Lion Roar 1/700 USS #1 Crane Ship AB-1
KIT #: R7093
PRICE: Around $50.00
DECALS: None provided
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Photo etch and resin kit


USS Kearsarge (BB-5), the lead ship of her class of battleships, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named, by act of Congress, in honor of the famous American Civil War sloop-of-war Kearsarge. Her keel was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company of Newport News, Virginia on 30 June 1896. She was launched on 24 March 1898, sponsored by Mrs. Herbert Winslow, daughter-in-law of Captain John A. Winslow, who had commanded the sloop Kearsarge during her famous battle with Alabama, and commissioned on 20 February 1900, Captain William M. Folger in command. Kearsarge is the only battleship in US Navy history not named for a state.

Kearsarge was decommissioned on 10 May 1920 for conversion to a crane ship and a new career. She was given hull classification symbol AB-1 on 5 August.

In place of military trappings, Kearsarge received an immense revolving crane with a rated lifting capacity of 250 tons (230 tonnes, as well as hull "blisters", which gave her more stability. The crane ship rendered invaluable service for the next 20 years. One of many accomplishments was the raising of Squalus off the New Hampshire coast.

On 6 November 1941, she was renamed Crane Ship No. 1, allowing her illustrious name to be given to CV-12, and later to CV-33. But she continued her yeoman service and made many contributions to the American victories of World War II. She handled guns, turrets, armor, and other heavy lifts for vessels such as Indiana and Alabama,Savannah and Chicago, and Pennsylvania.

In 1945, the crane ship was towed to the San Francisco Naval Shipyard where she assisted in the construction of Hornet,Boxer, and re-construction of Saratoga. She departed the West Coast in 1948 to finish her career at the Boston Naval Shipyard. As Crane Ship No. 1, her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 22 June 1955. She was sold for scrap on 9 August.


Now here is something that is really unique for ship builders. Lion Roar has been doing superb photo etch and smaller scale crane barges for a while and has decided to offer something that would be a real unusual model.

As you might imagine, much of the kit is photo etch with five sheets of the stuff of various sizes. The vast majority of this is to build up the crane and its trestle while the rest of it goes into the hull. A neat bit is that there is a photo etch framework for the canopy that was frequently used just behind the crane assembly. The sheets also include all of the railings that are needed. This hull is a single resin casting with a single small pour stub on one end. The other resin bits are for the crane turret as well as the ship's bridge section. Also in resin are the housings on the crane itself that hold the elevation cables and other machinery. It will be up to the builder to rig it and also to locate some hooks as none of those are included in the kit. Perhaps this is one of those deals were most of the hoisting was done using cables and not hooks. Anyway, all the pulleys are included so it should be relatively simple to attach the cables.

The kit comes with a most comprehensive instruction booklet that describes each and every step in considerable detail. This ensures that you will get everything in the right place. The steps show how the various bits are to be folded as well if that is needed. I would highly recommend a folding tool for this one as it will come in quite handy, especially for some of the longer pieces that will need to be folded. There is no decal sheet as it seems none is needed. No color information is given, but I would think that Navy Grey will work just fine.


If you build in 1/700 and are looking for something a bit different from the norm, this one will sure fill the bill in that regard. The result will be a striking model.


June 2012

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