Trumpeter 1/700
USS Massachusetts BB-59

Reviewed by Sean Hert

USS Massachusetts BB-59 was the third of four ships in the South Dakota class. The South Dakota class was an attempt to update the preceding North Carolina class. The intent was to keep the speed of the North Carolinas, while upgrading the armor to withstand 16" gunfire (North Carolina's immune zone was designed against 14" shellfire.) Massachusetts differs from South Dakota, in that she was not fitted to serve as a flagship; she has 10 twin 5"/38 mounts and no flag bridge off the conning tower.

USS Massachusetts, aka "Big Mamie", first went into action right after her shakedown cruise when she joined Task Force 34 for operations off North Africa as part of Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa in November of 1942. Assigned to TG 34.1, the Covering Group, Big Mamie engaged in a gun duel with the incomplete French Battleship Jean Bart moored in Casablanca harbor. Big Mamie is believed to have fired the first 16" shells in anger from a US warship, as well as firing the final 16" rounds while shelling the Japanese home island of Honshu, 3 years later in 1945. Massachusetts changed theatres, moving to the Pacific where she was involved in many actions, including The Battle off Cape Engaņo, part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Withdrawn from service at the end of the war 1945, Massachusetts was then chosen for a refit for further operations, but was decommissioned in 1947. She now rests as one of eight preserved National Landmark battleships, in Fall River, Massachusetts, at Battleship Cove, where she is the star attraction.

This kit of Massachusetts is very similar to the previously released South Dakota kit, having only 3 different sprues (F, G, J) and a different deck. Trumpeter's version appears to be a pre-1944 fit, missing the forward 40mm's, the extended foremast and change in radar.

CORRECTION: Reader Sean F Says "The kit is in 1946 fit, like the 1/350 scale offering. The forward pair of 40mm quads and the one atop main turret #2, present from mid-1944 through 1945, are missing because they were removed in her last refit. Note also the lack of port-side anchor billboard, extended enclosed bridge, and the SK-2 radar; all sure signs of the 1946 version. Given this, Trumpeter should've packed in SC-1s instead of OS2Us."


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.

There is a slight mismatch in fit between the upper and lower hull pieces, but can be mostly rectified when the hulls parts are glued together.

The deck is molded as one single piece. Surface detailing includes planking that looks pretty good as well as other details such as the ready service ammo boxes, AA tubs and some flat looking anchor chains. The deck, while packaged separately, had 2 sprue nubs attached. After removal and sanding, the deck still appears a little short, leaving either a slight gap in the bow or stern. This may be attributable to shrinkage.


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. Some modelers will want to replace the molded on ladders. The nameplate is also attached to this sprue.


This sprue has the boat derrick, and more superstructure parts. The detail here, like on the bridge and amidships levels, is pretty good.


Sprue J contains some more superstructure parts, as well as other details specific to Massachusetts.


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.

A decal sheet is included with flags and hull numbers for Massachusetts only. Markings for the OS2U-1 Kingfishers are also included.


A 12 page instruction book is included, using Trumpeter's standard construction order and methods.

A full color poster showing the painting steps (with Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol colors) for Massachusetts in MS 22, which she wore from 1943-45. However, the steps say to paint the lower hull camo and decks the same shade of blue, which is incorrect. The decks should be Deck Blue 20-B, and the hull Navy Blue 5-N.


Overall, a nice kit, and the first time Big Mamie has been offered in 1/700. Still, the kit has some of the same concerns as the South Dakota kit, primarily with the 5" and AA armament. That being said, this kit will build up into a nice Massachusetts out of the box, and has plenty to offer the more advanced builder as well.

Thanks to Stevens International for the review sample. It is listed as #TSM-5761 1/350 USS Massachusetts BB-59 with a retail price of $39.95 US. Stevens is 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 that does.