|The USS Alchiba was originally the the
14,125 civilian freighter Mormacdove built in Chester, PA in 1938. She
was acquired by the Navy in June 1941 and soon placed in commission as
the USS Alchiba AK-23. Originally serving in the Atlantic, she was sent
to the Pacific in early 42. She delivered cargo Society Islands and returned
to the east coast and returned this time to New Zealand. Alchiba was then
one of the ships formed into the Amphibious Force that invaded Guadalcanal
in early August 42. She became a regular visitor to Guadalcanal making
serveral runs to bring supplies to the Marines defending the island.
On 28 November 1942, while anchored off Guadalcanal's Lunga Point, Alchiba was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-16, setting fire to her forward holds. She was run aground to prevent sinking, and the blazes were extinguished after five days of hard work. However, on 7 December the ship was again torpedoed, probably by a Japanese midget submarine, opening up her after hull and starting more fires. Again, Alchiba's crew controlled the flooding and flames. Her wounds were patched up sufficiently for her to return to the United States for permanent repairs, which lasted until August 1943. Meanwhile, in February 1943, she had been reclassified as an attack cargo ship, with the new hull number AKA-6.
During the rest of 1943 and into March 1944, Alchiba performed logistics duties in the South Pacific, also taking part in the invasion of Bougainville in November 1943. Following an overhaul in mid-1944, the ship was plagued by recurrent engine troubles, was in and out of shipyards for the next year, and completed only one voyage to the south Pacific during this time. In July and August 1945, Alchiba crossed the ocean to deliver cargo to bases in the central and western Pacific. She stayed in the former combat zone until late October and then returned to the U.S., reaching the east coast by way of the Panama Canal in mid-December. USS Alchiba was decommissioned in January 1946. Transferred to the Maritime Commission in July of that year, she was sold to commercial interests in 1948.
Battlefleet has returned with another fine merchant ship, this one captures
this important Guadalcanal veteran in style.
|The hull is very cleanly cast with sharp features such as the cargo hold covers. The bow deck winch is nicely detailed as are the other details. There will be very little cleanup to do on this kit as I could not find any defects or excessive flash. The deck looks a little plain, but that is until you add the details shown below.||Click images
|The superstructure parts are also sharply cast. I love to see nice square walls on a resin kit. Again cleanup will be minimal as these part are very cleanly cast.|
|BOOMS, BOATS, AND MISCELLANEOUS PARTS|
|Booms and winches are cast on a thin resin wafer. It looks like once the parts are removed from the thin resin wafer that they will be open all the way through. A very nice touch.|
|There is one 5"/51 gun mount and four 3"/50 cal mounts. My 5" sample was clean and sharp. The 3" versions are a bit rough. Note I cleaned some of the flash off the parts in the second image below to help. The first image shows them as received. The flash is very light and once removed the guns look OK, but they can really benefit from the optional brass barrels shown below.|
|If you thought the decks looked a little bare on the hull, that is because many of the details are cast as separate items. The bits and vents are separate items and it looks like there are plenty included in case you have problems with small parts like these. Two sizes of rafts are included, the large one with some provisions included. Both have nice detailing and you can clearly make out the netting. The boats are canvas covered and somewhat plain looking.|
|A generic decal sheet is included with numbers for the hull. These are provided in black and white and are sharp and easy to read even for their small size.|
|The photo etch fret is supplied by Tom's Modelworks and is typical of the quality you would expect from his sets. There are railings, ladders, anchors, 20 mm guns, various rigging parts, and bracing. There are also several pieces of brass rod included to fabricate the mast parts.|
|The instructions are four pages with one showing a plan
and elevation of the ship with parts location noted. These are barely adequate
to build this ship and I would consider this the weak point of the kit.
I would love to see some additional views that show where all the rigging
details go. You can go to the Naval
Historical site for some reference photos that will help.
|BONUS PARTS NOT INCLUDED WITH BFM-709A|
|These parts are included only with the # BFM-709B Limited Edition kit. These are BMK turned brass barrels for the 3"50 cal and 5" 51 cal gun mounts. They are very nicely done and a big improvement over the resin parts. The 5"51 version is longer than it's resin counterpart so I am not sure how much of the resin you should remove to fit it. But Harry has provided a view of the gun mount with the barrel installed. Looks a lot better than just the resin version. Also included are 9 Paletted supplies and 5 LCV's. These are really cool and are available separately as well.|
|Conclusions: Another unique subject captured in resin with very nice detailing by Harry Abbott. This one will be a big hit with us Guadalcanal fans. The diorama possibilities are endless. Now we have one of the lessor known ships that helped capture and hold the island. These are available in two versions as #BFM-709A AK-23 Alchiba for $70.00. Or for a limited time as #BFM-709B AK-23 Alchiba Limited Edition with 5 turned brass barrels. for $82.00. You can get yours from direct from Battlefleet Models or one of their distributors.|