Nothing quite gets a food fight going as another message about blue battleships at Pearl Harbor. The traditional view has been that the battleline at Pearl Harbor was painted in 5D, although a member of the blue gray family, it appears as a very dark gray. Another faction insists that at least one of the battleships was painted blue, perhaps in sea blue 5S. However, the blue battleships of Pearl Harbor were not the first mythical battleships of unusual color to emerge out of the mist. How about the fabled green battleship of the Pacific. Long before there was a blue battleship debate mention was made of a South Dakota class battleship painted in different shades of green, apparently in the greens used for amphibious craft in World War Two. How this started or who started it are unknown but for awhile there was a claim that the USS Indiana was painted in a mottled green camouflage pattern. It appears that someone took the mottled Ms 12 Modified pattern worn by Indiana in 1942 as being of a green hue, instead of the correct blue-gray hues. No one now makes the claim that Indiana was green but now you will have the opportunity to step out of the closet and conduct the greening of Indiana.
The South Dakota class battleships were the second of the fast battleship designs developed just before the Second World War. They were designed to correct deficiencies in the North Carolina class. There is an old maxim that a battleship should be armored to defeat the shell size of the guns she carries. The 1930 London Treaty was coming to an end and all major navies were rearming in 1936. There was another London conference that year and the British were pushing on maximum displacement of 35,000-tons and a maximum armament of 14-inch guns. Only the Royal Navy opted for the 14-inch gun with the King George V class. In contrast the USN delayed a decision on whether the North Carolina would be armed with 14-inch or 16-inch guns. President Roosevelt thought it wise to wait until after the fall 1936 elections before authorizing new battleships. Indeed, the final decision was not made until after the expiration of the escalation clause in June 1937, which stipulated that if all signatories had not confirmed the new treaty by that date then a 45,000-ton design with 16-inch guns would be allowable. Since Japan and Italy never did sign, the USN chose 16-inch guns for the North Carolina. However, the hull and armor design was already done so the armor scheme of North Carolina was designed to defeat 14-inch shells, not 16-inch shells. The South Dakota class was designed to improve the armor to defeat 16-inch shells. To do this the design was shortened and the armor increased.
With the lead ship, USS South Dakota, the shortening of the hull caused the loss of one twin DP 5-inch/38 gun turret on each side. So instead of the ten 5-inch turrets of the North Carolina, the South Dakota carried only eight of these turrets. The subsequent design was reworked and the sisterships of South Dakota carried ten turrets, making South Dakota the only fast battleship carrying eight twin turrets. Trumpeter has released two new South Dakota class battleship kits in 1:350 scale, Alabama and Massachusetts. It is logical that these two were chosen as both ships are still in existence as museum ships at Mobile, Alabama and Fall River, Massachusetts, respectively. There was a natural built in market for those two. Sure, the Alabama would appeal to the Las Vegas types as that ship had the reputation of being manned exclusively by card shark gamblers. Sure, the Massachusetts had engaged another battleship in the war, but an immobile Jean Bart with only one operational turret was hardly a match for Big Mammie. Besides, the unique arrangement of her secondary turrets and combat history made South Dakota a very desirable selection. However, what about the forgotten battleship of the class, the green battleship of myth and legend, USS Indiana? Until now you would have to get one of the sisterships, if you chose to build the Indiana, the Rodney Dangerfield of the South Dakota Class.
Yankee Modelworks has released conversion sets for all four members of the South Dakota class to use in conjunction with the Trumpeter 1:350 scale kits. Previously the conversion set for USS South Dakota YKM 3014 has been reviewed (click for review of YMW South Dakota conversion review). The set is YKM 3013 and provides a replacement superstructure for the modeler to built the Trumpeter kit as the 1942 Indiana. In addition to having ten 5-inch turret bases, instead of eight, the YKW 1942 Indiana also has some superstructure differences over the South Dakota. The aft end of the superstructure in Indiana has no splinter shield bulkheads but does have two 40mm gun tubs. The South Dakota has 20mm guns here behind deck edge splinter shields. The aft portion of 03 deck has a very different arrangement in Indiana. The replacement parts are all resin with the exception of one small decal sheet.
All parts are securely packaged to prevent breakage in transit. The major resin piece is the shelter or combined 01, 02, 03 and forward 04 bridge decks with a number of resin wafers containing the numerous other resin parts to complete the Indiana conversion. All parts with have to be smoothed to remove the remnants of the casting wafer. The parts are universally clean and exhibited no defects or casting voids. Detail is very good with doors, portholes, ventilator louvers, flag lockers, deck hatches, equipment lockers and other detail. Other major resin parts include the tower superstructure with stack cap. The stack cap has deeply sunk exhaust openings so a three-dimensional look can be replicated. The 04 and 05 levels are separate parts with a resin deck providing the aft 03 deck. The 05-deck piece contains the upper level of the bridge. On top of this goes the upper 05 level deck with conning tower, side secondary director bases and various tubs.
Other resin sheets include aft director base, fore top, various platforms, multiple gun tubes, open back gun shields, and multiple light AA director tubs. The various tubs, platforms and positions included not only provide superstructure parts, but also 20mm galleries Y turret and additional forecastle and quarterdeck details. As a 1942 fit, modern AA ordnance had just emerged on the Indiana. In this fit there were six Bofor 40mm mounts, two at the stern and four in the superstructure. The Oerlikon 20mm mounts were just starting to bloom with Oerlikons in singles, double and an occasion triple gun gallery behind open back shields. However, this Indy is before the late war version where you couldn’t throw a cat without hitting an Oerlikon or Bofor.
Yankee Modelworks provides a comprehensive set of instructions for the conversion of the Trumpeter kits. There are pages on history and background as well as a parts lay-down in drawings and text. The actually assembly is done in modules, starting with the removal of the plastic 01 level, then continuing level by level with attachment of the YMW resin parts over the next three pages. Then YMW covers the additions to the quarterdeck, Y turret crown, forecastle and additional gun and director positions. To close the instructions the is a color profile of the ship in her Measure 12 Modified camouflage scheme in the blue-gray spectrum, sorry green guys, and three pages of photographs of the ship in this camouflage scheme.
With Yankee Modelworks USS Indiana BB58 1942 YKM-3013 conversion set for the Trumpeter 1:350 scale models of Alabama or Massachusetts, any modeler can now build the Rodney Dangerfield of the class. Whether it is the Indiana in the historically correct blue-gray spectrum of Measure 12 Modified, or as that urban myth, the Green Battleship of the Pacific for those budding Impressionists out there, the YMW Indiana provides the canvas upon which to paint your masterpiece.