By Rob Mackie
The Classic Warships 1:700 scale USS Tennessee is a waterline model
depicting the ship in its 1944 fit. One of two Tennessee class battleships
(the other was California), Tennessee survived Pearl Harbor with minor
damage, unlike California which was was sunk. California was
refloated and both ships subsequently underwent a radical overhaul. They were
rebuilt from the deck up, and gained so much extra beam (16 feet) that they could no
longer transit the Panama Canal. The Classic Warships kit depicts Tennessee
in its post-rebuild form, so if you are looking for an early war, cage-masted Tennessee,
this kit is not for you. The rebuilt Tennessee class somewhat
resembled South Dakota class ships. They had a central citadel crowded
with 40mm, 20mm and 5" gun armament and lost the 1920s "look"
characteristic of the battle fleet at Pearl.
Stern view of USS Tennessee 1944
(Note the curved dark line on both port and starboard side of deck.
This is the deck outline prior to the 1943 re-build)
The Classic Warships kit consists of a very finely cast hull, resin superstructure/deck
levels, and numerous white metal guns and fittings. There is also a small etched
brass fret with catapults and an aircraft handling crane. This is a generic fret
used on many Classic Warship kits, so most of the PE parts will go into the spares box.
The hull casting is especially noteworthy. It captures nicely the hybrid
quality of these re-built battleships as well as having a lot of deck detail. There are no
watertight doors on the hull casting so add your own from plastic strip or etched brass
(or ignore them. In the dark MS 21 scheme carried by Tennessee they are hardly
noticeable in this scale.). The white metal is quite acceptable, especially the 40mm guns.
A minor amount of scratchbuilding is required. There are two
pole-shaped boat cranes aft that should be fabricated from brass or plastic rod. The pole
masts will also need to be made from rod stock (not included). Neither 20mm guns nor
railing is provided so you will need to buy the appropriate Tom's or GMM fret. The
kit can be built either as California or Tennessee. The ships were
identical with the exception of a few 20mm mounts. And with a little extra work the
kit can be converted to a late war West Virginia. The Squadron Battleships in
Action, Part I, is a good reference as well as the Volunteer State
Battlewagon: USS Tennessee. Both these books are in the $8 range and are
useful supplements to the instructions. The Squadron book has a stunning color drawing
showing California's port and starboard dazzle scheme, should you wish to do
something more dramatic than the Tennessee's dark MS 21 livery.
USS California 1944
Instructions consist of an exploded view and what appears to be a
schematic from another source. There is no parts list against which to inventory the
box contents, an oversight that Classic Warships should address in future releases.
It would also be helpful if Classic included a list of parts the modeler needs to scratch
build from rod stock. Experienced modelers will figure this out readily enough, but
resin beginners won't.
I'm glad I picked up this model at the IPMS Nats as I find late war Tennessee
class battleships fascinating. The minor amount of scratchbuilding required is easy,
though I suggest that Classic be more explicit in its instructions regarding the items the
modeler needs to add. It is one of the better 1:700 releases from Classic
Warships. The model sells for $75. See the Classic Warships page for
Click on thumbnail image to view full size