Trumpeter 1/700 USS North Carolina BB 55 Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||November 2006||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Subject||USS North Carolina BB 55||Scale||1/700|
|Kit Number||5734||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice details, waterline or full-hull construction||Cons||No ocean surface base|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$27.95|
The USS North Carolina was commissioned in April 1941 as the first class of battleship to be built since 1923. While the ship was designed to comply with the treaty constraints, her main armament was nine 16 inch guns and a wide range of self-protection armament. Armor for the battleships was designed to withstand a volley from the equivalent of her own guns. The North Carolina actually had less armor plate than her predecessors, but the hull was inclined 15 degrees which provided equivalent protection at significantly less weight.
The original main armament configuration had been four turrets of twin 14 inch guns, but these were changed to three turrets of three 16 inch guns, again resulting in reduced weight and increased firepower.
The USS North Carolina (BB 55) was actually a class of two ships, her sister was the USS Washington (BB 56). The Washington was getting its own shakedown cruise two weeks after the North Carolina's commissioning. After Pearl Harbor, both battleships entered the fighting in the Pacific. The North Carolina was torpedoed on 15 September 1942 while escorting the USS Hornet. Her damage control parties were able to keep the ship in operations through the remainder of the day. She was repaired, refitted and put back to sea. The USS North Carolina and USS Washington survived the war, fighting in nearly every major campaign on the way. Near the end of the war, the USS North Carolina was even shelling industrial complexes near Tokyo! Today the North Carolina is a museum and memorial in Wilmington, NC.
Trumpeter has scaled down their beautiful 1/350 scale North Carolina kit into 1/700 to add to their impressive array of naval offerings in this scale. The kit is molded in Trumpeter's light gray and is presented on seven parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) as well as a separate main deck 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.
The one thing I am disappointed to see is the lack of the blue vac-molded ocean surface that has been provided in most of the other kits in this scale and provides a nice way to mount and display the waterline option.
While I am no naval combatant expert, from what I can glean from photos, the kit represents the late-war fit of the North Carolina, especially the main radar dish that replaced the earlier arrays that were used at commissioning and first refit. If you want to backdate the ship to early or pre-war configuration, there are certainly enough photo-etch sets with the appropriate radars available as well as removing and/or re-locating the appropriate gun mounts.
While the North Carolina was periodically updated and repainted throughout the war, the Washington remained basically as-built throughout the war. Converting the North Carolina kit to the Washington will likely entail the same work as backdating the North Carolina to its early war fit.
The packaging of this kit is exellent, with pairs of parts trees sealed into protective bag to minimize the chance of damage in transit. The engineering that goes into Trumpeter's kits is quite impressive.
According to the literature, the completed kit will be almost 13 inches long (give or take a millimeter). You can see vast number of parts and fittings provided in the kit, so straight out of the box, it will be impressive. With photo-etch railings and other details, this kit will be awesome.
On the aft catapults, the kit adds a new 1/700 aircraft to the mix, the OS2U Kingfisher. These aircraft are not separately molded, so the only way to obtain one is to get this kit. Two are provided.
Trumpeter provides markings for the 1944 version of the North Carolina while she wore Measure 32 camouflage. If you look through some of the historical pictures of this particular ship, it would almost be quicker to list the Measure schemes that the USS North Carolina didn't wear! This provides you with a wide range of color schemes to choose from!
Unless you opt to build this kit straight out of the box, you're likely to spend more time researching the configuration of the ship at some point in time to match the paint, weapons and antenna configurations, than actually building this kit. As with the previous 1/700 combatants from Trumpeter, this is a nicely engineered and beautifully detailed kit. I wouldn't be surprised to see a variety of photo-etch offerings soon to follow.
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!
US Battleships in Action, Part 2, Rob Stern, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1984, ISBN 0-89747-157-1.