Classic Warships

1/700 USS St. Louis Light Cruiser
Lucky Lou the name lovingly given to the USS St. Louis, the name ship of an improved version of the Brooklyn Class light cruisers. The St. Louis and the Helena were the only two ships in this sub class of cruisers. They differed from the Brooklyn's in that they had a much more compact superstructure and the secondary armament was in four twin 5" gun turrets. With their unusual arrangement of five triple 6" main guns these cruisers represented a unique silhouette among the US fleet. This kit has been out for quite some time, but I just got mine a little while ago, so why not share it with you.
The hull on my kit was nicely molded with no defects and sharp detailing. The hull was flat and splinter shields are molded thinly. If you have Classic Warships USS Helena kit you will note the the hulls are basically the same. The St. Louis differs in that the splinter shields for the 20 mm guns are molded on. My casting matches the prints for the hull in both length and beam almost perfectly.
The superstructure parts are molded in the usual Classic Warships style and are crisp and have a very thin over pour to be sanded away. Another difference in this kit and the later Helena release is that the searchlight platform is molded onto the second deck level. Most modelers will want to replace this with the one included in  Tom's Modelworks set # 719. This will be a little tricky as the platform is located between the two funnel bases. I hope that this kit gets modified like the Helena so that it is a separate part. 
The bridge parts are nicely molded giving the ship that distinctive prewar look, that most of the Brooklyn's had until they were cut down in later rebuilding. The funnels are fairly well detailed, but make sure you pay attention to how you are sanding the bottom so both are parallel to each other. The modeler will have to provide his own brass (or plastic) rod for the masts as none is included in this kit. I should point out that I have already sprayed my parts with a light gray primer, before it occurred to me that I should do a review of this kit.
White Metal Parts
Cranes, Catapults, propeller guards, paravanes and anchors. SOC seaplanes, main mast platform and flag bags Main and Secondary armament Searchlights, boats and rafts, and misc. parts
The white metal parts are nice, and there is only a small amount of flash to remove. The 6 inch main gun turrets are correct in size and shape the gun barrels were a little bent, but they straightened out well. .The 5 inch 38 cal guns look pretty good as well. Warning to the modeler, these ARE the correctly shaped turrets so don't try and replace them with any of the aftermarket sets. The real St. Louis Class cruisers used these earlier style gun turrets, much like the Porter class DD's. You also get some 1.1 anti-aircraft guns as well that look pretty good, but there are no 20 mm guns in the set. Classic makes a light AA photo etch set with them, but I would prefer to have them included. SOC seaplanes and the usual searchlights, life boats and life rafts are provided as well. The catapults will need a lot of cleanup, and the cranes are a little undefined but these are just included as a convenience for those who want to build a complete kit out of the box. I suspect most modelers will replace them with some of the fine photo etch sets. 
Instructions are the main weakness of this kit, they consist of a one page exploded view with a small auxiliary view of the forward superstructure. I hope that more extensive instructions are in the works for the new releases of these kits. 
My conclusion is that this kit will build into an accurate model of the St. Louis as she appeared in 43. This kit could also be used as the basis for a model of the USS Helena as she appeared at Pearl Harbor, before her trip to Mare Island in early 42. If you can get your hands on one now go for it, but take heart Classic Warships will be releasing it again in the near future.