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.
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!