The USS New Mexico was the name ship of a three ship class of battleships that were part of the battleship building fever leading up to World War One. In the past USN Dreadnought designs had been built two per class but this class departed from prior pattern because the sale of pre-dreadnoughts Mississippi & Idaho BB 23 &24, allowed the funding of the third ship, the USS Idaho BB-42. The General Board wished to take a significant step beyond the preceding Pennsylvania design. They wanted to have thicker armor and 16 inch guns. Because the 16-inch gun was untried and because of the costs of the proposed new designs, the Secretary of the Navy ordered no big changes and that the new class be modified Pennsylvanias. The new class was 16 feet longer but the most obvious difference was the clipper bow of the new ships, a feature that was retained for every other USN battleship design before the Washington Treaty.
New Mexico was selected to be the first battleship to receive turbo-electric power. Instead of the steam turbines directly driving the shafts with turbo-electric drive, the turbines drove generators, producing electricity, which drove the electric motors that drove the shafts. This design allowed for much greater internal subdivision, which would allow a greater degree of survivability than conventionally powered designs. In practice it was not particularly successful and the design led to severe machinery access problems in the event of defects or damage to the machinery. Mississippi, the first of the class to be launched completed with all twenty-two 5-inch guns. On February 7, 1918 all hull secondary guns were ordered removed and New Mexico & Idaho completed with fourteen 5-inch guns and the hull casemates were plated up.
From 1931 to 1934 all of the class received major rebuilds. There were significant armor increases. Torpedo blisters added 9 feet to the beam. They were completely re-engined and New Mexico’s turbo-electric drive disappeared for a conventional plant. The elevation of the 14-inch guns was increased to 30 degrees. The 5 inch 25 caliber DP guns replaced the previously mounted three-inch AA guns. Internal torpedo tubes were removed. In appearance the sisters changed dramatically. Previous modernizations had replaced a cage mast with a tripod with the New York, Nevada & Pennsylvania classes. Probably inspired by the Royal Navy’s Nelson/Rodney design, the class received a large tower bridge, a single heightened funnel and only pole masts. Until the North Carolina & Washington joined the fleet, the New Mexico class was the most modern battleships available to the United States Navy.
USS New Mexico was in training after her launch in May 1918 and was not deployed in World War One. Her first deployment was to Europe from January 15 to February 27, 1919 to escort President Woodrow Wilson home from the Paris Peace Conference. She arrived at San Pedro, California on August 9, 1919, becoming the first flagship of the US Pacific Fleet. During the inter-war years "The Queen" became the nickname for New Mexico because of the competitions won by the ship. After many years of showing the flag on goodwill tours, New Mexico was taken in hand for a major rebuild. From March 1931 until January 1933, she was refitted at Philadelphia and then returned to the Pacific as Battleship Division 3 flagship. In 1937 she was replaced as flagship by Idaho, but remained with Batdiv 3 for the remainder of her career. Based at Pearl Harbor from December 6, 1940 to May 20, 1941 when the division of all three sisterships was assigned to Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic. She arrived at Norfolk, Virginia on June 16, 1941 and spent the following months until early October, patrolling the North Atlantic and Denmark Strait against German raiders and as a precaution against a breakout attempt by Tirpitz. In late October to early November she served as convoy escort.
USS NEW MEXICO REFERENCES
U.S. Battleships: An Illustrated Design History, by Norman Friedman and plans by Alan Raven & A.D. Baker III. This is an outstanding reference source. The title is 463 pages in length and exhaustively covers the battleship classes of the USN. Chapter titles are: The Pre-dreadnoughts; the All-Big-Gun Ship; Theodore Roosevelt’s Fighting Machine, 1907-09; The Wyoming & New York Classes, 1910-11; The Standard Type Battleships, 1912-17; Alternatives to the Standard Type; The Last Dreadnought- The South Dakota Class; World War One; The Washington Treaty; Reconstruction; Design Studies 1928-34; The North Carolina Class; The South Dakota Class; The Iowa Class; The Montana Class; Battleships at War 1941-45; and Postwar. It also includes appendices on monitors, damage at Pearl Harbor and a data list. With high production standards, beautiful photos, fine drawings and a wealth of information, this title has to rate as the best source on the battleship designs of the USN.
Battleships of the U.S. Navy in World War II, by Stefan Terzibaschitsch. This title published in 1977 is 191 pages in length. It covers the Wyoming through Montana Class designs. The New Mexico class is covered in 17 and a half pages of photos, drawings (profiles with some plans) and text. I think the main strength of this volume are the drawings. New Mexico has three drawings showing the fit in 1936, 1942 and 1945. Mississippi has five drawings showing the fit in 1936, 1942, 1945, 1949 and 1955. Idaho has three drawings showing the fit in 1918, 1942 and 1945 with a bow on profile in 1945. The volume also covers tables of ships’ data.
Battleships of World War Two; An International Encyclopedia, by M.J. Whitley. This volume of 318 pages is an excellent overview of all of the battleships of World War Two. It contains nine and a half pages on the class that provides the statistics, design history, modifications and service history of New Mexico, Mississippi and Idaho. The ship’s statistics and a great part of the historical portion of this review comes from this source.
United States Battleshipsby Alan F. Pater. Published in 1968 this title is 279 pages in length. It provides extensive service history of every battleship commissioned by the USN from Maine of 1888 to Wisconsin of the Iowa Class. Arranged alphabetically by ships’ name, the volume provides detailed information on each ship not found in other sources. There are minimal graphics with one photo per ship and no drawings. This source, along with the Whitley volume, was the source for the history of New Mexico found in this review.
U.S. Battleships in Action, Part 1, by Robert C. Stern with illustrations by Don Greer. This title published by Squadron/Signal Publications is their third volume of softcover monographs in the "In Action" series. It is 50 pages in length and covers the pre-North Carolina Class Battleships employed by the USN in WWII. Five pages are devoted to the New Mexico Class with 14 photos and three drawings (Mississippi in 1941, New Mexico in 1945, and Idaho in 1945) Additionally the back cover features a beautiful painting of Idaho as she appeared on Neutrality Patrol in November 1941.
Floating Drydock (http://www.floatingdrydock.com)- Produces a wonderful set of plans for New Mexico in 1:192 scale. It comes in two sheets that each measure 142 inches by 30 inches. They are dated October 21, 1944. The plans include main deck, outboard profile, bridges, superstructure decks, inboard profile and ships data. Floating Drydock says of these plans, "The "G" series plans are copies of US Navy "Booklet of General Plans". These plans show both interior and exterior views. A few of the original plans have been re-drawn by us due to poor reproduction quality of the original and some interiors are omitted. These plans can be used to build a model or use for research projects. The date listed is the last date the plans were corrected." Also Floating Drydock carries the painting guide (plan and profile) that shows the Measure 32/6d dazzle pattern worn by New Mexico.
The attack on Pearl Harbor made New Mexico and her two sisters the primary source for surface defense of the West Coast. The three sisters steamed back to the Pacific. Until August 1942 she was based on the west coast as protection against a Japanese raid. From August 1, 1942 until March 1943 she escorted convoys and patrolled in the Southwest Pacific. March 17, 1943 saw New Mexico arrived at Adak, Alaska for duty in the Aleutians. On July 22 she bombarded Little Kiska Island. She then went to Puget Sound for a short refit and then became flagship of TG.52.2 bombardment force. From then on she was involved in supporting amphibious assaults. On November 20, 1943 she supported landings on Makin Island. 1944 saw her supporting assaults on the Marshall Islands at Kwajalein and Ebeye, later at Wotje and Kavieng. Starting on June 14, 1944 she supported the landings at Saipan, Tinian and Guam in the Marianas. She received another refit at Bremerton, Washington from August 18 to October 26, 1944 and arrived at Leyte Gulf on November 22, 1944 having missed the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She then supported further landings in the Philippines.
Several senior officers were aboard New Mexico in this phase. She was the flagship of Batdiv 3 again, under Rear Admiral George Weyler. Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser was on board. In December 1943 aboard HMS Duke of York, he had commanded the forces that sank Scharnhorst. Now he was commander of the British Pacific Fleet. Lt. General Herbert Lumsden of the Royal Army was on board, He fought Rommel in North Africa and went on to become a Corps commander in battles on boarders of India in early 1944. Admiral Fraser and LTG Lumsden were present to observe USN/Marine amphibious operations. On January 6, 1945 in Lingayen Gulf on the assault of Luzon, New Mexico was struck in the port side bridge by a kamikaze. Thirty men were killed, including Captain Robert Fleming, who was the commander of the ship and LTG Lumsden, and ninety wounded. Admiral Fraser, who was on the starboard side of the bridge at the time, was uninjured. Repaired at Pearl Harbor, New Mexico was back for the Okinawa Campaign. Off Okinawa on May 12, 1945 she was hit by another kamikaze on starboard side amidships. She was not available for duty again until after the shooting stopped. On August 15 she joined the occupation force and was present in Tokyo Bay for the surrender that officially ended World War Two on September 2, 1945. She left Tokyo on September 6 and arrived at Boston on October 17, 1945. There was a quick disposal of New Mexico. Paid off on July 19, 1946, stricken February 25, 1947, sold for scrap October 13 and starting on November 24, 1947, broken up at Newark, New Jersey, just south of where she first entered the water almost 31 years earlier. (History fromBattleships of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia by M.J. Whitley and United States Battleships by Alan Pater.)
Iron Shipwrightcasts as much detail into the hull and other resin parts as possible. It saves on the number of parts that they have to produce and significantly reduces assembly time for the modeler. The hull of New Mexico was well cast and seemed to have even more detail than past IS efforts. Circular plates covered the lowest row of portholes and a great number of ventilation louvers, deck hatches, bulkhead hatches and fittings were cast as part of the hull. There were some other, minor glitches with the hull casting that are normally found in IS products. A large resin casting runner ran along the bottom of the hull. This was removed with a Dremel and sanded smooth. The bottom of the hull had a small number of pinhole voids that were filled and smoothed. Pinhole voids were also present in a small number of fittings and the hull shaft housings. All of these were easily corrected.
Iron Shipwrighthas gone to a design that allows the superstructure to click together and into place on the deck. New Mexico is their third effort reflecting this design decision, the first two efforts were the Indianapolis (Click for review of the IS Indianapolis) and Salt Lake City. This really worked well in the assembly of the superstructure. It proved to be the best fit so far. However, the fit of the superstructure to the deck could still have a tighter locking design. Because of this design, there were no alignment problems. The gun (01) deck had some perfectly round holes that I thought were for fittings. They were not and I had to fill them with a small amount of putty and smooth. As with Indianapolis, the 5-inch/ 25 caliber mounts were mirror images of the prototype. I moved the fusing station on the mounts to the left side and rounded the right side. The 5-inch director parts seem to have a different shape than those shown in the Floating Drydock 1/192 plans.
Placement of some of the vents and the boat booms would have been easier if IS had included locator holes in the deck, identifying their locations. The kingposts for the boat booms (figure 32) could have used locator holes. There is no problem on the starboard side because the post fits in the V shaped overhang of the aft end of the 01 deck. This overhang was not present on the port position so you have to use the placement of the starboard post as a guide. The tops of the posts are level with the junction of the aft superstructure splinter shielding and start of the aft superstructure 40mm tubs. The round and the J shaped ventilators (two of each) also could have used locator holes. The locations for these parts are shown in a top view (figure 36 D & N). The instructions show the starboard placement of one of each. The port locations are symmetrical to those on the starboard side. There are three square ventilators, not two as shown in the instructions, and placement plates molded into the deck identify the location of each of these. Two are forward and on either side of X barbette and the third is further inboard and forward of the port square ventilator.
The 20mm galleries on either side of the stack took the most fiddling of any of the parts in the kit (figure 40H). The instructions mention using wire for the support posts. I recommend using plastic rod. I found that I had to adjust the lengths of the posts to assure that the galleries would be level. It is far easier to adjust the length of plastic rod rather than metal wire. I also recommend that you install these galleries before you install the stack (figure 38A), so you can adjust the lengths of the rear posts of these galleries. For the aft most 40mm tubs (figure 36 L) to fit correctly, you’ll have to sand off the support bracing on the underside of the parts so that you’ll get a flush fit with the deck positions. Lastly I found that there was not enough clearance between the rear of B turret and the forward face of the conning tower. The apron on the turret should be flush with the forward edge of the barbette. Because of the lack of sufficient clearance, there was a slight overhang.
I made very few changes to the kit. Using a Dremel, I cut out the solid resin canopies on the Kingfisher. After painting the interior Zinc Chromate, I used brass railing to create the canopy frames and then glassed in the canopies with Micro Krystalclear. I added 27 link per inch anchor chain from Model Expo. All rigging was from stretched sprue and placed in accordance to the rigging instructions in the instructions except for the addition of six signal halyards running from the mainmast yardarm (three on each side) to the flag locker platform (wing platform, figure 40 G). The model was painted in Measure 32/6d dazzle, that she wore in 1944. New Mexico wore Ms. 21 (all 5-N blue) in 1943 and reverted to it in 1945 with the kamikaze threat.
I recommend installing the inclined ladders at the back of the bridge as you assemble the bridge superstructure. If you wait till the bridge is assembled, you’ll have trouble getting some of the ladders into their proper locations. I had to enlarge to deck openings for the uppermost ladders to insure that they went to the lower level without angling to the side. As always, dry fit parts first. To get a good fit for the bridge frame (figure 45 M) I had to lightly sand the underside of the overhanging forward platform (figure 45 F) to get a flush fit. There appear to be too few type B (long) inclined ladders. The frets give you four of these ladders. If you follow the instructions, you use two to go from the quarterdeck to the 01 deck (figure 41 G) and four in the assembly of the forward superstructure (figure 47 T&V). However, I found that the two ladders running from the quarterdeck to the 01 deck (figure 41 G) were too short to bridge the distance. I had to use longer inclined ladders that I had from a different fret for this position. Also the instructions fail to show the presence of inclined ladders inboard of the 20mm gun galleries, running from the 01 deck to the 02 deck at the rear of the bridge. The type B ladder would be good for these two positions.
IS includes extra PE parts above what is needed in assembly. As an example, New Mexico has two FC radars. IS includes on the frets twice the number of PE parts than you need for the assembly of these radars. This is a very nice touch as some of these parts are very small and easily lost. All and all, in the IS New Mexico as well as otherIron Shipwright kits that I have built, I really like the PE that is included in the kit. I find it very easy to work and difficult to damage. They have some of the nicest inclined ladders around. It is east to align the individual treads of the ladders.
There were some ambiguities. Two tubs (figure 38 C) are raised above the 20mm tubs on either side, so don’t sand off the bottom pedestals. Although the instructions listed these tubs as director tubs, plans indicate that 20mm guns went into these positions. The attachment of the brass FC radar to the resin base was confusing, as the drawing of the base doesn’t match the configuration of the part (figure 19). The centerline brass tab of the radar attaches to the flat resin face of the base. See figure 45 K for a profile. The inclination of the ladders on the rear of the bridge (figure 47) is not shown. A cross section plan/placement would have been useful. The two 40mm tubs at the aft end of the main deck (figure 36 I) are not identical. They are mirror images of each other. They are open in back and the long run of the shielding from centerline should face aft in both cases.
There are some omissions. Both the light platform (figure 41 B) and the aft searchlight platform (figure 41 C) have solid resin supports cast on the underside of the platforms. The PE comes with open brass bracing for these platforms. The instructions don’t indicate that the modeler has the option of solid resin supports and using the brass parts. The brass parts are much more accurate and easy to install, if attached to the platforms before the platforms are attached to the aft superstructure. All you have to do is cut off the resin support, sand smooth and attach the brass supports. Since the attachment of the platforms to the superstructure was shown earlier (figure 41) than the attachment of the brass supports to the platforms (figure 43), I had to backtrack and remove the platforms from the superstructure, remove the resin supports, add the brass supports and reattach the platforms. The instructions fail to show the need to drill a hole at the rear of the radar platform (figure 44 G) to allow the foremast to go through to the rear platform on the flag bridge (figure 44 D) which is below. The parts laydown/manifest fails to show the 5" directors that go on the two outboard positions of the forward platform on either side of the forward FC radar (figure 44 F) and there is no mention of their placement in the instructions. The parts laydown/manifest shows only one round vent (figure 36 J) when two are needed and two square vents (figure 36 D&N) when three are needed. The kit includes the parts but the disconnect is in the numbers. The placement of a number of vertical ladders is not shown in the instructions. The length of the prop shafts is not indicated (figures 3 & 4). I found that cutting the shafts to 7/8 inch worked. Likewise the length of the six 5"/51 cal casemate guns is not indicated (figure 50). I cut mine at 10mm.