USS South Dakota, BB57, was the lead ship of the South Dakota class battleships. She was laid down on July 5, 1939, launched June 7, 1941 and commissioned on March 20, 1942. Following her shake down in the Atlantic she quickly departed and joined the Pacific fleet, arriving at Nukualofa, Tongatabu, on 4 September. However soon after arriving she hit an uncharted reef and did extensive damage to her hull. After repairs were completed at Pearl Harbor she again set to sea. After returning to sea she and the Enterprise headed off toward Santa Cruz Islands and then move southwest to block any Japanese forces approaching Guadalcanal.
After returning to New York, in December of 1942, for overhaul and repairs she sailed with the British home fleet until remaining until April of 1943 when she returned to the Pacific. Nearly every major action in the Pacific saw the South Dakota using her guns in anger. During the opening months of the war she was known as Battleship “X”. This was to confuse the Japanese as to the exact number of US battleships in action. It was also done because the Japanese thought they had sunk her. So to confuse them the ruse was kept up for good deal of time.
On August 13 and 15 she conducted operations against Japan itself in the Tokyo area. Later in the day on August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered. After returning to the US the So Dak sailed for Philadelphia in January 1946. She was decommissioned January 31, 1947 and spent 15 years in the reserve fleet. She was stricken from the Naval Registry on June 1, 1962 and soon sold for scrap.
For her service in World War II she earned thirteen battle stars.
Displacement: 35,000 tons
Length: 680 feet
Beam 108.2 feet
Draft 36.3 feet
Speed: 27.8 knots
Complement: 2364 officers and men
Armament: nine 16 inch guns,
20 five-inch guns,
24 40 mm cannon,
16 20 mm cannon, but increased as the war progressed
The conversion kit comes in a nice sturdy hinged lid cardboard box with a nice picture of the Indy. Inside there is the mid section of the ship, a zip lock bag of resin parts, and a sheet of decals.
The conversion is for either Trumpeter kit, USS Massachusetts BB59 or USS Alabama BB60. To main focus of the conversion kit are the differences to the ships mid section and superstructure.
Both Massachusetts and Alabama have different bridges and superstructure as compared to that of South Dakota. The Alabama has trunked tower foremast and funnel, similar to that used in the design of the later Iowa-class battleships. Since there are no current kits of the South Dakota the only way to build her is either use your scratch building skills or use this conversion kit. The South Dakota did feature the amidships boats cranes like those of the Indiana. However these were removed in her refit of late 42 early 43.
The midsection of the ship comes as one large piece. The detail on the midsection is comparable to that of the donor kit. The resin is will require some clean up on its base. There were no air bubbles or sink holes in the sample kit.
The gun tubs for the conversion are nicely done in resin. These will house the 40mm and 20 mm AA guns added to the So Dak during the war. Her original lay out did not include many of these guns. The layout of each ship in the class varied. The South Dakota had 40mm tubs located forward her main batteries where as the remaining ships in the class did not.
and looking closer...
All of the resin parts are free from pin holes and excessive flash. The clean up that needs to be done is very minimal. Most clean up will be sanding the bases to get the height correct and some minor filling and sanding. The detail on these parts is nice and crisp. Removal of the parts from their pour strips is very easy but will require some clean up.
The decals included for the kit include numbers, national ensigns, and Naval ensigns. Also on the card are markings for shipboard aircraft. The decals appear to have a thin carrier film.
The instruction booklet is 9 pages and does a decent job of explaining the parts and installation. The pictures included with the instructions are of the ship in her 42 outfit, not her 43 outfit that the conversion is for. The South Dakota did not have any special camouflage pattern so the painting instructions are straight forward.
Highs: Nice details. Conversion for USS South Dakota.Lows: Some roughness on resin castings. Some scratch building needed. Lacks photo reference for 1943 outfit of the ship.Verdict: When the conversion is finished, you will have a nice subject of the USS South Dakota, in her later war outfit.
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