by: Jim Adams [ ]
"You may fire when ready Gridley." Thus began the Battle of Manila Bay. After almost 2 hours of firing the Spanish fleet was destroyed and the US had new Heroes, Admiral Dewey and USS Olympia.
The history of Olympia dates back to 1885. US Navy policy at the time was defensive in nature. Commerce raiding was the plan for the navy in the event of a war.
United States Secretary of the Navy William Collins Whitney authorized construction of two coastal battleships, Texas and Maine. But there was still an focus on commerce raiding. Before Grover Cleveland left office he authorized the building of the ship that was to become Olympia.
The new SecNav, Benjamin Tracy, who was a follower of Alfred Thayer Mahan, who was an advocate of a large battle fleet capable of taking the fight to an enemies home waters. So this meant instead of a whole class of Olympia class cruisers, she was an only child.
In 1889 the design for cruiser number 6 was begun. $1,796,000 was set aside fro her construction and the contract had an April 1, 1893 completion date. She was completed on December 11, 1892. At the time she was the largest ship built on the west coast.
In January of 1898 Olympia took over as flagship of the US Asiatic squadron. On April 25, 1898 war was declared by the US on Spain. On May 1, 1898 the Battle of Manila Bay takes place. Olympia was now a national Hero. The was placed in reserve later that same year. She would serve her country a few more times until late in 1922.
In 1921 she returned the remains of the "Unknown Soldier" to the US.
She sits today as a relic. She is as she was in 1898.
Type: Protected cruiser
Displacement: 5,676 tons
6,694 tons full load
Length: 344 ft 1 in
Beam: 53 ft
Draft: 21 ft 6 in
Installed power: 17,000 ihp (13,000 kW)
Propulsion: 2 × vertical triple-expansion steam engines
6 × boilers (4 double-ended, 2 single-ended)
2 × screws
Speed: 21.7 kn
Range: 6,000 nmi at 10 kn
Capacity: 1,060 tons coal
Complement: 33 officers and 395 enlisted men
Armament: 4 × 8 in (200 mm)/35 cal Mark 4 guns (2x2)
10 × 5 in (130 mm)/40 cal guns (later replaced with 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns) (10x1)
14 × 6-pounder (57 mm (2.24 in)) guns (14x1)
6 × 1-pounder (37 mm (1.46 in)) guns (6x1)
4 × Gatling guns (4x1)
6 × 18 in (460 mm) above-surface torpedo tubes, firing Whitehead Mark 1 torpedoes
Deck: 4.75 in (12.1 cm) on slopes; 2 in (5.1 cm) flat; 3 in (7.6 cm) (ends)
Barbettes: 4.5 in (11 cm)
Turrets: 3.5 in (8.9 cm); 4 in (10 cm) (shields to 5-inch guns)
Now before I get too involved in the kit details, remember the plastic portion of this kit is from the original old molds. The dies were not redone to improve them in any way. So you will have some parts with flash and some are a little over scale in their detail.
The good thing with this kit are the added detail items. They are used to replace some of the big clunky plastic parts.
The hull comes molded in two separate halves. The plating of the hull is molded on the outside as are some of the main deck railings. The hull captures the shapes of the hull. Some of the features such as the torpedo tubes are to be cut off and replaced with some of the replacement parts. Take care when gluing the halves together.
The next sprue holds some of the smaller detail parts. These are typical for the age of the plastic kits parts. many of these are replaced by either PE parts or smaller resin parts.
Onto the next sprue you will get the main deck section and some more of the smaller portions of the ship. Again the parts are what you get in the old plastic kit, but the upgrade parts will make things much better.
I hate to sound like a broken record on that point, but the old plastic, while good, is old. But, Encore did a great job choosing what to replace with PE, Resin, and Brass. The plastic stand will not be used in this presentation.
PE and Barrels...
Included as part of the upgrading of the old plastic are two frets of PE and turned barrels for three different sizes of guns. You also get a nice brass name plate for your project when she is all done.
With the plastic parts of this kit being so old it only makes perfect sense to replace as many parts as possible with PE. You get
Possibly the hottest item in the last year has been wooden deck verniers. There are 13 different wooden deck pieces with this kit. When I opened my sample the different sections stuck to one another so be careful when you open yours.
Personally I am a fan of deck verniers so to me these are a big positive addition to me. They really will make the kits look that much better. From past experience they are easier to work with than you would expect, so don't be scared.
The different sections are numbered and easy to determine which section is which. Some even have the proper edging around them.
The instructions for the kit are printed in a booklet form. They are A hybrid of the old original instructions sheets and a newly printed booklet. They walk you through the construction step by step with written instructions. If a certain old portion of the original plastic is to be removed, they tell you.
Along with these steps there are also pictures of the upgraded section you are working on to make things a little clearer. You also get two pages of color images of the unpainted kit with the upgraded parts added.
Then the painting guide is actually in color as well. There are three different schemes included fro your Olympia, Manila Bay, September 1898-August 1899, and August 1899 onward.
Overall the instructions are very good and a benefit to the kit. For us history buffs there are also some nice history portions as well.
To make this kit even better Encore included some extra items not normally found in kits. There are a few resin parts to add to the kit. First off you get replacement screws to replace the plastic ones. You also get three other resin parts to replace the ships original plastic torpedo tubes.
Next you will get a sections of anchor chain. More and more companies are adding these to their kits. It is a big plus and help give you another 3D detail item.
Not only do you get a wooden stand, but you also get turned brass risers. How many companies include decent stands with their kits, let alone adding wood and brass parts.
You also get a sheet of paper flags for the ship. There are different standards for Admiral Dewey as he rose in rank. There are also the proper national ensign and Naval Jack.
If this was just a rebox of the old kit with no additional parts, it would be just an old kit in a new box. However, Encore did a great job with the upgrades. The PE parts will help remove some of the old clunky plastic parts. These will give the kit a better stream lined look. Adding the wooden deck section will give the deck an overall.
So, my view of the kit is a very positive. Sometimes you need to look past flaws and see the ship. Encore also is using this kit to raise awareness to the plight of the USS Olympia. For that I give them a big BZ!