Trumpeter 1/350 USS San Francisco
KIT: Trumpeter 1/350 USS San Francisco
KIT #: 5309
PRICE: $75.00 MSRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Len Roberto
NOTES: Gold Medal Models Photo Etch used.


San Francisco received 17 Battle Stars, and one Presidential Unit Citation for outstanding performance of duties during World War II.  She was the 2nd most decorated US ship of WW II.  Most notable for her efforts in the Solomon Islands and at Guadalcanal in October and November, 1942,  she and a few other US cruisers and destroyers confronted Japanese battleships and cruisers, when we had no larger vessels available. Two Hundred Eighteen men died in combat aboard San Francisco during WW II.  She fought all during the war, was decommissioned in 1946, and was sold and scrapped in 1959.  The navigating  bridge, on which the admiral commanding the US force at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Adm. Daniel Callaghan, and her Captain, Cassin Young, were killed, has been saved as a Memorial to the ship and her men.  The Memorial is at Landís End in San Francisco.   It looks out over the Pacific, along the great circle route across the water toward her old wartime adversary, Japan. (Your editor has visited this during his posting at Alameda and it is truly inspiring.)


This is the first 1/350 scale US WWII cruiser in plastic that I know of.  Unlike many Trumpeter and Dragon kits of late-  it comes with no photo-etched parts.  I had this on the shelf for months patiently waiting for Loren Perry of Gold Medal Models, my PE maker of choice, to produce a specific set for this kit.  It arrived end of May and was all I had hoped for.

The kit is good and typical of Trumpeter ships lately.  Of course some areas are compromised and thatís what PE is for.  I try not to get into the minutiae of whatís accurate or not.  Frankly, I build to relax and appreciate historical machines-  I donít have the drive or time to research and correct everything-  I do what I can!

Anyway, the PE set is superb and addresses the following areas:  aircraft catapults, railing, ladders, radars, cranes, and a very nice searchlight platform that looks very nice. 


I picked up a beautiful display case at MosquitoCon in April.  It was $30.00 and I marked it for the San Francisco kit the second I saw it.  So despite my usual waterline tendency, I wanted this to sit majestically as a full hull model in the case.

I do not follow Trumpeterís directions.  I build with an eye towards painting which I will try to show below.

So to start, the lower hull has to go first-  I cannot imagine attaching the hull as the last step as the directions indicate.  After that was cleaned up and dry, I attached the 2 deck pieces.  I lose the moving turret feature but to me, having a solid hull to work with is better.  I set the hull aside for now.

I then proceed to build modules and set them aside as well:

1.      Main gun turrets

2.      Bridge deck levels-  I do not put them all together because I need to get in there to touch up the deck blueÖPE ladders added where I can.  Many are left off until after painting.

3.      Searchlight platform-  replaced with very easy to fold PE-  looks much better than the thick plastic.

4.      PE catapults

5.      PE cranes and pulleys

6.      Stacks- PE walkways were very delicate but I managed to get them on.

7.      Catapult columns

8.      Secondary armament-  with some PE additions

All these sub-assemblies are stuck on a piece of cardboard with double sided tape.  Then I prime all pieces with el cheapo Walmart light grey primer.

All the smaller pieces are left aside to be added later:  20 mm, boats, winches, reels, ready use ammo lockers, etc. 


I have been a fan of the Model Master Acrylic Marine line-  you have to get them direct from Testorís website-  but they work great.  I just use regular water to thin them down.  This fit calls for the Navy Blue system:  Navy Blue 5-N on all vertical surfaces and Deck blue 20-B on all horizontal decks.  It looks boring but I will try to drybrush some life into it later on.

After the main hull was all painted, I mounted to an old Trumpeter base with wooden thingies from craft store.  I drilled up through the base and the wood and went right into the hull.  It allows you to move the model around without touching it while completing the build.

Note:  I primed all the PE and then airbrushed Navy Blue-  but no matter what, flaking off occurs so I have to go back over all the PE and touch up with a brush after it is installed.

After all painting was done on the sub-assemblies, they were added to the model in stages.  Then the various PE railings and ladders were installed.

Last step was to drybrush.  I used a medium grey and went over pretty much the whole ship.  I tried to focus on edges and other protruding objects.  This is a skill I have a lot to learn.  In some areas, when I did it right, it does have a very nice effect and you can easily see the detail pop out.  I certainly makes the monotone color look a bit better.


I just have a few things left to add:  boats, the spotter plane and rigging.

RIGGING:  I am leaving it alone for now-  There is a lot of rigging to do on this model and I do not want to screw it up now.  So can anyone give me a good recommendation on what to use?  Since the length between masts is very long, I do not think stretching sprue is an option-  it will sag to much.  So what is a good material to use and where can I get it?

The kit fit well, is a very good size for 1/350 and with the always superb Gold Medal Models photo-etched brass set, it turns into a very nice display.  As usual, the PE is tricky in some parts and very delicate but it sure adds a lot to the look of the model.  The monotone scheme is a little boring but remember that the model represents the ship during the Guadalcanal battles where she earned her fame.  I hope to see more cruisers in 1/350. 


Len Roberto

July 2008

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