Trumpeter 1/350 SS. John W Brown

KIT: Trumpeter 1/350 SS. John W Brown
KIT #: 05308
PRICE: $52.95 MSRP, less at
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Bruno Schielzeth
NOTES: Same thing only different


 There’s no real need to go into the history of the Liberty ships again. Read my review of the Jeremiah O’Brien, the history is the same and about 75% of the kit is the same.

The John W. Brown is a mid to late war Liberty with upgraded weapons. It was found that almost 1/3rd of the Liberty ships that set sail from America didn’t make it home again. As the war progressed more and more guns were added to the ‘cheap and dirty’ Liberty ships. This kit includes several added heavy guns and some other modifications made to the class during the war years. There was at least one Liberty ship that battled it out with German surface raiders and managed to send two of them to the briny deep before sinking from her damages. One thing the Liberty ships were was tough! The late war Liberty ships carried anywhere from 8 to 12 20mm guns, and up to three 3-inch guns and one 5-inch gun. That doesn’t take into account the dozen or so .50 cal machine guns that could be used for defense.

            I have plans for the John W. Brown kit but I won’t reveal them yet. It’s going to be interesting to everyone, I hope. It will also tie into a review I completed recently.


The John Brown is almost a reissue of the original Liberty ship. Well, close at least. Opening the sturdy box top reveals what appears to be the same hull assembly as the first issue in its own compartment. The upper hull is molded with the center main deck in place, just like the original issue, giving you the same pair of seams in mid-deck for the bow and stern pieces. The lower hull and waterline plate are molded in red plastic and allow you to build the model either full hulled or waterline.

            The rest of the box contains the assembly book, a new decal sheet for the John W. Brown, and 6 sprues of gray parts in bags. Inspecting the sprues shows some changes from the original issue. Sprue E contains multiple 20mm gun tubs, new main deck house parts, access houses for the deck, and small life rafts. Sprue C appears to be different too. There are three what appear to be 3-inch guns, a single 4 or 5-inch gun, and the larger upper platforms for the masts. Sprue B appears to be from the original kit and contains the smaller main deck house parts, which will probably go unused. Two sprue Ds are the same as the original issue too and include the masts, life rafts, 20mm guns, lifeboats, winches, and various other deck fittings.

            The molding is still crisp and well detailed, but almost all major parts still have ejector marks on the underside that will need work to eliminate. The bow and stern decks still have the sprue gates on the gluing surface, making for more work before you can being slapping glue to plastic.


 The John Brown appears to be about 75% original Liberty ship and about 25% new parts. Most of the same molding and detail flaws I found in the original kit are probably still there, including the touchy upper/lower hull assembly. You still get the wrong prop, it belongs on the Victory class Liberty ship, and the round smoke stack, both of which should be corrected. The extra gun tubs and a new main deck house allow you to model the mid to late war Liberty ship and the inclusion of the original deckhouse allows a lot of variations from early to late war to be built. Sadly, good pictures of original WWII era Liberty ships are a little difficult to find. Very few are clear enough to show the details you will need to model a particular ship. Still, with over 2,000 ships to choose from, you will find one you want to do.

Review kit courtesy of HobbyLink Japan; get yours at Japanese prices at

Bruno Schielzeth

November 2007

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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