Tamiya has long produced a line of classic 1:350 scale warships. These battleships, plus a Fletcher, have been around long enough so that most modelers are familiar with them. Indeed they have been around so long that they are starting to show their age. I have no idea but probably the best seller among them is the Bismarck but the Tamiya 1:350 USS Missouri canít be too far behind. Anyone familiar with the products of Jacques Druel and LíArsenal knows that this French company specializes in 1:350 scale USN fittings, even more than the warships of France. Well the French Connection has heard the anguished cries of modelers of the Tamiya Missouri and produced an upgrade set specifically for that kit. Now modelers can come out of the wilderness and into the light with a multimedia replacement forecastle for the Mighty Mo.
The main piece of course, is a direct replacement in resin for the plastic focísle from the kit. As Jacques says in the instructions: "This set is designed to upgrade the Tamiya USS Missouri model kit. One of the places that need some improvement is the foredeck of the battleship that shows some molding limitations because of its age. The principle ares to be corrected are hawsepipes, chains molded with the deck, breakwater, twin bitts, mushroom and bucket vents, plus minor parts. The resin parts can be used in the same manner as the original plastic parts. The overall look of the model is greatly improved by their associated use with the PE parts."
One certainty with any product from LíArsenal is that each and every one is of the highest quality and this is certainly true with the replacement forecastle for Missouri. The showpiece is of course the deck. It is flawless and displays the highest level of casting quality. From the textured anchor plates to the superbly detailed fittings leading to the chain locker, there is a wealth of high detail cast integral to this deck. If you have the Tamiya Missouri, take out the plastic focísle in that kit and compare its detail with the magnificent detail of the LíArsenal resin deck as seen in these photographs. The difference should be startling.
Another certainty with any product from LíArsenal is that Jacques goes over the top in providing everything that a modeler needs in any of his products. Every release is carefully planned and crafted to make sure that every modeling need is covered and that nothing is forgotten. Again this is abundantly clear in the smaller resin parts, anchor chain and full brass photo-etch fret that comes with this set. The smaller resin parts include a new breakwater, six bucket vents in three sizes, three mushroom vents, ten twin bitts and paravane windlass. The breakwater is the largest of the smaller parts and has the supporting gusset structure on the rear face. In the photographs the labels between the two types of vents are switched, the bucket vents are more straight and the mushroom vents are rounded but you can seen from these photographs the high quality of both types of fittings. Some of the smallest resin parts are the twin bits that fit on the plate locations provided on the deck. This smallest of resin parts is also one of the most telling about the high design and production qualities of LíArsenal. On most kits, plastic or resin, bitts are represented by short vertical rods running straight up from the bitt plate. However, is you look at the real thing on one of the eight USN battleships still surviving, you will see that bitts do not go straight up but angle outwards with a shallow flange at the top. Since bitts are used to secure cable, the outward angle and flange prevent the cable from slipping upwards and over the bitt. LíArsenal has captured this small but mostly overlooked feature exactly. You donít have to be French to know the meaning of the word, Magnifique!
LíArsenal provides a full ensemble of metal parts for the deck as well. First you get real chain to replace the molded on chain in the kit. However, what really jumps out is the full photo-etch fret. Each of the brass parts included on the fret is well designed and produced. Many of them feature very intricate relief detail. Provided on the fret are 28 hatches in four different styles, 126 Oerlikon ammunition locker tops, three runs of paravane chains, two hawsepipe covers and nine wildcat control wheels. Youíll have plenty of spares left over with this generous mix of parts.