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USS Massachusetts July 1944
USS Massachusetts
BB 59

Blue Water navy
1:350 Scale Kit

By
Ken Summa

(Click here for the photo gallery at the end of this article)

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, Massachusetts.

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.

BWNMass 16in turrets.jpg (10777 bytes)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.

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BWNMassPE02.jpg (47593 bytes)

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.

BWNMass Resin Parts 01.jpg (7952 bytes)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 price.

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USS Massachusetts July 1944

Click thumbnail image to view full size picture
Photographed by Rob Mackie

BWNMass bow view.jpg (25793 bytes)
Nice port side bow view
BWNMass forward superstructure.jpg (35663 bytes)
Superstructure details
BWNMass forecastle detail.jpg (17154 bytes)
Forecastle details
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Superstructure closeup
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Superstructure closeup
BWNMass quarterdeck detail.jpg (31879 bytes)
Quarterdeck closeup
BWNMass Hull Midship upper.jpg (33882 bytes)
Mid ship from above
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Superstructure castings
BWNMass Hull Forecastle upper.jpg (11897 bytes)
Forecastle
BWNMass Hull lower aft side.jpg (10098 bytes)
Lower hull
BWNMass Hull lower aft.jpg (15692 bytes)
Lower hull
BWNMass Hull Midship side.jpg (14633 bytes)
Hull indentation characteristic of SoDak class
BWNMass white metal 01.jpg (24950 bytes)
White Metal 2 of 4
BWNMass white metal 02.jpg (15766 bytes)
White Metal 2 of 4
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White Metal 3 of 4
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White Metal 4 of 4
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Gun tubs
BWNMass Resin Parts 04.jpg (28464 bytes)
5" mounts, blast sleeves
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20mm pedestals and 40mm Bofors
BWNMass and CW NC forecastle.jpg (40378 bytes)
Forecastle: Mass in front, Classic Warship North Carolina in background
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Quarterdeck: Mass in front, Classic Warship North Carolina at rear
BWNMass and CW NC port midship.jpg (37688 bytes)
Mass in front, North Carolina at rear
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Plan view: North Carolina above, Mass below

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