Reviewed by Timothy Dike
October 2013

The Cleveland's were the most numerous of the US Navy light cruisers. This ship was an improvement to the earlier St. Louis Class and incorporated all the latest technology the United States had to offer. The first ships of this class were referred to as round bridge, but wartime lessons dictated an open bridge often referred to as a square bridge. The USS Miami was one of these later types of Cleveland class cruisers. More on the Cleveland class can be read here

This kit from Blue Ridge Models is not really new, but it does have some new upgrades. The plastic kit is actually the old Pit-Road kit from the 90's, a really advanced kit when first introduced in the 90's. It's still a  good kit, but has been out of production. Blue Ridge Models commissioned a special run of this kit and paired it up with some of the best aftermarket accessories available today. So it's time to take a second look at this kit and see how it measures up.

The hull is nicely shaped and has some very fine deck lines scribed into the surface. There is an insert for the bow decking, typical of a lot of their ship kits. The ship is a little undersize in length and width but this is barely noticeable. Parts fit together nicely and the modeler will have very little puttying to get a good fit. The shape is not perfect, but it's close.  Click  images
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The superstructure parts are very nice, porthole, ladders, and other details are cast on. Splinter shields are very thin and look good even in this small scale. The sprue included in my kit is identical to the one in the Cleveland kit, but I think it is supposed to be more like the image on the right which is a scan of the Pit-Road Miami kit. I will check on this and update the review.
Two of the Skywave E9 weapons sprue's are included for the guns and other fittings. I like this approach as I get to accumulate a lot of extra parts for spares. The 5" 38 cal dual gun turrets are the best available in plastic. The 6" 47 cal main guns are made up of three separate barrels and separate gun sights. Cranes and catapults are very nice, but better replaced with photo etched replacements.
Instead of the old Pit-Road decals, this Blue Ridge Models sheet is supplied  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.
A simulated wood deck is included from Artwox Models. It features fine laser etching to simulate the wood planks. There are cutouts for the superstructure and deck fittings. This is a peel and stick part and the deck is very thin.  click to enlarge
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Real metal chain is provided to hang those anchors off of. 
CNC turned brass gun barrels are provided for the 6"47 cal gun mounts. These include a mounting pin and drilled out ends. There area twelve in this kit. 
5" 38 cal. secondary gun barrels are also provided to replace those thick plastic ones. Twelve are included. 
Not one, but five photo etch frets are included courtesy of the Tom's Modelworks #7001 Cleveland class set. These include:
  • Railings and ladders,  two,  and three bar styles in a variety of stantion spacing. Ladders are also included. More than enough so you can save the rest for other projects. 
  • Boat and float plane cranes, prop guards, antenna and funnel grills. The searchlight towers fit Brooklyn class CL's.
  • Aircraft catapults to replace the plastic ones. Aircraft props and struts also included.
  • Radar, radars and more radars! SK, SA, SC and SC-2 just to name a few.
  • 20 mm guns to replace the plastic ones. 
There are plenty of extra parts here to save and be used on other projects. 
The combined instructions are nine pages with most of them devoted to the aftermarket part.
Rather than trolling E-bay to find an old Pit-Road kit, you can pick up this Blue Ridge Models version with all the upgrades you need.
This is kit # BM70036 with a list price of 69.95. It is currently on sale now from Freetime Hobbies for $49.95.  Note that the Pit-Road kit had a list price of $42.00 when first released in 1996 and it didn't include the PE, wood deck or brass barrels. Do the math, this kit is an outstanding value.