Niko Model 1/700 USS Augusta CA-31

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The USS Augusta was a Northampton class heavy cruiser built to conform to the limitations of the Washington Treaty. She differed slightly from her sisterships in that she had extra accommodations to serve as a flagship. She served in this capacity in the Far East as flagship of the Asiatic fleet when the Japanese attacked. She came home in 1940 for an overhaul and was relieved as flagship of the Asiatic and became flagship of the Atlantic. She was known for carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt and later President Harry S. Truman. 

Augusta served all over the Atlantic and Mediterranean taking part in the Operation "Torch.", and the Normandy Landings on D-Day. She was remained in the Atlantic when the Germany surrendered and helped transport troops back home. She  decommissioned in July 1946 and spent the next thirteen years as part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. USS Augusta was sold for scrapping in November 1959.

Niko Models has yet another neglected warship captured in 700 scale resin. I am pleased to see it represented so well in my favorite scale.

The hull on this kit is cast with much of the lower superstructure cast in place. The casting is very well done, and the detail is very finely executed. The deck has some very nice deck planking and ammo boxes where appropriate. A nice feature is the open aircraft hangers.
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The superstructure levels are cast on a thin resin wafer and are nicely detailed. Splinter shields are thin and the walls have nice door and port hole detailing. Funnels feature hollowed out tops and nice piping details. The 5" gun directors are some of the best I have seen in 700 scale.
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The main gun turrets are nicely shaped with separate gun barrels. The turrets lack any locating pins so you will have to center them on their bases yourself. Gun barrels are cast in resin and look pretty good. There are small vents cast on the ends of the barrels that need to be snipped off. These are there to allow the resin to fill the mold completely.
The 5" 25 cal open gun mounts are very nicely detailed. These are designed so that you can elevate the gun barrels. Twin and quad 40 mm mounts are nice and feature very thin gun barrels and detail mounts. The main and secondary directors are well done with the secondary directors being exceptionally well done.
The Curtis Float plans are well done and thankfully include mounting holes for the main and outrigger floats. I did notice some tiny voids along the wing edges. These are caused by air bubbles, but they will be easy to fill. I like the recessed panel lines on the flaps and tail surfaces. One could even cut and position these if you brave enough.
 The small details such as rafts and flag bags came out nicely. There is even some nice SG radar sets and skylookouts that are not normally produced in this scale. 
There are two photo etch frets included. The first includes the main railings with straight and swept up railings for the bow. Two lengths of ladders would be more than enough to do this and many other ships.

The second fret features some really nice catapults with diamond plate relief etched catapults. Cranes, tripod mast with latticework, and many different platforms are also included. I like the way some of the platforms have the railings attached. Folding the rails makes it easier to position them. 

The instructions are six pages, four of them exploded views using photos of the actual kit. A camo sheet is also included to help you get the colors right.

A highly detailed and accurate kit of the Augusta. Included is everything you need to build the kit with no need for any aftermarket accessories to spruce up the kit. This kit is listed in Pacific Front Hobbies catalog for $89.00 a nice price for a highly detailed kit like this with photoetch. They carry the entire Niko line of ships and many more hard to find, high quality kits.