Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The USS Maryland ACR-8, was a 13,680 ton Pennsylvania class armored cruiser built at Newport News, Virginia. She was placed in commission in April 1905. Maryland was one of the fastest ships in the fleet when she entered service achieving 22.41 knots on trials. Combined with her powerful armament of two twin 8" turrets fore and aft, and fourteen rapid firing 6" secondary guns, the Maryland was a formidable fighting ship.

She was fitted with a brand new radio and participated in early experiments on the use of radio to communicate with other fleet elements. Maryland served first in the Atlantic and Caribbean until September 1906, when she was sent to the Far East. Sailing through Hawaii the Maryland operated in the Pacific eventually be assigned to the Pacific Fleet in California after October of 1907. She operated all along the North American Pacific coastline with an occasional visit to the fleet in  Hawaii. In 1910 Maryland was refitted with a new cage mast that replaces her foremast. This gave her greater spotting abilities for the main battery in the days before Naval Aviation. The cage masts were also thought to be more damage resistant in battle. In 1912 Maryland sailed to Tokyo, Japan  for the funeral of Emperor Meiji Tenno carrying Secretary of State Knox.

Maryland was renamed to Frederick in November 1916, freeing the name Maryland for assignment to a new battleship. When war broke out in Europe Frederick was sent to the South Atlantic to patrol off the coast of South America. In early 1918 she began escorting convoys of US Troops across the Atlantic and then back home again after the war. Frederick served as Flagship of the Pacific Fleet until decommissioning in mid February 1922 and being laid up in Mare Island. She was finally sold for scrap in 1930, a sad end for a proud ship.

Displacement 13,680 t. (norm)
Length 50311
Beam 697
Draft 26
Speed 22.4 knots
Armament 4 8
14 6
18 3
4 3 pounders
2 18 torpedo tubes
Complement 890

This new kit by Niko has been made possible through the efforts of Bill Gruner of Pacific Front Hobbies. Bill supplied the drawings and research material necessary to produce this accurate kit of an as-built Maryland. 

The hull on this kit is very well cast with sharp clean casting. The deck is nicely planked and features plenty of surface detail. The anchorways are clean and ready for the separate photo etched chain supplied with the kit. The hull sides have open port holes and look very much like the photos of the Maryland that I have seen. Some of the compartments are cast open possibly allowing you to do some interior detailing, or at least present a more realistic effect if you chose to open some of the door or hatches.
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The decks and superstructure parts are cast on thin resin wafers and feature the same fine deck planking found on the hull. The gun positions are cast as two separate parts for the port and starboard sides. They include firing slots that will show off the gun mounts. The middle deck has openings that look down into the lower decks. Upper levels mount on opened up walls below that will give the ship a realistic open appearance. The bridge includes all kinds of gear cast on for piloting the ship. This is great as the bridge windows are open and you will be able to see in. Funnels are well cast with additional piping added. 
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The main gun turrets are nicely cast with open sockets for the guns. The secondary gun mounts are fairly well detailed for their small size. The other gun mounts are pretty fine for this scale. I don't think it would be possible to cast them any closer to scale. Other items such as the ships boats are well done. Don't be fooled by just looking at the resin portion. These are designed to have photo etch decks and rudders added that will really make them stand out. 
A complete photo etch fret is included with everything from the railings to the inclined ladders included. Open grate style platforms for the mast compliment the resin parts, as do the angle braces that reinforce the under sides. As mentioned above there are boat decks and rudders.  Other parts include davits, funnel grills, and boat cradles. Many of these parts are relief etches and while this set is not a good as the aftermarket sets out there, it is custom made for this ship and a big plus for this kit.
The instructions are six pages with a mix of photos showing the assembly in steps. They are pretty extensive and include a finished plan and elevation of the assembled ship. I would have liked to see a good line drawing included, but these seem to cover all the bases for this ship.

This is the US Navy Armored Cruiser Maryland, ACR-8, 1905 (Niko 1:700 Resin) offered exclusively by Pacific Front Hobbies for $67.00 US. It is a highly detailed kit with a nice photo etch set that will give you a unique one of a kind Armored Cruiser. Bravo Zulu to Bill Gruner for making this awesome kit possible.