The second ship bearing the name Brooklyn was launched October 2, 1895 in Philadelphia and commissioned 01 December 1896. Brooklyn’s first assignment was a special cruise to Great Britain for the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. She returned to the US East Coast in July 1897 and became the flagship of the flying squadron under Commodore W. S. Schley on 28 March 1898. The flying squadron arrived at Cuba in May 1898 and established a blockade of the port of Cienfuegos . Brooklyn was a key player in the Battle of Santiago 03 July 1898 during which the Spanish fleet was destroyed. Brooklyn received 20 hits and suffered the light casualties of one man wounded and one man killed.

She thereafter cruised the Atlantic coast and the Caribbean Sea, attending the Spanish American War victory and Dewey celebrations in New York during 1898-99. She sailed for Manila in the Philippines via the Suez Canal. She became the flagship of the Asiatic squadron and participated in the North China relief expedition 8-11 July 1900 thereafter cruising to Australia and the Dutch East Indies. She returned to the New York Navy Yard 01 May 1902. After a visit to Cuba on the occasion of the handover of authority from the United States to the Cuban Government, she cruised with the North Atlantic Fleet and the European Squadron for four years. She returned to New York on 25 May 1905 before crossing the Atlantic to bring home the remains of Commodore John Paul Jones to internment in Annapolis.

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On 16 May 1906 she was placed into reserve at League Island Navy Yard, where apart from some official forays she remained until she was recommissioned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in 1914, serving as receiving ship for the Boston Navy yard. In 1915 she was fully recommissioned , after local duties she sailed to the far East, again serving as Flagship for the Commander-in-Chief attending diplomatic and military duties in Russia, Japan and China and remained in the Far East until 15 January 1921. Decommissioned on 09 March 1921, she was sold 20 December 1921, ending a distinguished career around the world flying the flag of the US Navy.

The YS Masterpieces USS BROOKLYN was an eagerly awaited model kit by me, having built the G. AVEROFF and owning the USS OREGON kit by the same manufacturer. I was looking forward to something special, particularly as the ship had captured my imagination long ago with her lofty smokestacks and huge tumblehome, more akin to French ships of the period, of which I am loyal follower! I was NOT disappointed.

Having purchased the kit at IPMS Telford in November 2003 directly from Yiannis of YS Masterpieces, I knew upon opening the box that my carefully planned building schedule had an interloper! I decided to build the model in February 2004, which extended to the whole of the following month also as more detail was added and new photos appeared. The casting is full hull, with no voids or bubbles, well wrapped and stunningly beautiful with delicate surface detail. First job was to remove the lower hull. This was achieved in the usual manner by taping above the waterline with Tamiya masking tape and then sanding away on a bench mounted belt-sander; in this instance in the rain in the dark around Midnight.

Grinding the Brooklyn...Ouch!
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Initially she was to be displayed static at anchor with awnings spread. This however would have obscured much of the detail, furthermore as the build progressed I realized that to show the ship to fullest advantage, highlighting the massive tumblehome of the hull would be difficult with the ship in immaculate order. The US Navy of the time had the ’overside cleaning party’ in action as soon as the anchor hit the bottom! So I elected to have Brooklyn at speed under way with very light streaking, only such as would be correct for a sooty coal fired ship at sea for a few days.

I wanted the decks to really look like wood planks as opposed to engraved resin so spent a lot of time in achieving the desired effect. First went on a light coat of Humbrol radome tan followed by a light drybrush with WEM Colourcoats Teak. The grooves between the planks were drawn with a very sharp Pencil. Sharpening the HB pencil to a ‘blade’ profile on 1000 grit sandpaper after every plank became boring, so I bought a pack of 10 pencils and asked Katrin, my patient better half, to sharpen the pencils for me whilst I drew the lines, so that rapid progress could be made. This was so successful that I took advantage of the situation and did the decks of USS OREGON at the same time. I then taped across the planks at regular intervals to enable me to draw the butt ends every third plank. This makes one cross-eyed.

Deck Madness
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The deck then was washed lightly with light grey, when dry I smudged the pencil drawn butt ends selectively with a sharp edged eraser and almost eradicated the markings. Overall I am pleased with the effect and it gives more visual interest to the large amounts of otherwise featureless decking. Assembly followed the excellent step by step instructions in the bound booklet, the main deviations being in the assembly order of final placement of subassemblies. I had the water-lined hull glued to a handling block of wood with white glue to allow me to paint the hull and run the brush off the edge, thereby preventing the collection of paint at the waterline. Thereafter, I mounted the vessel on her water board which allowed me to no longer handle the hull, whilst being able to gain access at all sorts of strange angles. This was particularly useful when hanging boats from davits whilst the CA sets.

White proved to be a problem colour for me. Despite priming the hull light grey it took six thinned coats of Humbrol matt white to achieve coverage and density without filling detail. The more Humbrol have developed and improved the paints into ‘super’ enamel and other names, the less colour density they seem to have. I chose Humbrol, as their white is the ‘cleanest’ in my opinion. Revell has great coverage but is creamy, which is OK for 1/700. It is easier to darken white than to lighten it. I extensively outlined the various hatches and casemates etc with a sharp pencil, otherwise the whole lot would get lost following the snowblindness principle. For the Buff upper-works I used upon the recommendation of John Snyder of WEM, Colorcoat ACS15 WW2 Soviet V VS all (light brown), which I think is a good compromise of sharpness of colour without being garish. Of special note are the beautiful I-beam boat skids, constructed entirely of PE strips supplied on the fret with the kit; impatient or shaky-fingered builders may wish to substitute these for a styrene ready-made I-beam available from the Modelrailway world. Whilst giving a very delicate effect they sadly, largely vanish under the huge complement of ships boats. Photos show vertical supports under the skids, these were added from brass rod.

Parts & Painting
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The cowl vents have the ‘bell’ mouths cast separately to allow the builder to position these at various angles, which I did. I further drilled and sanded the openings as well as drilled out the lower shafts. The effect is mainly subliminal I guess. The operating mechanism also is cast on, a gentle wipe with a pencil highlighted these. The photos I had to hand showed a slight variation in cowl vent types as well as one very tall vent ahead of the front funnel. This was made of bent wire, the remaining cowl vents were robbed from an Airfix Mauretania kit. The bridge is very delicately cast. I elected this time not to open the bridge windows, though this would be quite easy with a Dremel and some appropriate ladder-stock. I cut away the supplied awning stanchions from the photo-etch, as I wanted to add them separately afterwards. The bridge supports even have the ships bell etched integrally, very nice design. The funnels I hollowed out with drills and drum sanders in the motortool, then removed the steam pipes to allow painting with a brush without runs forming. These were re-affixed later. The funnel bases each had a low handrail around them.

YS supplies additional photo-etch hatches and casemate plates to allow gun positions to be shown open. This would have made the model even more interesting to look at, certainly at anchor this was common, but photos suggested that with the ship underway the embrasures were mostly closed and it avoided the scratch-building of the gun mounts. he lower masts had the access doors added on their after faces along with ’lumps and bumps’ seen on photos. The photo-etch steering wheel and binnacle on the bridge carries a small sun awning, made of white glue over a sprue frame, to protect the helmsman from the sun. The platforms each have a number of triangular braces, fiddly but rewarding. The ship’s boats appear to be capable of evacuating a liner, such is their number. It is advantageous they are cast as open shells with floorboards, the thwarts and oars being photo-etch items. The photos I had of the ship in the appearance I wished to portray, showed her to carry even more boats on additional davits along the hull. An e-mail to YS yielded the additional boats and photo-etch separately packed, sent to me at record speed. A useful and excellent service for those who wish to change the era of the model. The extra davits were made of Fusewire, blocks came from the WEM Koenig photo-etch set.

Steam Launches
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The steam launches are models in themselves, featuring lovely photo-etch canopy framing, rudders and screws. The kit contains a resin former to make the canopies out of foil, this would probably work well but I had other ideas. I used the frames as supplied but then added the fore and aft tubular frames in thin wire. I also added a sprue demarcation over the entry step adjacent to the funnel opening, which was made with a ring of wire. The funnel tops were stowed when the launches were onboard. This ‘framework’ was then filled in with white glue, allowed to set and then painted. The glue will reach all outer parameters, hence the demarcation with sprue. The same method was used for the helms sun-awning.

The large boat cranes had the photo-etch pulleys and cable drums added as supplied and instructed. The accommodation ladders featured bend up treads and were made up from the supplied photo-etch items. Only the supporting struts were added. These were photo-etch brass awning rigging, which had been dispensed with as I made my own awning poles. The handrails in the kit are an improvement over earlier YS kits, being as fine as any that I have seen in any kit. I was fortunate in acquiring a WEM Koenig photo-etch set that had been over-etched, meaning some small details had vanished but the rails were the 1:350 equivalent to GMM 1/700 Goldplus superfine. The stanchion height and spacing also matched so I was ready for my challenge. Very carefully the WEM rails went on, as they were now very delicate after installation, with sharp tweezers. I induced gentle sag in the cables around the weather deck but not in a totally regular fashion. The admiralty type anchors were made as per instructions, balance balls added with white glue, chains are from Saemanns of Germany. The covers for the hawsepipes are made from WEM 1:700 photo-etch aircraft wheel-well covers. The upper mast rigging spreaders are made of cut up PE crane rigging from the kit , a useful material especially as I always rig these yards and cranes with sprue.

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The colour scheme I chose shows a demarcation line in black between the white and the buff. I believe this was a mahogany rubbing strake painted black. The hull casting had this reproduced crisply, but try as would I failed to paint it as sharply as I wished. I tried water decal stripe, but this would slip, slide or move as one adjusted another part of the line. With tempers fraying, mine and Katrins, and unable to carve off the moulding without ruining the model, now with rails, to attempt with masking/spraying/decals to improve matters, R C Cammett came to the rescue, supplying self-adhesive matte black striping in widths of 0.5mm upwards. Crisp as you like and easy to apply and adjust.

The crewmembers are from WEM for a change, these were painted according to photos in the Alden book. I used the photo-etch mast yards with pulley blocks but glued them to a thin piece of stainless steel wire, filled in the ledge with white glue and paint, resulting in tapered circular spars. Rigging is mainly sprue, black for standing rigging and light brown for signal halyards, the long runs fore and aft being lycra. The inter-funnel stays are fine copper wire. The ship was mounted on a sea of artists acrylic gel medium, the feathery white spray being fine torn tissue paper glued on with gloss varnish.

In conclusion I cannot recommend this kit highly enough, I achieved my desired finesse virtually out of the box with very few additions or scratch building, something I have hitherto only achieved with YS and WEM kits. This comment is in NO way intended to detract from other manufacturer’s products, which I buy and enjoy. It merely serves to highlight that the significantly higher initial price is reflected in speed of build and lack of problems and corrections.

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Invaluable reference photos can be found on the internet but indispensable to me in this project was the book, THE AMERICAN STEEL NAVY by John D Alden, as well as WARSHIP Volume 1991 for good close-up photographs. SAEMANN Chains and photo-etch can be obtained directly from Black striping from R C CAMMETT