Reviewed by Tracy White
The White Ensign Models "New Orleans Class Cruiser" #35109 is a two-piece collection of parts that seeks to be an "all-in-one" for builders of either Trumpeter 1/350th San Francisco (be it 1942 or 1944) kit or those seeking to modify either of these kits into another ship of the New Orleans class. Pieces are exquisitely rendered in relief-etch for more of a 3D effect than what many manufacturers offer.

The set is partially an all-in-one set but also not, in the lack of some pieces one might find in other sets. There are no watertight doors, for example, as WEM has the "USN Watertight Doors & Hatches" (#PE3592) set that provides enough for several ships already. Buyers should look over the set and make plans for whatever sets might be necessary for items they don't have in the spares box already.


Part A of the set is mainly radars, directors, and platforms, but has some other details such as hand rails and yardarms. Antennas for both early and late fits are included so that the modeler will not need to worry about having enough for any era of ship:
  • Two Mk 3 Fire Control Radars for main batteries
  • Two Mk 4 Fire Control Radars for Mk 37 directors
  • Two Mk 22 Height-finding radars for Mk 37 directors
  • Two Mk 25 Fire Control Radars
  • Two Mk 28 Fire Control Radars
  • One SC (2/4) long-range air/surface radar
  • Three SG Surface search radars
  • One SK long-range air/surface radar
  • One SM Ground Control of Intercept radar
  • Nine Mk 51 directors
  • Ten Sky Lookout Chairs
  • PART B

    Railings & ladders
    For me, photo-etch always started with these pieces, and White Ensign does not disappoint in this arena. Plenty of finely-etched railings are provided; both "pre-fit" pieces for the upper deck (forecastle back to the open 5"/25 mounts) and main deck (in this case the length behind the after superstructure) as well as lengths of generic two, three, and four-bar railings. Replacement jibs for the aircraft cranes are a large improvement, albeit I wish the fold lines were solid with a crease on the inside so that I didn't have to wonder how to make crisp corners on the folds.
    The inclined ladders are also exceptional, featuring fine detail and flip-up steps to complete the look. I found all of the steps save one on the example to the right easy to flip up from the underside; the one required a little more effort but not so much that I was worried about distorting either the step or the rest of the inclined ladder. The photo to the right shows the obvious difference between kit and White Ensign ladders. It should be noted that the difference in position is due to my ability to get the PE set to lean only so far before sliding down; a problem naturally solved with glue.

    A replacement structure for the search light platforms is provided; once built up this structure is sure to captivate the viewers of the model with its intricacy. The catapults for the scout planes will also look much more credible and to scale than the kit-supplied pieces.
    Guns & Shields:

    There are four 1.1" mounts included for those doing the earlier configuration of ship. Incredibly detailed, they will also be a challenge for those new to PE or moderately fumble-fingered. My set was over-etched in this area, such that the right seat was physically separate from the cross-member on all four quad 1.1" mounts. Thankfully it won't be too hard to provide some structure to glue thes back together with some styrene square rod, and WEM has a separate set of just 1.1" guns (six ea, set PE3542) that the builder can buy if they want to have a go at the high-quality etching but need some spares.

    Also included are six quad 40mm mounts that are redone and expanded from the earlier "USN Light AA Weapons" set #PE 3555 for those doing later ships. In addition to the railings and shields that most sets provide for these mounts, relief-etched carriages with shell casing troughs and seats for the gun crew are incorporated; replacing everything but the gun barrels, breeches and base plate.

    Late-style tripod 20mms are supplied for the late-fit builders as well. Twenty-Four are provided, with relief etching used for the supports on the back of the shields, a nice touch not often seen. The guns can be cut from the tripods if the builder is doing an earlier incarnation with solid pedestal bases.
    The one regret I have with this set is in regards to the splinter shields on the upper deck level for the 5"/25 guns. San Francisco was a bit odd in that instead of having splinter shields that were flipped from one side to the other, they were rotated, with a section that was pointed off to the side of the tub, as opposed to the center, as one might expect. Port side these were aft, starboard side they were forward, but Trumpeter flipped them so port side is forward and starboard side aft. A fix for this error would have been a nice feature, even though it's a very subtle error.
    Click to Enlarge


    What can I say? The instructions are excellent, with clearly printed isometric drawings showing how the parts fold and fit. Two pages of legends list the parts and location to make it easier to find parts in the densely-packed frets.


    Barring the caveats about parts that one might assume are included that I mentioned above, this is an excellent set that should aid the modeler in building a detailed model of any ship of the New Orleans class. I would not recommend it as a first-time set due to the minute nature of some of the parts unless the builder has worked with photo-etch before in other generas, but it is not a treacherous set. 

    Priced at £32.29, or around $51.00, this set is available direct from WEM or from many of our sponsors. Thanks to White Ensign Models for this review sample.