Kit: No. 05306
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555
Comments: Injection-molded, 544 parts, decals
Pros: Good molding detail, including open gun barrels, paint guide, and waterline or full-hull options
Cons: Some fit problems; no rigging diagram; some missing details
The USS Massachusetts, one of four South Dakota-class battleships, was laid down in July 1939 and commissioned in May 1942. She fought in the Battle of Casablanca, damaging the French battleship Jean Bart. Also known as "Big Mamie," she remains on display in Fall River, Mass. Having visited the ship twice, I was excited that Trumpeter made the ship available in her 1946 fit.
The kit is molded in light gray plastic except for the lower hull and optional waterline plate, which are red plastic. The box states the kit has 365 parts - there are actually 544.
I chose to build the ship with a full hull. Deck seams are frequently troublesome on a ship model, but these are covered by the deck structure above, reducing the visible seams to a little more than 1/8" in four easy-to-fill spots. There is individual planking detail, but the planks are over scale. Hatches are nicely detailed.
The fit of the superstructure was poor in some areas. For example, platform-support parts G46 and part G13 do not line up well under the platforms. I filled the seams with Milliput two-part epoxy mixed with water. Deck bulkhead parts A8 through A11, A16, and A17 are nicely detailed but are higher than the next deck level. I had to shave them flush with the deck. Funnel-halves G1 and G2 needed .020" strips of styrene to fill the gaps at their bottoms.
I liked the way Trumpeter marked the anti-aircraft, splinter shield, and main gun positions on the underside of the main deck. Most anti-aircraft guns and splinter shield positions on the main deck and gun turrets must be drilled out, allowing the model to be backdated to an earlier fit without having to fill holes in the deck or main guns.
You can build the two sets of main gun barrels with or without blast bags; without blast bags, the barrels can be elevated. I chose to show blast bags, although they would look more realistic if they were wrinkled.
The main gun barrels also come drilled out (in other models, I have had to drill them out myself), as do the portholes. Many deck details are separately molded, making painting easier.
I was disappointed that many of the AA gun tubs are too thick, improperly shaped, and lack support detail. Also, a prominent boom on the forward superstructure is missing, even though it is shown in the box art. The chocks are molded closed and on the hull. They would be better if they were opened up, which I did. One chock is missing on the stern.
The kit provides a color painting guide showing the Measure 22 scheme. I painted it with Model Master Marine Acryl 5-H haze gray, 5-N Navy blue, 20-B deck blue, and anti-fouling red.
The decals have good color and settled well with setting solution. Items such as cranes, radars, and catapults would be improved with photoetched metal. I did not use the nameplate on the kit-supplied stand because Massachusetts is misspelled.
Although the instructions show adding details as you go, I chose to build the entire ship, paint it, then add the details.
The model took 110 hours to build, due in part to seam cleanup and paint masking. This is not an unreasonable amount of time for a ship of this size and complexity, and I'm pleased with the model. Add some aftermarket parts and you will have a real show-stopper. I recommend it to shipbuilders with a few kits under their belt.