USS Arizona
1:350th Banner Kit
In-Box Review

by
Brad Chaucer


This is a preliminary In Box Review of the much discussed Banner 1/350 Injection Molded USS Arizona kit.

I suspect that everyone reading this has more than a passing knowledge of the Arizona, so I shall not discuss the actual ship here. Basically, based on reports from Loren Perry, it appears that Marco Polo decided to accept a challenge to do an injection molded USS Arizona in 1/350 scale when Tamiya and other companies declined to do so. They approached a Chinese plastic molder (who apparently had no prior experience in kits) to design and mold the kit. It has been suggested that they merely "Pantographed" the older Revell kit, as many similarities in "engineering details" were noted (Editor's Note: side-by-side photos of the Banner and Revell kits are at end of this article).  I do not know whether they did, though some similarities are striking. However it is also clear that they addressed some, though not all of the deficiencies in the older kit. They also carried some forward.

However it is also apparent that many of the parts are superior in fineness and detail to their older counterparts; The 5"/25 AA guns in guns are better, the ship's boats have interior detail, the tops and bridge structures seem better. They did however use the same "wedding cake" tier approach to parts like the tops and bridge structures that have rows or ports or windows. They may have pantographed some parts, they clearly sat down and studied the Revell kit and utilized similar design philosophies, but they also made a real attempt to improve detail.   Frankly the issue is irrelevant to me, and my discussion hence will address the kit in a tabula rasa manner.

Upon opening the box (which has a rather nice painting of the ship) one is greeted by a large, well packed kit. The hull is in two sections, an upper and lower hull, permitting either full or waterline hull construction. Each sprue of parts is separately packed. There are adequate picture instructions with almost no text. There is little in the way of painting detail, and what is there is useless. There are no rigging instructions.  There is a small sheet of decals, with markings for the aircraft hull names and displacement markings (plimsoll lines) and a US Flag (which has the stars "greeked" in as square blobs). Someone should do a decal set for this kit (Oh Duane!!! :-)  )

Instructions

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Moving on to the parts. The hull is in two sections, the lower molded in red. The rest of the kit in a medium grey. The hull fit is good and should pull together with a minimum of clamping. The lower is flat bottomed, but interestingly enough when compared to the lower hull from a Tom's 1941 Arizona kit was nearly identical in profile, depth and overall size. The one error in the Banner kit was a carry over of the incorrect placement of the bilge keels from the Revell kit.  The upper hull also matches the Tom's hull quite closely, the only "major" discrepancy being slightly thinner torpedo bulges. Overall the hull at the maximum point of the bulges (at the break in main deck level) was 0.130 in. total, scaling up to a 3.7 foot error in real life. However, the error seems comfined to the bulges, the upper hull above the bulge and at the deck level is dead nuts on with the Tom's hull (15mil difference overall) Maybe they pantographed Tom's kit too!!!  :-)

Hull and Decks

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Now to the biggest deficiency in the kit - the deck. The deck is a raised panel design with planks that are quite wide. The plank size is 45 mil. which scales out to be 16 in wide planks. The detail looks good to the eye, however; I suspect that this is one instance where a compromise was made between accuracy and appearance (probably an unconscious decision).  The next problem is that unlike the Revel kit the deck here is in five sections; a bow, mid fore, central, mid aft and stern section. The mid fore and aft sections are molded to the upper hull, leaving the other three sections as drop ins.  This will leave some difficult seams to try to make disappear.  The fit of the three sections to the hull is quite good with no gaps; they seat nicely. However there is another problem.  The three drop in sections are thinner than the molded in sections 40 mil as opposed to 65 mil.  This means that one can't just attach a glue strip to the bottom of the fixed deck sections to assure vertical alignment of the decks. One would have to also shim the deck thickness at the glue edges to achieve mechanical alignment.  One wanting a clean accurate deck would be well advised to consider a "deckectomy" and replacement with Evergreen scribed
sheet stock, something that should be quite do-able.

Parts Sprues
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The upper deck structure and 5 in gun casemates are the next worst feature. There is, simply put, no side wall detail aside from a row of portholes. The casemate is split horizontally as in the Revell kit. The 5 inchers are mounted to drums which sit over posts molded into the deck ala the Revell design.  The positions of the 5 inchers are somewhat off from the positions on the Tom's kit, although the overall length of the upper deck casemate matches the length of the Tom's kit. There are no details,  casemate hatches (around the gun positions) or other detail. The glue edges are somewhat rounded in cross section (crowned) so a very obvious seam will need to be filled.  There is an ideal opportunity for some P.E. veneer skins in this area.  The tween deck ladders are the same solid pyramidal chunks as on the Revell kit, as are the ladders that are through the decks (there are no coamings or hatch covers, another opportunity for some P.E.).  There is also one deck house missing. It appears to be the one that winds up as the footing for the fore leg of the main mast tripod. However once the full forward structure is in place the missing structure is probably not noticeable. For reference, it is the middle of the three deck houses on the deck of the Tom's kit.

There are no molded on railings to remove. There appears to be an error in the shape of the forward pair of splinter shields for the 5"/25s are more petite than on the Revell kit but still too thick. They would benefit from replacement with Evergreen stock of appropriate thickness. The same for the four round gun tubs. The two provided Kingfishers are too shallow in fuselage depth but at least the floats are not molded to the catapults. There are good replacements available from White Ensign, as John Snyder has helpfully reminded us. The cats and cranes while better that their Revell counterparts would still benefit from replacement by good PE parts. The ship's boats look pretty good, most with internal detail like gratings etc. The 5"/25s are decent. Most of the small parts appear to be cleaner and sharper than their Revell Counterparts and some have better detail.

Bottom line. This is a highly buildable kit. The discrepancies and problems can readily be fixed. A PE set will be a tremendous benefit. Loren Perry has already announced that he is working on one. As of today it is listed as "ARIZONA/PENNSYLVANIA (1/350) - 350-25" at $40. No word as of now from other sources. However there is the Brass set for the Tom's 1941 Arizona kit available from him at $30 on his web site. I suspect that much if not all of the brass therein would be directly useable.

At $38 for the kit, $40 for the brass and about $10 for some decent Kingfishers, One can have a very credible 1/350 Arizona at a total cost of  $88 plus the cost of some styrene and a bit of filler. Considering that the Revell kit would cost nearly as much with brass, this is a decided bargain for anyone who wants an Arizona on their shelf and can't spring for the resin kit.

Side-by-Side Photos of Banner 1:350 USS Arizona and Revell 1:426th Version
Courtesy of James Corley and Jon Warneke
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Forecastle (Revell above, Banner below)
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Quarterdeck (Banner above, Revell below)
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Funnel and misc parts
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Turrets et al (Revell below)
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Bow profile view
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Banner superstructure parts
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Banner turrets and boats
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Toms Modelworks &

Banner USS Arizona

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