Ever since Trumpeter started its campaign to dethrone Tamiya as the leader in 1:350 scale injection mould ship kits by launching their series of US WWII carriers, our expectations ran high on future releases. For the last two years we have seen them issuing carrier after carrier, the line only broken by the Liberty Ship kit. Long we have waited, but finally we get to see Big Guns in 1/350 scale. The Trumpeter 1/350 scale USS North Carolina BB-55 comes in the usual sturdy cardboard box adorned by our own Mike Doneganís artwork, a short summary of BB-55ís history, a couple of model shots and 2 colour profiles. The box promises 634 parts for a model 635mm long and 95mm wide.
Upon opening the box, we find the contents tidily arranged and packed into several plastic bags. The hull, split at the waterline in the usual Trumpeter manner, is stored in a cradle for transport protection. There are a total of eleven frames or sprues, three main deck sections, a stand, two hull parts, a waterline plate, a colour profile/painting guide and a 24 page instruction book find their place comfortably within the box. I mention this, because I hate those packing designs that wonít allow you to look at your kitís parts and never be able to store them properly back into the box without being a packing engineer. First I thought there were no decals provided as they are not mentioned in the parts list and I couldnít see any inside the box. Actually they are stapled to the inner side of the box, well hidden behind the cardboard cradle for the hull.
Frames A to E mainly contain superstructure elements. Frame A holds upper decks and sprue B most of the finely detailed vertical surfaces of the superstructures. Frame C comprises the foremast parts and details. Someone please tell Trumpeter that battleships do not have islands. It seems they are mentally not quite finished building carriers. Frame D holds very finely cast splinter shields for the small AA Oerlikon galleries. Propeller shafts and rudders can be found here, too. Frame E is dominated by the Level 1 surface of the superstructure.
Frames F to H mainly contain weaponry and equipment. The are two sets of frame F, which hold the main artillery and some other detail. Frame G (2x) is dedicated to the 5-in/38. Dual purpose artillery, rafts, cranes and catapults. Frame H (2x) holds a Kingfisher, 40mm quads, 20mm singles, on-deck detail and equipment and plenty of ammo lockers.
The instruction booklet is well designs and laid out. I have not checked for inconsistencies, yet, but there seem to be no obvious flaws. The painting sheet, shows us all of the spectacular camouflage schemes that BB-55 wore.
Overall the casting quality is as can be expected from a Trumpeter kit: excellent. Thereís so little flash, itís not worth mentioning. The level of detail is fine, but allows plenty of opportunity for the cottage industry to supply us with all kinds of fun stuff. As can be expected from an injection mould kit, radar, cranes and catapults wonít do. As well, one will have to put a lot of effort cleaning up the small parts. Most of them have two connections to the frames. I will certainly replace most of the AA weaponry by LíArsenalís fine products. As well, Steve Nutallís fine brass barrels will greatly enhance the finished look. I am very curious, who of the usual suspects will cross the finish line first to supply us with their photo-etch set for the kit.
Frankly speaking, I donít know jack about USN BBs. So I wonít comment on accuracy here. This I shall leave to countless specialists of this board. You and I will certainly have a lot of fun with this new kit. What I love most about Trumpeterís approach is that there are almost no details molded to the decks. This allows speedy painting, without the usual masking orgy.
04 May 2005