Trumpeter 1/350 USS Arizona

A multi-part Online build

Part 4

Model, Text and Photos by: Charles Landrum


My apologies to the faithful, who have been following this build. It has taken me far too long to write part IV and I donít have as many photographs as I would like. I appreciated the emails of encouragement during the hiatus. Charles Landrum


Part IV The Ship Takes Shape


Painting Continued


With the hull painted I moved on to the major sub assemblies. Again I used White Ensign Miniatures (WEM) Standard Navy Gray to airbrush the forward superstructure, the smokestack, turrets, cranes and catapults, not worrying about over-spray. The application of the WEM Standard Deck Gray was a different matter. Except for the turret tops, which I sprayed, I hand painted the decks of the forward superstructure, the main mast, stack assembly and tops of the catapults. It was just too difficult to mask these areas with all of the overhangs present.  It results in a blotchy appearance in sheen, but a coat of flat finish evens it out.  Also I have found it is hard to mask on brass parts like the catapults, any tape regardless of tack will pull away the paint. I then back to the turrets and painted the canvas blast bags Model Master Sand with a brown wash. I also gloss coated the top of turret #2 and added decals from my spares box (these were not provided in the kit) for the number ď39Ē. While these numbers are not exactly the same shape as those in 1936, there are close enough without making custom decals.




Adding Photo-etch


My Method of Working PE


With the painting done, it was time to add the photo-etch railings and ladders. I attached the forward superstructure to the model using CA so that I would not have to handle this piece as I was adding railings. The smokestack I left off, to make access to the forward superstructure easier and so that I could more easily add the curved railing sections to the stack. As a rule I pre-paint the PE and then go back and touch up any nicks or flake-off; I find it is easier to airbrush the parts while still on the fret. I used both the Gold Medal Models and the Tomís Modelworks sets as a source for railings and ladders. I used mostly Tomís PE in the superstructure because they come pre-measured for this area. I used the GMM railings along the main deck and boat deck because they have greater detail and the chocks molded in. To say that adding the PE took time would be an understatement. I worked slowly adding a little at a time as my steady hand and patience would allow. The key to both the forward superstructure and the main mast was to install the interior ladders and railings around the ladder wells before adding the deck edge railings. It was at times tedious to get the parts in the right position and sometimes I added the CA after the parts were in place. The key to the main decks was to complete the long runs with a uniform and plumb appearance. As a rule of thumb, whenever you have a bend in a railing there should be a post present at the bend. For welded rail, this may not always be the case, check your references; but when it doubt add one. If you need an intermediate post, cut one from scrape PE rail and glue it with CA. As I added the PE detail the platforms became busier and busier looking, and more realistic. Since there were differing styles of railings at different levels, I had to carefully manage the quantity of each style of railing as I worked the superstructure since I was adding more railing then either GMM or Tomís had planned for. Thankfully I was using two sets. I used GMM ladders and there were an adequate number of these.






ARIZONA Photo-etch Sets in Comparison

The following is a comparison of the Gold Medal Models and Tomís Modelworks photo-etch detail sets. White Ensign Models also makes a set, but I have not seen it. These sets have been reviewed previously so my intention is to compare their differences and relative advantages.

Gold Medal Models Tomís Modelworks
  • Easier to follow instructions

  • More realistic main deck railings

  • Easy to assemble cranes and catapults

  • Double relief etched


Details not in the Tomís set:

  • hatches and doors

  • range clocks

  • main mast support brackets

  • splinter shields

  • fighting top window frames

  • chocks

  • boat details

  • details to build Pennsylvania

  • vertical and inclined ladders

  • Instructions include scale drawings including bilge keel templates

  • Railings pre-etched to match platforms on mainmast and foremast

  • Cranes and catapults closer to prototype in design and delicateness


Details not in the GMM set:

  • Main mast support leg ladders

  • Search light maintenance platforms







Since I had previously assembled the cranes and catapults I only had to add the range clocks. I spray-painted the dial face white and then carefully painted on the numbers. I used a dry-brush technique to slowly add the black to the numbers until I had the desired appearance. [If this seems too daunting, another method I have used is to reduce the dial faces from HO-scale clock towers to the proper size and glue them to thin styrene backing.]


With the PE work done it was time to focus on the build up of the boats, and cradles. Before doing that, I attached the stack with CA. I then used styrene rod to connect the incinerator to the exterior smoke pipe on the stack. I also built up the davits on the quarterdeck. The davits arms were square in cross section. I planned to just bend square stock, but was afraid that the plastic would fail at the bend. So to ensure that they maintained the proper angle I built up the davit arms from styrene strip. I rounded and taper the lower arm and made the round mounting bracket from soft plastic tubing from my spares box. I used styrene dowel for the cross bar.



The Trumpeter boats are fair representations, generally accurate in shape but lacking detail. The officer motorboats are perhaps the weakest of the set. Trumpeter provides sufficient boats for the 1941 complement, but since I was adding the quarterdeck davits, I needed two more. The two additional boats came from my spares box. These and took the place of the two whaleboats cradled at the deck edge. I moved the whaleboats to the new davits aft. Often cutters were kept in these deck edge cradles including the cutter used in the inter-battleship rowing competitions. Unfortunately Trumpeter followed the practice of many manufacturers and just provided fixed and very simplistic cradles molded to the deck. Thankfully Tomís Modelworks addressed the lack of detail of the boats and provides detailed boat cradles in a single PE set. For the boats Toms provides decks, propellers, rudders and railings.


The Tomís boat cradles are very detailed but not easy to assemble. The key is to keep the cradles square and uniform. In this case a jig would have worked best, but I unfortunately worked without one. I wasnít completely successful, but the boats hide most of the flaws in the cradles. I assembled the cradles before painting, using .02 x .02 for the sidebars and .02 x .04 styrene for the keel section. The instructions are adequate on describing which cradles go where. I elected not to glue down the cradles until I had the boats secured in them, to avoid locating problems.


I started work on the boats by modifying the open boats to accept the Tomís PE deck. Tomís instructions call for the builder to scrape away plastic on the interior of the boat to fit the PE. I found this very tedious and not very effective. I experimented and found that I could use a small pair of sharp scissors to trim the brass to fit the shape of the boat. This solution greatly simplified assembly of the boats. The officer launches on the other hand required a lot of effort to correct the cabin shape. Since Trumpeter omitted the entries to the forward cabin, I used .05 styrene to replicate the canvas covers installed by the boat crew. I also added decking for the coxswain station amidships and sealed the forward end of the aft cabin. To the two boats from my spares box, I added styrene details as well.

With this work done, it was time to paint the boats.



In painting the boats, I worked from light to dark colors. The cabin on the officer launches was white; I used Model Master Flat Insignia White. The hulls and interior I painted Standard Navy Gray. The most difficult part of the painting was the underwater hull and here I procrastinated for quite a while. It is hard to strike a true and straight waterline on a large hull; on a small boat in this scale it is impossible. I worked carefully using a steel machinist rule to set the masking tape. I painted the underwater hull with flat black and experienced little bleed under of the tape, since I sprayed away from the edge of the tape, and therefore not forcing paint under the tape. I was not entirely successful in getting the waterline even on both sides. I then used Model Master Dark Earth Brown to replicate the varnished woodwork of the decks, seat and gunwales. On the Officer motor launch rather than drill the required portholes through the thick plastic, I replicated portholes with Gloss black paint by dipping a styrene rod in the paint and then applying it to the canopy. The trick was to ensure that the flat white was cured and sealed with a clear coat so that mistakes could be wiped off with thinner and redone.


With the boats painted, it was time to add the remainder of details. Most of these details came from the Tomís set. For the open boats it was a simple matter of adding to each the rudder, propeller shaft, and propellers and coxswainís rail.  The propellers I left unpainted brass and Toms provides these as a separate piece for a true 3D effect. The coxswainís rail I painted silver. As an added detail I glued GMM life rings (painted white) to the railing on the larger launches. The officerís boats took more effort, because not only did I add the rudder, propeller and shaft, and bow and stern rails but also grab rails on the canopy and a pair of running lights. The grab rails were made from .010 stainless wire and the running lights from styrene.


With the boats assembled, it was time to build the boat stacks. I glue each boat into its respective cradle, ensuring that the propellers were clear of the frames. The exception was the deck edge cradles, which I glued to the deck first to ensure proper positioning. Since boats at sea are secured in their cradles so that they are not tossed out in heavy weather, I replicated tie-down cables with fine dark-gray 32-gauge bead wire. While a slow and tedious process to attach, the cables add the required extra detail. Once complete I stacked the boats as required. With all of the boats in their cradles I then located them on the deck as close as I could to the positions indicated in the Tomís drawings and other references.  This was not as easy as I believed since the beams of the larger boats prevent the required close spacing; also the officerís boats in the raised cradles sit too tall to fit under turret 3 as shown in the photos. With some modifications to the cradles and railings I was able to get the officer boats closer to turret 3.



Hanging the lifeboats from the davits was trickier than the boat installation into the cradles. I made simulate block and tackle with thin slices of styrene rod and fine brass wire. I used gap-filling CA to work them into position and then accelerator to firmly set them against gravity. With that done I was later able to add the sea painter and hogging in lines; the former keeps the boat facing forward in the seaway and the latter secures the boat against heavy weather.


With the boats behind me I moved on to other details. I will not go through every detail added, but will talk about the more significant challenges. About the time I started this phase, I acquired Trumpeterís USS LEXINGTON. Manufactured several years after the ARIZONA kit, it is significantly more detailed in many areas including anchors, guns and their associated directors. I either used many of parts to complete AZ either by acquiring extras or by using them as a master to mold more parts. 




In my final installment I will add the final details and build a base.


Back to Part 3...


Part 5 Coming Soon...


Models and Accessories:


for picture)
Description: Price:
(click to order)


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


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


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


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


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


Reference Material:

for picture)
Description: Price:
(click to order)


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