Niko Model 1/700 USS Marblehead CL-12

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The USS Marblehead was an Omaha class light cruiser built in 1920 and commissioned in September 1924. These awkward looking cruisers were designed to scout out the enemy for the big guns of the fleet. They were light and fast, able to run with the destroyers of their era. They were also very similar in appearance to the four stacker destroyers. The Omaha's has an armament that featured 6" guns in two twin turrets four and aft and eight others mounted in casemates four and aft. As the need for anti aircraft defenses became evident, 50 cal and 3" guns were added. During WW2 20 and 40 mm guns were added and radars were added.

Marblehead served in both oceans during the 20's and 30's. She could be found patrolling off Nicaragua to provide some stability to that country during their civil war years. She operated in Chinese waters during the years leading up to world war two. She was eventually assigned to the Asiatic Fleet in 1938 where she sailed in support of US interests in the Far East. When war broke out in the Pacific she was in the Dutch East Indies with other Allied ships. In January 42 she covered for US Destroyers at the Battle of Balikpapan. A month later she was caught by Japanese bombers in the Java sea and severely damaged by bomb hits and near misses. Only the heroic efforts of her Captain and crew kept the ship afloat and she limped back to Tjilatjap, Java for temporary repairs. Afterwards she sailed back to the US sailing through the Indian and Atlantic Oceans around the tip of South Africa. 

When she arrived in New York final repairs and a much needed refit was begun taking several months. Marblehead emerged in the fall of 42 with a much needed anti aircraft protection and returned to service. She spent the next year patrolling the Atlantic ocean. In 1944 she participated in the invasion of Southern France helping to silence German gun emplacements ashore. Afterwards, she acted as a training ship and served in this role until wars end. She was decommissioned in November 1945 and scrapped in 1946. 

Marblehead received two battle stars for World War II service.

Niko Models has produced yet another unique warship in 1/700 scale. I had really hoped for a Java Sea early 42 version of this ship, but this one depicts her in her late 42 post refit configuration. References for an early 42 version are scarce and very few photos exist showing her in any detail. Even so the Niko kit represents a really nicely detailed version of an Omaha class cruiser.

The hull on this kit is cast in the typical waterline style with most of the superstructure cast in place. Flash is minimal and detail is abundant. There is some cleanup that will be needed at the waterline on my sample. Overall the kit looks pretty good to me, but we can let the photos do the talking.
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The rest of the superstructure parts are cast on thin resin wafers and again detail looks good. Casting quality is pretty good and lots of often overlooked bracing details help make the bridgework stand out. The funnels are hollowed out and feature external plumbing details.
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The main gun turrets are well cast with lots of external details. The casemates for the other main guns have the openings cast in. Some cleanup will be needed to open them fully. The other weapons are typical of Niko kits with sharp detailing and nice casting. 
A single Kingfisher float plane is provided with catapult details to supplement the photo etch catapults. 
An extensive photo etch fret is included with relief etching used to help bring out the details. Funnel grills and footrails are included. Overall a pretty nice fret.
The instructions are six pages, four of them exploded views using photos of the actual kit. These are well done and should be sufficient to build the ship. I would have liked to have seen some line drawings in plan and elevation to help build this kit. A camo sheet if provided to show how to paint her. 

Yet another nicely detailed famous USN ship from Niko to add to your fleet. Included is everything you need to build the kit with no need for any after market accessories to spruce up the kit. This kit is listed in Pacific Front Hobbies catalog for $69.00 a nice price for a highly detailed kit like this with photo etch. They carry the entire Niko line of ships and many more hard to find, high quality kits.