The Pennsylvania Class battleships – what was so special about them? They were not the first ships to mount the 14-Inch gun, that was the New York Class two years earlier. They were not the first to mount triple 14-Inch guns since the preceding Nevada Class had introduced that feature. They were not the first with twelve 14-Inch guns, Fuso beat them there. All or Nothing protection was also introduced with the Nevada. The Pennsylvania Class was the last USN battleship to have rounded turrets and the ram bow, as the following New Mexico Class introduced angular turrets and the classic clipper bow. No, what makes the Pennsylvania Class so interesting was the end of Arizona BB-39 on December 7, 1941.

The design for the Pennsylvania Class went through a number of variations. From the start the design called for armament of twelve 14-Inch guns but then went to other designs, including eight 15-Inch guns in twin mounts. Even the final design was changed. It had call for reciprocating engines but the two ships were changed to turbines. The Arizona was laid down on March 16, 1914 in the New York Navy Yard about five months after Pennsylvania. Although the basic design was for an improved Nevada, the Pennsylvania Class were significantly larger than their predecessors. At 608-feet overall, the design was 25 feet longer and almost 4,000 tons heavier. The engines produced 31,500 shp, which was 5,000 shp over Nevada and 6,700 shp over the Oklahoma, which was powered with vertical triple expansion (VTE) engines.

Launched on June 19, 1915 Arizona was completed October 17, 1916. Arizona was not sent to Great Britain upon the entrance of the United States into World War One. She, along with the other oil fired battleships, stayed back and only coal-fired ships joined the Grand Fleet, as fuel oil was in short supply in Britain. Arizona was a unit of the Atlantic Fleet until 1921 when she was transferred to the Pacific.

She went east for a refit/modernization at Norfolk, Virginia from July 15, 1929 to March 1, 1931. After completion it was back to the Pacific but this time as flagship of the Pacific Fleet in 1932. In 1934 she was flagship of Battleship Division 2 and flag of Division1 in 1937. As the political/military situation in the Pacific heated up in the late 1930s, Arizona received minor refits at Puget Sound in March 1939 and June 1941. On the morning of December 7, 1941 she was preparing to receive her CXAM radar with USS Vestal tied up alongside. Although she received a total of one torpedo and eight bomb hits, it was the one bomb hit that detonated the forward magazine that forever froze the USS Arizona in history. The film and stills of her explosion were some of the most memorable and evocative images to the American public during World War Two.

USS Enterprise should be the most renowned ship of the United States Navy during World War Two but if you ask the average person at a mall or on the street, if they could name any ship, it probably would be the USS Arizona.


Plan, Profile & Quarter Views
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The Dragon Arizona
In the late 1950s the Arizona kit by Revell was probably the best warship kit commonly available in the US. Compared to other Revell offerings, it had remarkable detail and fidelity. It has held up so well that it is still available a half a century after its initial release. Other Arizona kits were the less than successful 1:720 scale Revell kit and one from Lindburg, Yikes! No less than four Arizona kits have been released in the last couple of years and that does not include the 1:350 resin Toms/Iron Shipwright kits. Banner/Trumpeter put out a very successful 1:350 scale kit and Minihobbies issued a 1:700 scale kit, which though it was better than the old Revell 1:720 scale kit, still had significant problems. A year ago Hi-Mold of Japan issued an outstanding resin 1:700 scale kit of USS Arizona. In that most popular of scales, nothing came close to the Hi-Mold kit…..until now.

The Dragon 1:700 scale USS Arizona is a truly remarkable kit. It is a moderately priced injection-molded kit that can successfully take on an excellent, much higher priced resin kit on the same subject matter. A trend that was established a few years ago was the renaissance of production of 1:700 scale injection-molded kits. Japanese firms would completely redo kits that had been around since the early 1970s. Redo is not the right word, as they completely brand new kits of much greater detail than the kits they replaced. Tamiya started releasing new subjects that had not been done before. In 2003 Dragon made a big statement that they intended to be a major player in the 1:700 market with the Admiral Ushakov (click for review of Dragon Admiral Ushakov) and Piotr Veliky Soviet/Modern Russian Rocket Cruisers and now the Arizona. Except with the Arizona, Dragon has gone to the multimedia approach.


Hull Detail
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Hull Detail
The Dragon Arizona compares very favorably with the resin Hi-Mold kit. The Dragon hull comes in four parts; base plate, main hull, foc’sle, and aftermost quarterdeck. Both the hull sides and decks are packed with detail. The hull sides have all of the angles and curves, plating and strakes, and torpedo bulges that add great interest and exceptional detail to this model. On the deck the steel plates just aft of the quarterdeck break shows rivet heads. Undoubtedly, they are overscale but they look very fine an exhibit a dedication to detail found in this kit. The Dragon kit does have what many modelers would consider a minor disadvantage, aztec steps. Actually they are better than the prototypical stair step aztec steps. They are triangular and show foot treads and railing but are in essence souped-up aztec steps. Many modelers will wish to remove these with a hobby knife and use photo-etched brass inclined ladders in their place. As far as accuracy, you can be the judge. Here are a series of photographs with major decks laid on top of the 1:600 scale drawings found in Battleship Arizona; An Illustrated History, Paul Stillwell’s definitive study of the USS Arizona. Compare the 1:700 scale Dragon kit with the 1:600 drawings and draw your own conclusions as to the fidelity of the Dragon model.


Dragon - Plan Comparison
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Smaller Parts
The Dragon Arizona box cover, which is graced with the art-work of Mike Donegan, lists the kit as comprising 154 parts. Although I have not counted them, I believe it. There are six sprues containing the multitude of parts for this kit. From 5-Inch/25 open mount guns to the directors and other fittings, care has been used by Dragon to add detail at every level. The two Kingfisher floatplanes and ship’s boats are in clear plastic. This will allow for an impressive presentation of the glassed areas, once they are painted. Oddly Dragon does not use hard plastic for the sprue with the mast control tops and stern crane. They are made a soft bendable plastic. The control tops are exceptionally well detailed and are in my opinion better than those in the Hi-Mold kit but some may be a bit put-off that they are in this material. Aft crane, boat cranes and the two catapults are solid and the model could be improved with brass photo-etch replacement items.

The 14-Inch turrets are two piece affairs with a plastic bottom half and cast metal upper half. The cast metal tops are very well done with apron and bracing, turret top lines and other detail. However, one detail that is cast onto the turrets is the vertical ladder on the turret sides. If you wish to replace that with photo-etched ladder, it will require more effort than if the turrets were made in plastic or resin.


Smaller Parts
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Multi-Media
In addition to the opaque and transparent hard plastic sprues, the softer rubber-like sprue containing the control tops and the cast metal turret tops, the Dragon Arizona comes with brass metal parts. This particular kit from Naval Base Hobbies was labeled the "Special Version" on a small yellow label on the box top. If there are more than one version of the Dragon Arizona, it hasn’t surfaced yet, as only one kit is listed with the retailer’s lists that I checked. So what makes this kit the "Special Version"? There is a small one-page addendum to the instruction for the "Special Version" and apparently the only difference in the "Special Version" is the inclusion of brass barrels for the 14-Inchers as well as the plastic ones found on the armament sprues. The included brass barrels are very nice, with drilled-out muzzles and more significantly a slight flare at the muzzle. This flare is so slight that sometimes it is not noticeable in photographs. However, it was a common feature of the big naval guns produced before and during World War One and was present on the Arizona. One of my 12 barrels was defective in that it was well too short, so I’ll probably use one of the standard plastic barrels as the middle gun on Y (#4) turret.


Box Art & Decals
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Brass anchor chain is also included. The links are elongated, like the prototype chain, rather than circular. In 1:700 scale the chain appears to be a trifle large but still is a very nice and thoughtful addition by Dragon. The kit also comes with a brass photo-etch fret that contains mostly railing. This fret also has some extra crane detail and hull side boarding ladders. The railing ends in individual stanchions, in the style used by Eduard, rather than have a bottom runner in the style of GMM, Toms and WEM. This is strictly a matter of preference, as some prefer the individual stanchion approach. I prefer having a bottom runner as it materially assists in attaching the railing. Dragon also provides a small decal sheet with Kingfisher markings, stern name plates, national ensign and jack.


Brass Parts
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Instructions
The instructions for the Arizona is basically one long sheet folded into all intents and purposes six pages. The textual coverage, which is fairly minimal, is in Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish. Through a modular approach everything is clearly laid out in the drawings. Brass photo-etch parts are shown in blue in order to differentiate them from the plastic parts. There is a painting guide provided in the form of a plan and profile. Colors are listed all six languages as well as numerical codes for Aqueous Hobby Colour, Mr. Colour and Italeri Paint Number. For instance the hull and lower superstructure color is listed as dark gray, duhkel grau (sic, should be dunkel), gris fonce, grigio scuro, Chinese, Japanese, #305 Aqueous Hobby Colour, #305 Mr. Colour and #1723 Italeri Paint Number. As mentioned earlier, there is a separate small insert for the special version, which shows using the brass barrels, rather than the plastic ones.


Instructions
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Verdict
It is a horse race involving thoroughbreds! There is no need to consider any 1:700 scale USS Arizona, other than the Hi-Mold resin version and the Dragon plastic version. Details are very similar. I tend to prefer the resin hull but there is not much difference between the two. On the other hand, I like many of the Dragon smaller parts better than the Hi-Mold counterparts, such as the control tops. With both of these top quality kits running so close to each other, it is tough to chose, except in one area…..price. With the Dragon USS Arizona being priced at only a quarter to a fifth of the price of the resin kit, there is no denying the allure of the Dragon product. It truly is a great product at a great price. So give the Captain of Naval Base Hobbies a call, as he has a Dragon Arizona ready to send to your fleet.

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