|"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.
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.
The kit-note rounded corners, lack of
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
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.