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BB 59 Kit

Trumpeter 1/350 USS Massachusetts BB 59 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2007 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject USS Massachusetts BB 59 Scale 1/350
Kit Number 5306 Primary Media Styrene
Pros First kit of the BB 59 in 1/350, nice details, waterline or full-hull construction Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $139.95

First Look

BB 59 Kit
BB 59 Kit
BB 59 Kit
BB 59 Kit
BB 59 Kit
BB 59 Kit
BB 59 Kit
BB 59 Kit
BB 59 Kit
BB 59 Kit

The USS Massachusetts (BB 59) was the third ship of the South Dakota (BB 57) class battleships, which in turn was the second and final class of battleships to be built in compliance with the 1923 Washington Treaty for the Limitations of Naval Armaments. The North Carolina (BB 55) was the lead ship in the first class. The South Dakota class was 10,000 tons lighter in displacement that the ultimate (and final US battleship class, the Iowa), but in operations, its armor plating and firepower made it one of the most effective battleship classes built.

The 'Big Mamie' was laid down in mid 1939, more than two years before Pearl Harbor, and launched in late September 1941 - a little over two months before that surprise attack. The ship completed its fitting and was commissioned in mid May 1942. Her first action was part of Operation Torch, the US invasion of North Africa. The French battleship Jean Bart engaged the Massachusetts with her 15 inch guns in the early morning hours of 8 November 1942, day one of Operation Torch. Massechusetts returned fire at 0740, firing the first 16 inch rounds from the US against the axis powers and silencing the Jean Bart for a few days. The Massachusetts continued its engagement against French destroyers, dispatching two of them to the deep. After the surrender of the French forces on 12 November, the USS Massachusetts returned to the US for preparations for Pacific duty.

The Massachusetts arrived in the Pacific theater in early March 1943 and over the next 14 months, supported combat operations in the South Pacific around the Solomons, Gilberts and on to Kwajalein. From there. The Massachusetts supported the push through Siapan, Tinian, Guam, and Truk. On 1 May 1944, the Massachusetts headed back to Puget Sound for a much needed overhaul and relining of her guns. Big Mamie was back in the fight by October and supported operations against Formosa, Leyte Gulf, and on to retake the Philippines. During mid-December of 1944, the Massachusetts sailed into a 120 knot typhoon which sank three destroyers. After support of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the Massachusetts sailed through another typhoon in early June 1945. From that point, Massachusetts took part in attacks on the Japan itself and having the distinction of firing the last 16 inch shell of the war into Kamaishi on 9 August 1945.

The USS Massachusetts was decommissioned in 1947 and is on display as a memorial to Massachusetts veterans in Fall River, MA. While the Massachusetts earned 11 battle stars in World War II, one of its most interesting distinctions was the fact that no US Navy personnel were killed in combat while serving aboard her.

Trumpeter has released the first of the South Dakota class in 1/350 scale. The kit is molded in Trumpeter's light gray and is presented on eleven parts trees as well as three deck sections and the upper hull. Two parts molded in red represent the waterline hull bottom or full hull bottom (your choice), plus a black base to display the completed model upon. Two additional clear sprues are provided for the two OS2U Kingfishers that were operated off of her stern catapults.

While I am no naval combatant expert, from what I can glean from photos and various web sources, the kit appears to be representative of its configuration in the Pacific. The kit information sheet indicates the ship wore Measure 22 camouflage colors.

The packaging of this monstrous kit is quite impressive, with cardboard frames holding the massive hull parts from shifting around in transit. The engineering that goes into Trumpeter's kits is quite nice.

Information from the US Navy's online archives indicate that all of the members of the South Dakota class were similarly fitted except for the South Dakota herself. If you want to build the model to represent the South Dakota, you can see the differences in the gun installations (fewer than its class mates).

It is clear from the variety of the flashed-over holes in the deck and the instructions showing you which holes to open for this project that we'll be seeing other members of the South Dakota class released in the future reflecting the differences in parts.

One of the interesting features of the kit are the 16 inch guns. Rather than mold all three guns together to fit inside the turret, each gun is molded separately and mounted to a common shaft. This way each gun can be positioned individually depending on whether you'd prefer to represent the ship underway or in action.

As with any of the Trumpeter 1/350 scale battleships, this kit has LOTS of parts (365 according to the specs) but there do not appear to be any really challenging assemblies. Given the number of small parts in this kit, I wouldn't recommend this project to young modelers, nor any modeler without some experience in more complex kits.

As mentioned earlier, the kit offers an option for waterline hull or full hull and display stand.

Trumpeter provides markings for the 1945 version of the Massachusetts while she wore Measure 22 camouflage.

This kit adds a new class of battleships into the 1/350 scale world and I would not be surprised to see this released in the future in 1/700 scale as well. The only previous options for this class in styrene were the Revell 1/720 kits and the Hasegawa 1/700 South Dakota. With the design of the flashed over holes in the decks, we'll also be seeing other member of this class in the future.

This is a beautiful model, just like the other releases from Trumpeter in this scale. If you're an AMS modeler, I have no doubt that we'll be seeing photo-etched detail sets for this kit soon.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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