Gulfstream
1/350 USS Miami (CL-89)

Reviewed
by
Rob Mackie


Editor's Note:
This kit is no longer being produced by Iron Shipwright!!!
Classic Warships now owns the master patterns and they anticipate re-issuing Miami late in '99.
Contact Classic Warships for more information


Kit: Cleveland Class Cruiser USS Miami (CL-89)

Scale: 1/350 fullhull

Producer:Gulfstream Fine Scale Models

Media:Resin, etched brass, white metal

Strengths:One-piece full hull, casting quality, thorough instructions

Price:US $285

The Ship

There were 29 Cleveland class light cruisers launched during World War Two. The largest class of WW2 cruisers, these 610 feet long ships had a main armament of twelve 6" guns carried in four triple turrets. The main guns elevated 60 degrees and could be used in an anti-aircraft role, though the necessity of depressing them to 20 degrees for reloading limited the rate of fire.

Cleveland class cruisers bore some similarity to the preceding Brooklyn class. Length was the same as was the main armament, though the Brooklyns had five triple turrets to the Cleveland's four. The Cleveland's much heavier secondary armament fit made them far more effective AA platforms, however. With twelve (6x2) and twenty-two 40mm guns (late warClevelands) they were well suited to the carrier escort and screening role in which they were used late in the Pacific war.

The Model

The Gulfstream USS Miami is from the later batch of Cleveland class cruisers. She has a squared off, open bridge instead of the rounded bridge of earlier class members. And she carries a heavy anti-aircraft fit, four quad 40mm guns and two double mounts. Her armament was constantly enhanced during the Pacific war. This model shows the end result. The Miami is covered with guns, directors and fittings. It is worth noting that late war Clevelands could be dangerously unstable and top-heavy. This necessitated the removal of all non-essential weight. In some cases one of the two catapults was landed as well as duplicate gun directors and launches.

The hull is a 21" long one piece casting. You will not have to mate upper and lower hull pieces, definitely the most unpleasant and difficult step in constructing a large resin ship. Simply remove the keel casting sprue and fill the resulting seam. The only other hull cleanup was the elimination of some resin over pour around the smoke canisters aft. Beam and length dimensions were almost perfect, scaling out to within 1% of actual.

Unlike previous Gulfstream releases, the deck structures are not cast integral with the hull. They are separate. This will enable Gulfstream to issue an earlier, round bridge Cleveland (the USS Birmingham) using the same hull. You must first remove the large casting sprues before affixing the deck levels to the hull. Be careful here. Rub the part on wet-dry paper affixed to a flat surface, and don't apply pressure unevenly. This is not a difficult step but care is required so that you wind up with a flat mating surface. And consider drilling out the two stacks. They are cast solid but will look much better if you use your Dremel to remove about of resin from the inner stack.

Fittings

This is not a simple kit. Aside from the etched brass fret there are 240 resin and white metal pieces. They are well cast with few sinkholes or voids. This is probably the result of Commanders having fabricated new chambers enabling them to cast at higher pressures. Some cleanup is required but not very much considering the number of parts. The 5" and 6" gun barrels are white metal as are the masts and screws. A tip: white metal bends easily but it can just as easily be straightened by rolling the barrel or mast on a flat surface.

The 40mm guns and the life rafts are especially fine. All the intricate detail on the master has come through beautifully. The many other small castings are also well done. Everywhere I look on this kit there are parts and more parts: Mk 51 gun directors (10), rafts (20), practice loaders (2), screws (4), 20mm guns (a lot), paravanes, pelorus, searchlights, hose reels, kingfisher float planes, etc., you get the idea. No wonder these ships were top heavy. They were loaded down with fittings but lacked heavy armour at the waterline to counterbalance all that top weight.

Brass

The etched fret is complete and well executed. The railing is pre-cut to fit the hull and deck levels. No generic 4-bar rails here. And the forward railings are curved to match the hull shear, a nice touch. All etched parts are numbered on the fret. The brass is of sufficient thickness (.007, I believe) to retain its shape and yet facilitate cutting and bending.

Instructions

A kit of this complexity requires clear, comprehensive instructions. This kit has 14 pages worth. They are among the best I've seen and do everything but hold your hand. Mike Ashey, the author of Building and Detailing Scale Model Ships, is the responsible party. He constructed the kit and documented the process with both words, drawings and photographs, some of which are reproduced in this review. The line drawings accompanying every construction step are particularly well done. There is also a numbered, illustrated parts list keyed to the drawings; and should there be any missing or damaged parts a Replacement Parts Request Form is provided.

The painting guide suggest a measure 22 scheme, pictured above. Some modelers may want a more complex scheme such as measure 32/1d. With minor modifications this kit lends itself to modeling almost any square bridge Cleveland Class cruiser circa 1944-45, many of which displayed striking color patterns. The paint and configuration possibilities are too numerous to mention, so consult your references if you wish to depict another Cleveland class ship.

Summary

This is an outstanding release, the best thus far from Gulfstream. It is accurate and highly detailed. Casting, documentation and etched brass are first rate. The excellent instructions will enable a reasonably experienced modeler to successfully complete the Miami with a minimum of hair pulling, so don't be daunted by its many parts. What counts is "buildability" and the Miami has it. Highly recommended.

Editor's Note:
Iron Shipwright no longer produces Miami !!!
Classic Warships now owns the master patterns and they anticipate re-issuing Miami late in '99.
Contact Classic Warships for more information