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Waterline Series

Famous Ships of the World in 1/700 Scale

These majestic queens of the high seas are associated with numerous epic tales from the seven oceans of the world. Modellers can enjoy collecting the ships from various fleets such as those from the Japanese Navy. This series is a collaborative effort between three model manufacturers in Shizuoka, including of course Tamiya. As the series name suggests, the models in this line-up all omit the portion of the hull below the waterline to enable them to be displayed as though they were at sea. The compact 1/700 scale is the perfect size for collecting your model fleet and the amount of detail included even in this small scale will surprise you. With over 100 ships in the series, it is perhaps the largest collection of its kind in the world!

Waterline Series Product List

  • J.M.S.D.F. 

    Featuring modern ships from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.

  • Battleships & Carriers

    Features the mightiest Japanese Navy battleships and aircraft carriers.

  • Cruisers

    Fast and heavily-armed, these Japanese cruisers played a vital role in many naval engagements.

  • Destroyers & Submarines

    Destroyers were the protectors of the Japanese fleet while submarines are the silent hunters.

  • Foreign Navies

    Compare ship designs from various countries of the world.

  • Accessories

    Includes models such as small vessels and aircraft to liven up your diorama.

 Waterline Publications (Japanese Language Only)

Random Japanese Warship Details Vol.1 & Vol.2

These two volumes feature a wealth of information regarding the construction of WWII Japanese Navy ships as well as numerous highly useful reference illustrations. Detailed explanations are given for the hull, bridge, funnels, forecastle, mizzen-masts, and armament, making them essential references for any ship modeller.

1/700 Waterline Series Guide Book of Imperial Japanese Navy Ships (Revised Edition)

Increase your enjoyment of Waterline Series models with this detailed guide book, which covers everything from basic assembly tips and adding extra detail to diorama creation. The book also features information regarding fleet constitutions, battle formations, markings, and special terms to increase your knowledge of the Imperial Japanese Navy in WWII. Click here for more information.

 Waterline Links

he Waterline Series is cooperatively produced by the three member companies of the Shizuoka Plastic Model Manufacturer's Association: Tamiya, Inc., Aoshima, Ltd., and Hasegawa Corp. Each of these companies offer many other products in their line-ups, so please visit their respective homepages to check them out.

 Waterline Talk

The Waterline Series was created by the Shizuoka Plastic Model Manufacturers Association in May 1971. For those fans who have been with the series since the beginning, those who had not been born yet when it started, and those who may not have kept up with developments, we can tell you that the series is alive and well. There are now over 150 products in the line-up, with most of them being ships from various WWII navies, so it is like a historical record of 20th Century naval power. How about taking a trip back in time with us to rediscover these majestic ships?

Waterline Talk Episode 1: The Meaning of Waterline
Do you know why this series of models is called "Waterline"? It refers to the line at which a ship floats on the water. All models in this series only reproduce the portion of the ship above this line, not the bottom portion of the hull. Hence the name Waterline Series.

This type of model is typically referred to as "Ocean Models" since they appear to be floating on the surface of the water. This is in contrast with ship models that reproduce the entire hull, even the bottom portion, and most come with display stands. These models, such as those in Tamiya's 1/350 Scale Ship Series, make for a very impressive display and have an imposing "king of models" appearance.

On the other hand, "Ocean Models" like the Waterline Series are geared towards diorama creation. Tamiya offers products such as the Ocean Effect Plate A to enable modellers to enjoy a lifelike display. Bring your eyes down to the water level and view the model from this realistic perspective.

Waterline Talk Episode 2: Rivals Working Together
The Waterline Series models are not just produced by Tamiya, but also by Aoshima and Hasegawa. Some may wonder why that is, because it is uncommon for multiple manufacturers to be producing models for the same series.

Actually, the Waterline Series is developed by the members of the Shizuoka Plastic Model Manufacturers' Association. It began with a plan to reproduce all the ships of the Japanese Navy in WWII in model form, but the sheer number of ships would make it difficult for any one company to do on their own. Thus this association of plastic model manufacturers based in Shizuoka stepped in and joined their efforts towards this grand goal.

The association is also responsible for organizing the Shizuoka Hobby Show held in Shizuoka every year in May. Of course, despite being members of the same association, each company has its own line-up of products and are industry rivals, a situation that is quite unique. However, because of this, the pace of new Waterline Series products has been brisk and most of the WWII Japanese Navy ships are now available in 1/700 scale.

Waterline Talk Episode 3: The Wonders of Scale
The Waterline Series models are produced in 1/700 scale, which was decided by the association introduced in Episode 2. In this scale, the largest WWII Japanese Navy battleships, the Yamato and Musashi, would be about 37cm long while destroyers and submarines would be about 15cm long. This ideal size is big enough to feature a good level of detail yet small enough for collecting.

Overseas manufacturers offer ship models in similar scales, for example Italeri's 1/720 scale ship series. While Italeri's models also reproduced the bottom portion of the hull, they were engineered so that it could be easily removed to result in a waterline model for dioramas. Perhaps this also had an influence on the Waterline Series.

Since all the ships of the WWII Japanese Navy have been brought under the same 1/700 scale, comparing battleships with other types of warships such as destroyers and submarines is easy. Battleships and aircraft carriers were like the size of islands while the small destroyers and submarines could be called the ninjas of the seas. Such comparisons of size would not be possible if the scales were different, and this is one of the Waterline Series' main appeals.