The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 placed a moratorium, with certain exceptions, on the construction of battleships. The goal was to stop a naval arms race between Great Britain, Japan and the United States. A construction race still occurred but it was with heavy cruisers rather than battleships. The limit on heavy cruisers was 10,000 tons, with guns not exceed 8". Excessive concern about the weight limitations resulted in the first two classes of US heavy cruisers, the Pensacolas and   Northamptons, being grossly underweight, coming in at around 1,000 tons under the limit. These two "tinclad" cruiser designs were criticized for their lack of protection. Follow-on classes, the Portlands and Indianapolis, were better protected. The Fiscal Year 1929 program, authorized five cruisers (CA 32-36). New Orleans CA-32, Astoria CA-34, and Minneapolis CA-36 were completely redesigned. Since they were being built in government yards, the extra costs could be hidden and the delay for redesign was acceptable. However, Portland CA-33 and Indianapolis CA-35 were being built in private shipyards. Although they received improved protection, they were not of a completely new design, as were the New Orleans class. A total redesign would have resulted in substantial monetary penalties which the government did not want to incur.

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Laid Down: March 31, 1930   Launched: November 7, 1931   Completed: November 15, 1932
Displacement: 10,422 tons standard, 12,979 tons full load
Length- 610 feet (185.93m) (oa) 592 feet (180.44m) (wl);   Beam- 66 feet (20.12m);   Draught- 21 feet (6.40m) (mean)

Performance 107,000 shp, 32 knots, 10,000 nm at 15 kts
Armament: nine 8 inch guns; eight 5 inch guns; six quad 40mm mounts (1944); twelve 20mm (1944)
Protection: Belt- 3 inches; Deck- 2 inches; Magazines- 5 inches on sides & 2 inches on crown
Aircraft: four, 2 catapults (one catapult removed June '45)

Complement: 807

An interesting slant on this development is found at page 35, Brassey’s Naval & Shipping Annual 1930, which states;

"Soon after Mr. Ramsey MacDonald took office as Prime Minister he entered into prolonged discussions with Mr. Hoover, the newly elected President of the United States, with a view to securing a reduction of naval armaments. On July 24, the Prime Minister announced the intention of the British Government to make a preliminary contribution towards the success of these Anglo-American negotiations by suspending all work on two 10,000-ton cruisers. In response to this gesture, Mr. Hoover announced that his government would defer laying down the three 10,000-ton cruisers which had been allocated to the Navy Yards, but the ships allocated to private yards are to be proceeded with."

Of course the three cruisers whose building were deferred, New Orleans, Astoria & Minneapolis, were delayed to make them a more powerful design, not for arms reductions. Apparently, Brassey’s either misread the situation or the USN pulled a fast one on their British colleagues.

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The Portland class was an intermediate step between the lightly armored Northampton and the much more heavily armored New Orleans class. Since the Portlands were roomier ships than the following New Orleans class, the Indianapolis was constructed as a flagship with a lengthened 01 deck. There are fine National Archive Photos of USS Indianapolis in the archive section of Steelnavy main page at


Indyref742.JPG (54519 bytes)Classic Warships Publishing has two excellent references on the USS Indianapolis. Warship Pictorial 1: USS Indianapolis CA-35 is 56 pages of large detailed photos, plans & profiles and color schemes on Indianapolis. I consider this title to be the best source on this ship. All in all, a terrific source for modeling this warship. If you can find a copy, buy it! Warship Pictorial 10: Indianapolis & Portland , although excellent in itself, does not have the same detailed treatment on Indianapolis. In this volume of 64 pages, Indianapolis shares the title with sister ship, Portland. Since it is a photo album, it does not contain the plans and profiles of the first title. Lastly, quite a number of the photos of Indianapolis in Warship Pictorial 10 were already published in Warship Pictorial 1.

Profile Morskie #14: INDIANAPOLIS is 48 pages in length, with 21 of those pages consisting of detailed line drawings of the ship in 1:700, 1:400 and other scales. The 29 photos of Indianapolis are satisfactory but lack the clarity of the Warship Pictorial titles. The strength of this title is the line drawings. The title contains color plans & profiles of Indianapolis as of 1942, May 1944 in dazzle camouflage, and November 1944 in MS 22. Double check the colors as the color profile of the MS 22 scheme, incorrectly shows her with a natural wood forecastle, instead of the correct 20B deck.

U.S. Cruisers: An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman (ship plans by A .D .Baker & Alan Raven) addresses the design considerations that went into the Indianapolis. This title is the best single source of coverage of all classes of USN cruisers.

Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia by M. J. Whitley is an excellent general reference for the cruisers of every participant of WWII. It provides a very good service history, which was used above.

Cruisers of the US Navy 1922-1962 by Stefan Terzibaschitsch provides a good reference on each class design and individual ship histories.

Indianapolis served as a flagship almost all of her career. In November 1933 she became Flagship Scouting Force, and later at different times, Flagship Cruisers, Flagship Pacific Fleet, and Flagship Cruiser Division 4. On December 7, 1941 Indianapolis was part of TF12 but she became part of TF11 on December 13, 1941. She operated in the South Pacific as part of the screen for Lexington and Saratoga. From April to July 1942 she was refitted at Mare Island. After the refit she had escort duties from Australia to the Aleutians, where she remained until the summer of 1943, when she received another refit at Mare Island. She returned as Flagship, 5th Fleet. In October 1943 she bombarded Tarawa and Makin Island in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. In 1944 Indianapolis saw action at Kwajalein, Saipan, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Tinian, Guam and in the Caroline Islands. She received her third refit between November 1944 and January 1945. She then saw action at Iwo Jima, carrier raids on the Japanese Home Islands and Okinawa, when she was hit aft by a kamikaze on March 31, 1945. The damage she sustained because of this hit required major repairs and she received her forth and last refit at Mare Island between June and July 1945.

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At the end of the refit she was tasked with delivering the components of the atomic bomb to Tinian, where she arrived on July 26, 1945. She left Guam on July 28, 1945 en route for Leyte. On July 30, 1945, about halfway between Guam and Leyte, she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine, I-58. Hit by two torpedoes, she sank in fifteen minutes. Over 800 of the crew made it safely into the water, but only 316 survived because no one was keeping track of her and the navy didn’t even know that she was missing. There was no search until an aircraft accidentally spotted the survivors. The last survivor was rescued on August 3. It is ironic that after all of her service as a flagship and after all of her significant actions in the Pacific, USS Indianapolis, is best known for her sinking and the tragedy that followed. (The majority of the class and ship history is from Cruisers of World War Two, An International Encyclopedia by M. J. Whitley.)

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It never fails. Everytime I get a 1:350 cruiser or larger, my immediate impression on first looking at the kit is the sheer size. The IS Indianapolis is a large model. It dwarfs the 1:700 Tamiya model of the ship. (see photo) The IS kit depicts Indianapolis after her November 1944 refit. The June 1945 refit removed her starboard catapult, added some electronic fittings, replaced the SOCs with Seahawks, SC-1s, and reduced the number of 20mm positions but added twin mounts to the remaining positions. The biggest problem in converting this kit to the final appearance of Indianapolis would be the twin 20mm mounts. Although twin 20mm mounts are available in 1:700, I don’t know of anyone who makes them in 1:350.

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Iron Shipwright resin hull molds are poured from top to bottom. Then the mold is pressurized to drive out air bubbles trapped in the resin. This method also creates the pouring sprue down the centerline of the hull bottom. On my Indianapolis the resin pour apparently stopped a little too soon, as instead of the typical pour sprue, my kit had a trough in the underside of the hull, which I repaired with Milliput. Also because of this, the bilge keels did not receive sufficient resin and I had to replace a good portion of them with Evergreen plastic strips. This situation, however, is an aberration. I have purchased many IS kits and this problem only occurred on my Indianapolis. When I told Ted Paris about the hull, he immediately said that he would send another hull. I declined since the repairs were not difficult. When I opened the bag of superstructure parts, I thought that there was an over-pour on the forward and aft superstructures, which I quickly sanded off. I was wrong. It was not an over-pour but a design feature to allow the superstructure to click into place in recesses in the deck. Even though I goofed on these parts, IS gladly sent me replacements. Their parts replacement policy is the best in the industry. If they goof on a part, they replace it, if you goof on a part, they replace it, no questions asked.

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The resin parts go together with minimal fuss. I still had to do a little fitting of the superstructure parts to the deck recesses. The only section that required some concentration was the fitting and alignment of the foremast control top. Rather than use the included brass rods, I used plastic rod for the tripod legs. The rod I used had slightly too great a diameter and I had to adjust the fit. I recommend dry fitting the tripod legs with the superstructure and control top before gluing, to insure fit and alignment. All of the resin parts appear to faithfully replicate the fine lines of Indianapolis, with two possible exceptions. The 01 deck in front of the bridge appears a trifle too short. Drawings and photos of the ship appear to indicate that the front of each turret is in alignment with the front of the barbette. However, if you do this with B turret, there is insufficient clearance from the back of the turret to the forward face of the bridge. I placed B turret a little more forward on the barbette to create the required clearance. The IS Indianapolis comes with nicely done open mounts for the eight 5-inch guns. The mounts are asymmetrical. Photos indicate that the mount is curved and open on the right side with the left side being built-up and angular. The IS parts appear to be mirror images of the photos in that they were curved and open on the left and built-up and angular on the right. I cut off the built up portion on the right side of each mount and glued it to the left side. Then I sanded the angle of the right side to reproduce the curve. Lastly, I added a small sliver of resin to the left rear of each mount to replicate the angle on that side of the mount. Lastly, the anchors appear slightly too large. The only addition that I made was a small portion of steam pipe under the apron at the rear of the forward stack. It wasn’t part of the stack, although the steam pipe above the apron was cast integral to the stack.

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The Iron Shipwright Indianapolis comes with four moderate sized brass frets. In keeping with the latest IS fret design, as found in the recent US destroyer brass, parts for more than one cruiser are included. Don’t worry about using all of the brass. Some you don’t use. I found that the brass parts supplied with this kit were excellent. Especially notable were the beautifully executed and intricate catapults, crane and lattice mainmast. They folded with do problem and really add fine detail and excitement to the model. Because of the large amount of nicely executed brass, I consider these frets to be among the kit's strongpoints. No difficulty was experienced in shaping or installing any brass part. I noticed only two inaccuracies in these parts. The most significant was in the lattice mast. The mast has two sides, which form a V and each side is a series of frames with cross bracing. Each side of the lattice should be symmetrical and match the other side. However, the lowest cross-braced frame was not symmetrical for the two sides. The frame was slightly longer on one side, than the other. The other, very minor point, was the small SG radars that go on the top of both masts. These parts had the outside oval of the radar but no elements inside the oval, other than the center bar. I might be in error, but I thought the SG radars had a grid framework.

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The Indianapolis has a large number of inclined ladders (stairs) of different lengths. Dry fit these to insure that you are placing the correct ladder for the position. Note that the ladders marked E in Figure 64 of the instructions, run from the flight deck to small platforms/ports midway up the rear face of the forecastle/01 level decks. I had to adjust the length of some of the inclined ladders to achieve the correct angle of inclination. IS includes plenty of inclined ladders on the frets, so don’t worry if you mess one up.

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The IS Indianapolis is their first large kit to include their greatly expanded and detailed CAD designed instruction set. The instructions comprise fifteen pages that include labeled photographs of all resin and brass used in the kit, a short ship history, 65 line drawings with explanatory text on the assembly steps, simple rigging diagram and painting diagram. For the most part every step of the construction is clearly explained in the text and shown in the line drawing figures. One complete page is devoted just to the lattice mainmast. There are some details that could be clearer. There is a platform on the lattice mainmast. The kit comes with beautiful brass railing for the platform but the platform itself must be cut from sheet styrene or resin scrap (Figure 38 in the instructions). It was easy to do this but it would have been helpful if the instructions  included a template. There are two access catwalks to the catapults. These parts also have to be scratch-built from sheet. The instructions give the dimensions for these parts but are not clear on placement. These catwalks come from the upper, outer edges of the hanger and are slanted inboard towards the catapults. The instructions are incorrect in showing the placement of the supports for these parts. The support should be on the long side, with the base on the slanted end, arching toward the squared end, not the opposite as was stated in the instructions. Photos seem to indicate that both sides of these catwalks had support arches and not just the outboard length. The large SK-2 radar on the mainmast is shown upside down (Figure 52 in the instructions). The radar has a narrower section that should be at the top. The aerials and TBS on the foremast yard should be horizontal, not vertical on their posts on the yard. (Figure 24) It also would have been helpful for the instructions to give the lengths for the propeller shafts. (Figure 2) A cross section of the catapults could have been used. There is a walkway on either side of both catapults. This walkway is below the level of the launch rail with the handrails approximately level with launch rail surface. This was unclear in the catapult assembly. (Figure 34) The instructions show that the floater net baskets need to have end caps made from styrene. (Figure 49) I believe this is incorrect. A number of photos of the floater net baskets on Indianapolis show the end of the baskets had a bar across the top, not a solid end cap. It is far easier to add a brass bar from the PE railing, then to fashion end caps. The SK-2 being shown upside down is the only significant mistake.

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When I sprayed the IS Indianapolis with 5H (Haze Gray) the resin and brass all came together. The model just came alive and the true beauty of this kit design became immediately obvious. This kit is an ensemble. The resin and the large amount of brass all work together to convey the intricate fittings and beautiful appearance of USS Indianapolis. Because of the large amount of brass, the IS Indianapolis might pose a greater challenge to someone who has not built a multi-media kit before. However, the kit will not pose any significant challenge for anyone who has worked with resin and brass before. Because of the large number of parts, the IS Indianapolis is not a quick build, but the final model is more than worth the effort.

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In a memorable scene from the movie, Jaws, Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfus asks Quint, played by Robert Shaw, about a tattoo on Quint’s arm. Quint’s answer could equally apply to this Iron Shipwright kit.

"That, Mr. Hooper, is the U.S.S. Indianapolis."