Samek Models
1/700 USS Arizona (BB-39)


Reviewed January 2022
by Martin J Quinn

USS Arizona, the second of two Pennsylvania-class "super-dreadnoughts", is another in a long line of ill-fated vessels that need little or no introduction.   Built during the First World War, she was destroyed in the opening moments of America's entry in the Second World War on December 7, 1941, the image of her burning and shattered wreck becoming one of the most iconic images from the "Day of Infamy", if not of the entire conflict.  

For more on Arizona, see her Wikipedia page here.  You can also information on her wreck and memorial at her National Park Service page here, and a set of plans for the ship on the Researcher at Large website here.   

The Samek Arizona

On the 80th anniversary of the Japanese sneak-attack on Pearl Harbor, Samek has released a limited edition resin model of the Arizona as she appeared on that fateful day.  The kit is boxed in a sturdy white box, with a photo of the Arizona, in her 1930's heyday, on the cover.   The contents are mostly well packaged, with everything, from hull and parts, to photo-etch and decals, secured in separate plastic bags.    


The hull appears to scale out pretty much perfectly in length and beam.  It's very sharply cast in light tan resin, with really good details and no flash.  The planking looks a little over scale, laid out in too uniform a fashion, and does not carry onto the top of the vegetable lock, as on the real ship.  The splinter shields for the 5in AA guns are very thin, the deck winches, bollards and chocks are very finely cast.  The bases for the cranes are cast integrally to the hull, as are parts of the superstructure, deck fittings, some platforms and the boat cradles.   While the boat cradles are finely cast, on the real ship they are much different structures, but those would have to been done in photo-etch (more on the photo-etch later) to capture them accurately.  

On the main deck, the kit is missing two sets of bolted plates, one to starboard, one to port, which are clearly seen on plans.  However, according to Arizona guru, Tracy White, "Those were 'soft patches' to allow the passage of machinery during overhaul and availability. The plans depict the location and shape but not the fact that they were planked.  There were margin planks around the openings but otherwise the surface was flush and it was normal for boats and spare aircraft to be stored there on rolling cradles."  

One really nice touch is the open 5in/51cal casements.  I've never seen that on a resin ship before, especially in 700 scale, and the effect is visually impressive.   


As mentioned, the base of the superstructure is cast into the hull.   The rest of the superstructure platforms, and the platforms for the mainmast, are cast as part of a wafer.   All the parts are very crisply cast.  However, are some issues.   Everything has cast resin splinter shields around it, which is incorrect.   While there were splinter shields, much of what is represented as a solid bulkhead was, in fact, railings.   You'll have to carve these away if you are a stickler for accuracy.   Also, the "windows" on the navigating bridge are raised blocks to represent windows.  These don't look like windows at all, but more like oversized hatches.  

The deck of the range finder platform is depicted with planking, while the director platforms for the 1.1 guns are represented by raised tubs with a small cast pedestal inside of them.  While the casting is first rate, neither of these things is accurate.  The range finder platform was not planked and the 1.1 director platforms were little more than an incomplete foundation when the ship was sunk.   Finally, the shape of some of the platforms don't look exactly like they do in the BoGP drawings.  I can't decide if the shapes are wrong or if it's the solid cast bulkheads making them appear off. 

The four main batter turrets are included on a wafer.   The shape, compared to plans, look like the real thing.   There are blast bags cast onto the front of the turrets, and ladders to the left hand side of each turret.   Photos of the wreck appear to show the ladders on turrets 2, 3 and 4 were all on the port side of the turrets only.   The director arms on each turret also look over scale, compared to plans, but will probably look fine on the finished model.  
The funnel is completely solid, with no openings in it, including the platforms on either side of it - which have more of those solid raised "windows" - and the top of the funnel, which included a cast on funnel grate.    I would have preferred to see the top of the funnel recessed with a photo-etch grate on top.   On the other hand, the piping on the funnel looks pretty good. 
These are the weakest part of this kit.   Similar to the funnel and the navigating bridge, they have those oversized, raised cast on "windows", which, again, look nothing like windows.  Not to mention that they aren't evenly placed on the spotting tops.   Additionally, the spotting tops don't appear to be the right size or shape.   Both spotting tops are identical, so one doesn't have the radar platform found on the the forward spotting top, while the other doesn't have the access tube going from the spotting top to the bird bath on the aft spotting top.

There are 15 ships boats included with Arizona.   These all look pretty good.  

The kit included a pair of aircraft.   Oddly, they are cast in two halves - front and back.  I can imagine these will be problematic to assemble without a prominent seam.   The wing shape looks vaguely like a Kingfisher, but the "cockpit" doesn't look like that on a Kingfisher at all.  

The rest of the kit parts are across one resin wafer and ten resin runners.   The parts include the Mk19 directors, the 20' and 12' rangefinders, parts for the 5in/25 cal and 5in/51 cal weapons, struts for the fore and main mast, jack and flag staff, 1.1in AA gun tubs, paravanes, vents, anchor capstans, vents and the parts of the crane above the level of the boat deck (remember the lower parts of the cranes are cast into the hull).   Everything is crisply cast, and the 1.1in AA gun tubs are well done. 

Some comments on the rest of the parts:

  • The Mk19 directors look more like the later Mk37 directors in size and shape
  • The 5in/25cal guns are, at best, only representative of the real thing
  • The 5in/51cal guns are basically just a block with a resin rod off the end.  So while you get a nice recessed opening for these weapons in the hull, the weapons themselves are a disappointment
  • The main battery barrels are mediocre and should be replaced by metal barrels.
  • The jack and flagstaff are oversized
  • The kingposts for the boat cranes don't look accurate, and one of them is warped.

The main legs for the fore and main masts are included, but the struts are not, and will have to be fabricated from brass.  It would be best to replace the legs with brass rod as well.   Also included are the support struts for the Mk19 director platforms. 


Arizona comes with two photo-etch sets.  The larger of the two has both catapults, parts for the boat cranes and the aicraft handling crane, as well as anchors and anchor chain, the distinctive lattice yard arms, vertical ladders and some .50cal AA guns.  The smaller set has the lower sides of the forward superstructure.  There are no boat cradles, railings or inclined ladders in the model (the kit instructs you to use vertical ladders in lieu of inclined ladders). 

Arizona comes with a small decal sheet with two US flags on it.    

The instructions are on three sheets of paper.  One sheet has a brief ships history and data on one side, with instructions on how to assemble the turrets and most of the photo-etch on the other side.  There's also a small sheet with directions on how to bend and install the photo-etch that forms the bottom of the superstructure.  

The largest sheet shows an exploded view diagram of the model, along with a parts manifest and some obvious scans of plans of the real ship.   Overall, the instructions are rudimentary at best.   

With the 80th anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, it's nice to see Samek Models release a new model of the USS Arizona, the first new kit of this ill-fated ship in about 15 years.  Which, given the history of the ship and the reverence felt about her, is most surprising.  

However this kit is, at best (I keep using that phrase), a mixed bag.  The casting is first rate - about as good as any resin manufacturer out there.  The hull in particular is very sharply casts and looks great - I really like the recessed casements for the 5in/51cal guns.   The rest of the kit is, frankly, an overall disappointment, especially the almost toy like spotting tops and the raised windows on the navigating bridge and the platforms on the sides of the funnel.   The solid bulkheads on all the superstructure platforms are problematic as well, as is the lack of a more extensive photo-etch set, especially given the price. 

While it's nice to have a new model of the Arizona, I'm afraid I can only recommend this to serious Arizonaphiles, and only to those who are willing to do the work to correct or replace the parts and areas that need fixing.   At least you'll have a good foundation to start with the finely cast hull.   

This is Samek’s 1/700 USS Arizona, kit number S700/141. The model lists for $121.00, and is available from FreeTime Hobbies - who I'd like to thank for this review sample.