Trumpeter 1/350 USS Arizona

A multi-part Online build

Part 1

Model, Text and Photos by: Charles Landrum

 

INTRODUCTION

Until September 11th 2001, USS ARIZONA suffered the ignominy of being the resting-place of the largest number of Americans killed in a single act. As a consequence the ship has ever since fascinated historians, modelers and the public at large. My interest in ARIZONA was fueled not only by the events surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor, but also by the fact that one of my great uncles served onboard as an Electricians Mate from 1934-1938. I had the 1/426 Revell model on the shelf but had put off its construction due to the large amount of work that I felt would be required to turn it into an accurate representation of the ship. So I was delighted when word of the Banner kit surfaced.

The Banner kit in 1/350 (also released by Trumpeter) was a timely release in 2001, given on the 60th anniversary of the attack and the Al Qaida attacks of September 11th. It put a standard scale model of this intriguing ship in the hands of modelers for a very affordable price. I jumped at the Banner kit once the various photo-etch manufacturers announced their accessory sets for the ship. Here is my build and perceptions of the kit.
This is a full build review of the Banner kit in multiple installments. I will also review the photo-etch sets produced by Gold Medal Models and Tom's Modelworks. I will try not to rehash information provided in various in-the-box reviews (available at various modeling sites), I will however point out areas of agreement or disagreement with previous reviews. Since I am building the ship in her 1936 configuration (to coincide with my late uncle's service), it has required me to make additional modifications not necessarily required if you are building the ship in its 1941 configuration. I will try to carefully point out which modifications are required for an accurate 1941 version and which are my backdating efforts.

RESEARCH

I always start my modeling projects with a bit of research. It makes for a more accurate model, helps me figure out what goes where and why, and helps me get into the subject. Since I had planned on building the Revell kit, I had acquired several books on the ship, which have proven to be invaluable. The best reference, published by the US Naval Institute, is USS Arizona by Paul Stillwell. It has comprehensive drawings, great photos and a readable history of the ship. I also have the old Leeward Press monograph on Arizona from 1978, which is long out of print. I enlarged the drawings in these books to 1/350 scale on a photocopier so I would have a good working set of drawings. I supplemented these books with information found on the Internet.

A search for ARIZONA or her sister ship PENNSYLVANIA with a search engine (I like www.google.com) will turn up many of the standard photos available. These are helpful but don't limit your search to just these ships. Since most of the dreadnoughts were built within the same timeframe they carried similar common equipment. I expanded my search to include the battleships OKLAHOMA and NEVADA (the two preceding battleships), the sister ships NEW YORK and TEXAS and the sister ships of UTAH and FLORIDA. I found a lot of information at my favorite site www.navsource.org, but www.usstexasbb35.com also had a lot of photo details of common equipment from boats to paravanes, including color photos of TEXAS from 1941 (pre-measure 41, the scheme of ARIZONA in 1936).

REFERENCES

Stillwell, Paul, Battleship Arizona. (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD) 1991.
Friedman, Norman et al, Ship's Data 3: USS ARIZONA (BB 39). (Leeward press, Annapolis, MD) 1978.
Smith, Myron J., Jr., Keystone Battlewagon: USS PENNSYLVANIA (BB 38). (Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Charleston, WV) 1983.
Cohen, Stan. East Wind Rain: A Pictorial History of the Pearl Harbor Attack. (Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, MT) 1981.

 

 

THE HULL

The kit hull is generally accurate in shape and is split along the waterline, allowing the option of either a waterline version or full hull. If you want to split hairs the hull should sweep more upward toward the bow and stern than it does, but few will notice this inaccuracy. I elected to build a full hull version to better capture the bulk of the ship. If you want a waterline version, the split in the hull is just below the waterline and in a good location if you want to put some depth in your simulated water. (By the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, ARIZONA and the other dreadnoughts of the battle-line were extremely overweight and sat low in the water, so check you references.) I made a few improvements in the hull before gluing the upper and lower hulls together.

I started with the armor belt. In one of the online previews it was reported that the armor belt is incorrectly shaped at the bow and stern; it's true. The evidence is in photos in the Stillwell book. This is a minor oversight but if you are a stickler here is what to do. The correction forward is to trim back the forward edge of the bulge until it is vertical from the top of the blister to the top of the hull split. The correction aft requires the addition of a small triangular bit of .010 styrene added at the top edge of the belt.

The bilge keels are bad, but faithfully replicate the drawings in the Stillwell book. Instead of a broad smile on the side of the hull, they should project from the turn of the bilge. This is apparent in the cross sections of the hull in the Stillwell book and the Leeward monograph. I shaved them off. Tom's Modelworks provides you templates for replacement keels, but I just used .020x.156 styrene strip to fabricate the bilge keel, sanding the ends into a curve. The Tom's templates confirmed the length I needed. With liquid cement they melted into the soft plastic of the hull. One of the hardest nuts to crack was the configuration of the underwater hull. I like to add sea suctions and discharge openings and so I extensively researched as best I could the underwater hull of these ships. Unfortunately, very little information is available. There is an excellent color photo of the bow area of PENNSYLVANIA that is available on the Internet and in the monographs of ARIZONA and PENNSYLVANIA. Photos of PENNSYLVANIA during the attack are also useful for a view of the bow. Pictures of the screws and rudder are available in all three books, these date from the time of launching, and so any detail forward of the stern isn't useful since the torpedo blisters were added in 1929. I also used post Pearl Harbor photos of OKLAHOMA and UTAH as well as photos of the capsized NEVADA and NEW YORK when they were sunk as targets at the end of the war. These few available photos gave an incomplete view of the hull, so I was unable to drill the sea suctions openings but I was able to reconstruct the docking keels, which I added.

Finished hull showing docking keels


The docking keels helped distribute the vast bulk of the ARIZONA and the other battleships when they were in dry-dock; the centerline keel alone could not bear this weight. There were four sets of keels, two outboard of the keel on either side. The drawings in the Stillwell book helped both with lateral and longitudinal placement and photos of NEVADA and NEW YORK also helped with longitudinal placement. On the ships, these were almost unnoticeable amidships but clearly visible at the bow and stern. I fabricated the keels from .04 x .08 styrene, and once glued in place, sanded them down in profile. As it turned out I could have used .02 x .08 styrene strip and done little sanding.

I then glued the upper half of the hull to the lower half. The fit is pretty good, but there was a seam which required filling. Once this seam was smooth, I was able to add the stiffening strips along the torpedo blister. Three in number, they are most apparent in the color photo of PENNSYLVANIA and in a photo of NEVADA in dock. I used .01 x .04 styrene strip and ran them the entire length of the blister.

The only major change that I made to the hull was to replace the screws, shafts, struts and stern tubes. The kit parts are passable but lack realism and therefore should be replaced if you have the skill. I filled in the hull recesses for these parts and filed away the odd-shaped bumps, which are supposed to be stern tubes. I fabricated the stern tubes and struts from 1/8inch styrene tube, which I tapered by rotating on 320 grit and then finer sandpaper. The sterntubes were cut to a very oblique angle for attachment to the hull. The struts were made from .02 x .125 styrene sanded to a curve on both edges. I used 1/16-inch brass tube for the shafts to provide rigidity and provide a mounting hole for the screws. The rudder was used with little modification and I glued it about 10 degrees to port for visual interest.

Stern area showing new shafts and tubes
The completed running gear

I drilled out the portholes in the hull and in the process corrected inaccuracies in this layout. For the most part the location of the portholes is accurate for the 1941 configuration. The size of the holes is fine. On the bow, the lower row of bow portholes should line up with the others and not be slightly higher, as molded. Also the portholes under the center casement guns is incorrect. Since I was building the 1936 configuration, I had to add a lower row of portholes on either side of the stern. I added these and all new portholes when I drilled out the molded portholes. I filled the unwanted holes with styrene rod, glued with gap-filling superglue and cut the rod flush to the hull. In order to correct the portholes under the casemate, I cut away the heavily molded catwalk along the deck edge, which were in the way. I decided that it would be easier to fabricate new ones later on.

Lastly I correct some bow detail. I added the missing line hawsepipes; they are molded on deck but not molded on the hull. I used 1/8 in styrene tube for these parts. I drilled a hole through from the bow to the deck. If I had it to do over again I would have added styrene to this area when I glued the deck for a more realistic look. I also replaced the padeye under the stem with one slightly larger in profile made from .03 styrene. This is the padeye for rigging paravanes and it should have two holes, so paravanes can be rigged on both sides simultaneously.

Bow area showing a new paravane padeye and relocated portholes


THE WEATHER DECKS

Assembly of the decks is a crucial step, which actually preceded hull assembly, so that I could ensure that the deck seams were rigid. As has been mentioned in other reviews the weather decks are in five sections, which results in four seams to worry about. The deck sections, molded integral to the upper hull, are .06 in thickness, while the drop in sections is only .045, so these latter sections had to be shimmed. Not only did I shim the decks along the edges but I also glued reinforcements at each seam. I was not entirely successful in shimming and subsequently had to fill a low spot with body putty on the port side of the forecastle. I also used .08 styrene to brace the deck to the hull to minimize flexing.

Clamps in placed while shimmed deck dries
Raised features, indicated in black, were shaved off

After the hull was assembled, but before I added the bilge keels and shafts and rudder (so they wouldn't be damaged as I worked the hull), I removed a lot of the deck details that I was unhappy with. Proceed with caution when doing this because the softer plastic of this kit gouges easily. The raised deck planking detail, which is too large for the scale had to go. So did the half round molded winches, the undersized bitts, the boat rests, anchor chain and the temple-step representations of the ladders. I would have done this regardless of the era I was modeling. The gun tubs on the quarterdeck, for the 1.1 inch machineguns should be raised, so this detail needs to go even for 1941. The other splinter shields I took off for the 1936 configuration. I shaved these details with an Exacto flat blade and then used this blade to gently scrape away the raised planking. I sanded the deck smooth with 400, 500 and 600-grit sandpaper using superglue to fill any resulting gouges.

A clean deck (note relocated portholes amidships)

Now that the basic hull is done, I am ready to tackle the boat deck and its underlying casemate. This is clearly the weakest part of the model and will undoubtedly take a lot of work. I will prime the hull later after I have studied it a while to ensure that I haven't overlooked any detail. I still plan on drilling out any above the waterline, overboard discharges. Also there is the issue of the boat boom locator holes, which need to be filled; but I am ready to build the superstructure.

On to part 2!

 

Models and Accessories:


Item: Description: Price:
(click to order)

EU53016
USS Arizona (MHM)
Eduard 1/350 Photo-Etch Ship Details



EU53024
USS Arizona railings (MHM)
Eduard 1/350 Photo-Etch Ship Details



GMM350-25
USS Arizona/Pennsylvania
Gold Medal Models 1/350 & Similar Scale Ship PE



GMM429-03
Revell Arizona
Gold Medal Models 1/400 & Similar Scale Ship PE



RMX0302
1/426 USS Arizona Battleship
Revell-Monogram Plastic Kits



TMW3528
USS Arizona 1941 (TRP)
Toms Modelworks 1/350 Photo-Etched Ship Details



TMW3529
Small Boat Set for Arizona
Toms Modelworks 1/350 Photo-Etched Ship Details



TMW4004
Arizona Details
Toms Modelworks 1/400 Photo-Etched Ship Details



WEM3521
Ultimate USS Arizona Detail Set (TSM)
White Ensign Models 1/350 Photo-Etch Naval Details



 

Reference Material:


Item: Description: Price:
(click to order)

CWP0204
USS Arizona Ship's Data: A Photo History
Classic Warships Naval Pictorial