I purchased this resin kit from a private party through a well-known (to this group) modelers' website, thinking it would be a relatively easy build. However, building a resin kit such as this requires the skills of a sculptor as well as those of a modeler. 1/350 kits of predreadnought battleships are rare, especially those that never saw any enemy action. The USS Illinois was the first of the "modern" US battleships in the sense that she had counterbalanced main turrets (in the British style) rather than pillbox-shaped ones in which the weight of the main gun barrels, when aimed broadside, could actually cause a list in that direction. She is depicted as from around her commissioning in 1901, and pretty much as she would have looked during the round-the-world cruise of the Great White Fleet between 1907 and 1909. I painted her with Testor's flat white and flat red spray paint, WEM Colourcoats buff, Tamiya tan for the decks and ModelMaster gunmetal for the gun barrels.
ISW's USS Illinois kit is all resin except for a small brass photoetch fret for the railings and some brass rods for the upper masts and spars. The kit includes some very poorly made main 13-in. gun barrels and no barrels at all for the fourteen casemated 6-in. .40 cal secondary guns; there is an assortment of crude light guns (on the USS Illinois these totaled sixteen 6-pdr./57 mm and six 3-pdr./37 mm). The printed instructions are very crude and so sloppily done that even the ship's name is misspelled (as "USS ILLIONIS"); I had to rely on photographs downloaded from the internet to determine where the small guns should go and how to rig her. I fashioned these small guns from spare plastic single mount anti-aircraft guns but use stretched black sprue for the 57-mm barrels and some Master Model 37 mm brass barrels (these guns went on the fighting tops and a couple more presumably on the boat deck). Four of the 57-mm guns would have gone into the small casemates near the stern, but in most photos of the ship these seem to have been withdrawn into the hull (if not removed entirely) and so I omitted them. The 13-in./.35 cal. main gun barrels (the Illinois class was the last to carry this size) were from B&D, and I purchased the brass gun barrel set for the Mikasa from Master Models to provide the fourteen 6-in. gun barrels (I'll use the four 12-in. guns as an upgrade on my IJN Mikasa later). The ISW kit also lacked any boat davits and enough ladders, but I had these in my spare parts box to complete the model. The kit specified a single ventilator funnel at the end of the rear bridge, but every photo I saw of this part of the ship showed two. The kit had more than enough ventilators (though they all had considerable overfill and had to be trimmed), but not enough well-made small boats, so I added a few extras. The four small projecting arms from each upper fighting top came from spare brass photoetch. I also had to scratchbuild the two anchor hoists, since these were also missing from the kit. The ISW kit included 4 or 5 propellers but I decided to use a couple of brass ones from my spare parts box that were the same size and shape.
The single hull was very well molded above the waterline, but after cutting off the overpour slug on the keel I had to add a considerable amount of putty to fill in all the bubbles, flatten the keel (it was slightly concave), and make the cutwater at the ram bow sharper. I also used Evergreen 2.5 mm styrene angled strips, tapered at the ends, for the four bilge keels, since the molded on ones were much too small. Lastly, the kit did not include any flags or decals; I made a modestly successful attempt to place the name on her stern (with a sharpie pen) and I downloaded images of 45-starred U.S. flags from the internet, using Photoshop when printing to adjust their size to a length of about 13 mm.