1:350th Banner Kit
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
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
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!!! :-) )
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
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
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
sheet stock, something that should be quite do-able.
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.