the beginning modeler should have no problems figuring out where everything goes.
There were a number of decals in my kit including flags and aircraft markings. There are a number of turret retainers molded in a slippery plastic to allow your main gun turrets to be possible. Finally what waterline kit would be complete without the metal weight to hold it down.

This kit is one of the best Japanese waterline ship kits available today. It is highly detailed and is a vast improvement over the other waterline cruisers offered in this scale. Like their recent USS Indianapolis kit this one shows much finer detailing than originally possible. Tamiya has really raised the bar for the 1/700 waterline manufactures with this state of the art molding.  It can be built out of the box with good results. But add a some PE rails and rigging and you have a real show winner. 
Thanks to East Coast Miniatures for the review sample. Check out their growing line of ships and accessories on the East Coast Miniatures website with online ordering. This is kit #WL31342 with a regular price of $36.00 on sale price for $30.60

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