Trumpeter 1/350 USS Alabama BB 60 Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|USS Alabama BB 60
|Nice details, waterline or full-hull construction
The USS Alabama (BB 60) was the fourth and final 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 Alabama was laid down in early 1940, almost two years before Pearl Harbor, and launched in early 1942. The ship completed its fitting and was commissioned in August 1942. Her first assignment was to join her sister ship, the USS South Dakota, as a temporary reinforcement of the British Home Fleet. Alabama and her sister took part in Operation Governor which was a diversionary action to lead the Germans to believe that an invasion would start with the Scandanavian countries rather than in Sicily.
Shortly thereafter, the Alabama and South Dakota made their way back to Norfolk for further refitting before transiting the Panama Canal and entering the Pacific Theater. Alabama took part in numerous actions during the course of that war. Despite heavy Japanese air and sea operations, the Alabama received little combat damage, though in mid December 1944 after the Luzon operations, Alabama retired to refuel only to enter severe weather that caused the ship to roll 30 degrees in rough seas which effectively destroyed the two OS2U Kingfishers on her stern. The typhoon that Alabama had inadvertently entered recorded wind gusts up to 83 knots and while causing minor damage to her superstructure, that same storm caused the loss of the destroyers USS Hull, USS Monaghan, and USS Spence.
After the surrender of Japan, the Alabama remained in the Japanese home islands to support occupational forces before taking part in Magic Carpet operations to help return US forces home. The Alabama was decommissioned in early 1947 and remained mothballed until she was struck from the register in 1962. The Alabama is currently a museum in Mobile as a memorial to the men and women who served in World War II.
Trumpeter has released the second 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 12 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 (480 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 1942 version of the Massachusetts while she wore Measure 12 camouflage.
This kit adds another installment in the South Dakota class 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!