There are books and there are BOOKS! Like most modelers, I have acquired many books in the course of my pursuit of the hobby and over time have collected a library. They vary in format and quality. Some are historical narrative, which makes interesting reading but mostly misses the nuts and bolts of exact fitting needs of modelers. Then there are some excellent volumes, which concentrate on photo coverage. At the pinnacle are the few, rare volumes that provide history in text, exhaustive photographic coverage and drawings. These are large is size and price and are epitomized by the Raven & Roberts or R. A. Burt treatises. Equally as rare is the volume which provides coverage in text, photographs, and drawings, all at an economical price. Randall S. Shoker provides such a rare volume with his USS North Carolina Technical Refernce1.

This is the second edition of the volume and Mr. Shoker has release a second volume in the series, which was about USS Massachusetts. (Click for review of USS Massachusetts Technical Reference 2). As the title says, this volume is a technical reference, which is perfect for the modeler. The text history is a snapshot, rather than an exhaustive treatise. The meat and potatoes of this reference is in weapon and fittings coverage for the ship through various refits. The most crucial period for any USN warship is December 1942 to early 1943. There is a marked lack of coverage for this period with most references because the situation was fluid. In 1941 the light USN AA Gun was the .50 machine gun and the medium was the 1.1-inch quadruple gun. By early 1943 it was the 20mm Oerlikon and 40mm Bofors. But what about 1942, where there was a transition in which multiple types were mounted? The answer for many ships, including North Carolina, is yes, they did carry a mixture of types. This volume really covers this period well. A perfect example is Shoker's examination of the February 1942 AA fit of the Showboat. There were four quadruple 1.1-inch Chicago Pianos, 40 single Oerlikons but the main question was whether there were 26 or 28 machine guns. Shoker located 26 mounts and estimated that there were two more on the fantail and provides a plan showing all AA locations. However, he also includes an overall top photograph of the ship in the period. If you magnify the quarterdeck from that photo, you'll get a blurry photo but there are two shapes at the fantail at the estimated positions of those two machine guns that seem to confirm that the guns were there. There are interesting overall shots of the ship with emphasis on unique fittings of the ship, such as the port anchor recess of the ship. which was covered over by 1943.

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Armament is a specialty area in this reference. Each piece of ordnance ever mounted by North Carolina has a section devoted exclusively to it. Of course there is excellent coverage for the 16-inch/45 turrets and 5-inch/38 secondary. AA coverage includes photos from the present to historical for for the later Oerlikon and Bofors guns and historical for the long gone .50 machine guns and 1.1-inch Chicago Pianos. Ordnance also has plans and profiles and technical data coverage. Other specific equipment sections cover radars, main directors, and AA directors. Additionally there is area coverage for the forward superstructure, armor and aircraft. Multiple fittings are covered here, such as ventilators, bollards, funnel bracing, reels, stanchions, etc.

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There is significant coverage of camouflage patterns, including color profiles on the back of the volume. There are two pages of black and white camouflage profiles covering five different schemes, as well as a overhead plan for the dazzle camouflage. For the North Carolina, the dazzle paint scheme was also applied in the form of a deck pattern. Even stopping at this point, this volume presents an absolutely wonderful and thorough coverage of the USS North Carolina, which is absolutely perfect for the modeler. However, Mr. Shoker does not stop here! He goes over the top by also providing a separate 1:350 scale set of plans, profiles, and detail drawings of the Showboat. This set was originally done in 1:192 scale by Thomas Walkowiak from Floating Drydock and that set has been reduced to 1:350 scale for this volume. It includes separate deck plans as well as ordnance and equipment details. The entire volume is contained in 64 pages, plus covers, along with the separate set of plans. Published by Oxford Museum Press, the volume has excellent production values.

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USS North Carolina, Technical Reference 1 by Randall S. Shoker, is an outstanding reference for the ship, which provides the exact type of coverage essential to the modeler. All Showboaters should have this volume in their library.