Niko Model 1/700 USS Portland CA-33

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The USS Portland was the lead ship of a new class of cruisers improving on the Northampton class. Armed with nine 8" guns these were typical of US Navy cruisers designed during the prewar years. The Portland or Sweet Pea as she was nicknamed, was a busy ship. She fought all over the Pacific. She was among the cruisers present at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on Friday the 13th 1942 and sustained heavy damage to her stern that put her out of action. Once repairs were made she sailed home to the states for a massive refit and upgrade that dramatically upgraded her anti aircraft fit. To compensate for this extra weight, she had her superstructure and bridge area remodeled. She emerged with a sleek new look similar to her sistership Indianapolis in her final configuration. 

Niko Models has released this ship in her 1944 fit to go along with their other US Navy ships. 

The hull on this kit is well cast in the typical waterline style. It features nice casting and lots of surface details such as doors and vent grates. My sample had a hole in one of the 40 mm gun tubs that will have to be repaired. An open hanger is one unique feature cast in. Some of the gun tubs have a simulated diamond plate pattern cast onto the floor, a nice touch.
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These parts are cast on a paper thin wafer and some on a pour sprue. Detail is good with thin splinter shields and ammo boxes cast on where needed. 20 mm gun pedestals are cast in place which should make it easier to add the guns. 
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The main gun turrets are cast as single parts with separate barrel assemblies. The turrets have hatch and sight details cast on and look pretty accurate. They lack a locator pin so you will have to center the assembly on the barbetts.
The main and secondary gun directors are well done and typical of the parts having lots of detail and little flash. Several rafts are provided including some stacked ones. Oval and rectangular ones are included some with provisions.
5" 25 cal 40 mm twin and quad mounts are provided all with separate barrel assemblies. Casting is very fine, so be careful with these parts when handling. These parts appear to closely match the drawings for these weapons.
Search lights are cast in two parts. Mk-51 directors, Pelorus mounts, and sky lookouts are among the other parts provided on this sprue.
Two SOC float planes are provided. These include separate floats with mounting holes cast onto the fuselage. 
Two brass photo etch frets are included. One with railings including curved rails to fit the curvature of the deck. The other fret has the mast parts crane and catapults, and other detail parts. The second fret is relief etched and the level of detail is pretty good. 
Instructions are six pages with a bill of materials on the first page. Four pages of sub assembly views show the parts in exploded views. The final page is a camo sheet showing the colors and pattern of the late war camo.

This kit includes virtually everything needed to build a highly detailed  kit of the Sweet Pea in her post rebuild fit. This kit is a must have for your late war US Navy fleet. This kit is available from Tony Bunch of L'Arsenal USA for $76.00 US. Look for him at the IPMS USA Nationals. He carries the entire Niko line of ships and many more hard to find, high quality kits.