USS San Diego CL 53 
by Fred Branyan 

1/350 USS San Diego CL 53 (YMK)

This is the YKM  Atlanta model built  as the San Diego CL 53 as it appeared at the Battle of Santa Cruz, 10/26/1942.

A few words of thanks before getting into the model, mostly due to valuable help dealing with a very low quality kit.   First and foremost to CL 53 vet  George H.  Horton S1C battle station in mount 8 lower handling room as a shell passer for one of the photos used to match camo and critical info on details of the ship at that time, for example all boats offloaded confirmed by a poor quality aerial photo of the ship at the battle. George was on the ship for 3.5 years to include Santa Cruz. He also alerted me to the double rafts below the mid ship twin 20 mm mounts. Thanks to all builders of this model who put their photos on this site, without your samples thanks to the horrible kit instructions I would have been in deep trouble. This applies in particular to Matt Enochs, Keith Bender, and Richard Sliwka.  Martin Quinn and Keith Bender both provided advice on sealing the massive seams created by the poor quality of the fit on major components such as the upper/lower hull halves. Tony Bunch at  L’Arsenal  USA  provided technical info, advice on detail kits, and critically needed parts such as 20MM tubs.  Gabriel Djinn kindly donated the K gun spare charges, the K guns came from left over Iron Shipwright Sims class parts. Dave Winfield who very graciously  updated his site for free waving flags that were used for all flags on this model. Thank you Dave for adding a major dose of realism to this kit.  Last but far from least my good friend Professor Mike Nazarro for his continuing critical help in attaching models to wooden bases.

The photos used to do the camo scheme can be seen here (Scroll to page nine).  I used both navsource and  other related sites to find photos of all  4  Atlanta class ships.  For anyone else planning on doing one of these ships, a few accuracy notes if you are interested.  The aft mast had 4 signal lines on each side not 2, something I did not realize until after the mast was already in place.  The forward signal lines best I can figure out actually attached to the deck just in front of the mast not the signal line bags, except for the outermost lines. I could not figure out a way to do that easily so I used the bags. No lines from the masts to the bow/stern on CL 53-54, 51-52 did have them. Best I can figure out from the photos the flag staff was removed from the stern by the time these ships reached the combat zone, and the jack staff  folded down onto the deck when not in port confirmed by one photo I found. The method I used for the camo was the same as the one I used on Barton.  I am going to try to use a light table for the next project. The anti skid mats are based on the CL 54 aerial photos on navsource and were done with masking tape and flat black paint.  If anyone needs the photo collection I have please contact me.  Paints same as Barton except for Testors Gull Grey on the blast bags.

The flags on the signal lines are the navsource flag hoist radio call sign starboard side and the initials of  CL53 vets George H. Horton at the top and the OD when the ship went into Tokyo,  LT  Will D. Templeton, on the bottom of the port side outboard line.  George is 88,  Will is 93.  A WWII photo of George and one of him at the commissioning of the new San Diego are included with the model photos.  A WWII photo of Will is also included.  I used Eduard red life rings to match their respective battle stations, George’s in the lower handling room of mount 8, Will’s as Officer of the Deck on the  Nav Bridge.   The rigging is all nylon thread except for the horizontal lines which are EZLine.

Thanks George and Will for your service to our country.

The only scrathbuiding I did was on the masts and removal of the kit 20mm tubs on the bridge and stern replaced by L’Arsenal tubs.  I got the small items on the forward mast as close to reality as I could with my limited skills.

The following detail kits were used:


Fred Branyan

Gallery updated 7/9/2013