Trumpeter 1/350 USS Arizona

A multi-part Online build

Part 2

Model, Text and Photos by: Charles Landrum

 

Part II.

Part II discusses the improvements I made to the main details of the main weather decks and the construction of the major subassemblies, including the masts, the stack, gun turrets, cranes and aircraft catapults. To standardize the nomenclature and hopefully eliminate confusion I will use the following US Navy terms throughout:
Main deck = fantail deck
01 level =Forecastle deck
02 level = Gun deck where the 5in 25 AA guns and most of the boats are located.

Superstructure

The fit of the 02 level to the 01 level, where the casemated 5in 50 guns are located, is poor and is the weakest part of the kit and requires a good deal of work to fix. First, the 02 level is a broad expanse of plastic supported only on its sides, so the deck has a tendency to flex. To prevent problems with sagging, I reinforced the underneath of this deck with .100 x .188 styrene strips, which added sufficient rigidity by tying it to the deck below. Secondly, the casemate bulkheads of the 01 level are split in half, with the result being an ugly seam on every vertical surface of the casemate. In addition, the molded portholes of the casemate are far too large (they should be the same diameter of those in the hull.

Before I tackled this area, I had to decide what to do about the casemate guns. This kit badly represents the 5in 50 gun and sectional covers with a pivoting cylinder and a protruding barrel. It would require a lot of additional work to model the gun ports open, both in fixing the opening and having to scratch-build the ten guns. The gun openings, if they were covered on the prototype, either had solid, sectional covers that sealed the gun ports against cold and foul weather or had a canvas cover over the gun and port in fair weather. I chose to build the model with the gun ports covered in canvas.

Addressing the inadequacies of the kit bulkheads took a lot of effort basic modeling skills. The easiest solution to fix the seam in the middle of the bulkhead and the overly large portholes was to fair over the casemate bulkheads with .01 styrene, and re-drill the portholes. I also had to move several bulkheads outboard of their molded positions. The casemate at its widest point should extend to the beam of the ship. I built extensions out to the deck edge with .02 strip styrene. Also the bulkheads of the casemate, on either side aft of the last set of 5in 50 guns, need to be flush with the deck above and not recessed. I moved these bulkheads also using .02 x .250 styrene strip. I filled the casemate gun ports with 11/32 Evergreen styrene tubing. The tubing was which was sliced in to 7/32 rings and then cut in half. I then super-glued 1/8th inch strips of .005 styrene 1/16th of an inch up from the bottom, onto the half rounds segments to build out the canvas covering which will be later made from model aircraft tissue paper. Once the bulkhead work was done I re-drilled the portholes to the correct size and added watertight doors provided in the GMM set. There also was a noticeable fit problem at the aft end of the 02 level where the bulkhead extends down to the fantail. I corrected this fit problem by filing away a portion of the port side and filling the starboard side with styrene strip.

Round one, bulkheads faired over and fix made to aft end of superstructure. Round two, fabricating the casemate covers

01 Level Catwalks. As I mentioned earlier the casemate on the ARIZONA extended to the deck edge, hence the reason for the catwalk molded on the kit. In reality, it let sailors walk fore to aft on the 01 level while topside and also to perform maintenance in this area. I replaced the catwalks with a .02 x .04 strip cut to a length of 1 25/32-inches. The deck was angled 1/16th of an inch at the forward and aft ends, so that outboard edge measures 1 21/32-inches in length. This was done to match up with the GMM railings I plan to use. I used a .01 x .02 strip underneath to replicate the supporting structure.

Casemate reconstruction complete and new catwalks in place.

 

 

 

 

Deck Details
While the Banner kit comes with deck details that are molded or glued on, the decks still looked bare. I chose to rework some of the details, improving their appearance and adding many details that were missing.

Hatchs. All of the main deck and 02 level ladder wells should have coamings that support the hatches. GMM provides a drawing with suggestions on how to build the coamings. I used .01x.04 strip styrene, cut into 6/32 and 3/32 segments, which I then used to box in the ladder well. The four forecastle (01 level) hatches are molded shut with the coaming in place, so I left these alone and glued extra hatches on top of each. Also molded into the various weather decks are small square hatches. I added extra detail here by gluing a PE square hatch from the GMM set 350-11 at each location.

Vents. Here is an area where a little effort yielded great results. Ventilation on the older ships was poor and ARIZONA was no different. Over the years ARIZONA sprouted vents like mushrooms (their actual name-mushroom ventilators!). In the kit, most of these are either missing or unrecognizable blobs. So I cut the molded ones of and started an assembly line to make new vents of various sizes.

I used styrene rod of various sizes for the mushroom vents. I cut a barrel shape for the shaft and a larger diameter slice for the vent cap. I did so by measuring the length desired with a steel rule against the rod, laid and #11 Exacto knife at the desire graduation, pressing lightly and then rolled the rod back and forth until the knife scored all the way through the stock. I slightly tapered the caps by rolling the rod on sandpaper at a high angle of incident before I made the slice. I then used a Touch-n-Flow applicator apply a bubble of liquid cement to glue the cap to the top of the vent shaft. Using the plans from the Stillwell book, I then marked the location of the mushroom vents on the deck with pencil and glued the vents on deck after they had dried. Just this effort alone greatly gave the decks the cluttered appearance that they needed.

Mushroom Vent dimensions
Small: shaft - .08 Large: shaft - .125
cap - .125 cap - .188

This accompanying picture is that of a WWII era berthing barge, used to house the crew during ship repair. Note the abundance of ventilators. These ventilators are very similar to those that were found on ARIZONA.

On either side of turret #3 are two L-shaped vents. These should be mirror images of each other, but aren't as provided in the kit. The starboard one is correct. I filed smooth the backside of the port vent and used styrene strip to reverse the angle of its taper. Now the port side vent lays closer to the barbette like the starboard side vent.

Also on the fantail were two tall cylindrical vents, provided by Banner. At the base of one of these vents the movie projector room. This room is a little undersized. I enlarged it with styrene scrap, drilled the three portholes that were present in the aft bulkhead and added a watertight door (from GMM set 350-11) to the forward bulkhead.

Missing is a large rectangular vent just forward of turret #3. Equal in height to the cylindrical vents on either side, it had a Chair Locker (used to store chairs for the fantail movie showings) against its forward face. I made the vent to the following dimensions 1/2 in high x 1/4 in wide x 1/8 in long. The chair locker is 6/32 in tall x 1/4 x 1/4. And is centered on the 1/4 in wide face of the vent. The vent cap was beveled on all upper sides and made of .06 styrene 6/32 x 11/32.

Stern Towing Fairlead.
The very aft end of the stern should be raised to provide a fairlead for a towing hawser. Banner missed this detail, as did Revell. This raised area had two bollards, one on either side. I made the base from .04 styrene scrap, cut into a triangular shape, that extends from deck edge to deck edge and is ¼ inches in length. The two small bollards were cut to a length of 1/16th of an inch from .062 rod.

Fantail showing improvements made including the towing fairlead. The stern catapult base is highlighted in black.

 

 

 

 

Wildcats and a Capstan.
Banner provides three wildcats for anchor handling which are too tall, they should be lower in profile. I make new ones from .080 rod for the barrel and a 7/32-inch disk for the cap. Also, photographic evidence in the Stillwell book indicates that there was a capstan just aft of turret #4. This is an unrecognizable blob molded on the deck and I replaced it with a capstan I made out of resin from a mold I had made to for my in-progress USS ENTERPISE (CVN-65).


Mooring Bitts.
I had shaved away the mooring bits of the kit while prepping the deck, because I thought that they were undersized. At this point I made new ones by cutting .015 x .08 styrene strips into 3/16-inch segments and gluing them back into position on deck. I then made each bit by cutting .062 rod into 1/16-inch segments as described above in the vent section. One glued in place (liquid cement) and cured, I even out the tops with a 400 grit sanding stick for a more uniform appearance.

Bow view showing new wildcats bitts, vents and padeyes

 

 

 

Turrets.

While the turrets are generally accurate, the biggest problem however, is that the barrel lengths are too short when mounted per the instructions. The barrel length discrepancy became apparent when I compared the model's turrets, with barrels inserted, to published drawings. Study of available photos confirmed the discrepancy. Fortunately there is a fix, the gun barrels are long enough, they are just set too far back in the turret.

Picture showing discrepancy in length compared to drawings.
The turret opposite of turret 4 has had barrel length corrected.

 

Before I correct the 14 in gun barrel length, I improved the look of the front glacis. I wasn't sure when I started whether I would install or leave off the blast bags, but this fix is appropriate for either display and certainly a necessity if the bags are left off. I first glued piece of .010 sheet styrene to the inside of the front glacis, eliminating the hollow look. I then drilled out openings for the barrel. Later, I glued the barrels to the inside of the front glacis, having had to file the lower turret openings to allow proper alignment of the barrels.

Picture shows steps in correcting turret.

 

Now lets talk about barrel length. As I was dry fitting the turrets and laying them on the barbettes, the barrels struck me as odd looking. So I compared them to the drawings from the Stillwell book and was shocked at how short the kit barrels were. Not trusting the drawings I then studied the various photos I had collected and they validated the drawings. After much fretting, I discovered that the gun barrels are long enough but will have to be glued to the inside of the front glacis. Before you glue the barrel assembly into the turret, ensure that the barrels are parallel to each other while gluing them together. It is easy to get them out of parallel while gluing the individual components. The barrels should be 5/32nds a part (center to center) down the entire barrel length. Remember, on ARIZONA the gun barrels were fixed together and could not elevate independently.

Corrected turret Vs original barrel position

If you are building the ARIZONA circa December 7th, she had canvas colored blast bags fitted. Since I am modeling 1936 I had to check my reference photos, which showed them both fitted and removed during at various operational periods. I decided to add blast bags and made them by building up layers of automotive body putty. This was a tedious and messy process, which I would not repeat. It might be easier to leave of the .010 styrene from the front glacis and make the bags from tissue paper soaked in white glue and pulling them through the turret gun opening. I chose not to drill the muzzles open, instead choosing to replicate the presence of tompions.

 

 

Turrets with blast bags.

Now for the rest of the turret details. To further eliminate the hollow turret look of the turrets, I glued .01 sheet styrene to the bottom of the bottom of the turret, so when viewed from below you cannot see into the turret. I left a hole large enough to allow it to sit properly on the barbette. I sanded away the molded on ladders, which should be rise perpendicularly to the turret top, and replaced them with PE stock from the GMM set. I also upgraded the turret range finders by adding a small .02 x .04 x.02 block to the ends facing forward to represent the range finder optical opening. These should be aligned with the barrel lay. I also mounted, on both sides of the turret, a .02 x.06 x .08 rectangle under the range finder. With a .02 x.08 x.05 strip step mounted on top of the plate. This is the blow out vents in the event of a magazine fire.

 

Catapults.
Base ring. If you use any of the aftermarket PE catapults, the base ring, as molded on the deck, is too small. Since I chose to use the Tom's PE catapult, I cut a new base ring .04 in thick from 7/16-inch OD plastic tubing. The area inside this ring will be visible after the catapult is added and therefore should be deck gray when the deck is painted.
For the catapults, I elected to use the ones from the Tom's set. The GMM catapults are nice, but the catapults in the Tom's set better captures the detail of the prototype. The catapults assembled easily and the one for turret #3 is a jewel when completed. However, I recommend having a little experience with folding and assembling PE components before tackling either set's catapults. The Tom's instructions are also less precise; you have to make sure that you fold the catapult rail in the proper direction because it is shaped to fit the sloped turret roof only one way.
As good as the catapults are I decided to add the additional detail of the firing engine for each, since the mechanism is visible through the lattice structure of the catapult. I made the cylinder, bumper assemblies and the fantail turntable operating gear from bits of styrene rod and strip. The sheaves came from Tom's set and the exhaust pipe was made from .040 solder. The result is a less hollow catapult assembly.

The finished catapults showing added details

 

 

 

 

Cranes.

Boat Cranes
The boat cranes on Arizona were far more complex than those represented in the kit. Here was another area where a little scratch building combined with the PE set went a long way to enhance the appearance of the model. The GMM cranes are well engineered and better fit the kit kingposts. The sheaves are also easier to install. The Tom's cranes are more delicate and closer to prototype, so I elected to try them, despite having to modify the top of kingpost. I replaced the lower column of the crane kingpost with 1/8inch styrene tubing to give the crane a more substantial appearance. Just above this is the mechanism platform. I cut off the molded railing and added an additional deck made .30 inches in diameter from .02 styrene, using a circle template to trace the disk and then cutting it out with scissors. The ribbing between these decks, 12 in all, was made from .015 X .03 strip styrene.

Stern Crane
I used the crane from the GMM set for the stern crane. Both cranes were equally nice, but the GMM crane was sturdier and easier to work with. Plus it had more sheave and strongback detail. I ended up using the base of the kit crane and mounted a .02 scrap of styrene to accommodate the new crane. The used the drawing provided in the Tom's set to add detail to the strongback assembly.

The cranes in progress and the finished catapults

 

 

 

The Stack

The kit stack represents the 1941 configuration and required modification to match the 1936 appearance. It would require even more work to backdate it to 1931. In either configuration it benefited from some simple improvements. The most basic improvement to make was to drill out the stack cap. I used sprue cutters to remove the molded grate and then went at it with a drill and files.

Kit stack before modification
Stack cap drilled out and filed smooth
Completed stack

Once it was open I glued the cap onto the stack. I then added the PE grate from the GMM set (Tom's also provides one). I then fabricated the various smoke pipes present on the stack and replaced the one on the aft end. In addition to the smoke pipes, I reworked the enclosed platform and added the appropriate supporting structure. The remainder of the work on the stack was to convert it from the 1941 configuration to a 1936 configuration. I used the Stillwell drawings to make the various platforms and adjoining director platforms. I used .125 tube for these platform pedestals. I used GMM railing throughout.

The Forward Superstructure and the Bridge

The Banner kit pretty accurately reflects the 1941 configuration of ARIZONA. The weak spot again is the fact that, like the gun casemate, the bulkheads are split and require extra attention. I faired over some of the bulkheads with .01 styrene and re-drilled the portholes. I also made some improvements to the Navigation Bridge, which had wood framed windows on the prototype. The kit's representation was bulky and had too few windows. I cut away the frames and fitted a section of HO-scale brass ladder stock (1/8inch wide at 10 rungs per inch). I bent it to a v-shape with a flat apex and glued it in place with superglue. This gave the correct number of windows and a more delicate appearance. I also added a radio direction finding room to the aft end of the emergency cabin deck. The dimension of this shack is 6/32nds long by 7/32nds tall by 4/32nds wide. I added a PE watertight door to the front and drilled a single porthole on both the port and starboard sides.

Modifications to Navigation Bridge

 

 

 

 

Backdating the ship to the 1936 configuration required additional alterations to each deck. Again the Stillwell Drawings were used.

Foremast with new bridge windows.


Masts and Fighting Tops

The key to assembling the masts is the fighting tops, which cap the tripod masts and provide the integral support. So I started by with the basic details of these tops. GMM provides parts to detail the windows of the fighting tops. This PE brass greatly enhances the appearance of these structures but are tricky to add. First you have to cut away the existing window frames. I did this after they were assembled, which made them very delicate to handle. In hindsight I would have removed the frames before assembly and added some innocuous reinforcement. The GMM window frames were a little awkward to apply, even though the brass is pre-scored for easy bending. It is still difficult to glue the frames in place and keep them plumb and tight to the bulkheads. They didn't quite meet at the corner and I ended up with small gaps in the one corner that I closed with superglue. The round part of the tops are even more difficult and placement of the windows is unclear so check your photos. Make sure when you roll the upper section for the round part of the fighting top, that you get an even circumference.


I stepped the foremast using the kit provided vertical leg. Although a little slim in diameter, It gives the proper height and provided a level reference for both masts. I removed the bell (for reattachment later - it was on the forward face of the leg in 1936) and the futtock (triangular) platform above the bell. I replaced this platform with one made from .01 styrene with underside girders made from .01 X .04 and .015 X .020 styrene strip. I also cut a square opening for the ladder. I also replaced the machine gun platform above the futtock platform, with one appropriate for 1936. I traced it from the Stillwell book plans also added some of the underside girders. I drilled holes for the mast legs and for the ladder accesses. I glued the platforms to the forward leg with liquid cement and then capped it with the fighting top, being careful to maintain plumb. Once this assembly was dry I added new aft legs, fabricated from .080 styrene rod, for a more substantial appearance.


Unfinished Foremast

Stepping the main mast was trickier, because I didn't have a reference part like I had for the foremast. For the main mast, I tossed the kit legs and made new ones using .100 styrene rod for the vertical support leg and .080 rod for the two angled legs; the kit legs were too spindly and not prototypical. A word of caution about the kit main mast, Trumpeter rested the forward legs of the main mast on the boat deck. In reality the legs penetrated the bulkhead just aft of the boat deck. The notches of the boat deck that accommodated the legs are reflected in the Trumpeter kit. This is clear in the photo of the 5in gun-loading machine in the Stillwell book on p. 163. Since the platforms of the mainmast were substantially different in 1936 (except the director platform) I fabricated new ones using the Stillwell book drawings. I used the same method that I had for the foremast.


I drilled a hole in the fantail deck to accommodate the vertical mainmast leg and give it rigidity. I then glued the new platforms and the reworked director platform to this leg, being careful to maintain plumb. I then glued the two angled legs in place, cut at the bottom to match the angle of intersection with the fantail bulkhead. I used liquid cement for a slow dry, so that I could keep working to ensure plumb. The result was a vertical main mast at the same height as the foremast!

A big oversight of the Banner kit is the lack of detail on the underside of the mast platforms and the fighting tops. Photos of the ARIZONA show these areas to be a collection of girders, cantilevered off the mast legs, to support the weight of these structures. GMM provides some of the more visible girders for the main mast, but it is clearly an inadequate amount. The GMM girders fit without problem. I then spent many tedious hours fabricating girders out of .01 X .125 strip and adding them to these underside areas. I primarily relied on photographs, being careful to use only those appropriate to the period. The result, however, has captured the busy appearance of the underside of the masts.

For the remainder of the details I used a combination of PE brass and brass wire. I made the yardarms and antenna spreaders primarily from lengths of brass glued with superglue. The upper most part of the main mast was made from some old yardarms from a sailing ship model. The railings were primarily from the Tom's set since they were pre-cut. However, they are pre-cut for the 1941 configuration, so I had a lot of cutting and reshaping to due. The ladders on the mainmast legs are also from Tom's. I made the cable runs for the fire control circuits from fine brass wired laid in parallel. The ships, bells removed from the kit legs were reattached as appropriate for 1936.

Mast undersides showing added details

 

 

 

Part III will include a discussion of:
Painting the ship and teak decks
Adding the major subassemblies
Finishing the foremast

Back to Part 1...

On to Part 3...

 


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