|The keys to the Allied victory in World War II were the
United States’ industrial capacity and ability to establish and maintain
a supply line to the battle fronts. I cannot think of a better example
were both factors are more evident than the Liberty Ship.
During the early part of the war, German U-Boats were sinking Allied merchant shipping at a rate that exceeded the number of new vessels built. The “Happy Time” for the U-Boat fleets was gravely impeding the Allied war effort and it could have easily turned the war to the Axis favor. However, Henry Kaiser revolutionized ship building by adapting a basic British merchant ship design to create the mass-produced Liberty Ship.
The Liberty Ships were not the most attractive vessels made. They were slab-sided with no graceful curves or lines but the beauty in this design was that it lent itself to modular construction, which facilitated mass production. Modules were built at locations inland and transported via rail to the shipyard were the sections were joined together like a large puzzle to form the cargo ship. In addition, the steam engines fitted into these ships, while only giving these ships a top speed of 11 knots, were also very simple to install which added to the ease of construction. In 1942, of the 646 cargo ships launched, nearly 600 were Liberty Ships. In fact, Liberty Ships were being produced at the rate of about 140 vessels a month, with the fastest to be built and launched took a total of 80 hours and 30 minutes. In total over 2,700 Liberty Ships were built.
What the Liberty Ship lacked in beauty she more than made up for in functionality. These ships were designed to carry loads of up to 10,800 tons which exceeded her own displacement. While slow ships, they also had a tremendous range of 17,000 miles. These ships played an important role in getting much needed supplies to the men and women fighting World War II.
|For some time, the only large scale Liberty Ship that was
available was the currently out of production resin kit from Iron Shipwright.
However in a short span of time, there are now two 1/350 scale kits: the
injection molded plastic kit from Trumpeter and the resin kit from L’Arsenal.
Since I do not have the Trumpeter
kit to compare against, I will not make any comment as to which kit
is more accurate. I will focus on the quality of the L’Arsenal kit
for this in-box review.
|As we have all come to expect from L’Arsenal, this kit
is beautifully crafted with an incredible amount of detail. Comprising
of 102 resin parts, 190 brass photoetch parts and a dozen machined brass
booms, there were definitely no shortcuts taken in the design and production
of this kit.
The main resin part is the solid and very heavy one-piece full hull. I think if you hit somebody with it hard enough you would kill them, that’s how heavy this part. It is also full of excellent detail and superbly casted. All you need to do is to sand the keel to remove the remnants of the casting plugs. Also the scuppers and mooring parts need to be opened up by carefully removing the thin films of resin that are covering them. An example of the fine detail on this model is the hatch covers, which are finely engraved.
|The other resin parts, which include among other things
the funnel, deck houses, breakwater, guns and gun tubs, numerous vents
in different sizes, winches, kingposts and lifeboats, are also very well
done and detailed. They parts are carefully packed in several zip-lock
bags to protect them from damage.
|The photo-etch detail sheet provided with this kit is quite extensive and runs the gamut from standard items such as railings and ladders to structural elements such as the bridge deck levels and the stern gun deck to finite detail parts such as seats for the 5” gun, grills for the vent openings and mast head details. I personally cannot recall a more complete photoetch set provided in a resin kit.|
|The instructions are also very in-depth and comprise of
8 pages with detailed diagrams, annotations and some photographs of specific
areas of the Jeremiah O’Brien. These should go a long way in helping
the modeler build this model without needing too many additional references.
|If you want to build as detailed and complete a Liberty Ship model as you can buy, the L’Arsenal kit would be your most likely choice. Granted, while more expensive than the Trumpeter kit, if you add aftermarket detail sets that you would need to add the level of detail to the plastic kit that is evident here you might as well by this kit instead. It promises to be a challenging but satisfying build.|