Classic Warships 1/700 USS Wichita

Heavy Cruiser
The USS Wichita was a one of a kind heavy cruiser based on the Brooklyn class light cruiser. It was the last of the treaty cruisers and was thus limited in tonnage. She was completed just in time to participate in the Neutrality Patrols in the Atlantic, and participated in the Operation Torch off Casablanca in October 1942. The Wichita then sailed for the Pacific to help hold the line in the South Pacific where ship losses had been heavy. She was at the Battle of Rennell Island where another heavy cruiser, the Chicago was lost. She operated in the Aleutians until August of 1943 when she reported to the Puget Sound Navy yard for a major refit. Her bridge was radically reduced and her anti aircraft capability was upgraded. Wichita was very active in the Pacific, helping to screen carrier task forces and bombarding enemy shore positions during invasions.
It is in this late 43 appearance that Classic Warships has chosen to represents her. The photo above is taken from the new Classic Warships book on the Wichita and actually shows her in 1942, but it's such a great photo that I just had to use it. This kit can be used to model her from 1943 to the end of the war. 
The hull is cleanly cast and has the same fine detail as the USS Helena kit that hit the market a few years ago. This kit has a lot in common with the Helena, as they have the same basic hull. The differences are in the armament and location of some of the splinter shields. One thing that is different from earlier Classic Warships kits is the 20 mm gun mounts are cast in place. The instructions call for using the upper part of Gold Medal photo etch guns, but I would recommend using Corsair Armada's 20 mm mount instead as it is better detailed.
click images
to enlarge

The superstructure parts are nicely detailed, splinter shields are thin, and surface detail is well done. These parts are cast in the open face style so there is a thin resin wafer that has to be sanded away. This layer of excess resin is thinner than earlier kits from this manufacturer. The funnels are very well done with cast on grills that look so good you don't have to replace them with photo etch replacements.
The massive 8" main gun turrets are resin and include cast on sighting hoods and periscopes. The gun barrels are separately cast out of metal with blast bags. The 5" 38 cal secondary gun turrets are one piece cast metal looked good and appear to have the correct offset. They do have rather heavy flash that has to be trimmed away.  The 5" 38 cal. open gun mounts two pieces and allow for the gun to be positioned level or elevated. Quad and twin 40 mm guns are pretty good.
The main gun directors and other parts are well cast and have good detail for the most part. The MK 51 directors are exceptionally small and look very good in spite of their tiny size. The boats and rafts are all right but not spectacular. Cranes and catapults are provided but would be best replaced with photo etch brass. There are a few extra's of most items included just in case.
Generic decals are provided with hull numbers and flags.
The instructions represent a big improvement for Classic Warships 1/700 scale kits and are almost as well illustrated  as those in their 1/350 kits. The only thing I would add is a good elevation view that shows how the deck levels locate.