|KIT:||Trumpeter 1/350 Liberty Ship "Jeremiah O'Brien"|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Can be built as waterline or full hull|
If one made a list of hardware that helped the Allies win the Second World War, in the top ten would have to be the Liberty Ship. When the US entered the war, ship construction was often measured in years from the laying of the keel to launch and commissioning. In these days when the Allies were on the defensive, the German submarine was sinking cargo vessels at a rate which exceeded new builds to replace them.
Fortunately, this problem was foreseen and in 1941, plans were made for developing an 'emergency cargo vessel', adapting a British design and calling for 200 ships (later raised to 2,300). Though in no way considered sleek or fast, the idea was to be able to build a ship in the 10,000 ton range with reasonable speed of about 10 knots. Yeah, not fast, but good enough.
The result of this was a type of ship production that borrowed from the auto industry as these ships were all to be of exactly the same design. As such, parts could be prefabricated and brought to the ship yards for actual assembly. It was only after developing proper welding techniques that the idea of doing a prefabricated ship was able to be realized. Neither of these methods of ship construction had been tried on any scale and the Liberty Ship was the first to benefit from them.
Though only designed for five years of useful service, many survived 25 years or more. Thanks to their simple construction they could be build very quickly. The kit's ship, the Jeramiah O'Brian was constructed in only 56 days and sailed to ports around the world. She participated in the D-Day landings and is one of only two ships currently still afloat. Those of you visiting San Francisco should stop to visit her on your next trip. It is pretty obvious that the Trumpeter folks did and she is a magnificent restoration.
Once more, Trumpeter releases a kit that has been sought by ship modelers for a long time. No longer does one have to plunk down hundreds of dollars to get an accurate 1/350 Liberty Ship as you now have one in injected plastic. Consisting of over 250 parts, this 15 inch kit includes both a full lower hull or can be made as a waterline model. Each of the five major sprues is superbly molded. I did find the usual mass of ejector pin marks on the underside of the parts, but these will either be covered or otherwise hidden after construction.
It is all here with the usual booms and masts that were so common in the days before ro-ro and container ships. It includes the fore and aft gun tubs as well as life boats, rafts and other accoutrements that these ships carried. I was especially impressed with the level of detail. The external hatches with no overhangs had the little inverted V shaped gutters above them that prevent rain from dripping on those going through the hatchways. Things like this are not always shown on ship models and Trumpeter's designers should be given kudos for their attention to detail.
The instruction sheet is typical of recent Trumpeter offerings in that it is superb. There are17 well-drawn construction steps, a parts location guide and a painting guide. Painting this kit should be quite easy as there is no fancy camouflage, just your basic Haze Grey with Dark Grey deck, and a Hull red/white/black waterline section. A small decal sheet (not shown) includes the name plates for the ship and the plimsoll line.
It looks like Trumpeter has another winner on its hands. This is really one exquisitely detailed ship model and one that I know will find favor with ship modelers everywhere.
Thanks to Stevens International for the review kit. You can find this one at you local hobby shop.
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