Aoshima 1/700 USS North Carolina

WW2 Fast Battleship
Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The USS North Carolina was the first of the fast battleships, a more streamlined ship compared to the earlier classes. Together with her sister ship the USS Washington, these two ships proved their worth to the fleet in surface engagements, anti aircraft defense, and shore bombardment.

Displacement 35,000 Tons
Dimensions, 728' 9" (oa) x 108' 4" x 35' 6" (Max)
Armament 9 x 16"/45 20 x 5"/38 AA, 16 x 1.1" 12 x 0.5", 3 AC
Armor, 12" Belt, 16" Turrets, 1 1/2" Main Deck, +5 1/2" Armored (2nd) deck, +3/4" Third Deck, 16" Conning Tower.
Machinery, 115,000 SHP; G.E. Geared Turbines, 4 screws
Speed, 27 Knots
Crew 1880.

This kit has been around for quite some time, though it is still available through various online sources. For years it was the only game in town in the 1/700 waterline kit scale. The kit goes together rather easily, with the fit being pretty good. Keep in mind that this kit is over 30 years old and it's probably not fair to compare it to today's kits. But it is not all that accurate in the bow area (see notes at bottom of page), and the deck details are done in generic fashion, making them in some cases just plain wrong. The deck planking is overdone and the splinter shields are too low and too thick. 
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The superstructure parts are not bad, the fit is good but the size and shape of the splinter shields doesn't appear to match either the North Carolina or Washington at any point of their careers. The armament varies from pretty good to poor. The main guns are the best parts of the bunch, but are not really that good. A better alternative is the new Pit-Road GB-05 Turret set. The twin 5" 38 turrets are not usable and should be replaced with those in the Skywave E-9 weapons set or the Loose Cannon 5" 38 cal set. The 40 mm and 20 mm are also in need of replacement. I would also replace the gun directors.
The kit also includes the standard flat waterline bottom and weights. The only decals are a US flag, but you do get that handy little tube of glue.
The instructions consist of the front and back of an 8-1/2" x 22' sheet. The text is mostly in Japanese so I can't comment on it. The back side includes several exploded views that clearly show parts placement.

This is one of the kits that hooked me on 1/700 scale waterline ships. When it was new it was quite a nice kit compared to the sparely detailed box scale kits of the day. But by today's standard it is in need of major work to bring it up to par with what's on the market today.

My biggest problem with this kit is the Crocodile bow. The real ship had a bow shaped more like an Alligator, wider and with a more blunt appearance. Compare the kits bow with the Regina Marina resin kit bow. 
Is this an insurmountable problem? That depends on what you are willing to spend, and how accurate you want your ship to be. If you want an accurate kit, spend the extra money and get the Regina Marina kit. If you just need another escort for your carrier task group the Aoshima kit is a good alternative with some photo etch and replacement weapons.