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Liberty Ship

Trumpeter 1/350 WWII Liberty Ship SS John W Brown Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2007 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject WWII Liberty Ship SS John W Brown Scale 1/350
Kit Number 5308 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details, choice of full hull or waterline Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $45.95

First Look

Liberty Ship
Liberty Ship
Liberty Ship
Liberty Ship
Liberty Ship
Liberty Ship
Liberty Ship

The Liberty Ships were freighters designed for rapid construction and fitted with impressive self defense capabilities (for a freighter) while at sea. The Liberty ship design was originally developed by the British seeking US production to get rebuild their merchant fleet while the U-Boats were decimating Atlantic shipping in the early 1940s. With the initial order of 60 ships from the British, US planners foresaw the need to build up its own merchant fleet and every available shipyard was pressed into service to mass-produce these Liberty ships. Months before the US entry into WW2, President Roosevelt initiated the program to modernize and expand the logistics fleet.

Over 2,500 Liberty Ships were build during WW2, with some shipyards able to turn out a complete hull in under a week. Before the battle of the North Atlantic turned toward Allied advantage, over 160 Liberty Ships were lost in action. Officially, these ships were designed with a five-year lifespan, but realistically, many believed that if any Liberty Ship could deliver just one load successfully, it had paid for itself.

This is the second of two Liberty ship releases from Trumpeter. Based on the two surviving Liberty Ships in the US, Trumpeter first released the SS Jeremiah O'Brien in 2004 (reviewed here) and has followed that release with the other survivor - the SS John W Brown.

The kit consists of 349 parts on nine sprues. Molded in light gray styrene, the kit features some nice detailing throughout. Two parts are molded in hull red, these being the bottom hull plate for waterline display or a full lower hull for a display stand presentation.

The upper hull is a rather interesting piece as it has the central decking and railing molded in place. This is another sign of the advanced molding techniques that Trumpeter is using these days. The forward and rear decking sections are added to the upper hull completing this level.

The kit comes complete with a wide array of vent stacks, winches, cargo bay hatches, and lots of superstructure detail. The lifeboats, deck armament, and cargo cranes are also provided.

Construction appears to be straightforward as does painting and finishing this vessel.

Markings are provided for the Liberty Ship SS John W Brown as it appeared during its 13 wartime journeys through the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf.

It is rather an interesting subject for Trumpeter to select as WW2 freighters are not the usual fare from the kit manufacturers. For those of you who enjoy support vessels and/or cargo vessels, you will be impressed with the level of detail in this kit. This will build into a nice tribute for a long-overlooked workhorse of the fleet!

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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