MidShip Models 1/700 USS St. Louis

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
Lucky Lou the nick name lovingly given to the USS St. Louis, the name ship of an improved version of the Brooklyn Class light cruiser. The St. Louis and the Helena were the only two ships in this sub class. 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. The St. Louis was at Pearl Harbor on December 7th and survived not only the air raid but also a midget sub attack when she got underway and put to sea. She was all over the South Pacific and worked her way to the Japanese home islands and survived the war earning 11 battle stars. Early in the 1950's, she was transferred to  Brazil. and renamed Tamandare serving until 1976 when she was sold for scrap. Her luck ran out while under tow off South Africa in 1980 when she foundered and sank.

The resin department of MidShip models is in full gear and cranking out some long sought after kits. The USS St. Louis is one of their new line. This kit began life as the Classic Warships kit and was state of the art when first released. I don't think it has lost any of it's luster. In fact it now has a dedicated photo etch fret, new decals, and new resin main and secondary turrets. Don't be confused by the box art the kit represents her after her June 1942 Mare Island refit. So you can model her in her early Guadalcanal fit.

The hull is cast in the waterline style. Detail is very good with a nicely planked deck and lots of surface detail. There is some flash along the waterline, but that shouldn't be a problem to clean up. I'm not a big fan of molded on anchor chain, but this looks pretty good. My sample had a bit of flash on the hanger door track, but nothing that will be a chore to fix. The hull scales out very close to actual dimension and has the correct shape.
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The superstructure parts are cast on a thin wafer. Detail is very good and the forward parts will be easy to locate as the tall director mount is designed to pass through the two upper level. This will help perfectly align them. It looks like the only cleanup here will be flat sanding the parts to free them from the wafer. The funnels look pretty good and have cast on piping. Advanced modelers may want to replace this with fine thin wire, but I think it looks fine in this scale.
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These turrets are new resin versions with separate gun barrels. The sighting hoods are cast on so you wont have to fight with that. The shape looks pretty good and closely matches the plans I have of various Brooklyn class ships. The 5" gun mounts need some work. They appear to be single purpose mounts and don't have enough radius on the sides. You can round the sides a little with a file or sanding stick. To convert this gun to dual purpose you will need to enlarge the gun slots from the front face to the edge of the roof. 
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 The directors are nice and look like their 1:1 counterparts. The boat crane base looks good and the boats and rafts are well cast too.
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This kit features the MidShip standard weapons sprue 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 SOC float plane and ships anchors are cast in metal. The float planes will need a little cleanup to remove the little gates.
A photo etch fret supplies all the railings, searchlight platforms, and cranes. This is essentially a scaled down version of the 1/350 Yankee Modelworks (ex-Classic Warships) Brooklyn class photo etch and it is a great bonus for this kit. It includes nice searchlight towers, boat and aircraft cranes, catapults. Even some nice sky lookouts that you don't normally see in 700 scale. The railings include bow rails that angle upwards
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 six pages with a bill of materials, subassembly views and exploded views. Pretty good overall, but a nice plan and profile would have been a nice touch.

It's nice to see Midship upgrading the old Classic Warships line. This kit make a great mid 42 Lucky Lou, with a little work a late 42 can be modeled. By removing some of the gun tubs you could even back date the kit to a Pearl Harbor fit for either the St. Louis or even the Helena prior to her refit. See also Andrew Payne's in-box review.

This kit lists for $70, only $10 more than the original Classic Warships kit did 10 years ago. The addition of the photo etch fret, sharp decals, and the extra weapons set makes that a pretty good value. I have been offered much more for the old kits in my stash, but now you can get yours without getting out bid on E-bay. These kits are available now at Pacific Front and Freetime Hobbies.

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