Trumpeter 1/350 USS Arizona

A multi-part Online build

Part 5


Model, Text and Photos by: Charles Landrum



Part V Finishing the Ship


I set a goal to finish ARIZONA for the 2005 IPMS Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia. It was an achievable goal and gave me focus for the final sprint of this large project. As the work progressed I relished adding the final details and in the end was sorry that the project was over.


Final Ship details


What had stalled the model up to this point was the fact that I needed a lot of details that I did not relish scratch-building as I could not find either parts that I liked or any at all. The directors were a case in point. Fortunately, I procrastinated enough that the Trumpeter LEXINGTON came out, being a more refined kit I was able to use or duplicate parts from it. So I got down to work, happy at my good fortune.


What the ship really needed was anti-aircraft armament of 5in 25s and two more 5in 51s. The problem was that I was unhappy with the kit 5in 25s and had not found replacements that I liked (LíArsenal now makes beautiful mounts) and I did not relish scratch-building the two 5in 51s, since these would sit on deck fully in view. The base provided for the 25s was good, but gun was not. I liked the barrel and trunnions in the LEX kit, so I made a mold and copied both in resin. Using GMM PE rails and adding some styrene bits for the recoil mechanism and fuse setter, I fabricated a much more appealing gun mount. The 51s were a different matter. These were entirely scratchbuilt from styrene and PE. It ended up being a rewarding challenge Ė magnification was a must. Lastly, I scavenged the .50 cal MG in the fighting tops from the LEX kit as well.




In addition to the guns, I desperately need the directors and rangefinders. The range finders for the forward mast came from the LEX kit. Since I was backdating the LEX to 1938, I had several of these in surplus. The only modification was to add the vertical optical element. The real rangefinder was on a rotating platform, which I made from a disk of .01 styrene (made with a hole punch) with railing added. The secondary battery directors I cast in resin from one in the Trumpeter kit.


I then turned my attention to the navigation and signal equipment. The peloruses and magnetic compass came from the spares box, as did the small signal lights. The signal telescopes were painstakingly scratchbuilt. The saluting battery was made from the toy-like .50 cal MGs provided in the kit. The large searchlights were from the kit, but I added optical elements from MV Lenses for a more prototypical look.





Lastly, I moved down to the deck. The last major deck equipment remaining to be added were the gypsy-head winches and anchors. I built the winches up from various bits of styrene rod. I shaped the winch drum by chucking the rod into a Dremel tool at very low speed and used a round file to achieve the shape. For the anchors, again the LEX kit came in handy and I duplicated the much more superior anchors in this kit Ė toss the ones from the ARIZONA kit. The anchor chain was found at Walmart and is inexpensive silver chain. I used this because the chain available from Detail Associates and Campbell are too fine. To weather the anchor chain, I dipped it in Blacken-it, which gives it a realistic rusty finish (although in reality these chain were well painted on deck). I made the stoppers using fine wire and some much finer chain. The life rings along the deck edge came from the Gold Medal Models detail set and are painted insignia red. The boat booms were made from styrene rod and painted medium brown. I used the kit propellers. The paravanes came with the kit and I made the paravane handling tripods from the fine brass.




The Aircraft Detachment 


During this period ARIZONA embarked OSU-3 aircraft; the challenge was finding some. Commanderís series came to my rescue! I was able to pick up some aircraft from them that come with their USS LANGLEY kit. On LANGLEY the OSU-3s were on land gear, so Commanders provided me SOC main floats. Fortunately the GMM set foresightedly included the struts, wing floats and propeller for the OSU. The kit decals worked perfectly for these planes. So I now had all of the components to build up three aircraft.


First things first, I had to clean up the aircraft castings. Given the pliability of the resin, this was not easy and as you can see in the close-up pictures I was not entirely successful. I primed the resin for better paint adherence. The wingtip floats I gave thickness to by applying coats of white glue. Like a large-scale biplane kit, I attached the float to the aircraft and added the struts and wingtip floats.


With this done I painted and decaled the planes before final assembly. First things first I airbrushed the planes, and the propellers Floquil Old Silver; this is a forgiving color that allows masking. Next I airbrushed the stabilizers the appropriate color for this period Ė white. I painted the upper wings Testorís Deep Yellow. I had painted the engine cylinders non-buffing Gun Metal Metalizer. The section markings I cut from red decal film. All of these planes had the red chevron (first section) on the upper wing. Only the section leader had a fuselage band. Painted engine shrouds indicated the 2nd and 3rd planes in the section, but since these shrouds were missing I was off the hook! The numbers and roundels went on Microsol decal setting solution. While the numbers are too large for the scale, never the less they look good. When all was dry, I sealed the planes with Model Master Metalizer Sealer. Final assembly simply involved adding the upper wing and propeller Ė I did not rig the planes for obvious reasons!


I decided to pose all three aircraft on the catapults. Often one plane would sit on a dolly on deck, but I liked the look of all three on the rail. The catapult trolleys came from the Tomís Model works set, because it had three that matched. I chose to pose the 1st plane on the stern catapult while planes 2 and 3 went on top of turret 3. All in all the planes turned out well and add a splash of color.




 The key to rigging ARIZONA was to work methodically, inboard to outboard bottom to top Ė this ensures that you do not have to reach through completed rigging. Most of the rigging was either for communications whether radio, or visual. The remainder of the rigging was either stays which provided support, or had a mechanical function. I used smoke colored invisible thread for the job. A monofilament, it is easy to work, a consistent diameter and can take paint if desired. I didnít really have rigging diagram for AZ, so I used the Stillwell book and photos to determine attachment point. Because of the scale, rather than using padeyes, I drilled holes in the deck and bulkheads for attachments. I used overhand knots and a touch of CA for the yardarms. The key to rigging masts and yardarms is to ensure that uniform pressure is applied on either side to prevent warping and you donít want to make the rigging too tight in the event that temperature or humidity change causes additional tension that might break a part.


I rigged the flag bags since this is one of the harder areas to rig due to the number of tie-offs and the need not to induce warp. I tied off at the fife rail first and then tied off to the mast. I used clear thread in this case and did not paint the thread to make appearance more petite. A similar complex area was the HF aerial leads that fan up to a spreader bar on the main mast. I made the assembly from very fine brass wire, cut to length and glued with CA. Admittedly I chickened out and have yet to fabricate and rig the HF wire array between the masts. That will come in time. I also left off the stays for the smoke stack, because I did not have a clear idea, where they should go. Another piece of complex rigging was the light string abaft the main mast. I made it from brass wire and styrene blocks. I then carefully glued to this assembly to the rigging running fore and aft. The rest of the rigging was uneventful, but I kept checking my references to ensure I did not omit any section.


The Base


I elected to display ARIZONA on docking blocks since pedestals would have looked awkward given the ships broad beam. Many modelers who put ships on blocks will just lay down eight or so wood strips athwartships and glue the ship to it. This is a docking method that is more appropriate for a marine railway display, used to haul small vessels out of the water. For larger ships, the docking blocks are vertical and support the keel(s) and the turn of the bilges. Given the fact that ARIZONA had four keels, I relished the challenge of getting her up on blocks in a more realistic display.



Because the ARIZONA had nearly a flat bottom, and because the kit does, creating this type of presentation was not that difficult. The base is an oak stair-tread that I cut a dado on the edge to accept the case. This is framed with oak molding to create the groove for the case. I stained and lacquered both the base and wood strip used for the decking blocks before assembly, to ensure a uniform finish. I cut docking blocks with a manual miter saw, though a small powered miter saw would have saved a lot of time. To ensure proper alignment and uniform spacing of the blocks, I made a template from masking tape. The key was to ensure that blocks line up with the keels, and since there is no centerline keel, there is an extra challenge. I used Duco cement to glue down the blocks. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to cut all of the blocks to be identical. So once the glue was dry I used a sanding block to shorten those blocks that were too tall. This sanding block had the advantage in identifying those blocks that werenít firmly attached to the base.  Before gluing the ship to the base, I did a few test fits to remove un-needed blocks. I also sprayed the model with a flat coat to hide the CA sheen. By the way all of the wood came from Home Depot.


The clear part of the case is made from Plexiglas cut by a local supplier. I used the appropriate liquid cement to assemble the case. While the Plexiglas cover is a three-foot case, in other words, it is not something I do well, so donít look at the edges. But it serves the purpose.




While I had a vision as to where I wanted to go with this project when I started it in late 2001 little did I realize that it would be a 3 Ĺ year odyssey. I started the model as a cathartic reaction to the loss of the World Trade center and I focused on the ship that, until 2001, represented  the single loss of US life in a hostile attack. But I did not want to represent ARIZONA at the time of her demise, but rather in her heyday, a period when my late Uncle Joe Garnett served onboard. He ultimately became my inspiration for the project.


I learned much throughout its course and was able to further hone my skills. It was a chance to tie in a lot of smaller projects into an integrated whole. The boats and aircraft became modeling projects in their own right. And this was with out a doubt my most complex use of photoetched brass. It was also was a chance to represent a simulated teak deck while maintaining some visual interest. The build is not without its flaws, as a craftsman you always know where they are, but I think the overall impression is favorable and I hope adds to the body of ship modeling.








Back to Part 4...



Models and Accessories:

Item: Description: Price:
(click to order)

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

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

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

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

1/426 USS Arizona Battleship
Revell-Monogram Plastic Kits

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:

Item: Description: Price:
(click to order)

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