Tamiya 1/700 USS Indianapolis






Hull numbers and flags


Len Roberto


Gold Medals photo etched set used


Launched in 1932, the heavy cruiser Indianapolis of the Portland class served throughout the Pacific War. The ship occupies a further claim in US naval history however. In July of 1945, the ship was selected to secretly transport the nuclear material to Tinian. After completing this mission in record time, she was sunk by the Japanese submarine I-58 en route to Leyte. Due to a variety of circumstances and regulations, the 800 or so men that escaped the ship before it sank in 12 minutes, were left to face nearly 4 days in the water before 316 in total were rescued. It was the largest loss of life for one vessel in US naval history.


This new kit in Tamiya’s 1/700 scale water line series offers the usual Tamiya quality. Vast improvements were made in the molding of the anti-aircraft armament. Other kits in this scale suffer greatly from the thick, blocks of plastic manufacturers passed off as 40mm and 20mm guns. This kit’s guns are unbelievable. The 40mm Bofors mounts consist of a base and 2 separate dual gun pieces. The 20mm single cannons also consist of an armor shield/ mount and a separate gun piece. These assemblies look great but were an intensely minute construction process. Be very careful cleaning these parts up. They are too small to even pinch between two fingers for cleanup using an Exacto blade. Usually, I tried to hold the part down with tweezers on my desk and try to carefully cut off the offending attachment points. This makes me remember why I love the bigger scales!


The rest of the parts are excellently molded and construction was simple. Tamiya should be commended for another improvement and that is in the instruction department. Previous instructions were lacking- these are vastly better.

The kit comes together very well. My only caution is to take care with the small parts which is nearly all of them! I launched more than a few across and under my workspace. Unlike most other waterline ships, the hull is split into port and starboard pieces.


I ordered the Gold Medal Models WWII Cruiser/ Destroyer photoetched brass detail set. This set comes with an essential complement of railings, radars, props, catapults, cranes, and ladders. These parts add immensely to the look of the model. Even if you add the catapult, crane, and SK radar alone- your model will look infinitely better than if you used the plastic parts. Add the railing, and you have a fine looking kit.

Here is a look at the crane and the SK radar atop the aft mast:

Another neat feature on this kit that I have not seen on other waterline ships is Tamiya’s well-known polycap procedure for attaching the main gun turrets. This allows them to rotate without using a tricky glue operation.

Brass railing was attached before painting.


The Indy wore numerous camo schemes throughout her long career. This kit is set up to portray the ship in her final configuration. Without performing major surgery, this limits the camo scheme to what she wore in 1945 which was the familiar MS 22. The Warship Profile book on the Indy provides a wealth of detail on the ship including many great photos. I picked this book up on ebay. The center section includes a 4 panel fold out profile, full color drawing:

I mixed the Navy Blue lower hull color using Tamiya Medium Blue and Flat Blue with a little flat base to boot. This was brushed on. I then masked off this blue line and used Tamiya Haze Grey acrylic spray paint for the rest of the ship:

The line drawing showed the ship with a tan/ wood colored fore deck. To replicate this, I used pastel chalk and rubbed it in with an old brush. 

Life rafts were painted a lighter sea grey and the main gun barrels were painted dark gull grey. The hull decals were applied and the paper flags cut and attached with Zap CA glue.

As usual, I used acrylic gel medium for the water. I also decided to add the Tamiya 1/700 Fletcher class destroyer to my scene. A coat of Future Floor Finish adds the gloss sheen over the Blue and Green sea color accented with white.



Anytime I pick up a Tamiya kit, I know I am getting a quality product. This kit is no exception. I certainly hope we continue to see new releases in this series. This is an easy to assemble, accurate replica of a tragic ship. The main word of caution which bears repeating is the care you must take in assembling and handling the very small bits such as AA guns, life rafts, mast pieces, and flagstaffs. It is extremely easy to break or lose these parts during clean up.

Handling the brass detail parts is again a study in patience and deft finger exercises. A couple of good tweezers is a must. These pieces are very delicate an manipulating them takes a soft touch. The value they add to your kit is worth the chore.

Len Roberto

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