KIT: Trumpeter 1/700 USS Baltimore CA-68, 1943
KIT #: 05724
PRICE: $22.95
DECALS: Several options - see review
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Can be built as waterline or full hull


"USS Baltimore, first of a class of fourteen 13,600 ton heavy cruisers, was built at Quincy, Massachusetts. She commissioned in mid-April 1943 and spent the next several months working up to prepare for combat service in the Pacific Ocean. Her first operation was the November 1943 Gilberts Campaign, in which she used her guns to bombard Japanese forces during the invasion of Makin Atoll. Baltimore next took part in the seizure of Kwajalein and Eniwetok in February 1944, as well as in aircraft carrier raids on enemy bases in the Carolines and the Marianas. Over the next four months, she participated in more strikes on the Carolines, Palaus, Northern New Guinea and Marcus Island, the invasion of Saipan and the June 1944 Battle of the Philippine Sea. In July and August the cruiser transported President Franklin D. Roosevelt from the West Coast to Hawaii for meetings with Pacific area commanders Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and General Douglas MacArthur, and on a subsequent trip to Alaska.

After an overhaul, Baltimore resumed combat operations late in 1944, and from then to the end of the Pacific War supported raids on Luzon, Formosa, the China coast, Okinawa and the Japanese home islands, plus the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Once Japan had surrendered, on 2 September 1945, she took part in occupation duty and helped transport U.S. service personnel home from the former war zone. She left the Western Pacific in February 1946 and was placed out of commission at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, in July of that year.

Baltimore had been in "mothballs" for about five years when the Korean War and the resulting Cold War emergencies called her back to active service. Recommissioned in late November 1951, she soon joined the Atlantic Fleet. In 1952-1954 she deployed regularly to the Mediterranean Sea and, in June 1953, participated in the Naval Review held at Spithead, England, in honor of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Early in 1955 Baltimore went back to the Pacific for a Far Eastern cruise. She then began deactivation at Bremerton, where she was decommissioned at the end of May 1956. Just under fifteen years later, in February 1971, USS Baltimore was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. She was sold for scrapping in May 1972."


It is with much anticipation that the Trumpeter USS Baltimore arrives in this reviewer's hands. Though not much of a ship fiend, I have always liked American Cruisers of this era. They just look right. There have been other kits in this scale, but those were resin and therefore, priced out of my willingness to pay. At under $25 retail, this kit is surely a superb value for the money.

Two things I noticed after opening the box is that there are sure a lot of parts. Just one shy of 300, to be exact. It is also a pretty good sized ship at over a foot long. A third thing I noticed is that the stern is separate. Obviously not from any lack of being able to mold it, but I can see that there are other ship variants in the works that will use this same basic mold. I should also point out that a couple of the sprues shown are duplicated and so I didn't bother to include them.

In line with their other ship models, the Baltimore has separate weather deck bulkheads that glue onto a core. This really helps painting as one can paint the decks one shade and the bulkheads another. The molding on the kit is superb, though I will admit that on a few of the parts, like the main deck, the ejector pin marks on the opposite side are so deep that one can see the slight bulges on the deck detailing. They could also be future attachment points for other ship classes as well. I don't know. The rest of the detailing is just as well done and there are no sign of sink areas on some of the thicker pieces. There are separate gun barrels with blast bags; they are not designed to be moveable or placed in anything but the neutral position. Drilling out the barrels will be somewhat challenging as these are not that large a caliber. The kit also comes with two Kingfisher float planes.

The decal sheet (not shown) is rather small and provided basically hull numbers and markings for the Kingfisher. Though not listed anywhere on the instructions, there are numbers in white and black from 68-75 and the sheet is marked with three kit numbers. Also included are a US flag and jack. Instructions are excellent and provide 7 well drawn construction steps with smaller steps included. No color information is in the instructions. A separate color sheet is provided that shows the ship in basically overall Navy Blue with the tops of the main turrets and some of the upper decks as well as the float plane catapult tops in 'Deck Blue'.  I believe this is the 'Measure 21' scheme. All color information is in Gunze paints. I am wondering about the color callout for the main deck as I'd have thought all surfaces visible from the top would have been one shade. But I'm not a ship expert and it will make things easy to paint. The stuff at and below the waterline is to be in 'Cocoa Brown'. The Kingfisher is in the tri-color scheme, which will be interesting to paint in this scale!


I'm sure that this will just fly off the shelves as having a good Baltimore class cruiser is probably on many people's list. I'll leave the 'this is wrong and that is wrong' to others, but it sure looks right to me. Because of all the teeny parts, this one is not for the beginner, but the rest of you should be able to handle it just fine.


September 2005

Thanks to Stevens International for providing the preview kit

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