Trumpeter 1/350 USS North Carolina BB-55

KIT #: 05303
PRICE: $114.95 MSRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Len Roberto
NOTES: Gold Medal P.E. set used

HISTORY

For an excellent brief history of “The Showboat” see the fantastic Naval Historical Center link: http://www.navy.mil/navydata/ships/battleships/ncarolina/bb55-nc.html

A great photo index can be found here: http://www.navsource.org/archives/01/55a.htm

A background history can also be found in the preview.

 

THE KIT

Trumpeter’s first big battleship kit is very nicely done.  As usual, the kit is very well packed, shows no flash, and is well thought out to aid the modeler in construction.  A couple of nice touches were the drilled out main gun barrels (I have yet to do a good job drilling these out on my own!) and the superstructure “side panels” are separate saving you a lot of hassle during painting.  A model this size cries for photoetch parts so I waiting patiently for Loren Perry of Gold Medal Models to create his set and used it gleefully. This set is superb as usual and replaces kit parts like:  ladders, railing, radars, cranes, and anti-aircraft details.  For a preview of this kit, follow this link.

CONSTRUCTION

Following my usual procedure for big ships like this, I split up assembly into small subsets not always following the directions exactly.  I like to look over the instructions for a while and then make my own set of steps to follow.  Battleships in 1/350 require a lot of repetitive assembly:  16 parts of 40mm Bofors AA, even more of 20mm, etc. and I try to break up the assembly so I don’t go batty doing the same steps in one sitting.

The first thing to decide is waterline or no and what Measure to paint the ship.  More on paint later but I wanted waterline so the first step I did was insert the 3 deck pieces from bow to stern.  No problems here until the stern piece-  I had to sand down the stern curve a little and also underneath the piece to make it sit in the hull groove tightly.  Overall, not much hassle here.

The bane of ship kits like this is how to hide the seams between the deck pieces.  I use the putty method but follow it with nail polish remover (acetone) to smooth and remove as much of it as possible before sanding.  This saves much of the deck plank detail and a light sanding finishes this task looking good.

The hull was put aside until painting and it was then on to the other sub-assemblies:

1.      16-inch main turrets

2.      Superstructure

3.      Stacks

4.      5-inch turrets

PE parts were then focused on for a while including:

1.      The magnificent aircraft cranes and catapults

2.      The SK and Mark 38 radars

3.      The armor shields and railing for the 16 40-mm Bofors-  these look great with the PE added.

Once the subassemblies were brought as far as I could before paint-  I put them aside and started researching paint schemes…

COLORS & MARKINGS

Rather than asking what measure this ship did wear- it’s better to ask what she did not have!  The North Carolina had a long career and was repainted many times.  Since the kit portrays her in “late war” guise, that cuts down your realistic choices to a couple without major surgery of plastic.  Since I am a chicken and have yet to figure out to paint a dazzle scheme neatly, I opted for end of the war Measure 22.

MS 22 calls for Navy Blue 5-N on the hull up to a line of scheer-  the flared upward part of the bow is Haze Grey 5-H as is all vertical surfaces.  The deck and all horizontal surfaces are Deck Blue 20-B.  I use the Testor’s Marine line of acrylics and they airbrush beautifully.

I sprayed the Navy Blue first- then masked and shot the Deck Blue first, followed by the Haze Grey on the bow.  I brush painted the deck parts needing Haze Grey and the hull was done for now.  I brush painted the Deck Blue atop the turrets and in the various other bridge decks, etc.  Basically, if you look down at the ship from above-  it’s deck blue to blend in with the water!

PE was primed and then airbrushed Haze Grey and then I slowly made my way around the parts and attached ladders and railings.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

With most of the painting done-  it was back to construction.  Scores of ready use ammo lockers were attached as well as very thinly rendered armor shields.  The 40-mm mounts were then added followed by other bits like the PE stern crane.  Next it was time to attach the superstructure parts.

TROUBLE:  the main bridge assembly did not fit into its opening in the deck.  I had to carefully sand down the inner ridge to get it to slot in without a battle.  I used my min-Dremel and after 15 minutes of swearing -  it glued in fine.  The rest of the deck pieces attached with no fuss.

I have to admit, the most tedious part of the build:  the 20-mm guns.  I had to add the PE armor shields to make them look right and this takes time and patience!  These were then added to the deck.

The railing was then added around the deck and stern-  each section was numbered to fit around the chocks and they fit perfectly.

A bit of chalk weathering was added to simulate rust on anchors and chocks.  Some black was added to stack tops.  I used black sprue for the simple rigging.

A wood base was cut and modeling paste was used for the water.

Now I just need to find some 1/350 crew figures!

CONCLUSIONS

This was a fine kit and Trumpeter’s ships continue to improve.  There is no doubt they are the kings of 1/350 plastic ships and I hope they continue to release capital ships other than carriers.  I am praying for HMS Hood in 2006!  The kit has a lot of parts but there is nothing here that would overwhelm a beginning ship builder.  The PE parts take experience to be comfortable with bending them to shape but even without PE-  the North Carolina will make a fine model on any shelf.

REFERENCES

 http://www.navy.mil/navydata/ships/battleships/ncarolina/bb55-nc.html

http://www.battleshipnc.com/index.html

November 2005

Len Roberto

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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