by: Chris Flodberg [ ]
Originally published on:
Indianapolis is a classic horror story of war at sea. The Portland Class Heavy Cruiser was torpedoed on July 30, 1945 after delivering parts for the first nuclear bomb to the US air base at Tinian. Approximately 300 men went down with the ship while around 900 men remained adrift suffering the combined tortures of dehydration, shark attacks, exposure, and salt-water poisoning.
Indianapolis and her sister ship were laid-down in 1930 and launched the following year on November 7th. The ship had a distinguished career before her sinking including operations in the Aleutian Islands, assistance in securing the Gilbert Islands, and a dynamic fighting role on June 19th, 1944 in the famous "Marianas Turkey Shoot"; among others.
Sparing the reader a dry technical inventory of her weapons and various systems, I will say that from a modeller's perspective, Indianapolis is a handsome vessel reminiscent of British ships along the designs of the HMS Queen Elizabeth or King George the 5th. The boxy bridge, cubic amidships with hangar bays and catapults, along with the fore and after masts feel distinctly pre-1940 and exude a noble, castle-like presence. Looking at her forward guns and forecastle, I am also reminded of certain German vessels such as Graf Spee.
Trumpeter has decided to go with the 1944 configuration with Measure 32 camouflage. This is a welcome change of pace from the more sober Measure 22 scheme. This is a pretty ship with lots of diorama possibilities; but would make an attractive full-hull model as well with lots to look at, crammed into a relatively compact ship.
I can only assume that this is Trumpeter's answer to Academy's 1/350 offering in the same scale. The general consensus on the internet seems to be that Academy's Indianapolis is a beautiful kit so it will be interesting to crack open the box from Trumpeter and see if it can hold its own against its market rival.
At first glance, the box offers a gorgeous illustration if Indianapolis at sea in what appears to be a sunset or sunrise with an SOC Seagull flying close by. The ship, with her camouflage really sells the build and I already can't wait to see what's inside!
Opening the box, I am struck by the relatively few number of parts. In keeping with Trumpeter's excellent decision to move away from their older style of design where faces are glued onto block structures thus requiring a lot of corner filling and sanding, here we have beautifully moulded blocks complete with crisp detailing on their sides that are ready to go. While the doors and other small bulkhead details can't compete with a good photo-etch replacement, they are certainly adequate for most builders. To their credit, Trumpeter has managed to cast some very thin splinter shields directly onto their decks and has even included previously ignored details along bulkheads such as cable bundles, pipes with retaining brackets, and other things that I wouldn't dare try to identify!
The hull is in two pieces and features crisp plating and attached cleats. The cleats have been simplified into a v-shaped set of two triangles each. I've seen better cleats, but am glad to see that they will not have to be glued on as separate objects. At first glance, I am mystified by two long ridges that run along the hull at a diagonal from amidships, angling down to the bow. A quick internet search reveals no picture of Indianapolis sporting these ridges. Even the box-art does not include a depiction of these things. The expert modeller might be in for some careful excision and sanding work! I most certainly could be mistaken.
In total, there are 13 sprues of varying density of parts, 3 smallish sheets of photo-etch, 2 deck sections, decals and 2 clear sprues for the aircraft. As per their usual format, Trumpeter has included a folded, fully coloured port and starboard camouflage guide with their instructions. After building Belfast and North Carolina, I have come to fear these diagrams as they are notoriously inaccurate. At a glance, this camouflage guide appears accurate and matches the photographic records perfectly. If this is so, Trumpeter has taken a huge step forward. In this day and age of information sharing and an overabundance of readily available sources, it is unacceptable to have an inaccurate painting guide for a ship model. It can only be laziness on the manufacturers end.
I am disappointed by Trumpeter's decision to go with clear plastic for its planes. The overall consensus among ship modellers seems to be a resounding "No more clear parts!". While it may be advantages to provide separate clear or photo-etched canopies (my preference), the idea of moulding an entire plane or bridge out of clear plastic simply for the canopy or a few portholes is ridiculous. The parts are difficult to work with due to their brittle nature, and gluing them is made difficult by the fact that you can't see what is 'inside' or 'outside' and have no idea where your glue is going. It does not help that the planes included in this kit are way over-detailed with deep, ugly, panel, lines, and chunky overall design. I'd take one old-style, relatively smooth Tamiya plane in opaque plastic over a hundred of these dreadful planes any day. For me at least, I will now have to source replacement planes for this kit.
The photo etch that comes in the box looks certainly adequate to produce a nicely detailed model for more advanced builders. Interestingly, the catapults will consist of both plastic and PE. PE sides will be attached to a side less box that comprises the tops and bottoms of the catapults. Without seeing the final result, I anticipate a cleaner and more straightforward catapult build that I have not seen before. I like these kinds of innovations. It's nice to see a manufacturer continuing to make improvements to existing concepts.
The moulding on some of the guns is a bit chunky. The barrels of the quad Bofors are the worst offenders. The barrels are fused up the middle and appear toy-like at best. The main turrets look good and will benefit from a few PE additions to make them more detailed and interesting to look at. It's nice to see that some doors have been added to the turrets.