by George Pék
1/1200 USS Minnesota (Shangri-La Ironworks)
This was a courtesy build. A good friend of mine who is a fan of both 1:1200 scale and ‘never-weres’ requested me to build this kit for him. I found the model hardly worth the effort; the resin parts were poorly defined, lacking in detail, full of voids on just about at every corner, the bulwarks overly thick, the armament barely resembling the original. The kit portrayed the ship, had it been built in 1934, in her presumed 1942 guise.
The name is pure conjecture. There is not much information with regard to this project, just a line drawing in one of Norman Friedman’s books, but as the components of armament, radars, boats, searchlights, etc. should be more or less the same on every modern US battleships I chose to rely on USS North Carolina’s equipment in this respect.
At first I wanted to finish this build fast with little attention to detail but as the work progressed I raised the bar and tried to approach my usual 1:700 standard which, of course was impossible. Maybe I should have re-scribed the deck, but then I would have had to sand every detail off it, which I really did not feel like doing.
I did sand off the moulded-on anchor chains, breakwater, Oerlikons and 1.1 inch quads along with their bulwarks and tubs. I cut off all the superstructure decks and replaced them with aluminium sheet while the bulwarks were made of scrap PE. The bridge was drilled open and PE ladder stock was used afor the window frames. The armament is pretty much scratchbuilt, only the basic turrets deprived of barrels and moulded-on details have been used. Injection needles – of two thicknesses, sliding into each other in the case of the 14” barrels – replaced the resin barrels.
The 1.1” quads, Oerlikons and 0.5” Brownings were fabricated out of aluminium sheet and stretched sprue according to plans. I made good use of four 1:1200 PE sets of Tom’s Modelworks – the only 1:1200 sets I found in the market, that were usable for this project: radars, catapults, cranes and railing, the latter being two-bar, thus incorrect for USN ships, but I felt this is an allowance to be made for the small scale
I made vertical and inclined ladders by cutting PE netting and provided the latter with handles of bent copper wire. There were no boats, so I made them of reshaped 1:700 leftovers from other kits. The liferafts were constructed by bending a suitably thick copper wire around a sprue sanded to the shape of the inner circumference of the rafts, then cutting it and gluing a net inside which came from a florist’s decorative ribbon.
The masts and yards were assembled from injection needle pieces – fortunately modern US battleships tend to have rather simple masts and rigging compared to RN ships. I feel that the scratchbuilt Kingfishers turned out remarkably well, with their fuselage made of stretched sprue and wings of copper plate. As the ship is depicted firing salvos on a target beyond the horizon, while the crew prepares for an imminent air-attack, some crew was necessary.
I made 69 tiny figures out of lead foil with their heads made of small droplets of white glue – you can see them manning the open AA batteries and the bridge. For the paint job MS12b, appropriate for the period was chosen. I used Humbrol enamels for the three camouflage colours and for the deck. The ship was weathered using MIG cold grey wash and rust. The signal flags show the monogram of my friend and his bride as this ships was a kind of a wedding present (though I guess it made one of the newlyweds happier than the other).
The rigging is of stretched sprue. The seascape is simply artist’s oil
paint applied generously over the base plate and over-painted with different
shades of acrylic paint around the hull then sprayed over with varnish.
I am quite satisfied with this little ship, but do not intend to build
anything in this scale again. Instead, I reverted to my usual scale of
1:700 and started working on a new, promising project…