Kraken Hobbies
1/350 USS California Bridge Structure

 

Reviewed by Martin J Quinn
September 2021

More 3D products have arrived from Kraken Hobbies.  Their most recent effort is a 3D printed replacement superstructure, to allow you to upgrade (and finish!) that old BlueWater Navy, Yankee Modelworks, Gulstream or Ironshipwright USS California you have stashed in the closet; USS California BB-44 Bridge Structure 12/7/41.    
 
Click to enlarge images
USS CALIFORNIA BB-44 UPGRADE SET
The packaging is in a cardboard box.  The smaller parts are in a large clamshell plastic container, while the larger parts are secured to an insert on the bottom of the box with double sided tape.   All the parts are 3D printed on print rafts, in a grey resin. 

Included in the set are:

  • Signal bridge
  • Flag bridge
  • Navigation bridge
  • Air defense platform, with integral forward cage mast
  • Conning Tower
  • 3in AA gun tubs
  • Secondary Battery Directors
  • .50 caliber ready ammo lockers
  • Bridge insert

The printing is terrific and the details are first rate.  There are open windows with delicate frames, bracing with lighting holes, well defined piping, portholes and vision slits, open wind baffles, rivet detail on the air defense station, thin splinter shields, and nicely done bracing on said shields.  You'll also find some goodies inside the pilot house, with interior details like binnacle, speaking pipes and telegraph, along with a freaking chart table!  Then there is the integral forward cage mast, which is printed as part of (what I believe to be) the air defense platform.   The cage mast is really delicate and very well done, with what appears to be the mount for the range finder clock on its forward face.    The cage mast printed as part of the platform is, in my opnion, a clever idea, making assembly a little easier and adding some additional strength to the structure.  

The only things not included are the Mk 19 directors, 3"/50cal AA guns and .50 cal machine guns.   Kraken recommends you source the directors from Model Monkey and the 3 inch guns from Black Cat (who also has the .50 cal guns).  You'll also need spotting tops, which you can get from Model Monkey. 

Here's a look at the 3D printed superstructure parts cut off the print raft and dry fit together, and also compared to the Blue Water Navy resin parts.  While the BWN parts were state of the art back in their day, there is simply no comparison between those parts and the Kraken upgrade set.
A comparison between the BWN superstructure vs Kraken's 3D printed parts on the model. 

INSTRUCTIONS

There is a simple exploded view drawing inclued for instructions.

CONCLUSIONS

Currently, if you want to model the famous flagship of the US Pacific Fleet, the mighty USS California, in 1/350 scale, your only choice is in resin.   The Grandaddy of them all is the Gulfstream kit, which I believe was the basis for the BWN kit, which then became the Yankee Modelworks kit.   Those can be found on the secondary market, while Commanders Models still produces a 1/350 Pearl Harbor version of California in their IronShipwright series. 

This upgrade set from Kraken Hobbies should fit any of these kits (albeit with some modifications, as the disclamer in the instructions warns).    Regardless of which kit you source, and regardless of how nice the castings are, if you are doing to do your 1/350 Prune Barge right, you are going to need this set, which will be a really nice upgrade over the original resin parts and photo-etch cages masts.   I'm really impressed with this upgrade set.  I'm also impressed with how each release from Kraken Hobbies seems to be even better than the previous offering.  That's a good sign of even great things to come.    

This is Kraken Hobbies 1/350 USS California BB-44 Bridge Structure 12/7/41.  It retails for $39.99  USD, which I think is a very reasonable price, considering all you get.  It's available directly from Kraken Hobbies, who I'd like to thank for this review sample.   Highly recommended! 



 
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