Trumpeter 1/700
USS South Dakota BB-57

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The South Dakota class was the follow up to the successful North Carolina class. With a similar layout, the four ships of this class were a little shorter in length and had a more compact superstructure. The South Dakota or SoDak as she was nicknamed was unique among her sisters, Alabama, Indiana, and Massachusetts in that she only had eight twin 5" gun mounts instead of ten. The SoDak was fitted as a flagship and extra room was needed so two of the mounts were left off. The SoDak was fitted with the latest search and fire control radar and packed a tremendous punch from both the main and secondary armament. She was rushed into service to help counter the Japanese forces then roaming around the South Pacific. She proved her worth as a Carrier escort at the Battle of Santa Cruz by shooting down a large number of attacking aircraft and helping to  save the Enterprise from the fate the of the Hornet that was sank that same day partly because she had no fast battleship protection. SoDak took a direct hit on her number two gun turret that disabled it. Hastily repaired she was sent to Guadalcanal to stop another Japanese bombardment. On the night of November 15th she engaged Japanese surface ships at off of Savo Island. She then came under the combined attack of a host of Japanese warships. Suffering a critical power failure at the same moment that she came under the concentrated fire from all of the enemy ships, she sustained considerable damage and numerous fires were started. Those fires quickly became an aiming point and the enemies attention away from the USS Washington that was then able sink the Battleship Kirishima. The SoDak withdrew from the battle and returned home. She was hailed as the famous Battleship X, and got to take credit for winning the battle. It was common practice at that time to censor the names of ships in the battle zone. South Dakota was home and thus was named in many news reports as being a hero of the battle. Understandably this created some bad blood among the crew of the USS Washington as they were not allowed to be mentioned as the hero's that they were until much later. The SoDak returned to war repaired and sporting even more anti aircraft guns. She spent most of her time as a fast carrier escort lending her tremendous anti aircraft firepower to protecting the carriers. SoDak never again went toe to toe with another Japanese warship. She survived the war only to end up being scrapped like her partner the USS Washington, the two most important Battleships of the war.

Trumpeter has followed up on their North Carolina and Washington with the South Dakota. They have chosen to model her in her late war configuration with the extra 40 mm quads on the bow. 

The hull is one piece molded in the waterline style. A separate flat waterline base and full lower hull are molded in red plastic. The chocks are molded closed and can be drilled out by the modeler for more realism. Click images
to enlarge
The deck is molded as one single piece, a big plus in my opinion. Surface detailing includes planking that looks pretty good. I like the separate anchor capstans but the molded on anchor chain looks flat. There are plenty of other details such as the ready service ammo boxes.
This sprue has some superstructure parts and the ships propellers. There are three different types with 3, 4, and 5 bladed versions. 
Two sprues of anti aircraft guns are provided with 20 mm and 40 mm guns included. The 20 mm guns lack shields and are not as nice as those used in the Trumpeter Lexington kit.
Two of these sprues are included with the main and secondary gun turrets. Slide molding is used to help achieve more detail and eliminate seams. The main gun turrets feature prominent rivet detail, and gun barrels with molded on blast bags. Sighting hoods are separate parts. The 5" twin mounts are also slide molded with sights on the sides. The gun openings however are too short and do not allow for the guns to elevate. I would suggest opening these up with a flat file or replacing them with aftermarket versions.
The main superstructure parts are included on this sprue. Detail is pretty good and I like the open portholes. 
The rest of the superstructure levels are on this sprue. Detail is pretty good overall.
This sprue contains some South Dakota specific parts. 
Masts, radar, and funnel grills are included on this sprue. I like the way the funnel grills came out with that open look.
Two OS2U-1 Kingfisher float planes are included molded in clear plastic. Main and outrigger floats are separate parts. The propeller is molded on. 
A display base is included for full hull display. 
A decal sheet is included with flags and hull numbers for both South Dakota. Aircraft markings for the Kingfishers are included as well.
A sixteen page instruction booklet describe the assembly in great detail with a variety of sub assembly views. These instructions are well done and should provide all the information that is needed to build this ship. For painting, a color plan and  profile sheet is included with the Ms-21 camo shown.

Overall a pretty good kit. It's strongest point is the correct bow shape, something that the Hasegawa got very wrong on their version. I am disappointed by the 5" and light armament, but these are easily correctable. There is lots of detailing possibilities with this kit and the it should even look good right out of the box. Add some photo etch and after market anti aircraft guns and you have a real cool Battleship X. I hope that Trumpeter does an early war version of this ship as well. 

Thanks to Stevens International for the review sample. They are the exclusive importer for Trumpeter kits in the US. If your hobby shop does not carry Trumpeter kits have them contact Stevens International or try their Hobby Shop Locator to find one.