1/350 USS San Francisco CA-38 1944

Reviewed by Matt Enochs

First of all I will start by saying the USS San Francisco is one of my all time favorite ships. She slugged it out during the fist fight that was the night of November 13th off Guadalcanal, she took a licking and kept on fighting. After extensive repairs and modernization she returned to the fight to exact some revenge upon those who sought to send her to the bottom. The history of this ship does not need to be retold by me since just about anyone that reads about WWII in the Pacific will know about this ship, so I will just focus on the new Trumpeter 1/350 kit in the late 1944 fit. I will mainly focus on the differences of this from the 1942 one already on the market and since there is a very good review of that kit here, this will be a supplement to that. This kit is pretty much the same as the 1942 version, only difference is the paint guide, instructions and three new sprues with new decks and superstructures for the later version.


The two main deck pieces are nicely molded with lots of detail such as individual deck planks and hatches. The forward deck piece has the bow mounted 20mm gun tubs molded on and they seem to have the proper shape and are a little thick but for injection molding it's acceptable. The molded on anchor chain needs to go and be replaced and the hawsepipes drilled out.

Further back you find the shields surrounding the 5/25 guns, this also differs from the 42' version in that the shields were closed between the mounts. These are again OK for injection molded but they do have a taper at the bottom being thicker. The GMM set includes new shields for around the guns, and some styrene strip could close the gaps.

The aft deck piece is also nicely detailed with locator pins for the hangar structure and the catapult towers. It also has the shields for 20mm and 40mm guns; there are issues with the 40mm gun tubs but more on that later. The 20mm shields are again OK but the taper off towards the stern and that is incorrect but a real easy fix. There are nicely molded doors and hatches as well as the barbette for #3 turret.


Sprue "F" is one of the new sprues included with the kit and contains most of the superstructure decks and the hangar walls. A close up of the hangar roof, one of the biggest disappointments of the 42' kit was this piece.

The hangar roof has molded on 20 and 40mm tubs. The shields are shaped wrong, too short and tapered towards the bottom and I am afraid that this kit's part is no different. They also are represented as solid all the way around where as the shield running aft of the port side 40mm were open rails. The 40mm tubs are OK but again they taper towards the bottom, everything else though has to go and be replaced .

The 40mm's sit right on the deck and are not raised like they were in real life. The tubs also are the same height all the way around as on the real ship they had a lower side to provide a better arc of fire for the weapon, this will be an easy fix however. The deck level of the bridge with the 40mm tubs however captures this shape more-or-less correctly.

Sprue "G" contains the nameplate (spelled correctly), radars, masts and most of the bulkheads for the various structures as well as cut-down searchlight tower. Details are pretty nice with hatches molded on and other details such as portholes with eyebrows.

On this sprue we see the side of the searchlight platform, I don't know if it is just my kit or the molds pushing the limits but there are rough spots and scratches on a lot of pieces but they show more on this piece.Nothing that a few swipes with some sandpaper can't fix.

Biggest cons of this kit are the hangar roof piece but in my initial inspection I also found these issues.

The hangar door is the wrong one, they made a new piece for the new sprue but they goofed and put the 'as built' style door which is like a garage door. That door was made into swiss cheese during the November 13th battle and replaced by an accordion style door. This could be easily fixed by cutting out the door and replacing with a piece of scribed styrene sheet and a PE hatch.

The stern 40mm tubs are the wrong shape for her late 44' fit but accurate for her 43' fit, I suppose this is better if you wanted to backdate this kit. These tubs also had lower side facing away from the ship to improve the arc of fire from the mount. This would be easy to fix with a file and a little patience. The biggest problem I found is the mounts sit too high in the tub, I believe these mounts were mounted higher than normal due to concerns of washing out when the ship was moving at high speed but compared to the photos they are almost 2 scale feet higher than they should be. This will be very easy fix by just drilling the mounting posts down, especially if you are going to use L'Arsenal 40mm's like I am you will need to make them lower.

The 40 and 20mm's are ok in this kit but the 5/25's have to go, they are not really accurate at all but that is already well known

Hull portholes, I am throwing this one in here as it really isn't Trumpeter's fault as they needed to use they same hull and it is easier to fill than make them. The Frisco had a asymmetrical pattern to her portholes on the bow so make sure to check your references before filling.


The included painting chart looks nice and about accurate as far as the pattern goes but be sure to check your references as it isn't quite perfect. The colors also don't quite look right but using WEM colour coats or Model Masters acrylics you will be able to produce a nice finish

The instructions are your typical run of the mill Trumpeter instructions with fairly detailed exploded views and sprue listing


Although nowhere near the standards set by Dragon's recent release of the USS Buchanan, this kit will be a very nice and fair representation of the ship in her late 1944 fit. With GMM's PE set and some minor accuracy fixes, this kit can be beautiful and it makes great blank canvas for you super detailers out there. By this point in the war the surviving sisters in this class varied greatly and you will need to check available references on being able to convert to another ship. It retails for $74.95 but you can find it for less if you shop around a little. A lot of people are going to nag this kit about the price and what you get, but even using the average retail of $74.95 plus $42 for PE you still have a nice late-war fit treaty cruiser for a little over $100. I paid $150 or ISW's resin one and it was a dog, the only thing I salvaged was the PE set. If I was going to build that kit I was in for a lot more scatchbuilding than with this kit.