Future Build Preview: Showboat!

When I walked the contest tables at the Austin SMS show in late September, I was shocked to find the “Warships Greater than 1/500” completely vacant. There were a handful of smaller 1/700 scale ships on hand, and one massive fishing boat, but not a one 1/350 scale warship in sight.

That’s when the idea started to form. I think by the drive home, I’d determined that I was going to build a ship.

I started searching and zeroed in pretty early on Dragon’s USS Laffey kit. This scrappy little destroyer served off Guadalcanal in 1942, where it got itself into a point-blank shooting match with a Japanese battleship. Despite a gallant fight, it got its ass kicked, and hard.

Before I could order the Laffey, though, Great Models went and had themselves a big sale on Trumpeter kits.

And Trumpeter happens to make a 1/350 USS North Carolina.


Today, if anyone remembers United States battleships at all, they remember the USS Arizona, sunk at Pearl Harbor, and the USS Missouri, the might Iowa-class battleship that was the site of the Japanese surrender in 1945.

The North Carolina fits right between those two iconic battlewagons. Laid down in 1937, she was at the time the first new American battleship to be constructed in 20 years, and compared to her predecessors, was revolutionary. In fact much of the design of the Iowa-class battleships was directly inspired by the North Carolina and her sister, the Washington. Her sleek design and the glamor of being a battleship and not a cruiser or a destroyer attracted a lot of attention as she underwent her early trials…so much attention that she soon earned the nickname “Showboat”.

Arriving in the Pacific in time to serve off Guadalcanal (where she took a torpedo in the same salvo that sank the USS Wasp), the North Carolina served in every subsequent offensive of the Pacific War and ultimately became the most decorated U.S. battleship of World War II, with 15 battle stars to her name.

The Trumpeter Kit

I’m refusing to look too carefully at this kit until the move, but on my brief inspection, I found myself rather impressed. The one-piece upper hull looks the business, with an accompanying one-piece lower hull, making the choice of building a full or waterline model one that doesn’t involve things like razor saws. The deck, superstructure and armament look very well well-detailed, and I really like how many of the superstructure facings are actually separate pieces. That should make painting the complicated dazzle camoflage much easier.

Continuing my love of metal barrels, I ordered Aber’s brass 16″ guns, and I’m planning on springing for the Gold Medal Models photo-etch set as well.

Splish Splash

Here’s where it gets fun. I’m planning on building North Carolina to the waterline and putting her in the water. I’m still reading up on how to pull that off, but so far it seems to involve foam, acrylic craft paint, and either acrylic medium or clear silicon caulk.

If nothing else, this one will be a fun challenge, that’s for sure!

Stay tuned…I’ll probably kick her off sometime early in 2012!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. keith rudzik says:

    Finally , Doogs, something I can share from my experiences in diorama’s.But as learned as you are ,you probably have heard of it.Magic Water. While there are scads of ways of doing realistic looking water,I’ve found this product to be the most trouble free.It has all the pluses,& none of the minuses.It creates No heat,so it won’t melt plastic.it doesn’t eat up styrofoam ,either.It doesn’t yellow or shrink.You can keep it bubble free.I get on the “Bay”.it’s reasonably priced & comes in differant sizes.Just got to the usual toys & hobbies area & type in “magic water”. I.M.O. it’s made puddles, streams ponds & beach scenes trouble free. Mantis models from Lucky Hobby has a 1/35th fish set that you could alter some of the small ones into porpoises,or giant bluefin tuna, just for a little more eye candy. Keith R.

  2. gott_cha says:

    Good choice! Nice kit but there are flaws with it…nothing you cant handle. Also,..Im from wilmington N.C. and grew up walking her decks as a kid. I have Quiet a few detail photo’s of her if ya need em…most are very recent shots….They were invaluable for my build I did last fall. Its a good kit and becomes an excellent rendition with the W.E. or GMM p.e. set!

    Enjoy bro!

  3. Rick says:

    This link may be helpful to you on paint. The photos shows BB55 in actual paint while the illustrations show very detailed versions (which were not used) of Measure 32

    BB55 Camo Measure 32

    USN Camo Chips

    I have these references for my Dad’s ship AO Aux Oiler. When I decide to cough up big bucks for a 1/450 vintage kit.

    A little mining I found data for BB55.

    Hope this will be useful with your BB55 build.

    Hope the move is proceeding well.

    Best – Rick

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