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In-Box Review
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by: Karl Zingheim [ CAPTSONGHOUSE ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

This inbox review takes us on a closer look into Trumpeter Models new 1/700 scale release of the USS South Dakota, BB-57.

Vessel Background

With the lapse of the naval limitation treaties in the mid-1930’s, the major powers turned to fresh designs for their renewed capital ship construction programs. Thanks to recent breakthroughs in high-steam propulsion, battleships could now carry large guns, extensive armor, and produce speeds approaching 30 knots. For the U. S. Navy, this last factor would be critical for the support of carrier operations across the vast Pacific.

The two-ship North Carolina class was the first of these new generation battleships built in America and in 1937 the South Dakota class of four ships was designed with an eye towards higher sustained speeds on a shorter hull. This required more powerful turbine engines and to get all the machinery to fit, boilers, engines, and even distillation equipment shared common spaces. This arrangement led to the distinctively compact and narrow superstructure which improved the quantity and arcs of fire for the heavy anti-aircraft armament topside. Another feature was a unique inclined armor belt recessed in a well which ran the midships length of the hull above the waterline.

Like the other American fast battleships, the South Dakotas carried nine 16-inch guns and a secondary battery of twin 5-inch 38-calibre mounts; though because of the space needed to provide fleet flagship facilities, the South Dakota featured eight such mounts instead of the ten in her sisters. Provision was made for shipping quantities of automatic anti-aircraft weapons, originally the 1.1-inch quad mount, but by 1943 the South Dakota was sporting 16 of the quad 40mm Bofors mounts as well as an extensive arrangement of the 20mm Oerlikon.

Laid down on 5 July 1939, the South Dakota was commissioned in New Jersey on 20 March 1942 and in August reported to the South Pacific theatre. Grounding on a coral pinnacle required repairs at Pearl Harbor but she was available for the Battle of Santa Cruz on 26 October 1942 where her powerful anti-aircraft battery held defend the carrier Enterprise from heavy Japanese air attacks at the cost of a 500-lb bomb hit on her forward turret. Pounding about at flank speed, the South Dakota’s hull form produced a large trough wall in her wake which the escorting destroyer Smith used to douse her flaming bow from a torpedo plane crash.

Just weeks later she teamed up with the battleship Washington and intercepted a Japanese bombardment force which included the battleship Kirishima. In a costly night melee, the South Dakota received up to 42 hits of various calibers topside, wreak havoc amongst the control stations but not threatening her watertight integrity. Repairs required a trip to New York and by the summer of 1943 the South Dakota was operating briefly with the British Home Fleet. She later transferred back to Pacific where she escorted the fast carriers, receiving another bomb hit at the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, and occasionally conducted shore bombardment missions, including against the Japanese home islands in 1945. Decommissioned in 1947, she was held in reserve until sold for scrapping in 1962.

Ship Characteristics

Length: 680 feet
Beam: 108 feet
Displacement: 35,000 tons
Speed: 27 knots
Armament: nine 16-inch guns
sixteen 5-inch 38-calibre guns in twin mounts
sixty-eight 40mm guns in quadruple mounts
seventy-six 20mm guns
Complement: 2354

And now, the kit...

The Trumpeter kit comes in a sturdy corregated box with color art work and a concise history of the ship on the box top. A comprehensive 12-page instruction booklet features the sprue layouts and a logical construction sequence that is well illustrated and takes advantage of the ship’s layered superstructure design. In addition, a single full color marking guide is included with recommended paint codes from five prominent hobby paint manufacturers.

The Hull

The model can be built either full hull or waterline. The underwater hull features the twin skeg arrangement of the outer propellers and has locators for the inner struts and rudders. An interrupted bilge keel is molded on the hull sides near the turn of the bilge. The upper hull is molded in one piece including the complex inclined armor belt well amidships. A boat boom is also molded on either quarter but follows the curve of the shell plating. A series of closed chocks is also featured on the bow and stern, though they look like solid masses. A waterline plate is also provided for the waterline alternative.

The Deck

The main deck is molded in one piece and includes the foundation and deck top of the next level where the lower 5-inch mounts are located. Anchor chain is molded on the forecastle and all the wood portions of the deck feature delicate, inscribed planking. Bulwarks for the 20mm galleries are also molded on, but are off scale in thickness. The fit of the deck to the hull is tight and follows the sheer of the hull.

The Sprue Trees
Ten trees are provided, including a clear one for two Kingfisher float planes. The moldings are flash free and feature fine raised detail.

Sprue A
This tree sports 32 small parts ranging from the superstructure to propellers.

Sprue B
There are two of these in the kit and are predominantly anti-aircraft guns. Since these sprues appear to be common with the other ships in the class, there are two extra 5-inch mounts left over, a boon for kitbahsers!

Sprue C
Another twin set of sprues covers the main armament which yields a spare turret and an extra 16-inch barrel. Blast bags are molded on.

Sprue D
The main parts of the superstructure are included here, although the thick bulwarks and even smooth angled chutes representing inclined ladders are molded on. A name plate in English is also included.

Sprue E
Decks and bulkheads for the upper levels are presented with the thick bulwarks.

Sprue L

Masts, radars, and the funnel cap predominate here, The hollowed-out grills on the cap is a nice touch.

Sprue K
Additional superstructure details are included.

A sturdy one-piece stand molded in matt black (originally produced for the 1:700 Kuznetsov kit is included as well.

Decal Sheet
A simple decal sheet with the jack, national ensigns, and national markings for the Kingfishers are included.

Edit. note
CAD images courtesy of Trumpeter Models.
Highs: Trumpeter has produced a remarkable kit of the unique South Dakota in the popular 1:700 scale line.
Lows: The only drawbacks of note are the overly thick bulwarks which would be tricky to remove from the fine deck planking and the odd smooth chutes for ladders.
Verdict: Given the particularly colorful combat history of this ship, having her represented in a common scale is a must for Pacific War afficiniados. Definitely recommended.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:700
  Mfg. ID: 05760
  Suggested Retail: $39.95 MSR
  Related Link: Trumpeter Product Page
  PUBLISHED: Oct 13, 2009
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Stevens International!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Karl Zingheim (CaptSonghouse)

I am the staff historian for the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. I've been modeling since age 5 and specialize in naval dioramas. Larger scales (for ships) is my preference as is naval warfare up to 1945. The more that comes out in 1:350, the better!

Copyright ©2021 text by Karl Zingheim [ CAPTSONGHOUSE ]. All rights reserved.


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