In the great USS North Carolina photo-etch set race, the 1:350 scale set produced by Yankee Modelworks delivers a solid performance of wide sweep. Mike Bishop, who designed this set, has had years of experience in the design of photo-etch for 1:350 scale models of USN topic. Blue Water Navy produced magnificent models of the USS Massachusetts and USS South Dakota. The equipment on both of those has much in common with that found on the USS North Carolina. Yankee Modelworks now produces those models and has expanded to production of brass photo-etch sets for some of the Trumpeter releases. Fortunately, one of those subjects is the 1:350 scale model of USS North Carolina and with a far more than nodding acquaintance with the topic, YMW is well versed in production of photo-etch equipment for American fast battleships.

YMW-3005 is the number for the set and can looked upon as one VERY large fret or two large frets. You see, there are two frets joined together by a few brass connections. I recommend separating them for convenience and to provide extra protection for the parts. For the Trumpeter North Carolina, Yankee Modelworks provides everything a modeler would need to spruce up the Showboat. Spruce up is really a gross understatement because with YMW-3005 you will be doing a total refit for the battleship, replacing solid, incredibly thick plastic pieces with finely done, relief-etched, beautifully proportioned brass replacements.

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If you have the 1:350 scale Trumpeter North Carolina, you know by now what needs replacing. If you donít have your copy as yet, you canít go wrong by acquiring this YMW brass set to not only replace parts on a one-by-one basis but also to add crucial parts that Trumpeter did not include in the kit. One perfect example is the AA gun equipment. Replacing the plastic Oerlikon 20mm guns in the kit with Yankee Modelworks brass Oerlikons alone is worth the price of admission. The Trumpeter pieces are clunky with barrels that resemble oversize single barrel shotguns in form with dimensions more appropriate for a telephone pole. Since the Trumpeter kit is in the 1944 fit, Oerlikons can be found almost everywhere on the ship. Now if you are with AT&T or one of the Mini-Bells telephone pole Oerlikons might suit you, but the plastic pieces do not have the taper, fineness and scale of the actual guns. Whatís worse, they donít have the shields that were on the actual ordnance. Yankee Modelworks cures those woes with this set. There is a full panoply of brass Oerlikons on this brass super-detail set just waiting to be fitted to your North Carolina.

One look at the YMW piece will make the benefit instantly obvious. With YMW youíll be a weaponeer and not a lineman for the county. The barrels are beautifully tapered and also include the ring sight and a shoulder rest, although there is only one, rather than two as found on the actual gun. Just as importantly, you get gun shields for all of the guns. Your gun crews will feel more confident behind those YMW metal shields than they will be with just their tee-shirts to protect them from splinters and machine gun bullets from Japanese straffers. The YMW set provides 64 of these crucial AA guns for your Showboat. All you keep from the plastic part is the mount pedestal. Although you can do a complete refit of Oerlikons with the parts provided by YMW, you donít have to if you donít wish to do so. If you want to keep the over-size plastic guns, you can simply add the brass shields and substantially better their appearance. AA improvement doesnít stop with the smallest guns with YMW. Next up in size are the 40mm Bofor mounts. YMW provides 20 sets of significant upgrades for the kitís Bofor mounts. Each Bofor mount will receive a six-piece upgrade to the plastic parts found in the kit. Largest is the distinctive gun shield. Although the Trumpeter kit has the gun mount, what about the wrap around shield that protects the gun crew? Since your going to give the Oerlikon gunners their YMW shields, you can do no less for the Bofor gunners. Otherwise youíll be subjecting yourself to some uncomfortable practical jokes because those guys donít think their blue work shirts and life jackets will stop that shrapnel. They too can hammer away confidently, knowing that fine metal YMW gun shields will deflect foreign objects from their work environment. The quad Bofors is a big mount and accidents will happen. You can further protect your Boforsí crews by adding the brass safety railing that YMW provides for each Bofors to the back of the mount. While youíre at it, you might as well add the four ring gun sights to each mount so that the gunners donít have just the Mk 1 eyeball to help them swat down attacking aircraft.

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While weíre talking AA, letís talk about the big boys of the field, the twin 5-inch/38 DP guns. Arguably the best heavy AA guns of World War Two the 5-inch/38 was effective for a number of reasons. First it was an excellent piece of ordnance but that alone did not make it the formidable weapon system that it was. Another factor was the proximity fuse that allowed the round to knock down a plane without a direct hit. However, in conjunction with that fuse was another crucial asset, the Mk 37 gun director with itís crown mounted radar. There are four directors mounted high on the superstructure in prominent positions. One was on top of the bridge. The rear one was high on the aft superstructure overlooking X turret and the other two were mounted one on each side of the forward funnel. Trumpeter does provide plastic Mk 37 directors, which are fine but the radars in the kit are a different story. There is no way the solid thick plastic parts of the Trumpeter radars can compare with the delicate, open grid, relief-etched brass arrays provided by the Yankee Modelworks set. That is not the fault of Trumpeter, because no plastic part on any injected-molded kit can compare to the delicacy and fineness of brass photo-etched radars. Including the late war height finding elliptical MK 12 radars, there are ten brass parts for each of the Mk 37 directors. These parts include the large Mk 4 radar, small Mk 12 radar, director roof mount, three radar mounting brackets connecting the Mk 4 to the roof mount, three pieces for the rear face of the Mk 4 and a connecting mount for the Mk 12 radar. The difference between the appearance of the stock plastic radars and the ten-piece YMW radars goes beyond dramatic.

The difference in appearance between stock plastic pieces of the rest of the radar fit and YMW brass radars is just as startling. Yankee Modelworks includes an optional SK mattress style radar for a pre-1944 radar. For the late war Showboat youíll need the parabolic SK-2. Trumpeter provides a dog dish for this piece but you will want to quickly substitute the YMW replacement for electronic health. Comprising 16 parts, the SK-2 is probably the greatest challenge in the fret but it canít be overlooked. Fido may be happy with a dog dish on the foremast but you wonít. For the main guns youíll need the brass Mk 8 radar for the 16-inch gun directors. Each of these arrays has six parts. Four are for the radar and two are mounting braces. There are other wonderful electronic gadgets on the YMW fret. Included are the SG radar, bridge antennae mount brackets, stack antennae mount brackets, and mast top antenna.

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Yankee Modelworks doesnít short the heavy equipment. The largest pieces in the set are for the catapults, aircraft crane and boat cranes. Why have solid plastic stock catapults when you can mount these brass replacements. The plastic parts areÖwell solid, more like a carved piece of granite than the open metal mounts of the actual equipment. With YMW catapults you get three pieces per catapult, plus an aircraft cradle. The bottom and sides are one piece and you simply fold the sides up 90 degrees, curve the connected bottom panel to fit and add the top plate. This is then attached to the catapult mount. The mount is relief-etched with safety rails that are folded upward. The aircraft crane is nine pieces. There are upper front girder panel, lower front girder panel, two side girder panels, top/back girder panel, base plate, two pulley braces and pulley. The whole airy assembly replaces the solid plastic monolith provided in the kit. Each boat crane arm consists of seven parts that when assembled attaches to the plastic king posts provided in the kit. Parts include crane arm top with folding sides, crane arm bottom, pulley and rigging piece, two base brackets, crane tip rig and a delightful lower cable rig. I think this last part is really nice because of the drooping cable.

The forecastle anchor deck hawse get specific mention because YMW gives you the hawse brackets and the open grid hawse covers. The superstructure detail gets pumped up in a number of areas. YMW provides lookout chairs for the top deck of both forward and aft superstructure, armored covers for the bridge portholes, view ports for the conning tower, plus at least 36 custom designed railings for the superstructure. There is no need to cut generic railing to shape as YMW has done the work for you. You simply remove the pieces from the fret and attach and the positions indicated in the instructions. The main gun turrets get frames for the range finder openings on the "ears" that protrude at the sides and rear of each turret. Both masts get a thorough renovation with replacement parts and additional parts for yardarms with foot-rope, and platform railing.

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There is plenty of other equipment replacement and additional parts. YMW supplies 15 round open grid bottoms to replace the solid bottoms of the carley floats. A further 16 open grid bottoms are provided for the square shaped carleys. Additionally you get tie down straps, so your carleys wonít accidentally fall on top of Bull Halsey when he comes aboard. Relief-etched cable/hose reels, rounded floater net baskets, and square floater net baskets are provided. For the solid splinter shields on the ship YMW provides large and small support brackets for additional detail. For generic fittings there are inclined ladders with bendable treads and a full complement of main deck railing.

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Instructions are presented on eleven pages. Page one is simply general instructions, followed by a complete parts description on page two. Each part is numbered and conforms to the number of the part etched on the fret frame. The next nine pages present a modular format of subassemblies. Quite often the instructions will provide tips on how to best attach the parts to ease the assembly process for the modeler. Page three has the subassemblies for the aircraft crane and SK radar, although the SK is listed as SK in the parts list, there is a typo in the instructions identifying it as SK-2, which is the parabolic radar. Page four contains modules for the bridge and stack antennae mounts, catapults and SK-2 radar. Here to is a typo in that the assembly diagram identifies it as SK-3. Page five finishes assembly of the SK-2 and also has modules on the main gun radar and secondary gun radars. Page six finishes directions on the Mk 4/12 secondary radars and has the boat crane assembly. Page seven has modules on Bofor & Oerlikon assembly, lookout positions and frames for the turret range finders. Page eight has carley assembly, floater net baskets and anchor hawse detail. Page nine has forward and amidships superstructure detail. Page ten includes aft superstructure and masts detail assemblies. Page eleven finishes with deck railing and notes on parts not shown, such as inclined ladders, vertical ladders, cable reels and splinter shield bracing.

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Yankee Modelworks provides all of the ingredients to refit your Showboat so that it will be fit for the IPMS show. Almost every portion of the model will be refitted with fine brass parts to replace solid plastic pieces or supplemental detail not included in the kit.