by: David Foster [ ]
USS MISSOURI (BB-63)
Born in the midst of World War II, the shipyard workers at Brooklyn’s New York Navy Yard constructed the battleship in time for her launch on January 29, 1944 and commissioned as the USS Missouri on June 11, 1944 with Capt. William M. Callaghan in command.
USS Missouri (BB-63) ("Mighty Mo" or "Big Mo") is a United States Navy Iowa-class battleship and was the third ship of the U.S. Navy to be named in honor of the US state of Missouri. Missouri was the last battleship built by the United States and was the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan which ended World War II.
In the Pacific Theater of World War II she fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and shelled the Japanese home islands, and she fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. She was decommissioned in 1955 into the United States Navy reserve fleets (the "Mothball Fleet"), but reactivated and modernized in 1984 as part of the 600-ship Navy plan, and provided fire support during Operation Desert Storm in January/February 1991.
Missouri received a total of 11 battle stars for service in World War II, Korea, and the Persian Gulf, and was finally decommissioned on 31 March 1992, but remained on the Naval Vessel Register until her name was struck in January 1995. In 1998, she was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
USS Missouri’s as-built design characteristics include: displacement 45,000; length 887'3"; beam 108'2"; draft 28'11"; speed 33 knots; complement 1,921; armament nine 16-inch, twenty 5-inch, eighty 40 millimeter, forty-nine 20 millimeter; class Iowa.
3 x Deck parts
2 x Center Island Parts
17 x Parts Sprues
3 x Sheets of Photo Etch
1 x Decal Sheet
The USS Missouri (BB-63) is a multi-media kit in 1/350 scale produced by the Hong Kong based very Fire Models. The kit comes in a sturdy top lid type cardboard box which does not waste space. The modeler first impression is the amazing box top image of the USS Missouri cruising through the Pacific. When you open the kit you are first presented with the hull parts which are securely stored to prevent movement during shipping. Below the hull sprue the modeler will see the PE sprues contained in a plastic bag and secured to the cardboard divider with tape. “CAUTION” is needed when removing the PE, the tape securing the PE sprues to the cardboard divider is located center of the PE. If caution is not used the modeler risks bending and damaging the PE.
****NOTE**** The kit reviewed is being modified and future versions will not contain the PE due to Very Fire releasing a USS Missouri PE Upgrade kit in May.
The cardboard divider provides the modeler with an unpainted image of the kit completely built and all PE parts mounted. Once the cardboard divider is removed the modeler will see 14 sturdy plastic bags containing numerous deck parts and parts sprues. Contrast to most model companies, Very Fire has elected to use thick sturdy plastic bags which further protects the kit parts from damage or loss of parts that fall off the sprue. The parts bags are neatly arranged in the box.
The instruction manual is 36 pages contained clear and concise instructions for constructing this amazing kit. The first page provides a little history and detailed specifications of the USS Missouri. Page 2 and 3 provide illustrations of the kits contents. The building begins on page 4 with the hull construction. One aspect of the instructions that appear unusual is that Very Fire has elected to provide instructions for building all of the ancillary items such as the main guns, the 40mm Bofors, MK51 Directors, etc before moving on to the main components of the build. This approach, in the authors opinion, appears to be a good approach. This method ensures that the instructions for the ancillary components are not lost of overlooked while the builder is concentrating on a major component. The only criticism I have of the instructions are along the order in which Very Fire has the builder build the major components. Most ship builder build from the inside out and from bottom to top. This prevents having to reach over parts and PE already mounted and causing damage. The instructions have the builder build the components from the outside in, a little against the norm. Not a major issue or anything that would prevent the builder from completing an amazing model.
The water slide decal sheet comes in a small plastic bag with a protective paper sheet. The sheet provides a 2 x Union Jacks w/ 48 stars, 2 x US Flags w/ 48 stars, draft numbers for the hull, and ship names and hull numbers for the USS Missouri, USS Iowa, USS New Jersey, and the USS Wisconsin.
The hull is the standard split hull construction consisting of two halves. The halves are secured together with the help of three support brackets and mounting pins. The hull details such as the planking and the anchor wells are crisp and clean. More importantly the sprue mounting points will cause little if any interference with mounting the deck and there is little flash along the top lines of the hull.
The main deck is divided into three parts. The foredeck, center deck, and the aft deck. The foredeck is beautifully detailed with molded hard wood decking. Unlike previous versions of the USS Missouri, the wood decking is represented with breaks verse a single line of wood planking. There is no need to “deconstruct” the deck as there are no molded details such as anchor chain, vents, water break, or gun tubs. The molded bollards do have that standard appearance of 55 gallon drums but that is easily fixed with some turned brass bollards from Alliance Model Works or Flyawk. The instructions do require some drilling of holes but they are pre-drilled from the bottom.
The center main deck is molded with the same beautiful deck planking as the foredeck and without all of the ancillary parts that normal builders would remove during the build. There are two stairwells that would probably need to be removed but again as before, this would require minimal work by the builder.
The Aft Deck is molded just like the other main deck components. Beautiful deck planning detail and no ancillary equipment needed for removal. As with the foredeck there are some holes that require drilling.
The Island base consists of two parts, the lower and upper portion of the center deck. The molded detail is exquisite. The water tight doors have clear detail and are not the normal flat rectangles that you normally find. Very Fire has even gone so far as to mold the correct detail for the doors based on location and purpose verse molding the same detail for all the doors. A Dry fitting of the parts together indicated minimal need to putty for filling gaps which may also be accomplished once cement is used. In either case cleaning up of the parts and fit will be minimal.
The D Sprue contains parts for the funnel tops and upper levels of the bridge housing. As with all of the previous parts, the molded detail is crisp and clear. The only issue is the apparent in ability to remove the bridge windows in order to replace with PE. The bridge appears to be solid but on a good note the gun tub walls appear to be the right thickness. The funnel tops are hollow and will allow the builder to add the PE parts without the need for drilling, sawing, and sanding as was the case with other versions of the USS Missouri.
The E sprue is a two part sprue containing the hull supports, deck gun tubs, rudders, two propeller shafts, water break, propellers, the rear funnel, and propeller shaft supports. The gun tubs are molded nicely and do not appear to be oversized. There are multiple mounting sprue mounting points for the gun tubs which will require a little care when being removed from the sprue in order to prevent breakage. Part 17 is the first part I have seen that has pin marks, but these are located on the bottom side and easily fixed with a little putty and sanding. All other parts have nice clear detail. When I received the kit there was one propeller that had fallen off the sprue and unfortunately one blade was broken off. Luckily the break was right along the blade mounting point and should be easily fixed with a little cement.
Sprue F contains more gun tubs for both the deck mounted gun positions and the tower mounted gun positions It also contains the tower structures for the fire control radars. As with all previously discussed parts, the details are clear and crisp with no flash molding of pin marks that would interfere with the beauty of this build.
The G sprue contains the sides of the major structures. The molded detail includes the fire hoses, water tight doors, vertical ladders, oil vents, etc.. The details are clean and crisp. For modelers that like to drill out portholes there is a little more plastic to drill through since there will be two layers of plastic. G Sprue also contains a lot of the 20mm gun tubs, all of which have nicely molded support brackets under the tubs.
The kit contains 6 x J Sprues, these sprues contain all of the ancillary equipment that will be mounted on the deck and the sides of the housings. Parts include gas tanks, vents, ammunition boxes both 40mm and 20mm, 20mm AA guns, 25-man lifeboats, 40mm Bofors bases, deck hatches, etc.. One thing I can’t say enough about is the level of detail that is molded on these kits. The vents are not the standard 55-gal drum versions. The deck hatches have molded detail verse being flat featureless plastic. There are some parts such as the flood lights and the MK51 directors that are a little over engineered. The flood lights consist of three parts, which would be fine if the lenses were molded in clear plastic but they’re not, they are the standard grey plastic like the rest of the kit. The MK51, a small piece of equipment consists of two parts and could easily have been molded as a single piece. The parts are small and could be a little frustrating to construct, especially since there are 23 of them to build. The 20mm Oerlikon guns are nicely molded but do have a little toy like look to them. The shields provided on the PE sprue should assist in modifying that look.
The kit contains 2 x H Sprues which contain the parts needed to construct the 10 x 5” gun emplacements, the MK37 Directors, the MK38 Director, and other ancillary equipment. The 5” gun housings consist of three parts, just like the Tamiya USS Missouri. However, unlike the Tamiya kit there is a high level of detail on both the side panels and the main gun housing The main gun barrels are attached to a central cylinder which is then mounted into brackets on the base of the gun housing. There is a good bit of flash and mold seams on the gun barrels. Another improved aspect is the covering for the 5” range finders. Normally aftermarket kits are required in order to achieve this level of detail for the 5” guns. The rest of the parts all contain the same high level of detail that we have come to expect on this kit.
The kit contains 3 x I Sprues which contain the parts for the main 16” guns. Here Very Fire has again followed Tamiya in providing the builder with not just the main gun but also the sub floors of the main gun and the ammunition shoots. They further provided internal detail that consists of the breach and round/powder bag loaders. While the sub-floors could be somewhat explained as it allows the builder to build a diorama wherein the main guns are being lowered into the ship the internal turret detail purpose is a little lost on this author. I can see the sense of it if there were side hatches but the hatches to enter the turret are located in the rear and underneath the turret overhang. Even if a builder elected to have the hatches open the observer would not be able to see the internal detail. With all that said it is a nice departure from the standard design of empty turrets. Another nice touch by Very Fire are the blast bags. Instead of having the blast bags molded to the main barrels they are a separate piece which could easily accommodate turned brass barrels without the modeler needing to drill out the holes. The main barrels are nicely molded but will require the builder to drill out the barrels, that is unless they decide to replace with turned brass.
The kit contains 2 x K sprues which contain the parts needed to build the SC-1 Scout Planes. The planes are nicely molded with clear panel lines. There is no clear part for the canopy, the canopy is included in the PE parts.
PE Sprue M
The M sprue contains all of the railings needed for the build. Again, Very Fire has gone the extra mile to provide railing that is the correct length for a specific location on the ship, to include having the gaps required to clear the bollards and rope stanchions.
PE Sprue N
The N Sprue contains the PE needed to build the aircraft catapults, additional railing, funnel details, and the MK12 Antenna for the MK37 Directors.
PE Sprue P
The P sprue contains the PE needed for the 40mm Bofors shields, the 20mm Oerlikon shields, the aircraft crane, the big radar dish (name escapes me at the moment) and the cable reels.
The PE does appear to be a little thin and will require some delicate handling. Since releasing this kit Very Fire has developed an upgrade set which will include all of PE that is missing from the base kit such as the 40mm ammunition racks, PE water tight doors, vertical ladders. For the base kit the PE included will result in an amazing representation of the USS Missouri.
The bottom of the box provides a clear painting guide for both paint measures the USS Missouri wore during WWII. It also includes a nice legend covering the pain numbers for Mr Hobby, Victorium, Ak, and WEM paints.
The Very Fire 1/350 USS Missouri kit would be a great addition to any model ship builder’s collection. The molded detail is exquisite without being overbearing. The kit PE is a little light but sufficient enough for an excellent OOB build should you chose, (something I will be doing following publication of this review). There are some parts that appear to be a little over engineered and the lack of clear parts is a little disconcerting but manageable. Regardless of the drawbacks, in my opinion, this USS Missouri far exceeds the Tamiya version. The future release of the Very Fire USS Missouri Upgrade kit will push that separation even further.