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United States

Glencoe 1/400 SS United States Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2005 Manufacturer Glencoe
Subject SS United States Scale 1/400
Kit Number 9301 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Simple build Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $64.98

First Look

United States
United States
United States
United States
United States
United States
United States
United States
United States

The SS United States was the largest ocean liner ever built. In the 1950s, she was one of the largest ships afloat, and on her maiden voyage (July 3, 1952) broke the transatlantic record previously set by the HMS Queen Mary, a record that remained intact until 1990.

Designed as a war reserve ship, the designers were heavily influenced by the logistical problems moving troops across the ocean. Even though the war ended before work started on this ship, planners were looking ahead to World War III. A ship of this size could move approximately 15,000 troops. Her impressive engine room could move this huge vessel over 40 knots, speed that would easily out-pace submarines of the day.

The ship's designers make the ship virtually fire-proof. Rumor had it that there were only two pieces of wood aboard - the butcher's block and the piano. Even the metal surfaces were given a protective coating of an advanced new material - asbestos.

By 1969, the SS United States was suffering the lack of passenger bookings due to the booming jet airliner industry. To further complicate matters, the cost of removing all of the asbestos was prohibitive. She was mothballed in Newport News, VA after 400 voyages and today awaits restoration in Philadelphia, PA.

The Glencoe 1/400 SS United States kit has been around for a while. The molds were originally developed by the Ideal Toy Company in 1954. The original kit was molded in the appropriate colors and pre-painted to allow for quick assembly. Another interesting touch of the day was to light the interior of the model.

Glencoe rescued the molds from the scrap yard and has restored the kit completely with only the exception of the stand. For this, Glencoe has provided a wooden display stand with wood dowels that will fit into the holes molded on the bottom of the hull.

The kit is molded in white styrene with the exceptions of the hull molded in black and one tree molded in silver.

Assembly of the kit is very straightforward. One of the nicer touches is with the ships railings. These are done in solid styrene with decals to be applied to simulate the railings. More detail-oriented ship modelers have only to snip away the solid railings and replace them with photo-etch. Fortunately with the advent of the Academy 1/400 Titanic kit, there are plenty of ships railings and detail sets in this scale.

For those who opt to keep the build simple and wish to motorize the model, Glencoe has left the original motorization screw placements for your use. Motors, prop shafts, props, batteries, etc., for motorization are not included in the kit.

This build is so nice and easy that the only repetitive task will be to install all of the lifeboats and hoists.

Since the career of the SS United States spanned over 15 years, you'll have to refer to photos of the ship at the point in time you're modeling as the deck, lifeboats and other details changed color over time.

Glencoe has definitely rescued an interesting piece of history as well as modeling history. It is hard to believe these molds are over 50 years old, but clearly Glencoe has been doing some serious maintenance on the hardware.

If you're looking for a kit that represents some interesting US nautical history, this is the one. This kit is definitely recommended for modelers of all ages (over 12).

My sincere thanks to Glencoe Models for this review sample!

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