|With their tall cage masts, minimal AA fits, and lots of open
deck space, pre-war battleships were distinctive. The 20's and 30's were peaceful times
for the US Navy, and conventional thinking was geared toward big-gun battleship
duels at long ranges. The threat from the air had yet to be taken seriously, so the
AA fit was at most an afterthought.
Tom's Modelwork's USS Arizona (1921) is
a "sleeper". It sits there looking rather unimpressive, until the very end. It's
not until you've finished the weathering and rigging that this ship shows her real beauty.
The kit arrives with a large, cleanly cast hull, several bags of resin and white metal
fittings, and a very nicely done brass sheet. My initial response was very good; the brass
cagemasts especially caught my eye. So now it's on to the build-up.
preparation was easy, there being only a few scattered pinholes. Casting is very good;
most parts have small resin blocks found in most resin kits. There is no required
construction sequence; you can begin almost anywhere. I chose to build my Arizona
in subassemblies, each of which is a small kit in itself. I find this makes the
buildup more interesting, and enables me to fool myself into thinking I am making
Cage Masts Tom provides a resin
former around which to wrap the brass cage mast. Avoid overlapping the cage mast edges,
which will cause a heavy seam. The edges should butt up against each other. I cut a
strip of wax paper and inserted it between the brass and the resin jig, wax side facing
out, then glued the edges together with superglue and kicker. The wax paper prevents you
from affixing the brass to the resin jig. Any paper that adheres to the brass is easily
removed. A word of caution: Once you have the cage masts glued together,
they are very fragile. If you squash one, it will be nearly impossible to restore to its
original shape. So be careful...this sounds like the voice of experience here, hmm?
The cage masts come in several sizes; the forward mast is shorter than the after one to
compensate for the lower quarterdeck. The brass sheet provides you with two of these
aft cagemasts, so practice on one before trying the forward mast. If you damage the
forward mast, cut down the redundant aft mast and use it as a replacement.
Fighting Tops are molded in one piece
with a solid interior. The channel can be painted black, and the brass installed, or you
can cut the roof off, drill out the area, and install the brass and roof to "hollow
out" the top. I would not recommend this modification to novice modelers, as resin is
brittle and unforgiving.
Director Position This part is also
molded in one piece. Paint the recessed area black and apply the brass window
framing. I both opened up and hollowed out the part, and then used the brass framing to
support the roof. It looks great, but I would not recommend this step to novice modelers.
Flag Bridge If
your kit is from the first production run, check the location of the locating disk upon
which the forward cagemast sits. Draw an imaginary line across the ship at the
forward edge of the escape scuttles. The back edge of the disk should touch this
line. If it's not close, then remove the disk and relocate it so that it touches the line
between the escape scuttles. Tom's Modelworks has corrected the problem and inserted a
note in the kits. Why bother fixing this error? If you don't, there will be insufficient
space between the cage mast and conning tower to fit the flag bridge assembly.
Navigation Bridge Cast
as a single piece, a little scratch-building will enable you to detail the open areas. Tom
has provided an additional brass piece for the window framing. This is a simple
scratchbuild, and can be handled easily by most modelers. The results are impressive,
especially after you detail the interior and add Kristal-Kleer to the windows.
carried three anchors, two on her port side, one on her starboard side in the forward
Turrets Check the sizing of
the turrets on the barbettes. If the turret are too small, add sheet styrene to the
bottom to widen the turret bottom. Turrets 2 and 3 each had 'flying off' platforms for
aircraft, refer to references to scratchbuild if you choose. Tom's Modelworks will be
sending a brass and resin update part to all owners of 1921 Arizona kits later this year.
These turrets also had ranging marks on the lower half of the turrets. Paint the lower
half of the turret black, use white decal strips or dry transfers to do the increments and
Boat Racks These are
very delicate assemblies, take you time and be patient, the results are worth it.
Decals are included for the range clocks. I suggest you affix a small styrene disk
just below the searchlight platform upon with to mount the range clocks.
Galley Stacks Use brass
tubing to create 2 galley smokestacks on the after deckhouse. Refer to plans for height.
After Deckhouse Add railings around
Finish Ships of
this era were kept very clean so keep your weathering should to a minimum. I painted the
Arizona Polly-Scale USN Light Gull Gray, it matched well enough after applying pastels. I
used pastels both to shadow and highlight, as well for light weathering. The ship was
rigged with nylon quilting thread, and the water simulated with acrylic gel.
Conclusion If you
enjoy pre-WW2 warships, the Tom's USS Arizona (1921) is a must-have. It's an easy
build as 1:350 capital ships go, very accurate, and most importantly captures the 1920s
"look" of the early Arizona. This is first ship kit that didn't frustrate me in
one way or another. I actually enjoyed construction from start to finish. I
would not recommend this kit to a beginning resin modeler, as the cagemasts can be tricky
if you're not accustomed to working with brass. The modeler with a resin kit or two under
his belt should have no trouble with this beauty, however.
The model is available from Tom's Modelworks for $225, with the waterline
version priced at $200.
For More information contact
1050 Cranberry Drive
Cupertino, CA. 95014
Phone: 1-408-777-TOMS (1-408-777-8667)