A Look at the First of the Pearl Harbor Battle Line
by Steve Backer

USS Arizona is the most remembered ship of the United States Navy from World War Two, even though her participation in the war amounted to a matter of minutes. Probably the average person would only remember the Enterprise as the star ship from various Star Trek presentations and yet that same person could describe the death of Arizona.

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The Japanese surprise attack and the catastrophic magazine explosion of the Arizona have given the battleship an enduring fame that she would not have had if she had survived the attack or been merely sunk, like West Virginia, California or even capsized, like the Oklahoma.

It is no surprise that this ship has been produced by more than one manufacturer in model form. Many modelers have fond memories of building the Revell Arizona. That kit is the first warship model that I remember building and I will always warmly regard the garish box art of the Revell Arizona.

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Now modelers have a variety of choices, if they chose to build the USS Arizona. The original Revell kit is still around and new contenders have entered the arena. In 1:350 scale, there are two choices. Banner and Trumpeter (same kit, different box) have a very economical version of this famous warship. Priced around $25, it is a lot of kit for a remarkably low price. Although it is a decent kit and well worth the price, it does have significant inaccuracies in the bridge-work and other areas. The other choice is the Iron Shipwright/Toms USS Arizona

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Toms Models originally produced the forerunner of this kit several years ago. As we all have seen, the state of the art in model warship kits seems to increase every year. The standard expected in model kits rises with the state of the art. The current Arizona is a co-operative effort by Iron Shipwright and Toms Models. Using the Toms Arizona as the starting point, the kit has been reworked to bring it to the current state of the art. In this process Tom Harrison completely reworked the hull and added detail not found in the earlier incarnation. Jon Warneke of Iron Shipwright reworked the superstructure (bridge platforms) and turrets. The bulk of the kit was entirely reworked, although some of the smaller pieces were not. The three largest pieces that were not reworked were the two fighting tops and the stack. All white metal parts are from the original version.

The Instructions are 22 pages, plus Plan and Profile
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Additionally, the new Iron Shipwright/Toms Arizona contains a number of optional parts. It comes with the original one piece white metal 5"25cal secondary or two piece resin guns. Likewise, you have a choice of using the original white metal Kingfishers or resin versions. The most notable option is the inclusion of two sets of main gun turrets. The original turrets are rather sparse in detail but do have apron tie-downs and the new turrets have much more detail as a whole but lack the tie downs.

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Which Arizona is the right one for you? It depends upon your priorities. The Iron Shipwright/Toms Arizona is produced in resin and compared the Banner kitís production numbers, is manufactured in miniscule numbers. Accordingly, its price is almost ten times higher than the Banner version (before PE purchase). However, the Iron Shipwright/Toms Arizona is much more accurate than the one by Banner.

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If price is your first priority and you donít mind the inaccuracies or donít mind fixing them, then the Banner Arizona will probably be your choice. However, the overall cost of the Banner product will rise dramatically, with the purchase of Photo-Etch Frets or other after market products, significantly cutting into the original price advantage enjoyed by the Banner kit.

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If your first priority is accuracy and price is not a stumbling block, the Iron Shipwright/Toms Arizona will be your best choice. No after market purchases are required to bring it up to standards. With a 1:350 USS Arizona, the consumer indeed has a clear choice. Iron Shipwright will be releasing the other seven battleships that were at Pearl Harbor with Arizona on the morning of December 7, 1941 and those are not found in a plastic injection kit.