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The USS Albany CG-10, along with her two sister ships, USS Chicago CG-11 and USS Columbus CG-12, represent the bridge between the massive conventional fleet of the USN at the end of World War Two and the modern fleet today. They totally epitomize the relegation of the big gun to airpower. They lost all of their guns, except for two 5 inch open mounts and acquired guided missile SAM positions with their associated acquisition and illumination radar assets. The ships started as heavy cruisers, Chicago CA-136 and Columbus CA-74 as part of the Baltimore class and Albany CA-123 as part of the Oregon City class. All three saw very limited service at the end of WWII or shortly thereafter and were quickly mothballed. Their limited active service was the reason for their selection for conversion to guided missile cruisers, as their machinery could be expected to last longer.

In the 50s the USN had experimented with the fusion of the gunpower of heavy and light cruisers with guided missile SAM capabilities. The result was a number of unusual and interesting designs. Boston, CA-69, became CAG-1 and Canberra, CA-70, became CAG-2. The aft half of the ships was reworked to add two Terrier missile positions. Five years later, six Cleveland class cruisers were converted to missile cruisers. They comprised the Galveston class of two ships, Galveston CLG-3 & Topeka CLG-8, and the Little Rock class of four ships, Little Rock CLG-4, Oklahoma City CLG-5, Providence CLG-6 & Springfield CLG-7. In each class, half received the Talos missile system and the other half received the Terrier II system. As with the Boston class, these ships retained significant gun positions and a great portion of their original superstructure.

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VITAL STATISTICS
LAID DOWN: 
March 6, 1944 : LAUNCHED: June 30, 1945  
COMPLETED:
June 11, 1946  RECOMMISSIONED : November 3, 1963
DECOMMISSIONED :
August 29, 1980

DISPLACEMENT:
13,700 tons standard;
18,950 tons full load
LENGTH:
674 ft oa  BEAM: 71 ft extreme DRAUGHT:33.5 ft max
"Macks" rise 104'5" above waterline

ARMAMENT:
two TALOS Mk 12 launchers; two TERRIER II launchers;
  one ASROC 8 launcher; two 5 inch/ 38 cal guns; six Mk 32 torpedoes in two launchers

MACHINERY:
120,000 hp;  32.5 knots
COMPLEMENT: 1,262 (75 officers & 1,187 enlisted)

Albanyptamidships.jpg (69295 bytes)Albany was different. All guns and superstructure were removed, leaving only the hull. The new superstructure ran two-thirds the length of the ship. She was equipped with two Talos systems and two Tartar systems. When she returned in 1962 after conversion, she was the most powerful guided missile ship in the fleet. To allow each acquisition and guidance radar to be unobstructed, they were placed in a cascading design, one behind the other. The bridge superstructure, made of light metal alloys, had to be made very tall to allow control personnel forward observation. This soaring superstructure along with the two tall macks (masts/stacks) created the unique and imposing silhouette of the class.

Originally Albany would not have had any surface to surface capability but President Kennedy insisted that ships of this size should have this capability. As a result the class was fitted with two 5 inch/38 cal open mounts. During one deployment to the Tonkin Gulf, an air controller aboard Chicago used the ship radars to control CAP interceptors and was credited with twelve kills. In 1972 Chicago stopped a MiG attack, when she splashed a MiG at forty-eight miles. Columbus was with the fleet until 1975 when she was decommissioned. Albany and Chicago were retained until 1980.

REFERENCES

Two references were used in the build of the JAG Albany. CRUISERS OF THE US NAVY 1922-1962 by Stefan Terzibaschitsch (11 pages on the class with 15 photos) and U.S. CRUISERS AN ILLUSTRATED DESIGN HISTORY by Norman Friedman. Both contain excellent information on Albany and her sisters and also contain profile and plan drawings. These were necessary since the instructions do not contain a profile or plan. Most of the history of Albany found above is from the Friedman book. WARSHIP INTERNATIONAL No 2, 1977 is also said to be a very good reference but I did not have a copy. (Editor's Note: It's the best reference by far. 32 pages of remarkable photos - many of which are full page -  as well as foldout profile drawings and highly informative text.)

JAG's USS ALBANY
JAG Collective’s Albany is a wonderful piece of casting. The hull was cast without a flaw and had no warp. A great deal of the hull detail is integral to the hull. There is no need to add anchor chains as those cast with the hull are very nicely done. The hull and all other resin parts were crisply cast and required a minimum of cleanup. The smaller resin parts were cast on four long runners and several wafers. All parts were finely done and no part was broken. The parts on the runners were easily separated from the runner with the fingers. Only a couple of times did I use a hobby knife to separate the part from the runner.

Hull Casting
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The parts on the resin wafer were easily removed with a hobby scissors. All the parts had a perfect fit. Of the smaller resin parts, only three had a problem. Both 5 inch guns had a very slight warp but this was easily corrected and they were still usable. However, one part was unusable and had to be replaced. The kit comes with two SPS-30 radars (part 27). One was perfectly formed but the other was warped into a lopsided oval. The defect was beyond my means to correct. I called JAG and talked to Tom Gardner. He mentioned that all parts to JAG kits are hand inspected before shipment. It is probable that the radar as well as the two 5 inch guns were warped while in shipment. Resin parts are susceptible to heat. The kit was shipped in July so it is likely that the shipping container was subjected to some summer heat. In any event JAG stands behind every component of their kits. I received replacement parts within three days. I found JAG’s customer service to be outstanding. The resin compound used by JAG seems to be harder than that used by other companies.

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PHOTO ETCH
Albany comes with a ship specific PE fret. If you wish to add railing or inclined ladders, you’ll need to get a PE from another source. For railing I used GMM’s generic naval ship fret and for inclined ladders, I used a fret from WEM. Tom mentioned that JAG was considering including railing and other generic parts in PE frets for future releases. That is fine with me because I found the JAG PE to be as excellent as their resin casting.

Albanyptaftcaseclose.jpg (17171 bytes)JAG gives you a finely done and rather large fret of brass for the ship specific items. I think that it is an elegantly executed fret design. The fret made complex forms simple. The large three piece SPS-43 radar atop the aft mack is a perfect example of this elegance. It could have been a chore to put together but with the JAG design it was simple and fun. All of the PE parts were easy to fold and retained their correct shape after the folding process. Some of my greatest enjoyment in building this model came in attaching the PE parts. Albany is loaded with unusual shapes, which are beautifully modeled by the fret. The aft lattice mast, the boat davit positions, framework on the crane kingposts and the octagon SPW-2B platforms all add greatly to final model and were easy to assemble. JAG’s concern for the customer was further demonstrated in the PE. In my build, one SPW-2B platform was a tight fit on to the hull. JAG had already found the same minor problem and revised the fret to correct this. When I received my replacement resin parts, which included one that I had lost, they also sent the replacement PE platform.

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INSTRUCTIONS
The Albany instructions consist of one large sheet, printed on both sides. They were better than most found in 1:700 kits. However, they did contain some errors, omissions and ambiguities. They do not contain a profile and plan. That is my number one gripe. Admittedly it is a small gripe since I had adequate profiles in the Friedman and Terzibaschitsch references. However, I believe that the inclusion of a profile and plan is of material benefit to the modeler and seems to be the norm in 1:700 instructions.

Albanyptforeclose.jpg (22020 bytes)The instructions contain a complete resin and brass parts lists as well as a numbered drawing of all small resin parts. They also included drawings of the assembly of the PE parts and assembly notes on construction of the kit. Note 13 states that boat booms are at each corner of the lattice mast but their position is not shown on the instructions. Photos indicate that their bases are at the sides of the rear SPW-2B pylon. The instructions do not show the location of the two hose reels (parts 48 in the parts list and parts 49 in the runner diagram). One is on the small platform forward of the second mack and the other is on the bow, centered and to the rear of the capstans. There is no assembly diagram for PE part K. That is the two piece SPS-10 radar. I found that it was unclear how it went together. The SPW-2B radars, part 7, come in two shapes. The two that are with bases go on the pylons; the two without bases go on the deck positions. The kit comes with a nice decal sheet that includes helicopter landing deck markings, bow and stern numbers and names for all three ships, flags, and exhaust vents for the macks. I should have used a decal setting solution when I placed the decals. I did not and almost all of the decals came off when I was weathering the model. Use a setting solution so you won’t have this problem. All of my criticisms found above amount to nit picking.

ADDITIONS
I made only a small number of additions to the kit. On the sides of the Albany superstructure amidships and aft are a series of inclined ladders and platforms. As mentioned above, I used WEM brass for the "stairs" and I cut the platforms from Evergreen plastic strips. At the rear of the fore SPW-2B pylon is a small platform with two cat’s whisker antennas, added with Evergreen and sprue. Lastly I added a small platform for the base of the main boat boom. The rigging was from stretched sprue. All of this was easy to accomplish and I believe added materially to the finished model. GMM railing was added. (Several items that come with the kit are not seen in the photos. JAG gives you the NTDS antenna and mast found at the bow and also PE prop guards. I had set these items aside and couldn’t find them when completing the kit. Also somewhere along the way, one boat on the starboard davit became loose and is misplaced.)

VERDICT
The JAG Collective USS Albany is an outstanding kit. The resin parts and PE are top notch. Last month I read a post listing the Albany (the prototype, not the model) as a "butt ugly" ship. I disagree. I wouldn’t call her graceful but I definitely would call her stately. Anyway you slice it; her architecture makes a strong impression. Likewise the JAG model of Albany makes a strong impression of the most positive nature. At the conclusion of the short history of Albany, included in the instructions, the folks at JAG wrote, "We hope you enjoy our kit of one of the "Tall Ladies" of the US Navy." The answer to that rhetorical statement, is an emphatic YES.

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