Laid down in July 1939 and commissioned
May 12, 1942, the USS Massachusetts,
along with USS Alabama, is one of
two remaining South Dakota Class
battleships (Editor's Note: Check out the extensive Warship
photo tours of these two ships. Click USS Massachusetts
or USS Alabama). Her first action was
supporting the North African invasion in November 1942. She severely damaged the French
battleship Jean Bart as well as sinking two destroyers at the Battle of
Casablanca. She subsequently transferred to the Pacific Fleet, where she escorted convoys
and carriers, shelled enemy installations, and late in the war bombarded the Japanese
homeland itself. She earned 11 battle stars for this service. Decommissioned in 1947 and
mothballed until 1962, she is preserved as a museum ship at Battleship Cove in Fall River,
The USS Massachusetts
is the second 1/350th South Dakota class battleship
released by Blue Water Navy (MB Models), the USS
South Dakota being the first. The model can be built to represent the
Massachusetts at any time during her wartime service. This mixed-media kit
contains a lot of resin (hull, superstructure, gun turrets, small platforms), white metal
(gun barrels, medium and light AA, miscellaneous fittings), injection molded plastic (40mm
Bofors guns), and two large etched brass frets.
One of the kit's many highlights is the instruction booklet. It
contains 12 pages of illustrations for building the South Dakota and a 7-page
addendum for the Massachusetts. The written and illustrated addendum contains
those steps unique to the Massachusetts. There is also an illustrated parts
listing for both the basic South Dakota kit and Massachusetts. The
booklet has a fairly comprehensive ship history extracted from the Dictionary of
American Naval Fighting Ships. The exceptionally well done illustrations are laid out
in logical order, and the narrative clarifies some of the finer assembly points.
The flawlessly cast
resin and white-metal parts are excellent, with extensive detail and good engineering. The
16" turrets are a site to behold. They feature extensive rivet detail and even
underside access hatches. The 40mm guns are the best in the business. The injection
molded barrels sit on a finely detailed white metal base, with etched brass splinter
shields and gun sights.
Finely engraved lines help you locate the superstructure pieces atop
the hull. Detail is uniformly crisp and well defined, including the proper hatch
corrugations. The photo-etched brass is among the best I have seen in a 1/350 scale model.
It is relief etched and pre-sized so that it fits with a minimum of measuring and cutting.
The etched brass parts are labeled and numbered for easy identification.
Click to view
full size image of etched brass frets
While the Massachusetts is beautiful in the box, the modeler
should be aware of some minor accuracy problems. The prominent indentation on the side of
the upper hull is too far aft by no more than 1/4". Proper location is between the
forward sighting port of the No.1 gun turret and the aft Mk 37 director. The instructions
show it in the correct location. This is a minor problem, however, because it is
noticeable in only a handful of photos and in no way detracts from the model's overall
excellence. Relocating the indentation would require major surgery and would add very
little to the completed model. Don't bother. And the bulbous lower bow needs to be more
rounded. Some minor sanding should correct this.
Ships in active service had four ladders on the 16" turret face.
The ladders provided topside access as well as facilitating barrel maintenance. They were
removed from the museum ships Massachusetts and Alabama for safety
reasons. The kit's turret faceplates are too narrow for the outboard ladders. Consider
moving the outboard guns inward slightly in order to accommodate the outboard ladders. It
is also acceptable to leave them off.
The 20-mm gun pedestals are small parts cast atop resin blocks. Careful
sanding and cutting will be required to remove these parts. Blue Water Navy has included
more than enough to complete the model, a nice touch.
The underside of many resin parts has a resin overpour. It is 1/16" -
1/8" thick and must be removed. Eliminating this excess resin from the large upper
and lower hull castings will be somewhat troublesome. There is lip around the resin plug
that can be used as a guide. Consider using a table top sander to remove the overpour,
being careful not to touch the flat lip surrounding the resin plug. This lip is the actual
mating surface between the upper and lower hull castings. It is flat and needs no prep so
focus your energy-and your belt sander-on the overpour and you'll be OK.
My kit was missing one of the bridge parts. I requested a replacement
from Blue Water Navy and it arrived within a week. BWN is to be commended for its prompt
and responsive service.
Blue Water Navy does not plan on releasing kits of the Big Mamie's
sister ships, USS Alabama and USS Indiana. These can be built using the Massachusetts
kit however. Extra parts are included. The modeler will need to obtain sufficient
reference material for constructing these ships. No conversion instructions are
included in the Massachusetts kit.
The Blue Water Navy USS Massachusetts features phenomenal
detailing, superb instructions, and excellent casting. Its size, large number of parts and
resin cleanup make the Massachusetts a challenge for the beginner, but anyone who
has completed a few resin ships of destroyer-size or larger should find it manageable. The
$550 list price is steep but it can be had for $385 from several outlets, a steal for that
USS Massachusetts July 1944