CW Salem 05a.jpg (12319 bytes)
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Heavy Cruiser
USS Salem

(CA-139)


1:350 Scale kit
by
Classic Warships


Click here for the photo gallery at the end of this article


The Classic Warships 1:350th USS Salem is a two-piece full hull resin kit depicting the ship in a late 1950s configuration. (For both more information and extensive photo documentation of this cruiser, now a beautifully preserved museum ship in Quincy, MA., take a look at Warship USS Salem photo gallery). The kit includes parts for building any of the class members (Salem, Newport News and Des Moines) in a late1950's fit.

Casting on my sample was clean throughout. There were neither voids nor resin clumps indicative of mold breakage. Cleanup will consist of having to flat-sand smaller resin parts. Classic Warships uses open-faced molds almost exclusively. This technique generates clean parts at the cost of detail in the area where the resin is poured into the "open face" of the mold. Typically there will be some overpour requiring removal, almost none if the caster is careful, large unwieldy blocks if he isn't. Cleanup consists of rubbing the part over wet/dry paper affixed to a flat surface, being careful to remove resin evenly in order to maintain flatness. The resulting part will generally have to be mated to another flat surface. If you're not careful during cleanup, the mating surface will not be flat and you'll have to use filler to hide the resulting seam where you attach the part.

Thankfully, the Salem requires much less of this flat-sanding than other Classic Warships 350 scale kits. Almost all of the superstructure has been cast integral with the hull, so one need not flat-sand large resin superstructures and then attempt to mate them to the lower hull without creating huge seams, as on the CW USS North Carolina. The absence of this tedious step should make the Salem a much more enjoyable build.

Extensive amounts of surface details have been cast into the hull. The forecastle and quarterdecks are dense with detail and most impressive. Angles are uniformly sharp, vertical surfaces are indeed vertical and in general the pattern making is top notch. The 8" gun houses are especially impressive. The real turrets are crammed with detail - walkways,  replenishment booms,hatches,  huge blastbags etc - and the kit turrets and accompanying brass captures it all.

The kit makes extensive use of white metal. The 3"/50 guns and mounts (the Salem has a lot of them) as well as all directors are white metal. Casting quality is good. You'll want to polish white metal parts to remove surface scaling. I use a metal brush attached to my Dremel (at low speed!) for this task.

The Classic Warship's USS Salem is very accurate according to my references. A set of 1/350 plan and profile drawings are included, a nice touch. The 24 pages instruction booklet consists of large drawings showing parts placement. None of the parts are numbered, so you will have to identify them by appearance. There is minimal text. I haven't found this to be a significant problem on other Classic kits, but beginners may at times find themselves confused. Study the drawings and look for a part that resembles the piece shown. Steve Wiper's philosophy is to show every part in at least one drawing, so if it's in the drawings, you'll find it in the box. In general the instructions are good and should prove sufficient for builders with prior resin kit experience.

Etched brass is very extensive, consisting of two large frets. One of them is an impressive dedicated USS Salem fret, the other a generic 350 scale "rails and ladders" sheet. Both sheets are well done. The Salem fret is crammed with details and etching quality is very good. It also includes shaped railing custom fitted to the Salem's pronounced sheer. Other railings as well as ladders must be cut from the generic railing fret, which is nevertheless nicely done. All railing is nicely "drooped" for that extra bit of realism.

A superb decal sheet is included. It includes hull numbers, efficiency markings, flags et al. This is a very nice touch, and makes an already very impressive model even better.

This is the best kit thus far from Classic Warships. In my opinion overall execution, engineering and buildability are significantly better than either Classic's North Carolina or Quincy. I have both of these ships in progress. They are good models, but I must say that the Salem is a significant leap forward from the standard of these earlier models. It is not an easy, shake-the-box build. This a large, complex ship and accurately depicting her in 350 scale means unavoidable complexity. There is lots of white metal and brass detail and beginners will be intimidated. But if you have several resin kits under your belt you'll be happy with this impressive model. Highly Recommended.

The price for the full hull kit is $250, with the waterline version selling for $225. See the Classic Warships page for ordering information.

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CW Salem 02.jpg (16229 bytes)
Forecastle

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Forecastle plan view
CW Salem 01.jpg (34197 bytes)
Midship
CW Salem 04.jpg (26015 bytes)
Quarterdeck
CW Salem 06.jpg (22280 bytes)
Hangar close-up
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Midship close-up
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Midship close-up
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Forecastle
CW Salem 10.jpg (15328 bytes)
Forward hull profile
CW Salem 12.jpg (10915 bytes)
Midship profile
CW Salem 11.jpg (13193 bytes)
Aft profile
CW Salem 13.jpg (53152 bytes)
White metal parts 1
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White metal parts 2
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Bridge levels, stack
CW Salem 16.jpg (59599 bytes)
Gun tubs, helo etc
CW Salem 17.jpg (37148 bytes)
8" & 5" gunhouses
CW Salem 18.jpg (88383 bytes)
Etched brass 1 o f2

CW Salem 26.jpg (46440 bytes)
Etched brass 2 of 2
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Parts list
CW Salem 21.jpg (66119 bytes)
Instructions (not all pages shown)
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Decal sheet

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