Finally, a long-awaited need is met! – an injection-molded 1/700 styrene plastic kit of the USS Maryland at Pearl Harbor (December 1941), in correct appearance. A good value, an easy build, and a fine-looking model with some photo etch.
USS Maryland BB46
The USS Maryland (nicknamed Fighting Mary or Old Mary by her crew) was the second ship of the three-ship Colorado class, one of the Big 5 (including the very similar Tennessee and California, the last US battleship classes built before naval treaties expired before World War II). She was laid down in 1917, launched in 1920, and commissioned in 1921. When built, they were regarded among the most powerful warships in the world, mounting eight 16-inch guns. She was a flagship and took many cruises before World War II, and was stationed at Pearl Harbor on Battleship Row inboard of the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941. She received two bomb hits forward, with four dead. Being minimally damaged, she was rapidly repaired and served the first year of the war as a backstop for Hawaii, the US West Coast, Midway, Fiji, New Hebrides, Espiritu Santo, and other forward bases in case heavy Japanese forces broke through. Like other older battleships, she was too slow to follow the carriers and was relegated to non-frontline duties and shore bombardment, which she performed admirably. Because of her availability and 16-inch main battery, she never had the appearance-changing refit that other old battleships underwent until war’s end. After a quick refit at the end of 1942, she filled shore bombardment roles at Tarawa, Kwajalein, Saipan, Peleliu, Leyte, and Okinawa, earning seven battle stars. She participated in the final battleship-battleship exchange at Surigao Strait where she helped to sink the Yamashiro. She was torpedoed at Saipan, causing a mangled bow, and was struck by a kamikaze aircraft at Leyte, and again at Okinawa. She was finally modernized in July 1945, but too late to see action again. She served in the Magic Carpet fleet bringing US servicemen and women back to the US. She was mothballed in 1947 and scrapped in 1959.
What You Get
Parts were packaged extremely well – a lot of cushioning was wrapped around pieces, especially the pointy parts of the hull. All parts arrived in good shape. Trumpeter has wisely designed their kit content with the intent to be used for all three Colorado class battleships, and (hopefully) also in their different guises as the war progressed, as the sprue designations indicate. Thus, you will see Colorado on the backs of some pieces. You get fifteen sprues containing 431 parts, plus the upper hull, lower hull, bottom plate, stand, front and rear decks, a 12-page instruction booklet, one decal sheet with flags and aircraft markings, and a small brass photo etch fret for cage masts, catapults, and cranes (not railings or weapons). Over 441 pieces in all – a lot for a 1/700 scale kit. Obviously, there will be many leftover pieces, which are always appreciated by modelers – only about 250 were used to build the kit. Parts are detailed and sharp with no flash, indicating a new mold. Kit is complete for 1941 fit without railings or rigging. The hull, decks, and major pieces have a lot of fine detailing, and the wood deck scribing is intense and perhaps a little over-scale, but this looks better than a featureless deck. The aircraft sprue with two O2SU Kingfishers is clear – a good idea.
The kit hull measures 272.5mm, or 626 feet, very close to the actual 624 feet found in references for 1941. Kit beam, including large bulges, corresponds to 110 feet, very close to the actual 108 feet for her first-in-class, early 1941 bulge refit, which makes the kit close to accurate for her Pearl Harbor appearance. The kit deck itself measures 92 feet across, which is slightly narrower than the listed 98 feet beam for this time period (deck beam plus armor belt). Close enough!
Trumpeter has shifted some of the injection stubs to better locations on parts than in earlier model kits. This makes clean-up easier and is much appreciated. The instructions say to read it carefully and that is good advice – this kit has a lot of parts and some are not going to be used. By not reading the instructions carefully enough, I made a few rookie mistakes that, fortunately, were not fatal. I immediately decided to make my model a waterline version, so after looking at the instructions, I determined that I could glue the red bottom plate to the hull with Tamiya Extra Thin Cement. I sanded and scraped the bottom plate to be flush with the hull. I usually do not put the waterline stripe on most waterline models since most WW2 warships were overloaded before the war started, even at anchor in port. It also means less work not to mask and paint a thin stripe. Or, you can leave off the bottom plate. Photographs of the Maryland at Pearl Harbor showed the black stripe was not visible, although this might have been due to the flooding forward from the two bomb hits.
I prefer to follow my own sequence of building rather than closely following instructions. First, as always, wash the sprues with soapy water and rinse well to remove anything that impedes paint adherence. This time, I planned to approach painting this kit differently. Instead of hand-painting the decks and their itty-bitty accouterments by hand, I first airbrushed the deck color to the three deck pieces (and to insides of boats). When dry, copious amounts of masking tape were applied to cover all the wood deck color, leaving exposed the areas that needed to be Dark Gray. This traded hours of tiny paintbrush work for hours of cutting tiny pieces of tape. It also cuts down on brush marks and several rounds of touch-ups. Next, I needed to remove and clean up all pieces that needed to be Dark Gray, including the hull. That was a lot of pieces, and the majority of time spent on this kit is in cleaning up parts and adhering them to double-sided tape on cardboard for airbrushing. And yes, this is a better way to go. This kit was easy for this method because almost everything was Dark Gray, even horizontal surfaces.
The plan was to get the hull finished first and main decks second, then remove, clean up, and paint parts and subassemblies third, then build from down to up, from middle to ends. This makes it easier to attach parts, deal with seams or touchups without other assemblies being in the way, and lessens the risk of breaking subassemblies because of less-than-perfect fit. So, right away, I disagree with the instructions and recommend putting the bottom plate on first (Step 3), not last (Step 17)! Saves a lot of trouble sanding the seam and painting and handling the model. I have seen many otherwise beautifully done models with an ugly seam to the bright red bottom plate that ruined the workmanship on the rest of the model.
My build concept was to add the decks, then add subassemblies/pieces to them. One problem with this approach is that main gun turrets A & D have retainers glued underneath the deck so they can rotate and not fall off. That means cleaning up all parts and airbrushing them the main color once, adding additional paint colors, and then starting assembly.
All pieces were removed from sprues and cleaned up and taped to cardboard and airbrushed. I built the bridge as a subassembly stand-alone unit first. Other subassemblies were completed, and paint touch-up was done. Turrets A & D with their retainers were mounted on the main decks. Main decks were then added to the hull – they fit very nicely with virtually no seams. In fact, the rear deck was not glued, it fit so well. The casemate 5in 51 low-angle guns were installed after adding the superstructure walls. The deck covering the low-angle 5in guns was not a good fit in spite of sanding the casemate walls, leaving a few seams at the junction of the superstructure and the AA gun/boat deck. (In retrospect, building the bridge as a subassembly was a mistake. I should have built it up from the AA gun/boat deck, sanding the top as I worked my way up. So I did not follow my maxim and the bridge did not fully seat on the deck. In fact, it is noticeably tilted to starboard.) The pattern continued the higher up the bridge decks went. So, take my advice and build up to the bridge from the AA gun/boat deck, and not as a separate subassembly. This also had negative ramifications for the B turret, which now hit the bridge if rotated, and then A turret, too – a domino effect. Normally, I would tear up the bridge and start over, but this is a review kit with a deadline, and one purpose of reviews is to point out trouble spots. I also made a few rookie mistakes all by myself by not paying attention – the port photo etch boat crane was mounted backwards, which is why it faces forward, but that is artistic license. I also did not notice the mainmast (aftmost) cage mast fighting top was not in register. Getting that piece off would have seriously bent the photo etch cage mast, since cyanoacrylate glue needs to be used with photo etch, so I will have to live with this for a while. But otherwise, I was impressed with the fit of most pieces. One other observation – some of the mounting holes for deck parts needed to be enlarged a bit, easily done with an X-Acto blade. Once assembly began, this was an easy and fast kit to build.
Photo etch versions of cranes and spars were used whenever possible – they are superior to the plastic kit pieces. Photo etch parts were very delicate and needed care to prevent crushing them. They are easy to remove from the fret and fold easily. A touch of cyanoacrylate glue will keep them in good shape. Cage masts have always presented a difficulty for manufacturers of US battleships. They are almost impossible to make correctly without photo etch. I was expecting big trouble, but these examples went together easily. They make the kit look realistic and fit on the decks well. Trumpeter deserves praise for their photo etch cage masts.
The Kingfisher floatplanes looked good enough, but the fit of the lower fuselage/main float was very poor, leaving a large seam that I did not fix (yet). Also, there was no way to attach the floats to the two catapults. I used plastic and a photo etch sled from my IJN spare parts box (close enough). This way, the Kingfishers sit up straight and pretty.
The painting guide supplied with the instructions is not as accurate as I would like. The hull, vertical surfaces, and non-wood deck color is listed as Blue Gray, when it is known to be 5-D Dark Gray, the standard Measure 1 camouflage most US warships had at the time (see Snyder & Short Enterprises, http://www.shipcamouflage.com). This was a dark gray, not a blue-gray. Model Master makes this color, so it was chosen as the main color for Maryland for the hull, vertical surfaces, and non-wood decks. Wood decks were Tamiya XF-57 Buff, which I normally use for wood decks, and also for inside of ship’s boats. For the light color on the cage mast fighting tops, I chose Model Master 5-L Light Gray instead of actual white, as per Snyder & Short. Good thing I looked carefully at the instructions, because the deck with the secondary 5in low-angle armament will be visible somewhat through the openings for the guns. After being inside US warships a few times (museums), I chose Model Master 5-H Haze Gray to paint the gun deck that will be covered. This was painted by brush after the rest of the deck was airbrushed. 5-H Haze Gray was also used to paint the canvas tops of boats and the canvas bags on the main turrets. Other than the usual tidbits of Tamiya green and red (for running lights on the bridge) and Humbrol H11 Metallic for searchlights, this model had few colors. I used a Koh-i-Noor drafting pen (0.25 size) to fill portholes, bridge windows, Kingfisher engines, and other small holes with black India ink. When the model was completed, I sprayed Testors DullCoat to give everything a matte finish.
Some references hinted that the turret tops on Maryland were painted blue for identification purposes on training exercises. I decided not to add this variation because I could not find hard evidence, but it would certainly dress up and distinguish Maryland beside her almost identical sister ships.
The painting guide and decals were incorrect for Maryland’s Vought O2SU Kingfisher floatplanes. They depict a 1944 paint scheme and markings. At Pearl, Kingfishers had a lighter blue upper surface and light gray underside. I used P.R.U. Blue acrylic from Aircraft Colors for upper surfaces and Model Master 5-L Light Gray for undersides, after a primary undercoat of Floquil Pullman Green to simulate green interior color of US aircraft. Now, for the markings. In December 1941, these planes had a roundel with a blue background, a white star, and a red center, and no bars on the stars, unlike the kit’s decals. The rudder was red and white stripes. So, I did not use the kit decals for the Kingfishers. Instead, I went through my spares box and found some 1942 roundels, but they did not have the red center. Tamiya XF-7 Flat Red was spotted on each roundel after decal installation on the painted planes by a 0.008” brass rod dipped in paint. I did not attempt the red & white striped rudder.
The hull was very lightly weathered with Weather System Rust & Weather, Kit #FF-60 by Bragdon Enterprises, Georgetown, CA (www.bragdonent.com). I applied dark rust around the waterline to hide sanding and seam marks with the bottom plate, from the vertical hoses and around anchors. I generally do not weather the above-hull surfaces since they would have been fastidiously cleaned by the crew. I applied a little black on the funnel tops, but it is not noticeable against the Dark Gray color.
Decals were generous – extra hull numbers, two types of flags and jacks, and marking for the Kingfishers. Although I did not find photographic evidence of hull numbers on Maryland at Pearl Harbor, I applied them anyway. The US flag was applied to fishing line attached to a brass rod glued to the aft cage mast (mainmast), as per photographs of the ship during this time period, especially when underway. The blue jack was installed on a brass rod flagstaff – I also added a sloped flagstaff on the fantail behind the aircraft crane as per references. These additions meant that the kit did not have these parts, even though the kit painting guide shows flags on the finished model. Odd.
My thanks to MMD Squadron for the review kit and IPMS-USA for the review opportunity. Squadron also has accessories for this kit in case one wants photo etch, real wood decks, or other aftermarket parts. Trumpeter is to be commended for producing an affordable, accurate, and detailed 1/700 scale Pearl Harbor battleship other than Arizona – a need that has been unmet in less costly injection molded polystyrene kits. This kit is sufficiently detailed to build a good-looking model right out of the box, and is a very good base for additional super-detailing. The few glitches I encountered are more than offset by this kit’s good looks and value. If you want to build Pearl Harbor battleships, you cannot go wrong with this kit. Oh, and BTW, this kit would make a very nice West Virginia, California, or Tennessee. You could make reasonable copies of half the battleships at Pearl Harbor with this kit.
- Looks accurate for 1941 fit – both fittings and scale
- Full hull or waterline choice
- Detail on hull, superstructure sides, turrets, guns, decks, and deck fittings is good
- No seams across wood decks
- Scribed wood deck has perpendiculars
- Very good fit for major decks, with no seams
- Guns were close to scale for an injection-molded kit, something seldom seen
- Choice of canvas bags or not for main guns (Maryland had canvas bags at Pearl) – allows pre-1940 versions to be built
- Very nicely detailed and easy to fold photo etch set for cranes, catapult, fighting top spars, and cage masts (forget about the plastic kit pieces – use the photo etch!)
- Clear plastic aircraft to simulate a glass canopy
- Many extra parts (intended for sister ships and later war versions) – always appreciated and a big bonus! You get 14in main turrets, twin 5in turrets (no barrels), boats, photo etch and plastic radars, and various parts that are useful for other projects
- A good value – you get a long-ignored in 1/700 scale, complete-except-for-railings/rigging Pearl Harbor battleship with accurate appearance and good detail for a good price
- Instructions had no text to explain some nuances that were not obvious from the illustrations (see text for problem spots)
- No history or other description of Maryland – not a problem with all the resources available on the web nowadays
- Painting guide was incorrect for the main color – should be 5-D Dark Gray and not some Blue-Gray
- Painting guide showed Kingfishers in 1944 fit, not in 1941 fit (see text for the fix)
- Likewise, decals for Kingfishers were for 1944, not 1941.
- Hull numbers not seen during Pearl Harbor period, but were used later in the war
- No photo etch railings (commonly omitted in this scale)
- .50cal machine guns were somewhat puffy (but very difficult to mold in this scale and they had good detail)
- 5in low-angle guns were in enclosed casemates, but this kit had open casemates. Not very noticeable unless one wants utmost accuracy
- Sequence of build was not optimal (see text)
- Bridge should be built up from the deck and not as a separate subassembly to fit later
- Kingfisher bottom plate/float was a poor fit and there were no sleds to mount the floatplanes on the catapults
- Turrets A & B could not rotate more than a few degrees since the corners and rangefinders hit the superstructure/barbettes
- C turret (with the Kingfisher) also could not rotate without hitting the boat cranes next to it, especially since I added fishing line for their cables
- No flagstaffs to mount flags and jack
- Aircraft Colors P.R.U. Blue
- Humbrol 11 Metallic
- Model Master Acryl 4237 5-D Dark Gray
- Model Master Acryl 4238 5-H Haze Gray
- Model Master Acryl 4245 5-L Light Gray
- Tamiya XF-7 Flat Red
- Tamiya XF-15 Light Green
- Tamiya XF-57 Buff
- Testors DullCoat spray can
- Badsey S. Pearl Harbor. Mallard Press, 1991. ISBN 0-7924-5640-8
- Friedman N. U.S. Battleships. An Illustrated Design History. Naval Institute Press, Bethesda, MD, 1985. ISBN 0-87021-715-1
- Gibbons T. The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships. A technical directory of capital ships from 1860 to the present day. Crescent Books, New York, NY, 1983, pp.236-237. ISBN 0-517-378108
- Hreachmack P. The Painter’s Guide to World War Two Naval Camouflage. Clash of Arms Publishers, Inc., Phoenixville, PA, 1996. ISBN 1-85818-000-7
- Humble R. Battleships and Battlecruisers. Chartwell Books, London, UK, 1983. ISBN 0-89009-623-6
- Ireland B. Jane’s Battleships of the 20th Century. HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, 1996, p.162. ISBN 0-00-470997-7
- Lipiecki S. Big Five. American Battleships of the Tennessee and Colorado Classes. Part 1. Encyclopedia of Warships 36. AJ Press, Gdansk, Poland, 2003. ISBN 83-7237-124-5
- Lipiecki S. Big Five. American Battleships of the Tennessee and Colorado Classes. Part 2. Encyclopedia of Warships 37. AJ Press, Gdansk, Poland, 2004. ISBN 83-7237-146-6
- Newhart MR. American Battleships. A Pictorial History of BB-1 to BB-71, with Prototypes Maine & Texas. Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., Missoula, MT, 1995, p.66-67. ISBN 1-57510-004-5
- Smith MJ. Free State Battlewagon U.S.S. Maryland (BB-46). Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., Missoula, MT, 1986. ISBN 0-933126-76-X
- Sowinski L, Walkowiak T. United States Navy Camouflage 1 of the WW2 Era. The Floating Drydock, Kresgeville, PA, 1988. ISBN 0-944055-01-X
- Stern RC. U.S. Battleships in action. Part 1. Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., Carrollton, TX, 1980, pp.42-47. ISBN 0-89747-107-5
- Sturton I, Ed., All The World’s Battleships. 1906 to the Present. Conway Classics, London, UK, 1996, pp.175-176. ISBN 0-85177-691-4
- Terzibaschitsch S. Battleships of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Bonanza Books, New York, NY, pp.93-109. ISBN 0-517-23451-3
- Whitley MJ. Battleships of World War Two. An International Encyclopedia. Naval Institute Press, Bethesda, MD, 1998, pp.280-288. ISBN 1-55750-184-X
- https://www.shipcamouflage.com - Snyder & Short website on US Navy camouflage
- Figure 1: Trumpeter 05769 USS Maryland box art, Pearl Harbor appearance.
- Figure 2: Trumpeter 05769 USS Maryland parts.
- Figure 3: First deck (forward) of Trumpeter 05769 USS Maryland after deck color applied and with masking tape covering deck color, exposing items to be airbrushed 5-D Dark Gray..
- Figure 4: Decks after removing masking tape, showing untapped items airbrushed 5-D Dark Gray. Much easier than hand painting. Very little touch-up needed.
- Figure 5: Decks installed, showing 5-H Haze Gray on 5in low angle casemate gun deck.
- Figure 6: AAgun/boat deck installed. This step is where the bridge should have been built up from this deck – not built as a subassembly and added in toto to the deck.
- Figure 7: Starboard quarter overhead view of completed model in sunlight.
- Figure 8: Portside view of completed model in sunlight.
- Figure 9: Portside view of aft section of USS Maryland under spotlights. Shows off corrected light blue color for Kingfisher floatplanes, and added spars for US flag on cage mainmast.
- Figure 10: Portside view of USS Maryland bridge under spotlights. Notice the lack of casemate covers for the low angle 5in guns, forward-pointing boat crane and gap between bridge and deck.
- Figure 11: Starboard view of cage mainmast under spotlights, showing photoetched cage mast and aircraft crane. Notice the aircraft/boat crane next to turret C that prevents this turret from rotating. Also notice additional pieces added – fishing line and brass rod for US flag and aircraft/boat crane line. Also, the misattachment of the fighting top.
- Figure 12: Overhead view in sunlight showing the large bulges and deck layout of USS Maryland in 1941.
- Figure 13: Action shot of USS Maryland near Kaho’olawe firing range. Actually, this is from my backyard with Mount Peavine in the background, which does look like Kaho’olawe when out of focus.
- Figure 14: Comparison of contemporaries: Overhead quarter photo in sunlight of IJN Nagato and USS Maryland. Both were built about the same time and were their countries’ most powerful weapons for 20 years. Both carried 16in main guns and were refitted with large bulges to improve protection. Nagato was longer and faster than Maryland but less armored.