Superior's USS South Dakota (1921) by John Olsen
The next round of Superior's Special Production Runs is in! This model represents the U.S. battleship South Dakota (BB49) of 1921, as armed with 12-16in guns. A similar model with 8-18in in four twin turrets has also been produced.
The South Dakota class of 6 battleships would have followed the 4-ship Colorado class into the post-WWI U.S. fleet but for the limitations in naval tonnage imposed by the Washington Naval Disarmament Treaty of 1921. Authorized in 1918 and laid down in 1920, South Dakota was cancelled on February 8, 1922, when 38.5% complete and broken up on the stocks. She represented the final word in the evolution of the second generation American battleship, with a design displacement of 43,200 tons, a 23kt speed and an armament of 12-16in/50 guns in 4 triple turrets, 16-6in/53 in casemates and open mounts, and 8-3in AA. Fire controls would have been sited atop cage masts similar to the previous Colorado and Tennessee classes, but the one feature that set them apart was the quadruple-trunked funnel. Early design sketches show 4 single funnels in two pairs abreast, but these were combined in the final design to reduce smoke interference. Another curious innovation explored in one of the preliminary designs combined the conning tower with the forward super-firing barbette. The approved design was later developed into an 18-inch gun version with turret-mounted 6inch secondary battery.
Superior's model comes in kit form, and has a consistent level of detail with their other Special Production Run models. Weather decks are scribed and deck fittings are included. Main turrets and boat cranes are cast separately and there is a small amount of flash that can easily be trimmed and sanded down. Casemate guns are cast integral to the hull. Cage masts are cast solid and are also integral to the hull, with a rough cross-scribing to suggest structure. Topmasts and yards are easy to add with brass wire, as I did. Mounting the main battery turrets in these models can usually be done by punching a nail through the dimple in the barbette, inserting the stalk of the turret through the hole and crimping the end with pliers. However this model requires some drilling of the super-firing barbettes because of the thickness of the metal, and even with needle nosed pliers, crimping the stalk was not possible and I wound up gluing the turret in place.
For paint, I mixed my own shade of blue-gray to match the paint on my Navis
American battleships. The exact shade of gray used by US ships of this period
has not yet been produced by Snyder & Short in their paint chip series, so
instead, I opted for consistency with the rest of my fleet. Though details and
general size are somewhat over-scale compared with the Navis models, Superior's
South Dakota fills an important niche
in any collection of American battleship models of the WWI period.