The Samek Models 1:700 scale USS Alaska is a waterline model depicting
the ship in its 1944 fit. Designed to counter heavily armed surface raiders like the
11" gunned Graf Spee, the "large cruisers" authorized in 1940 were
unique in the US Navy. At 808 feet in length and displacing 34,000 tons, they were longer
than all US battleships except for the Iowa class. And their main armament
approached that of battleships with nine 12"and twelve 5"guns, as well as an AA
fit of fifty-six 40mm barrels (14 quad mounts) and thirty-four 20mm Oerlikons. By
the time they were ready for action later in the war their time had passed. These
heavily armed "battle cruisers" (two were completed and saw action in WW II, Alaska
and Guam) were used in the same manner as more conventional battleships, air
defense escort and shore bombardment.
The Samek Alaska is impressive. Its 200+ resin parts are extraordinarily
sharp and without flaws of any kind. Smaller components are cast in paper-thin wafers that
are easily removed. There are no white metal parts. The etched brass fret
lacks railing but is otherwise complete. The instructions provide actual-size
templates for fabricating masts and 5" guns from sprue or brass rod (not
included). The directions, which consist of an exploded view, numerous scrap views,
and a paint diagram, are acceptable, though they would be much more to my liking if a
numbered and illustrated parts list were included. The length and beam
of the hull casting are right on the money. My Alaska references are
limited, but the kit appears accurate in comparison to the line drawings and photos in
Friedman's US Cruisers. A kit of this beauty and complexity warrants
the modeler investing in a set of Floating Drydock plans, though it is not necessary.
A properly done Alaska buildup should look very impressive indeed.
Once again Samek has come through with a beautiful kit of an important US
warship. Their USS Sullivans is the best
Fletcher kit available in 1:700, and they have another winner with the Alaska.
The kit is hard to get but worth the wait. Pacific Front Hobbies has them at $85
but availability is sporadic. Don't pass up this beauty unless you dislike exquisite
models of beautiful - and large - capital ships.