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CA 34

Trumpeter 1/700 USS Astoria CA 34 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2008 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject USS Astoria CA 34 Scale 1/700
Kit Number 5743 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details, choice of full hull or waterline Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $36.95

First Look

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The USS Astoria was one of the seven New Orleans class heavy cruisers that were designed with incremental improvements over the previous Northampton class. In fact, this was supposed to be the Astoria class as the Astoria was the lead ship in class, but it was finished after the New Orleans and the rest is history. These heavy cruisers were all developments that resulted in the 10,000 ton displacement limits set forth by the 1921 Washington Naval Treaty.

USS Astoria was laid down in 1930, launched in 1933, and commissioned in 1934. Astoria had some interesting cruises prior to World War II including the return of Ambassador Hiroshi Saito's ashes to Japan in 1939. Astoria left Pearl Harbor on December 6th with Task Force 12 to Midway Island, but after rendezvousing with the Indianapolis and it's ships, Astoria and TF 12 attempted unsuccessfully to locate and engage the Japanese fleet that had attacked Pearl Harbor.

USS Astoria participated in the battles at Coral Sea and Midway, but it would be the battle of Savo Island in the Solomons that would be her demise. On 7 Aug 1942, while assigned to Task Group 62.3, Astoria supported the amphibious landings of the US Marines on Guadalcanal. During that support, a Japanese force of seven cruisers and a destroyer steamed into the battle zone and engaged the task group. The Japanese force engaged Astoria in the early morning hours of 9 Aug and suffered at least 65 hits, putting her out of action. The Japanese turned their guns on other threats in the area, leaving the crew of the Astoria to try to save their ship. Despite their efforts, the Astoria sunk nearly 12 hours later.

Trumpeter first released their New Orleans-class cruiser kits with the USS San Francisco in 1/350 scale. This was followed by the USS San Francisco in 1/700 scale earlier this year. This release represents the early members of the New Orleans class in 1/700 scale, and this kit looks just as nice!

Assembly appears to be very straightforward with the two main deck sections being mounted onto the upper hull. The fore and aft 8-inch gun turrets are nicely rendered complete with liferaft stowage atop the turrets.

Six of the kit's eight 5-inch gun mounts are installed amidships inside the armored shields premolded on the main deck. The remaining two 5-inch guns are mounted up with the number two 8-inch gun turret.

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.

The ship's cranes and catapults are not bad as molded in styrene, though I suspect the AMS modeler will want to get these done in photo-etch as well as fill in the missing visual detail of railings.

If this decal sheet is any indicator, we can expect to see the Astoria (kit 5743) joined by the New Orleans (kit 5742), the Minneapolis (kit 5744) and the Tuscaloosa (kit 5745). In the case of the Astoria, she wore Measure 1 camouflage in her brief wartime service.

It is great to see Trumpeter continuing down the roster of naval combatants in their releases, including many of the lesser-known support vessels. This release adds a US heavy cruiser to the line-up already released which also includes a variety of aircraft carrier classes, battleships, destroyers, destroyer escorts, and more. Add that to the growing roster of Soviet and Royal Navy subjects, plus the upcoming French battleship, this is a great time to be a 1/700 scale modeler!

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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