IJN Mikuma In-Box Review

Reviewed by Sean Hert
IJN Cruiser Mikuma

The "B" Class cruiser Mikuma was named after a river in Oita Prefecture, and was the first time the name had been used in the Imperial Navy. As built, the Mogami class cruisers were armed with 15.5CM (6.1"/60) guns in 5x3 turrets. These cruisers were upgunned to 20.3cm (8"/50) turrets (5x2) in 1939-40.

This kit from Yankee Modelworks shows Mikuma in her late 1930's fit, during the brief time prior to upgunning or "Third Efficiency Improvement Works", but after the general upgrades and fitting of the external bulges, or "Second Efficiency Improvement Works."

The kit comes in YMW's usual white carboard box filled with foam packing peanuts. The upper and lower hull is wrapped and taped in a layer of bubble-wrap. The resin parts, white metal parts and photoetch parts are packed in plastic bags. The PE was laid flat on the bottom of the box. Little damage seems to have occured in shipping.
The kit comes with 5 PE-frets; two large frets general to all Mogami class ships, two specific to Mikuma, and one IJN Seaplane Deck Rails. The brass look good, and has no damage.

The hull comes in the usual two pieces; the upper and lower hulls. Both have the standard overpour that must be removed. There are pinhead sizes air bubbles, and a few cases of larger sized holes. Some of the deck detail is also marred by holes, but YKM is now included replacement deck vents in white metal. There are a few places on the decks where the mold or the master seems to have damage, which is suprising in such a new kit.

The flightdeck, which is the roof of the torpedo deck, is very finely cast. It has sloped sides to help fit this part in place. Where the edge of the linoleum meets the sloped bottom is very fine; mine arrived damaged in spots, but shouldn't be too much trouble to repair.

One thing that was apparent to me that is difficult to see in the photos involves the keel. The keel portion between the shafts has an angle starboard. It also seems a bit enlongated; almost like the part was still soft when removed from the mold.

Mikuma's torpedo tubes have a surprising amount of flash and are a bit dissappointing. The AA mount gunshields are cast hollow and seem to capture the shape of these shields nicely. The main turrets seem accurate, with holes in place for the barrels. The rangefinders are separate pieces, with the offset heat shielding the some Japanese gun turrets had present. Unfortunately my camera isn't capable of that detail. The ship's boats are cast in the same way as the torpedo tubes, with the same problems.
The combined stacks are a very prominent on Japanese cruisers, and Yankee Modelworks has cast theirs in a single piece. The external steam pipes are nicely done, and the interior baffles in the stacks are a nice touch. Should look great with the PE screens in place. The main bridge is built in multiple levels all cleanly cast, although I'm not sure the shape of Bridge level 5's semaphore signal stations are correct for Mikuma/Mogami at this time. The after bridge is a little gem.
The white metal parts are what you expect in a resin kit, with the accompaning flash, seams and casting lugs. Most parts look sufficient to the task, but I assume most will replace the masts with brass tubing. The gun barrels need a little straightening out, but they always do; brass replacements may be in order. The 25mm's seem a little crude, in comparison to the Tamiya offering in the Yamato kits, but may be more scale in size.
I'm not sure if the kit comes with decals like some recent IJN releases from YKM, but they are absent in my kit. The instructions are nice, like most recent YKM releases and are a marked improvement from what I am used to in a resin kit!
This kit completes a series of IJN warships that was sorely missing in 1/350. Even though none of the Mogami's saw combat in this configuration, the 15 6.1" guns is quite attractive. I'm not sure that brass barrels would be a huge improvement over the white metal ones, but with the task in my future of straightening 15 of them, it's something I will be thinking about.

I don't know if different packaging would help with the condition of some of the white metal and resin pieces. There are quite a few parts in each bag, and some of those parts start out pretty delicate. While the hull is protected with bubble wrap, the smaller parts can be damaged by colliding together. Different packaging might mean higher kit costs, and that's something we all want to avoid!

I am looking forward to completing this kit later in the year, and displaying her next to my scratchbuilt 1/144 IJN Mogami in the same configuration. Now if YKM would release a Takao class and/or a Nachi!

Purchased at Hobbyland, Columbus OH via Stevens International - $ 285


Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War Lacroix and Wells

1/144 IJN Mogami ship plans, source unknown.

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