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CA 38

Trumpeter 1/700 USS San Francisco CA 38 1944 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2008 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject USS San Francisco CA 38 1944 Scale 1/700
Kit Number 5747 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 San Francisco was one of the seven New Orleans class heavy cruisers that were designed with incremental improvements over the previous Northampton class. These heavy cruisers were all developments that resulted in the 10,000 ton displacement limits set forth by the 1921 Washington Naval Treaty.

USS San Francisco was laid down in 1931, launched in 1933, and commissioned in 1934. This cruiser operated in both the Atlantic and Pacific in the years leading up to World War II. In fact, USS San Francisco was awaiting dry dock at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Despite her engineering plant and armament being dismantled for overhaul, the remaining crew aboard grabbed ammunition and hopped over to the USS New Orleans to man her guns. San Francisco did not receive any damage from the Japanese attack and was rushed back into operations.

The operational history of the USS San Francisco is quite an interesting read and is well covered on Wikipedia here. The events described for the USS San Francisco at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal appear to be the basis for the climactic battle depicted in Otto Preminger's 1965 classic war movie "In Harm's Way" (one of my favorites). The USS San Francisco would go on to win 17 battle stars during World War II before decommissioning in 1946.

Trumpeter has released the second styrene kit of this class in 1/700 scale and it follows nicely with the other releases in this series. Molded in light gray and red styrene, this kit is presented on eight sprues of gray styrene, plus upper hull which is separately molded. The usual two red styrene parts are present to provide the modeler with their choice of full-hull or waterline presentation. One additional sprue molded in clear styrene is included for the ship's compiment of two SOC Seagulls.

Of course you're wondering if this is nothing more than a rebox of their San Francisco 1942 kit ( reviewed here). If you look at the sprues in both kits containing the main deck and upper deck layouts, you'll see that this kit represents the late war configuration that resulted from the repairs and updates that were accomplished after the extensive damage received in the naval battle at Guadalcanal.

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.

The ship was painted in Measure 33/13d which translates to:

  • Hull: Splintered 5-L Light Gray and 5-O Ocean Gray
  • Deck: Deck Blue 20-B with splinters of 5-O Ocean Gray

If you look at the decals, you can see the release schedule for this kit - first was the 1942 USS San Francisco, followed by this 1944 USS San Francisco, to be followed by the USS Quincy and USS Vincennes. The US flag has the correct number of stars.

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 the late-war San Francisco 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, and this is a great time to be a 1/700 scale modeler!

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!