MidShip Models 1/700 USS Alaska CB-1

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The Alaska class were basically upgunned heavy cruisers. Weighing in at 27,000 tons these ships were closer in size to the fast battleships. But they lacked the armor protection and their main gun armament was only nine 12" 50 cal guns in three triple turrets. These ships were intended to provide fast escorts for carrier battlegroups and to be able to fend off the biggest heavy cruisers of the time. While they never got to go head to head with any enemy ships, they shot down their fair share of enemy planes. The Alaska served with the carriers from the mid Pacific to the Philippines and operated as far away as the East China Sea. They were occasionally detached to bombard enemy emplacements on the Japanese strongholds of the Pacific.

As formidable as they looked  this class of cruiser was not deemed successful and only two were ever completed. There was a greater need for smaller escorts and  landing craft for the invasion of Germany and Japan. So only Alaska and Guam were ever completed. After the war consideration was given to converting these ships to missile ships or command ships, but those plans were ultimately scrapped and finally in 1959 the Alaska was sold off for scrap.

Alaska (CB-1) was awarded three battle stars for her World War II service.

The hull is cast in the waterline style with pretty good detail overall. The deck has lots of surface detail with nice planking. The anchor ways are cast without any chain, a nice touch. I would suggest adding real chain here as it looks much better than cast on chain. Splinter shields and gun tubs are well cast and there are plenty of bits along the deck edge.
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The superstructure parts include several deck levels and a funnel. Some of these parts appear to be newly designed, but I don't have an original issue of the old Classic Warships kit to compare it to. The shapes look good, but there is a lack of any surface details. The modeler may want to get a good set of PE doors and hatches to give the walls some surface detailing. The top of the funnel is a little lacking in detail too, but there is some nice external piping. Some of these short comings are made up for by the details included in the photo etch set described below. So most of these parts will be greatly enhanced when platforms and fittings are attached.
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The triple gun turrets look pretty good with cast on sighting hoods and turret top periscopes. I like the way they are cast with the back of the turret being the connection point to the resin sprue. This will allow you to clean them up without losing the details on the other sides. Barrels are not bad for resin, but advanced modelers will probably want to cut off the bast bags and add brass barrels.
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The 5" twin mounts are nice too. They are cast on a resin wafer and have sighting hoods and hatches cast on the rear. Gun barrels are not bad for resin. 
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A variety of gun tubs are included in various styles for the light anti aircraft guns. These are all cast on a resin wafer. Parts such as the 40 mm gun tubs have PE ammo racks that fit inside and will look much better when completed.
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This kit features seven of the MidShip standard weapons sprues to supply the small weapons and fittings. The rafts are molded in two styles and are both nicely done.   This will supply the small weapons as well as give you a bunch of extra spare parts you can use for other projects.
The king posts for the cranes and main and secondary gun directors are cast in white metal. A SeaHawk floatplane is also included to mount on the catapults. Do yourself a favor and use the included photo etch parts for main gun director radar assembly. It will greatly improve the looks of the part.
A relief photo etch fret is supplied to add the fine details to this kit. This fret based on the 1/350 Yankee Modelworks kit really makes this kit. It includes some really nice crane and catapults. There are also a variety of  platforms some an open mesh flooring. If you don't want to use the plastic 20 mm gun mounts then there are photo etch replacements provided on the fret. 40mm gun shields and many other details. The inclusion of nicely done cable reels and floater net baskets will help give the superstructure more detail. The radar support brackets for the funnel will also dress that part up quite a bit.
The decal sheet is a real treat and includes flags and pennants as well as both prewar and early and late war hull numbers. These are printed by Microscale and are typical of the high quality decals they usually produce. They are nicely registered and sharp.
The instructions are twelve pages with a bill of materials, subassembly views and exploded views. These are an improvement over past instructions. The labeled plan and elevation views with the subassembly views help illustrate where the parts go.

This kit was very nice when first released. It's a little dated now but with new photo etch, decals and upgraded parts it has more potential. The hull is pretty nicely done, but the superstructure parts are a little plain. However the really nice photo etch set takes care of a lot of those issues and includes many fine parts not normally seen in a resin kit. I am glad that Midship continues to upgrade these old Classic Warships kits. This one has a list price is $119 US. These kits are available now at Pacific Front and Freetime Hobbies. Currently Freetime lists this kit for $89 making it a pretty good deal for this ship.

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