BMK 1/700
IJA Tamatsu Maru, Landing Craft Carrier

Reviewed by Sean Hert

BMK is a well known supplier of metal barrels and parts, as well as being a retailer offering many products. This Maru kit is BMK's first offering of a full kit under their own name; however, BMK didn't do this kit alone- it includes guns from Niko Model, and photoetch from White Ensign Models. Inside, you have the parts to build either the Tamatsu or Mayasan Maru- purpose build landing craft carriers built for the Imperial Japanese Army during World War Two.

(Excerpted from the kit instructions)This landing-craft carrier and her sister the Mayasan Maru were designed entirely by the Imperial Japanese Army. This type of vessel can be described as a conceptual predecessor to the Amphibious Landing Ships of today’s US Navy. The method of storing large landing craft (Daihatsu) in the holds and launching through a stern ramp gate was unprecedented at that time. There was no opportunity to put this unique idea into practice; by the time the ships were completed Japan had already been put into a defensive position throughout all theatres of the Pacific war.

As a consequence both vessels met a tragic end, suffering large casualties, without ever being deployed in their intended function. Due to the large loading capacity and powerful propulsion these ships were used in the role as troop transports. To cope with the impending landings of US forces on the Philippines (they landed on Leyte on 20 October 1944), vast troop numbers were transferred from Manchuria and China.


  • Length over all: 149,80 m
  • Length waterline: 145,60 m
  • Beam waterline: 19,00 m
  • Draught: 7,05 m
  • Displacement:
    • 9,433 grt (Mayasan Maru)
    • 9,589 grt (Tamatsu Maru)
  • Engines: 2 Diesel engines
  • Propulsion:
    • 12,770 shp (Mayasan Maru)
    • 10,800 shp (Tamatsu Maru)
  • Speed:
    • 20,8 knots (Mayasan Maru)
    • 20,5 knots (Tamatsu Maru)
  • Builder: Mitsui Shipbuilding, Tamano Shipyard
  • Owner: Mitsui &Co. (Mayasan Maru), O.S.K. Line (Tamatsu Maru)
  • Crew: about 130 Men, plus about 150 to 200 army personnel to operate the anti aircraft weapons
  • Loading Capacity: 20 landing craft type Daihatsu (14m type)

Source: “Hisashi Noma, Japanese Merchant Ships at War”, The Story of Mitsui and O.S.K. Liners lost during the Pacific War

This kit is shipped in a large white box. Inside, the hull is protected from damge by being rolled in plastic bubble wrap. Each part is packaged in its own, labeled, plastic resealable bag. The photoetch is bagged, with a large peice of cardboard to prevent damage from bending. It is a daunting number of bags, but the labelling makes them easy to track.


This waterline hull is cast in one solid peice of resin, using an open face mold. There is a slight overpour ridge surrounding the waterline, the shape of which implies this is a byproduct of how the mold was trimmed.

The hull has lots of detail, with delicate, scuppered bulwarks molded in place. There is hull plating, a degaussing coil, and anchors present- but the largest attraction are the large doors in the rear which would allow these ships to launch fully loaded Daihatsus from inside the transport hull. The surface texture of the hull various- some parts are smooth to the touch, some rough- and some places still show tool and sanding marks left from the construction of the master. Fortunately, most of these are either easy to get to, or will be covered up with the deck stowage later in the build.

Dimensionally, the hull appears a bit long and wide. The hull also exhibits hogging, about 3/32" (2.3mm) in the center.


The first three bags of parts consist of the levels that make up the large superstructure amidships. Each of these levels is cast with a small sprue attached to the end. This ensures dimensional thickness accuracy, important when building layers in a "sandwich" style construction like this.

Like the hull, these parts show tell-tale leftovers from the master; gaps, lines and other blemishes that will require some extra attention.

The next bags contain various platforms for guns, winches, AA and the bridge.

Funnel, lifeboats, Daihatsu landing craft, 5 types of venilators, and LATRINES!

75mm guns and Type 97 81mm grenade launchers.

Four sizes of turned brass masts, a brass funnel extension for Tamatsu Maru, and the anchor and cargo wenches.


These parts 13-16, are specific platforms to support the extra weapons which were fitted to the Mayasan Maru when completed.


A single sheet of relief-etched brass photoetch, produced by White Ensign, is included. This photoetch fret has no surprises, comprising the standard items expected of a photoetch set; various railings, ladders, boat davits, and a Type 21 radar. The supports that span the masts and the bridge windows complete this fret.


There are no decals included with this kit.


BMK has not only included a 27 page set of instructions, in both German and English, but includes a CD. This CD has a PDF of the instructions, as well as larger versions of many of the images used to make up the instructions.

BMK is a German company, so most steps are listed in German first, then English (there are a few places missing English, so examine the images carefully). This makes the instructions about twice as large as normal. After the history and technical data on the first pages, there is a list of parts, with a visual parts overview.

Page nine has some important information that is easy to miss; to complete this kit, the builder must also purchase 25mm AA guns, both single and twins (FineMolds products are recommended), as well as Plastruct rod and Evergreen styrene (plasticard). Building begins on page 11 with the building of the Daihatsu storage from styrene parts, and recommended placement of the aftermarket AA guns. Next, a guide to various superstructure supports for to be fabricated from styrene.

There is a full page breakdown of the photoetch fret, followed by a page of photetch placement steps; these pages being in the middle of the instructions booklet seem misplaced, and would perhaps belong nearer the end.

Not until page 16 does the actual assembly of the kit begin. Each step is relatively straightforward from there.

Page 20 has some color recommendations, using Humbrol paints as suggestions. The rest of the booklet features a gallery of a completed model for reference.


While this kit is of an esoteric subject matter not previously available, it is complex and intricate, and not for the novice builder. Given the expansiveness of the parts, the fact the modeller must purchase additional parts and supplies to complete the kit is a slight disappointment; however, given the large variety of 25mm guns available in 1/700 scale, the modeler can exercise their personal preferences. Some modelers may get faint-hearted by the scratchbuilding needed for the Daihatsu stowage- but some others make take this a new challenge.

BMK's freshmen effort isn't without faults, but with time and care, this kit can certainly be built into something different and special, and a model to be proud of. I look forward to the next kit from BMK.

Thanks to BMK for the review sample. It is listed as #BMK-70030 Army Landing-Craft Carrier IJA Tamatsu Maru 1/700 with a retail price of €87.50, or about $126.00US.