Dragon 1/700 BB-38
USS Pennsylvania 1944

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The Pennsylvania was the class leader for a new class of battleship commissioned June 12, 1916. The class consisted of two ships, the Arizona being the second. They were improved Nevada class slightly larger and heavier and with twelve 14" guns in four turrets. Both Pennsylvania and Arizona were at Pearl Harbor on December 7th. While the Arizona was bombed and sunk, the Pennsylvania was in drydock and somewhat shielded from severe damage. However there was enough damage inflicted to require repairs stateside. She was patched up and sent to San Francisco for an extensive rebuilding. She emerged with a brand new secondary armament and radically changed superstructure. A second rebuilding added more modern radar and even more anti aircraft guns. With this upgraded armament, the Keystone Battlewagon was able to exact some pay back for the loss of her sistership. Pennsylvania was involved in bombard missions in Alaskan waters, and all over the Pacific. 

Her most famous action was the Battle of Surigao Strait. On 24 October 1944, Pennsylvania was among a group of five other battleships, with cruisers and destroyers of Rear Admiral Oldendorf's Force. There mission; to stop the Japanese Fleet as it closed the Philippines southern approach. As they steamed back and forth at the opening of the Strait, the Japanese force was sighted. The Torpedo boats attacked with escorting destroyers and the big guns maneuvered across the enemy's "T". Two battleships and three destroyers were sunk that night. 

Pennsylvania received eight battle stars for World War II service. 

It is in this late war configuration that Dragon has modeled the ship. This kit started out as a modification to their successful Arizona kit, and soon turned into a brand new tooling with some really sharp molding.
The hull on this kit is molded as a waterline kit with a separate lower hull. Unlike the Arizona, the bow is molded on and slide molding is utilized to capture the unique shapes of the Pennsylvania. You will notice that the deck includes some fine wood planking and sharp features. Click images
to enlarge
This is a new sprue with the Pennsylvania specific superstructure parts. These are well molded and feature thin splinter shields. The new fighting top is included as four parts for the structure alone.
As a bonus there are two new PT Boats included. There are three lower hulls provided so you can display your boat, out of the water on a stand, in the water raised up at speed, and resting in full waterline mode. Wow, how cool is that? Even as small as they are, these are little kits in themselves with separate torpedoes and fittings.
SPRUE B (x 2)
This sprue contains most of the secondary weapons and fittings. The 5" 25 cal. anti aircraft guns are better than any other plastic ones available in this scale. There are even some 50 cal. machine guns that are a little thick, but still pretty good considering this small scale. 
The ships boats and float planes are included on this sprue that is common to the Arizona kit. The detail is pretty good and the Kingfishers are molded with recessed panel lines. 
The catapult and lattice yardarm are included here. A better photo etch version is included below
The bridge and crane parts are now molded in injection molded plastic and the detail is very good.
SPRUE K (x 4)
This is the weapons sprue and there are two of them in the kit. It includes the many anti-aircraft guns and various fittings used on the ship. Various radar's and other detail items are also included. The 40 mm guns are not bad but the gun barrels are a little thick. 
The 20 mm are also a little thick, but I really like the way they are molded. The front shield is offset from the pedestal and the separate gun can be mounted at any angle just like the real ones. You also get Mk-51 directors, searchlights and even some pelorus mounts. All are as fine as injections molding permits in this scale. Not to be overlooked are the nice life rafts that have some nice netting molded on. But check out the "S" sprues below for even better versions of some of these items.
SPRUE L (x 2)
The kit includes two of the Essex class island sprues. These are supplied for the superior slide molded 5" 38 Twin gun mounts. These are better detailed than those included on the "K" sprue. You will have some extra parts, but I am glad that these mounts are included.
SPRUE P (x 2)
This is a second weapons sprue that adds an important weapon to the kit. Specifically 20 mm twin mounts. Dragon has created a brand new fret to add this weapon that was added later in the war. Additional 40 mm quad mounts and gun directors are also added.
There are four new sprues labeled "S". These are brand new tooling for the Square and Oval Life Rafts, The Mk-37 Directors and their Mk-12 Radar and mount, and several new searchlights. The directors use tripple slide molding to capture the full detailing, and have separate bottoms. You can clearly make out the hatches, and ladder details on the sides. The Fire Control Radar Antenna and mount are three parts, and the stand is also molded using slides. The yoke for the radar screen is very detailed for such a small part. I am very impressed with these new part. These parts were produced from the CAD files for the larger soon to be released 1/350 Buchanan and are the most detailed plastic versions of these parts I have seen in plastic. 
Life rafts
Mk-37 Director
Mk-12 FCR
Antenna & mount
Search lights
The main gun turrets are molded in plastic with some very nice surface details. Locating holes for the catapult are now included on turret #3. The guns are designed to allow for individual elevation, but be advised that the Pennsylvania class has all three guns on the same elevation track and they were elevated together.
A couple of photoetch frets are included that will allow you to replace some of the molded details. What isn't replaced, is enhanced by the extra photo etch parts. Railings and boarding ladders will add a nice touch to the ship.
New walls for the various superstructure parts include relief etching for the doors openings and fold lines. Port holes are open and separate watertight doors are supplied. There are even tiny propellers for the torpedo boat.

The second fret included a stern crane and pulley details. New propellers are also supplied for the Kingfishers. There are also two boat cranes.

The decals by Cartograf include the ships name and aircraft markings. These are nicely registered and pretty sharp. The flags are pretty nice, although there should be 48 stars on the flags. You would need a magnifying glass to notice that though.
The instructions are a six page booklet showing the assembly in a step by step process that is easy to follow. Very thorough and well illustrated. Photo etch locations are noted in color. The last page shows the ship in the MS-21 Camouflage. 
This new Dragon kit is major step forward in 1/700 scale. It's not perfect, but many changes and improvements were made to make it as accurate as possible. I love the included PT-Boats, how fitting since they were with the Pennsylvania at Surigao Strait. The extra photo etch and newly tooled parts makes this a kit a great value. I am especially impressed that brand new state of the art slide molding was used on some of these new parts. The parts they replaced were already very nice, but these are awesome. Let's hope that this is just the start of more good things to come in 700 scale. Get your Keystone Battlewagon in the battle line now. List price is around $27.95 making it a great value for the ship modeler.