Part I: Building the Boston
Posted by Mike Kozlowski (via Matty) on February 6, 2010, 17:45:37, in reply to "Mike Kozlowski's Revell 1/480 BOSTON, In Progress"
-- Originally Posted January, 2008 -- |
"Yes, it’s IMHO – but I think that the most elegant, purposeful, and deadly looking warships the modern USN ever commissioned were its 1950’s missile cruisers. In the space of just a few years, the USN put to sea with the Boston class (Boston, Canberra), the Galveston class (Galveston, Little Rock, Oklahoma City), the Providence class (Providence, Springfield, Topeka), the Long Beach, and started on the Chicagos (Chicago, Albany, Columbus). These ships, mostly based on WWII CG and CA hulls (Long Beach was the only new build) were beautifully designed and have a unique appeal all their own to the modern ship modeler.
Click on Image to EnlargeThe Lady In Question – USS Boston CAG-1 (Photo courtesy United States Navy)
The problem is that the model companies have never really agreed. Boston and the Galveston/Providence classes were on the shelves quickly, as was Long Beach (Chicago, probably Monogram’s loveliest ship kit, came out at the very end of the Box Scale era, but more than a decade after the ship entered service), but the kits have been in production only intermittently since then, and with the exception of some beautiful – but expensive – resin kits, not genuinely available for years. The one everybody wanted was the old Boston, which was available through the early 70s but had disappeared since then. Unlike the Providence (or Galveston, depending on the box), it was pretty accurate though it brought a lot of pieces over from Revell’s Baltimore class CA kits. It even had a marginally accurate hull, at least above the waterline. And since it was box scale, it worked out to 1/480 scale – big enough to have fun with, not so big that it would take over the house. Well, our prayers were answered in the spring of 2007 when Revell of Germany released the Boston as part of a 3-ship set. Mine showed up within days of the release, and I decided that I was going to make this beast the best I possibly could. What follows is how I did it.
First things first: open the doggone box. You get three kits in there, two of which are actually worth building: Boston and the seaplane tender Currituck. Well, we know the Boston is staying, and I found a good home for Currituck – which, with some PE and TLC, can become a unique and outstanding kit on its own, especially with the well-scaled Martin PBM that comes with it. However, the third kit is the awesomely bad Revell USS Nautilus (SSN-571). You do get decals (decent quality but lousy graphics) and the classic Revell flag sheet – which is very well printed, by the way.
What do you get? Well, the Boston is molded in gray plastic, and the moldings are
very crisp with almost no flash. This is the kit I remember from the old days, flaws and all. I suspect the molds may have been cleaned up considerably, because every other pop I’ve ever seen of the Boston had enough flash to build a couple of escort ships. I’m going to take a brief but important detour for a moment to take a look at the Boston, the kit it came from (Revell’s long-lived Baltimore class CA), and what was probably the best Baltimore hull ever molded, Monogram’s Chicago from the early 70s.
Click on Image to EnlargeCruisers Of the Heavy Kind: Boston(top), Baltimore(middle), Chicago(bottom)
Without question, Revell started with a set of Baltimore molds, but took it from there.
The foc’sle is changed, as is most notably the stern – the Pittsburgh (for such is the kit I have), as well as the Helena and Los Angeles (the other Revell releases of the kit) had a rounded transom – but Boston had a square transom, and this is accurately reproduced here.
Click on Image to EnlargeFantails – Boston(left) and Baltimore(right)
The two kits scale out to about 1/480 using a LOA of 673’5". I suspect they may be
just a touch narrow in the beam, but it’s hard to be sure with the measuring gear I’ve got here at the Kozlowski Labs. Let’s look, though, at the Monogram Chicago, with it’s beautifully molded hull:
Click on Image to EnlargeBeantown vs. Chitown: Boston(top) and Chicago(bottom)
One can see why the Chicago hull is so well regarded – note the sharp plating and armor belt lines. The problem here is that the Chicago comes in at 1/500…just about an inch too short to be used with the Revell Boston/Baltimore deck, and with the rounded transom to boot. The Chicago hull also has a much more pronounced ‘knuckle’ on the foc’sle, which is absolutely correct. Note also that the Chicago has the correct sheer running aft from the foc’sle, whereas the Boston does not. Finally, the sides of the foc’sle should have some sheer in it as well – but clearly doesn’t. The weapons are…well, a decidedly mixed bag.
Click on Image to EnlargeThe Main Battery – the 8" turrets from the Boston kit.
The turret you see above has already started the mods necessary to turn it into an accurate replica. As it comes off the tree, it’s got three huge square bumps on the aft face, which bear no resemblance whatsoever to these:
Click on Image to EnlargeThe real turrets will please stand up: Boston in overhaul during the early 60s (Photo courtesy United States Navy)
From the pic above, the structures on the aft turret faces appear to be racks for holding life jackets – any thoughts on this are welcome - and notice that whatever they are, they’re shaped differently on each turret. But in any event, they gotta come off. In addition, the turrets have no sighting hoods (visible just behind the barrel weather covers above) and the cylindrical objects on the forward top of the turret are way over scale. The weather covers, by the way, are almost unrecognizable as such and they’re gonna have to go too. The good news is that the barrels themselves are quite nice and just need minor cleanup. Both turrets are missing the antennae and handling gear that are visible on the real thing, but that’s all doable. The final call is that the 8" turrets are more than salvageable with a little work.
The 5" DP mounts and the 3" mounts are another story entirely. They can be made to at least resemble a standard 5" DP mount, but it’s going to take a lot of work. The 3" guns at least approximate the real thing, but they are basically just blank shapes. The Terrier missiles are actually quite accurate, if a little thick. The launchers themselves are good, though with no detail. The missile directors are the Mk25s that Boston was commissioned with, and actually aren’t too bad, just requiring a little detail to be added to make them quite presentable. Needless to say, of course, there are NO electronics represented at all other than rough radar-like shapes.
The deck and superstructure are another mixed bag, but they veer much closer to reality. The deck is laid out quite accurately, though there are problems with huge box-like moldings on the turret barbettes that simply don’t appear on the real thing. The fairly large areas of wooden decking are also represented, but they look to be slightly overscale with raised edges. The hatches and vents around the Terrier launchers are not represented at all, but that can be fixed. The standard molded-on rails are there, and can be easily removed with a good old #11 blade. For some reason, there are a couple of points where small sections of deck protrude over the side – I’m not at all sure what those were supposed to represent, but they definitely ain’t on the real thing.
The superstructure is pretty accurate, though there is NO detail on it at all. The vents that are on the stack are fairly accurate, and can be used as is. The gun directors are basically just approximate shapes, and I suspect they are a mite underscale. The bridge and flag bridge are there, but they look closer to the as-built configuration (open bridge with galleries) than the Boston conversion. One very pleasant surprise is the prominent lattice mast forward of the stack – considering when this kit was designed, it is very well done and flash-free, if just a little on the heavy side.
So – that’s where we stand when we open the box. Again, considering the age of this kit, it’s not that bad, but it can be made a whole lot better if we’re willing to do a little work – and I’m willing. Next time, we’re going to do the surgery necessary to get the hull display worthy – it’s a fair amount of work but all quite basic. Till then, hang in there!"