Finished and delivered to customer!
Posted by Don Murphy on October 22, 2012, 7:32:48, in reply to "Work in progress: 1/350th scale USS Des Moines"
This kit is the Yankee Modelworks USS Salem heavy cruiser kit that I have converted to USS Des Moines. She's a sexy, beautiful ship spanning that weird period right after World War two but right before the Cold War got into full swing. So she has long, smooth lines and just enough turrets and guns to make her a beautiful addition to any kind of diormama or collection. However, be warned that she is a shelf-filling twenty-six inches long and sits close to ten inches tall when finished. |
I did just a little bit of rust - not too much, just enough to make the point (the ship was the flagship after all!). The ship is a resin kit with white metal parts and photo etch. The twin three inch guns are white metal and are in two pieces. The white metal main gun barrels were totally useless so I threw them away and used brass tubing. The blast bags are molded in to the turrets which makes it easier to build, plus home-made blast bags are a pain in the ass. The Des Moines class were armed with the then-state of the art rapid-fire eight inch guns.
The USS Des Moines' secondary weapons consist of the tried and tested, combat proven twin five inch gun in six twin turrets. These rapid fire guns were absolute plane-slayers in the anti-aircraft role. The three inch gun mounts replaced the World War Two quadruple forty millimeter gun mounts. The five inchers are the same story as the main turrets: resin with white metal. This kit was built as a commission build for a veteran of the ship. Were I to do another for me, I'd use L'Arsenal brass barrels.
The masts were white metal rods with pretty extensive diagrams as to how to construct the masts. The radars themselves are multiple parts and are really not as difficult as they look. Just time consuming. The photo etch is just the right combination of easy to bend and rigid. The fire control directors are all clunky white metal as well. If I do another kit for me, I would use the L'Arsenal resin ones.
The kits extensive photo etch sheets contain loads of world war two and post war Navy sensors. As our customer father was onboard her as an Engineman during the 1961 decommissioning cruise, I was able to leave a lot of the antennas and radar dishes off. The USS Des Moines' final configuration portrays the ship right before the guided missile age really took off, so her Cold War fit is pretty minimal.
Here's a closeup of the aft-mast's main radar platform. The kit requires a small bit of scratchbuilding for the main masts but nothing that isn't easily accomplished. The fan shaped antenna is a late-World War Two vintage counter measures systems. The main radar is a surface search setup. The Des Moines Class heavy cruisers would see action during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, although the USS Des Moines herself would end up being decommissioned in 1961.
The aft superstructure fire control area. The Des Moines' gunnery was state of the art for it's day. Had these ships seen action in the Pacific, the war would have been over two years quicker. Imagine Tassafaronga Strait or Sunda Strait with Des Moines and her sisters taking on the Japanese? Likewise, the Savo Island battle would have had a different outcome. Anti-aircraft sensors and weaponry plus the lastest anti-mine and SONAR made these very capable ships.
Here's a close up of the forward bridge superstructure and all of it's many whip antennas. This part of the build was a pretty time consuming build item, but I was smart (this time) and left it until the last possible moment so as not to damage/bend any of the many antennas. The bridge windows and their window shutters were an equally interesting part of the build process. You're looking at easily over fifty photo etch pieces.
The USS Des Moines Class heavy cruisers as-built, had two rotating aircraft catapults aft and carried four aircraft in the huge stern hangar. Once the float planes were considered obscelete, the deck carried boats and an occassional helicopter. On a historical note, when President Eisenhower visited the Med he visited the US Navy's Sixth Fleet and stayed onboard the fleet flagship, USS Des Moines during his travels.
The USS Des Moines ("Daisy May") was decommissioned from the active list of US Navy ships in 1961. Prior to that, she was the flagship of the US Sixth Fleet. The kit is extremely detailed and builds in to a nice, large, beautiful ship. The ship was purchased by a son as a gift for his father this Christmas. He took delivery of it on Friday and will be heading back home where a friend of his will make the display/presentation case. I'll be sure to post photos of the veteran when he's reunited with his old girl.