This MSW Inbox Review is of Midship Models 1/700 scale multi-media (resin, plastic, white-metal) offering of the USS Wichita CA-45, as seen in 1945.
The USS Wichita was the one and only ship in her class. She was the last of the treaty cruisers and makes an interesting appearance transition between the design of pre-war and later cruisers. She was in many ways a modified Brooklyn class with Baltimore class weapons. She was armed with a compelling mid size punch of nine 8" guns and eight 5" guns. As the war progressed, she started to take on more and more AA equipment.
One of her first duties was in 1940 to show the flag in South America to counteract a rise in German propaganda in the Americas. When the United States joined the war, she spent the remainder of 1941 and all of 1942 in the Atlantic. In the beginning of 1943, she headed to the Pacific where she served with distinction until the end of the war. She was decommissioned in 1947 and scrapped in 1959.
The USS Wichita was awarded 13 battle stars for her service in World War II.
A look inside the box...
This model is a quasi-reissue of the Classic Warships model of days gone by. It could almost be considered a "special edition" of that kit as it now contains some reworked parts, photo etch, and material to build the mast.
The model comes in Midship Models' usual strong white box. The contents continue the Midship tradition of "shrink wrapping" the parts to a piece of cardboard.
Wrapped in the plastic are the hull, and separate zip lock bags for the photo etch fret and metal rod, metal pieces, and resin pieces. The decals are also in this "section".
There are two plastic sprues of miscellaneous fittings and weapons included, but they are separate from the shrink wrapped parts.
The hull looks good overall, depicting the Wichita's well-proportioned lines very nicely. There are no bubbles or cracks in this example but the bottom is pretty rough and will need a good bit of sanding to lay flat and clean.
The front of the hull is slightly bowed up and lifts away from laying flat. The resin is fairly ragged at the waterline so some sanding and putty will be in order. There are some nicely done portholes along the sides. The anchor chain is molded to the deck.
Going up to the deck, the planking seems slightly over scale, but shouldn't pose too much of a problem. However, the lip running along the deck and the splinter shields does appear just a little too thick for 1/700, but your mileage may vary. Unfortunately, the two thickest shields are at the prow where the effect is even more pronounced.
The reels that are cast on the deck are nice, but the various vents are soft and are almost "blob-like". I keep finding myself thinking that this is a plastic kit and not resin as the sharpness level would be quite nice in plastic, but just seems a little "off" in resin.
Misc. Resin Kit Parts:
With the exception of Part R5 (01 Level), the smaller resin parts seem to be crisper and more detailed than the hull. It is almost as if the smaller parts are an after market detail set to the softer hull... The walkway walls on the bridge areas are in some cases half as thick as the oversized shield walls. The boats are also very well done with thin walls and seating areas depicted.
Many of the parts are cast on wafers so care will have to be taken in removal and sanding to the correct depth. The 8" guns also have no hollowing or indentation at the muzzles- something that has been finding its way into other resin models of late.
Plastic Injection Kit Parts:
The plastic parts contain the tried and true recasts of Pit Road pieces and it shows in the soft quality and flash. This is unfortunate as the quality is so far below the rest of the kit as to make these parts practically unusable.
Cast White Metal Parts:
These parts are only marginally better than the plastic parts. The detail is again soft and I can see no benefit in making these parts in metal. The rafts and planes mostly come from here. There are very large casting nubs that will have to be removed- a task made all the harder considering the material.
The planes have no real detail to speak of and I imagine many folks will ditch them for other examples.
Removing the rafts is going to be particularly painful as the casting covers almost the entire back area. Holding on to these little guys while removing almost their entire back side is going to be interesting...
This addition is one of the nicer aspects of the kit, and quite comprehensive. Having the smallest guns made in PE is good, and the inclusion of rails, stairs, and catapults, very welcome!
A piece of brass rod is also included for use in mast construction.
The Microscale decals are sharp and in register with plenty of numbers and signal flags. But that bane to World War 2 models rears its ugly head on this sheet: 50 star flags.
The instructions start off on a good note, with the cover page showing colors in both Model Master and White Ensign Colour Coats numbers. The next couple of pages contain color photos of the parts with a listing of what each part is.
Unfortunately, the actual construction steps get quite vague in places...There are the usual exploded view pictures with arrows, but the builder may not always know where the final placement of the part will be.
Case in point, the main turrets...The instructions show arrows pointing out the turrets going on the barbettes, but since the turrets and barbettes have no locating pins, the builder won't know just how much overhang the turrets will have front to back.
While this issue doesn't come up enough to be a deal breaker, leaving something as important as to how the turrets are placed up to guess work, is a bit odd....A plan view would likely solve all questions.
Another point of issue is that while showing which colors to use, the instructions make no mention as to where those colors actually go. There are also no rigging diagrams.
The instructions carry the disclaimer that these are models for advanced builders and that reference materials should be used, etc., but most modelers would appreciate the benefit of more full bodied instructions.
Ironically, the original producer of this model, Classic Warships, also produced a book on the Wichita. And in a bit of cosmic comedy, that book not only provides painting instructions, but also rigging diagrams...go figure.
final thoughts and conclusions...
The Wichita is a design that I've always been fond of as it combines the best of old and new appearances. Her hull has solid proportions and her mix of 8" and 5" weapons give her a purposeful, deadly appearance.
Midship Models' depiction of the Wichita is very welcome in its concept, if not execution. I have no doubt that with some elbow grease, this will build into a nice model. But I just can't help wondering why this extra work is really needed with the metal parts, vague instructions, and areas of soft detail. When it was released the first time, it was a fairly big deal. But the industry has come very far since then and the kit's age is showing.
A nice plus is that for the price, you do get a decent kit, photo etch, sharp details (despite the 50 star flags), and rod to make the masts with.
All told, if you want to model the Wichita in 1/700, this is the only deal in town, and it is a great starting point all things considered.
Highs: Great subject, good proportions, photo etch, nice registration on decals, included rod for masts, price.Lows: Bowed hull, rough bottom, some thick shields, wafer casting, soft detail on hull and metal parts, flash and soft detail on plastic parts, vague instructions, 50 star flagsVerdict: A worthy representation of the Wichita, in a kit that is nonetheless showing its age. With a bit of work, a decent representation can be accomplished.
Our Thanks to Midship Models! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Dade W. Bell (Karybdis) FROM: MARYLAND, UNITED STATES
I'm a third generation modeler who builds a little of everything (mostly Japanese)- all while being a 45 year old hermit who lives a happy, simple life, with my fiancée (author Jaclyn Dolamore) and three cats.
My father was an MM3 aboard the USS Saratoga (CVA-60), my grandfather was in one of the...