Having taken a break from ships after completing a Revell Olympia this past summer, I’ve been casting about for a new project. A nice little 1/350 scale USS Bainbridge (USN DD-1) has been in my stash for FAR too long, so I thought I’d finally give it a go.
This kit has an interesting history. With resin designed by John Ficklin and photoetch by Loren Perry, it was one of the very first mass marketed resin model ship kits (in fact it was the second, after their excellent Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate). The kit was originally sold under the Blue Water Navy label, which was MB Models' line of ships back in the early 1990s. It was later produced by Gulfstream (kit #GS-8004). In addition, Iron Shipwright (kit # 4-123) and Yankee Modelworks (kit #YM35024) also issued 1/350 Bainbridge kits, which, although somewhat different with one piece hulls and redesigned photoetch, might possibly have been descendants of that original BWN kit as well.
Anyway, the one I’m building here is the original Blue Water Navy release. When I first saw this kit back in the early 1990s it just blew me away. I’d never seen a resin kit before, and the completeness of the structures and detail cast directly into the resin hull parts really impressed me. The unfamiliar resin looked awesome, and this was the first kit with its own photoetch I’d ever seen–very cool! It was a bit more expensive than a comparable styrene model, but the already in place detail and simple cast shapes made it look like a fun weekend project, so I was in!
Well... upon getting it home, the simple BWN kit turned out to be a little more complicated to construct than I had originally thought. To start with, after removing the upper and lower hull halves from their massive casting blocks, I discovered that they were both badly corkscrewed – and in opposite directions! Now this was my first resin kit, so I had no experience fixing this sort of thing. Softening the parts in hot water, I did my best to straighten them out, but they required a lot of manipulation during which I managed to destroy the bilge keels and damage many of the kit’s other delicate molded in details. I was also disagreeably surprised by the numerous air bubbles just below the model's surface which appeared as I sanded the parts in getting them to fit. By the time I wrestled the hull parts into reasonable shape, mated, filled, and sanded them, filled the air bubbles, replaced the bilge keels and repaired the damaged vents and lockers, I had become disillusioned with resin and irritated with the project. So I put it away for another day.
That was sometime in the early 1990s...