USS San Francisco CA-38 1942

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
Trumpeter has a new cruiser to add to the 350 scale lineup. This one is represents the USS San Francisco in her 1942 fit. Perfect for the Battles of Guadalcanal.
The hull is molded in one piece with either a waterline or full hull option. The lower hull is molded in red plastic and seems to fit well to the upper half. Closed chocks are molded along the hull edge. They are a little large and will have to be drilled out if you want them to look right. The propeller guards are molded onto the hull and in this scale it doesn't look right.  Click images
to enlarge
The deck is molded in two halves. Planking detail is pretty good and there is a lot of surface details. Unfortunately the molded on anchor doesn't look right. It is too flat and is cut off right as it gets to the guide way through the deck. This can be fixed by sanding it off and replacing with real chain. The deck hatches look good and have some rather pronounced detailing.
This sprue has some superstructure parts, funnel halves, and propeller shafts. The funnels have some curious bumps along the skirt that don't belong there. A little sanding should take care of this.  There are a lot of separate inclined ladders included. I am happy that these were not molded onto the decks. Advanced modelers will probably use photo etch, but now the average modeler can have realistic stairs without having to deal with those dreaded aztec stair so common in early kits.
Catapults and secondary amassment make up this sprue. Two are included in the kit. The catapults and bases are pretty good. The 20 mm guns are molded as one piece and now include shields. Ships boats and rafts are pretty good. The 5" 25 cal gun bases are a bit of a disappointment for me. They look like they were scaled up from the 1/700 version of this kit. The gun base rides right down on the deck and there should be a little gap under them.
The main turrets are molded on this sprue and since there are two of them, you will have an extra turret for the parts box. The turrets look pretty good and slide molding is used here to help capture the details without having separate sides. The sighting hoods and gun barrels are separate. The gun barrels are molded with blast bags in place and you will have to do some sanding and shaping to show the guns in anything other than the level position. Also on these sprues are the float plane king post, very well done for plastic.  The crane arm is molded with pins at the base so it can be shown raised or lowered. Boat anchors, davits, and searchlights are rather plain looking.
This sprue contains most of the superstructure parts. I like they way the parts go together. With the open windows there is some nice detailing opportunities here. Some of the splinter shields are a bit short, while others have an extreme amount of draft added. This makes them easier to mold, but gives them a triangular appearance.  I like the way the hanger doors look, but this could have been a separate part to allow for an open hanger. Never the less, it wouldn't be hard for the modeler to cut it out if they want. 
The aft superstructure and other parts on this sprue as well as the searchlight tower. The latter part looks pretty good from plastic. Some of the ships boats have separate decks and this gives them a more realistic shape  when assembled. 
A simple stand is included for full hull display. 
SOC float planes are molded in clear. They feature some nice engraved panel lines. The out rigger floats are nicely done, but I am disappointed by the solid struts and the molded on propeller. 
A simple decal sheet is included with different types of  flags. Hull numbers and aircraft makings are also included.
The instructions are an extensive easy to follow 16 page booklet with all kinds of exploded views. They are step by step and cover all the assembly steps. A large 11" x 17" folded color camo guide shows the colors in detail.

If it seems I am being kind of hard on this kit, it's because it is one of my favorite ships. I would have liked to see more attention to detail. Instead it seems that the old 1/700 Waveline kit was used for a starting point. That was a nice kit 10 years ago, but some details were over simplified and that has been carried over to this kit. I know Trumpeter can do better. Kits such as the HMS Hood and USS Nimitz are very impressive, but this one has lots of room for improvement. A better San Francisco is the Classic Warships, now Yankee Modelworks resin kit. But most modelers shy away from resin, and prefer plastic kits. So I suspect that modelers will enjoy building this kit and welcome a big cruiser to the 1/350 lineup. This is kit #TSM-5309 1/350 USS San Francisco CA38 Heavy Cruiser 1942 with a list price of  $64.95.

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.