BB 35 Texas 01.jpg (16544 bytes)
USS Texas as she appears today in San Jacinto, Texas
USS Texas
BB 35

Viking Models
1:350 Scale Kit

In-the-box Review
by
Jon Warneke

"Onto Okinawa, in the Ryukyu Islands.  Task Force 54 supported the landing of troops, cleared beaches and fought off..."

Kind of incomplete, isn't it?  This is the final paragraph of the USS Texas history printed on the front.  According to this, the Texas didn't do much until August 14, 1944 when she supported troops in the Southern France landings.  I was hoping this wasn't a portent of things to come. Here's what I found.

The Viking Models kit is supposed to depict USS Texas in the 1943-44 time period, and on first glance it comes close. The one-piece resin hull is cast from a mold split at the waterline. It came wrapped in tissue paper and showed some breakage.  My sample was hogged in the center, and will need to be heated and bent to the proper shape.  There are no bilge keels on the hull, but the instructions provide a template for cutting them from the included strip plastic. Interestingly, there were large air bubbles in the hull bottom, but these were filled with Super Glue prior to shipping. And the hull was partially sanded, as well. 

lip.jpg (9611 bytes)There is a raised lip extending the entire perimeter of the main deck. This lip scales out to about 1.5' tall and 1' wide. I assume its purpose is to facilitate the mounting of brass railing. There is also a seam across the quarterdeck where No. 3 barbette is located.  It's obvious that this is where the pattern maker butted two pieces of scribed plastic together, and it will be difficult to conceal without extensive rescribing and sanding.  The pattern maker would have been well advised to simply purchase another piece of Evergreen scribed sheet. Similar joints can be found on the 01 level, but fortunately these are either parallel with the deckplanking or will be partially hidden by superstructure parts. 

The other noteworthy hull flaw is the general lack of crispness in the vicinity of the enclosed casement guns. The casement guns on both Texas and her sister New York were plated over in the 1930's.  It appears that the pattern maker removed the sharp corners at the intersection of the steel plates while finish-sanding the hull. All of these corners are rounded and the edges wavy.  For a proper, crisp appearance consider sharpening these corners with careful filing and sanding.

casement.jpg (6727 bytes)
The kit-note rounded corners, lack of crispness

casement actual.jpg (7431 bytes)
The real thing

The kit includes two bags of parts, one resin and the other white metal. All of the resin parts were cast in one-piece, open faced molds and will require flat-sanding prior to construction.  Parts quality varies, with some well detailed and others mediocre. The windows in the director top vary in size, and there are seams where joints in the master pattern were inadequately filled. Overall quality is fair, with the majority of the problems relating to the quality of the pattern making rather than casting.

The metal parts are fair and appear to have originated from a variety of sources.  The 40mm quad mounts look to have come from the Revell Fletcher kit;  the rafts, Mk. 51 directors, anchors, and searchlights are similar to those in  the Tamiya Missouri; the 3"50 cal. guns have more than a passing resemblance to Iron Shipwright USS Buckley parts; and the Kingfisher looks like it came from the Tom's Modelworks Arizona.  The remaining parts may also have been derived from other kits, but at least the metal parts are cast cleanly.  There are also three white metal platforms, either for the bridge structure or the mainmast, and they are very clunky. The modeler should consider building plastic replacements.

Flagship Models did the etched brass. The stock number is FM 350-7, and it is available separately from Flagship. The fret is double etched, and shows many nice details such as 40mm gun sights, lifeboat fixtures, floater net baskets, shoulder rests for the 20mm guns, and a very impressive SK radar platform.  The inclined ladders are in large strips, so cutting and fitting will be necessary.  This is a very good fret, and kudos to Rusty White (Flagship Models) for his efforts.

The instructions consist of a 16 page booklet, and though they were out of order, the numbered pages enabled me to assemble them in the correct sequence. Viking has replaced the original shielded 40mm mounts with correct unshielded 40mm versions, as indicated on a separate fly sheet.  The instructions list all parts and corresponding quantities.  There is an exploded view drawing for each assembly step and it shows very clearly the location of  resin and white metal parts. Some of the drawings are orthographic while others are in profile. 

The painting instructions are confusing. On page 1 it states that  "all parts to be painted battleship gray unless otherwise specified", and then the next page launches into a description of Ms. 21 and battleship gray. The correct patterns are Ms.22 graded scheme for the Atlantic and Ms. 21 for the Pacific. All other assembly steps are well drawn and shouldn't be too confusing. 

Check out these photos of the USS Texas: January '45, April '44, Dec '43, today.
And see Steve Belanger's excellent photo tour of USS Texas on his Battleship site.
Battleship Texas by Hugh Power (Texas A & M University Press)
is an excellent source of USS Texas photos and information.

There was neither placement guidance, nor assembly instructions for the etched brass parts.  It's up to the modeler to figure out assembly of cranes, catapults, SK radar, foremast radar platform, lifeboat details, floater net baskets, 20mm guns, 40mm guns, etc. It is also worth noting that you will find the "missing" 20mm, 40mm, and 3"50 cal. main deck tubs on the brass fret.  Tub locations are shown in a placement diagram, and there are faintly scratched locating points on the main deck. But there is no guidance as to which etched brass tubs go where, nor is the modeler told how to bend the tubs (yes Virginia, you will need to bend these tubs into the proper shape).  The photoetch fret provides numbered shields and three strips of extras, but proper placement will be a problem without instructions.

The Viking Models USS Texas is a mixture of highs and lows. My principal complaint is with the pattern making. It leaves a lot to be desired, and those rounded corners need to be fixed. Doing so will improve the model's appearance considerably, but in general the kit resembles a USS Texas. The absence of etched brass instructions may be an oversight. Rob Mackie tells me that the sample he photographed included them.  The instructions are otherwise very good and the etched brass top notch. Casting, especially white metal, has improved considerably over the sub-standard white metal parts (pictured below) included in the initial Spring '98 release. It appears that Viking is striving to remedy some of the kit's deficiencies and for this they are to be commended. I am a pattern maker and competitor of Viking Models, but  I sincerely hope that this trend continues, and look forward to improvements in Viking's future releases. Nevertheless, at $189.99 the USS Texas should have been better.

Click thumbnail image to view full size picture

Texas01.jpg (27052 bytes)
Forecastle

Texas02.jpg (23386 bytes)
Quarterdeck
Texas03.jpg (22287 bytes)
Midship plan view
Texas04.jpg (11614 bytes)
Forward profile
Texas05.jpg (11359 bytes)
Midship profile
Texas06.jpg (10917 bytes)
Lower hull
Texas07.jpg (24496 bytes)
Bridge levels
Texas08.jpg (19837 bytes)
Turrets, funnels & fighting top
Texas09.jpg (84393 bytes)
White metal parts
Texas10.jpg (14220 bytes)
40mm guns (later versions have improved)
Texas11.jpg (95187 bytes)
Etched brass
Texas inst 01.jpg (40920 bytes)
Parts list
Texas inst 02.jpg (59903 bytes)
Illustrated instructions
Texas inst 03.jpg (53365 bytes) Texas inst 04.jpg (43399 bytes) Texas inst 05.jpg (82593 bytes)
Etched brass instructions