It has been said that tactics are for amateurs and that logistics are for professionals. As much as those on the Op/Intell side of the house may wish to dispute that statement it is abundantly clear that without the beans and bullets, there is no battle. To fight a global conflict huge masses of supplies are required and by far the most efficient way to move the supplies in the quantities needed is by ship. Island nations, such as Great Britain and Japan, are extraordinarily dependant of ship borne supplies, which why the German U-Boat campaigns against British merchant shipping in both world wars was such a danger and why the Japanese Navy was totally hamstrung by 1945. For projection of power, even continental nations, such as the United States require heavy sea borne resupply efforts.
In World War Two one type of ship symbolizes the sea borne logistics operations of the United States, and that is the Liberty Ship. They were ugly, fairly slow and sometimes exhibited a weakness at the frame in front of the bridge that would cause them to break in two under stress. However, the Liberty ship had two outstanding characteristics, through prefabrication of modules they could be produced in extraordinary numbers with extraordinary speed, and they had a tremendous cargo carrying capacity. Merchant ships and seamen were the unsung heroes of World War Two and if one type of ship represents them, at the American merchant seamen, it is the Liberty ship.
Last fall Trumpeter released a 1:350 scale model of the Liberty Ship. Sandwiched in between releases of the very large kits of Nimitz, Admiral Kuznetsov and Lexington, the kit didn’t get that much press. In any event it did not come with any photo-etch detail. Now Gold Medal Models has released a large brass fret designed specifically for the Trumpeter Liberty Ship. In deed this fret, designated GMM No. 350-31, is huge considering that it is for a lightly armed freighter and not a warship.
This fret appears to be on a slightly thicker gage of brass than some of the others produced by GMM. However, this thicker brass does in no way interfere with the fineness of detail on the fret. In that department Loren Perry has worked into this fret, his latest artistry in brass, all of the detail and relief etching for which GMM is known. The thicker gage will provide a greater degree of stability, sturdiness if you will, to the structures formed from the fret. There is nothing more frustrating than to have a brass inclined ladder crumple into a brass ball because the brass is too fine. I don’t think you will have that problem with these GMM parts. You get the beauty of finely wrought relief etched detail with sturdiness. To borrow an old Bulava watch slogan, and in much the same manner as the Liberty ship itself, these parts are designed to "take a licking and go on ticking".
First of all there is the multi-piece open bridge assembly. More accurately there are two open bridge assemblies as Loren provides one in the pattern found on the Jeremiah O’Brien and one in the pattern of the John W. Brown. The O’Brien pattern has two bar rails with angled supports for the stanchions, while the Brown pattern uses three bar rail with no angled supports. This part is folded and placed on the raised grate design deck with a very short inclined ladder leading up to it. Inside are a variety of essential ship’s controls such as the ship’s wheel and relief etched speed enunciators. The whole assembly is capped an exquisite relief etched canvas top with clearly defined tie-down straps.
The open bridge platform is certainly not the only item that will greatly increase the detail on the central superstructure. There is a host of brothers and sisters to go with it to spruce up your spanking new Liberty or old rust bucket. Lifeboat davits with relief etched main rope line are just part of the equation. Do you like platforms. With GMM you get perforated bridge wing gratings or the small leadsman’s platform and railing hanging over the port bulkhead just in front of the bridge. Ship’s boats themselves are dolled up with individual oars, keels, rudders and propellers. How about different size grates for the ventilator cowl openings? GMM has them. The stack is fixed up with a vertical ladder up the front face with brass whistle and siren platforms. All sorts of antennae, skylights, railing and other finely detailed parts really pump up the detail of the central superstructure.
Since the fore and aft open cargo decks are dominated by the ship’s cargo derricks, the detail of these towers is of crucial importance. Loren certainly provides the lift capacity for the Liberty modeler in that arena. There is a very liberal assortment of derrick delicacies to lend character and detail to these cargo handlers. These parts consist of larger items such as six different types of relief etched derrick boom deck rests and derrick retaining brackets, which are typical of the larger items to parts so small as individual eyebolts, turnbuckles, cargo hooks and rigging pulleys. The pulleys themselves, even though very small, come in different styles and incredibly some are relief etched! These pulleys are formed from multiple parts in which pulley wheels are placed inside of folding block assemblies. This provides for some incredible detail for extremely small parts. It looks like Loren is trying to outdo Mad Pete in minutiae madness and sure looks like he has done it with multi-piece pulley blocks! You can even top off your derricks with look out platforms.
The other large size items consist of the life boat racks. GMM provides two styles in this department. There are four early pattern racks in which feature thin supports in the pattern of the combined crosses of St George and St Andrew on the British Union Jack. The four racks prepared to the late war pattern have thicker horizontal supports only. Aesthetically, I prefer the early war pattern but of course, the choice of which rack to use is entirely dependent upon the ship and fit being modeled.
The Liberty was not a warship but she still carried armament. Normally manned by a naval gun crew as opposed to the civilian ship’s crew, the Liberty could be found with 5-inch, 3-inch and 20mm Oerlikon guns. Gold Medal Models takes care of all of your ordnance needs on this fret. For the five-inch gun GMM supplies the safety rails, fuse setting position and gun sites. For the tree-inch you get gun site and mechanism detail. For the Oerlikons there are ten sets of relief etched gun shields, elevation wheels, shoulder rests and gun sights.
Two very intriguing structures situated on the aft cargo deck are the potato bins. The individual slats with their upturned ends make for a very interesting structure. However the busyness of the structure is certainly not the end of detail for this assembly. Through this structure a modeler can specifically portray how far along in the voyage, their Liberty is. As the instructions inform the modeler, the potato bin slats ran all the way to the top of the structure at the start of the voyage. However, as the potatoes were consumed the upper slats were removed. As the potato supply fell, more and more slats were removed. Loren shows you how to remove the 1:350 slats in the potato bins to depict a Liberty, well along in her voyage, after she has been weathered, developed traces or rust and generally been beaten about by the sea. Other larger structures are a pair of solid bulkheads with weep holes and a series of beautifully relief etched oil vents. GMM provides bilge keels, which have perforations at the base. A keel jig is included which has holes in the template for drilling into the hull at the proper positions, for providing locators for the contact points on the keels.
All of the cable and hose reels are relief etched. Although the boat reel and small cable reels are very nice, the large cable reels, with their individual cranks, really grab attention. On these parts, the detail is so fine, that you can see and count individual gear teeth. There are also relief etched fire hose racks and hawse holes, along with intricate stoke’s litters. There is a gamut of different styled doors and hatches, most of which are relief etched. Doors with windows, dogs and hinges; skylights with individual slides; standard doors, open doors, closed doors, masthouse doors, waffle doors, wooden doors; there is almost and endless list of detail just in doors and hatches.
Of course there is a full range of ladders and railing. The simplest is the common vertical ladder and GMM provides a generous ten runs of that staple. The fifteen inclined ladders come in four different styles with the location of each type specified by its designating number. Two accommodation ladders are provided with bridles, bracing and four different styles of rigging. Since the Liberty ship has a lot of solid deck bulkheads, primarily along the main cargo deck, there is less railing in this fret than is normally found in a warship. The railing is mostly for the superstructure with GMM providing custom designed railing or each section. However, as with the open bridge platform, GMM provides two types of stern railing, one for the O’Brien and one for the Brown.
The instructions come on one large double sided sheet. They are in the traditional GMM format, which depict through drawing and text the assembly of the different modules of brass parts. The modules include: open bridge assembly, life raft racks, lifeboat details, cable reels. Stokes litters, pulley blocks, potato bins, 5-in gun details, 3-in gun details and 20mm Oerlikon details on the front side. The reverse has assembly modules for cowl vent grills, whistle platforms, derrick retaining brackets, bow details, left side superstructure details, right side superstructure details, derricks, fine detail key, deck details, bilge keels, stern details and final details. There is a lot of information crammed on these two pages. In fact there is probably too much information provided as the print is very small in order to provide the quantity of information. Even in good light with my reading glasses, I had difficulty reading some of the text because of the small size. Maybe the young Turks, with their 20-20 vision won’t have a problem, but old geezers like me may need to get glasses of greater power than their standard reading glasses.