Blue Ridge Models 1/700
USS St. Louis 1942

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
September 2013
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.

Blue Ridge Models calls this their Heritage Series as it's based on the Classic Warships kit. That kit was state of the art when first released in the late 90's. While it's been around for a few year, it really just needed some upgrading. This new kit  now has PE, CNC Barrels, and a Wood Deck. 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. There is some flash along the waterline, but that's easy to deal with. 
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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.
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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. 
Save the resin main gun barrels for the blast bags. 
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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 a precut blue stained simulated wood deck. It is laser etched with realistic wood planking and is adhesive backed. 
The SOC float plane are from Trumpeter and are molded in clear plastic. 
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
CNC turned brass gun barrels are provided for the 6"47 cal gun mounts. These include a mounting pin and drilled out ends. There are 15 in this kit.
5" 38 cal. secondary gun barrels are also provided to replace those thick plastic ones. 8 are included in this kit.
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 five 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.
I have the original Classic Warships kit, and the Midship follow-up, and this one is an upgrade of both of those kits.
This is kit # BM70033  available only from Freetime Hobbies for $65.00. Another example of a great value, this kit retailed for $60 without the PE, Brass Barrels and Wood Deck many years ago. It's still the best St. Louis class CL on the market.