|At 27 3/8" long, the Iron Shipwright
1:350th USS Alaska is a large ship. The actual battle cruiser was
808.5' in length with a maximum beam of 91', not too much smaller than the Iowa
class battleships. The kit's dimensions scale out to within 2% in length and 1% in beam,
quite acceptable for a resin kit. It should be noted that in evaluating the Iron
Shipwright USS Alaska I referred to US
Battleships in WWII by Robert O. Dulin Jr. and Wm. H. Garzke Jr.,
with line drawings by Robert F. Sumrall. I also used photos from US
Cruisers: An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman, with
drawings by Alan Raven.
After comparing this kit with the aforementioned references, I
was quite pleased with its proportions and accuracy. As a side note, the ship's general
layout differs depending on the source of the drawings and the date. I checked photos to
determine accuracy of various details such as stern hose reels, gun tub positions,
bollards, deck hatches, and catapult towers. At first I thought there were discrepancies
such as a missing stern hose reel, but subsequently found it on the brass fret. It also
appeared that the catapult towers should be flush with the side of the hull, not inset as
on the kit. Subsequent examination of photos indicated they were in fact inset and not
flush with the hull, so the kit is correct in its placement of these prominent towers.
The hull is cast in upper and lower halves ( for those squeamish about introducing a $
300 model to a table saw! ). The upper is cast to the lower edge of the armor belt for
those building a waterline model. This allows for the depth of the " water", and
eliminates having to shim the hull so that it does not sit excessively low in the water.
The upper hull had about 1/8" bow midship. This gremlin rears its ugly little head in
many large resin castings. The problem can be cured by either by immersing the hull in a
hot bath, or by sanding off the overpour, heating, then placing on a flat surface to cool.
( Note: the wife may give you some strange looks ).
The major resin parts, ( turrets, funnel, superstructure parts etc.) match the
drawings. As for the small resin parts, these are well cast with a minor amount of "
feathery" flash. Some parts had small voids. I fill these with two part epoxy putty.
While still soft I trim the putty with a sharp X-Acto knife and upon drying sand lightly
to feather the filler into the surrounding resin.
The instructions are a vast improvement over previous Iron Shipwright kits. There
are 9 pages of plan and 45 degree exploded views. There is a separate parts list for each
construction step, and the relevant parts of the brass fret drawing are included in each
assembly step! ( Now you got it guys!!).
The brass fret contains fine relief-etched .007 thickness parts. The bracing under the
catapult frame, the load block rigging and the " headache" ball for the cranes
are especially noteworthy. The deck railing is from Toms Modelworks and includes
various 1,2, and 3 bar rails.
This is an "in box" review, so I cannot comment on ease of assembly.
However, if it builds as easily as the Iron Shipwright Graf Spee, it will an easy
build indeed. At Virginia Beach I had the opportunity to see a semi-built USS Alaska at
ISWs table, and it appeared to go together rather easily.
The two piece full-hull version of the USS Alaska sells for $325, the waterline version
$290. Customers ordering the model direct from Commander Series Models, Inc., get 15% off
the normal retail price as well as free shipping worldwide.
Click on the thumbnail images below for
full size pics of the USS Alaska