USS Arizona BB-39 1935 
by Steve Sobieralski 
USS Arizona_01

1/200 USS Arizona BB-39 1935 (Trumpeter)

This is the USS Arizona as she appeared in about 1935.  The model is 1/200 scale and was built from the Trumpeter USS Arizona kit.

Before I began work on the Trumpeter kit I had decided that I did not want to build the ship as she appeared on, or immediately preceding, the morning of December 7, 1941.  Rather, her appearance sometime in the mid-1930s held more appeal for me for several reasons:

  1. I wanted to show her as she appeared in happier times, not as she sat like a sitting duck waiting to be blown up
  2. In her entire life I find Arizona’s late 1941 appearance to be her least attractive.  To me, the triangular truss signal yardarms on the foremast detract hugely from her appearance, and the empty gun tubs, radar platforms, director platforms and catapults may be correct from the point of view of historical accuracy but, to my eye, would look a bit as if the modeler ran out of time or lost interest.
  3. Mid-thirties biplanes with their yellow wings and brightly colored tails and cowlings are much more interesting than gray and white Kingfishers.
  4. And, of course, by not doing a December 7 model one avoids the whole controversy of blue vs gray vs ?  There is no doubt what colors she was painted in the 1930s.

After a little research, I decided that c. 1935 was the time frame I would shoot for. The mid-1930s were, arguably, the “heyday” of the American battle fleet.  The naval supremacy of the battleship was unquestioned and, in many ways, the country’s pride, power and international prestige were embodied in these ships. There are plenty of photos and film footage of Arizona from this time period, and a fairly comprehensive set of drawings is available in Paul Stillwell’s book, albeit at a rather small scale.

The modifications required to back-date the ship six years were mainly confined to the superstructure, specifically the bridge, funnel, mast platforms and spotting tops.  There were essentially no changes to be made on the main and upper decks.  On the superstructure deck the 5” 28 cal. gun shields were removed and two additional 5” 51 cal. guns were added at the forward end.  Fortunately, because of Trumpeter’s sprue arrangement, two extra 5” 51 guns are provided in the kit.  I also added the two large boiler room vents midships, an often overlooked detail, probably because they are almost completely hidden under the ship’s boats.

The bridge structure received a few modifications, mainly associated with the removal of the Mk 1 AA director mounts and the provision of raised circular platforms for the altiscopes.  The aircraft defense position was removed and the foremast machine gun platform was reconfigured.  The funnel was cut down to match the 1935 height and tubs for the Mk 19 AA directors were installed.  The four searchlights were moved from the mainmast searchlight platform to their original position on the funnel. Modifications to the mainmast included the removal of the AA “birdbath” from the spotting top and the relocation of the four 50 cal. machine guns and ammo boxes to the reconfigured former searchlight platform.  Pole masts and signal yards were also modified to match 1935.

 Early on I made the decision to plank the deck with 1”x1/32”x1/32” bass wood strips (approximately 16’x6”x6” in scale.)  The plank layout on the kit’s plastic decks is incorrect (plank butts align at every other plank course rather than at every fourth) and the modifications and deletions to change from 1941 to 1935 left multiple exposed holes and troughs which would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to fill and blend into the cast deck planking.  Please refer to the attached photos for some views of the modifications and planking in progress.

The O2U aircraft were sourced from an online 3D print shop and bits from the various Eduard photo etch sets for Arizona were used to enhance some areas of the model. I began work on the model back in 2010, put it away for several years, and finally finished it in late 2019.

Steve Sobieralski

Gallery updated 12/23/2021