A new breed of ship appeared on November 1, 1955 when USS Boston was commissioned as CAG-1, the Missile Cruiser. The initial missile cruisers of the worlds navies were reworked cruisers of late to post World War Two vintage, in which some gun positions were eliminated in exchange for missile batteries. In the USN it was the Boston Class from the Baltimore Class heavy cruiser and the Galveston and Little Rock Classes from the Cleveland Class light cruiser. The Soviet Navy reworked a number of the Sverdlov Class of large post war light cruisers. The Bostons, Galvestons, and Sverdlovs all retained the bulk of their original superstructure and heavy gun positions. Their heritage could be easily ascertained from their appearance. The Little Rock Class in addition had their superstructure greatly reworked but A turret and the funnels remained.
The next stage in missile cruiser evolution was the USS Albany. In this three ship class, the entire superstructure was replaced and armament changed entirely. Except for the hull, these three ships were completely different from their Baltimore and Oregon City Class ships from which they derived. The USN was not the sole navy to radically rework a WW2 cruiser. The Italian Navy took the light cruiser GiuseppeGaribaldi and removed her superstructure, guns and funnels. As with the Albany Class, she was rebuilt from the hull up. However, the Giuseppe Garibaldi was significantly older than the reworked USN cruisers. She was laid down in December 1933 and launched April 21, 1936. Active with the Italian Navy (Regia Marina) during World War Two, she participated in numerous operations. Along with her convoy escort duties, shore bombardment and British convoy interception, she was present at Punto Stilo/Calabria. She missed the Battle of Cape Matapan, having been detached to Brindisi immediately before. On July 28, 1941 she was torpedoed by the submarine, HMS Upholder, and returned to port with 700 tons of water. With the Italian Armistice, she sailed to Malta in September 1943. Except for a very brief period of time on anti-blockade runner duties, she spent the remainder of the war in transport and training duties.
In the late 1950s the United States Navy had plans to convert Baltimore Class cruisers to carry eight Polaris intermediate range ballistic missiles; and USS Hawaii of the Alaska Class Large Cruiser to carry twenty of the missiles. In the end it was decided that only submarines would carry ballistic missiles. However, this was not the end of warships designed to carry ballistic missiles.
The Garibaldi was rebuilt from 1957 to 1961 at La Spezia. Upon completion, her appearance was completely different from the attractive World War Two cruiser. Though still graceful with her single-trunked, classically streamlined Italian lines, she now carried missiles and - unlike Albany - retained her guns. The gun fittings were entirely new with a main armament of four 135mm/ 45 caliber guns in two twin turrets (replaced by 135mm/53 caliber guns in 1968). Her secondary armament consisted of eight 76mm/ 62 caliber automatic cannons in single gun turrets, four each on port and starboard sides.
She carried the same twin-rail Terrier anti-aircraft missile-mount fitted to USN cruisers of this period. There was an additional feature, however, that distinguished her from any other ship ever constructed. She was designed and constructed to carry ballistic missiles. Four missile tubes were fitted in her stern, specifically designed to carry the Polaris intermediate range nuclear ballistic missile. This feature obviously caused quite a stir among the naval powers. Garibaldi returned to service in this form in November 1961. The Polaris fittings were experimental and Garibaldi was never armed with the Polaris. She served until February 20, 1971 when she was retired and her personnel transferred to the new missile cruiser, Vittorio Veneto. On September 24, 1978 she was sold for scrap. (History from Cruisers of World War Two by M.J.Whitley, Cruisers of the US Navy 1922-1962 by Stefan Terzibaschitsch and the instructions of the Giuseppe Garibaldi Missile Cruiser from Regia Marina.)
Having cast so much detail into the hull, the smaller resin pieces are fairly limited in number. They are located on five runners, and comprise the gun mounts, boats & davits, larger reels, Terrier mount and missiles, two bridge levels, life raft racks, signal lights and the smaller radars and their mounts. The resin runners have the parts identified by an alphanumeric designator as was done in the Regia Marina kit of the Auxiliary Cruiser Ramb. (Click for a review of the Regia Marina Ramb) All parts were perfectly cast with no blemish or breakage. Of special note are the wire thin Terrier missiles, with their exquisitely cast fins and zero warp. The only work to be done on the resin parts was removal of the short resin pour vents & light sanding of the bottom of the hull and the removal of a small amount of casting flash from some of the smaller parts. Another benefit of casting so much detail into the hull is that the kit builds up faster than average. Some parts will have to be made from stretched plastic sprue, thin plastic rod, or wire. These include 76mm gun barrels, whip antennas, and small crane arms on the Polaris deck. The measurements for all of these parts are found in the instructions. Four inclined ladder landings must also be made from resin, plastic or cut from the metal fret. Two are at the stern and two go from the deck to the 01 deck between the forward superstructure and the stack. Their locations are shown on the included profile.
The Regia Marina fret is of stainless steel and appears to be marginally thicker than brass photo-etch. I regard this as a advantage. The greater tensile strength of the steel over brass makes it very easy to manipulate without disfiguring the PE part. Invariably, Ill accidentally brush attached PE parts during the construction of a model. The result almost always is a warp, dent, or some other disfigurement that I then have to try to correct, sometimes without success. When I accidentally brushed the Garibaldi PE pieces, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of any disfiguring bends. In this same vein, the two bar railing on the fret was outstanding in the ease with which it could be folded. It went on without any damage, even after repeated attempts of getting the railing into the proper position. Attaching railing can be a chore but with Garibaldi, it was fun. I used GMM inclined ladders (stairs) rather than the provided ladder because I thought that the GMM parts had a slightly narrower tread width. The fret could have also used one more run of railing. The amount provided fell about one to two inches short of providing complete coverage of all decks. I made up the shortfall with a small bit of GMM railing. Regia Marina supplies machined steel gun barrels for the 135mm main guns. Youll have to adjust the length of these barrels to the length indicated in the instructions. A pin is provided for the crane boom. It is also cut to the length provided in the instructions. Youll have to cut two small platforms from the PE according to the templates provided in the instructions.
The life raft rack doesnt appear on the instructions profile and appears to be on the deck in the plan. I goofed on this one, I attached it to the deck. It should attach to the superstructure and slant down towards the deck with walk space underneath. See the photos from Regia Marina of completed model for correct placement. The instructions emphasize the placement locations of some of the inclined ladders but not all of them. By my count there will be 14 inclined ladders. Look at the plan provided. Proper locations are most clearly shown there. Another goof of mine was to place double inclined ladders going from the Polaris deck to the Terrier deck. I did this based on the profile detail in the instructions. However the plan clearly shows only one centerline ladder joining these two decks. Regia Marina also provides decals for this model. They consist of four sets of the ships number, 551. Each number is a separate decal, so youll have to work with alignment. I did not use them in my build.