Reviewed August 2018
by Martin J Quinn
HISTORY
The second of two Curtiss-class seaplane tenders, USS Albemarle (AV-5) was laid down in June 1939 at New York Shipbuilding in Camden, New Jersey.  Launched in July, 1940, Albemarle was commissioned on December 20, 1944, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, across the river from where she was built. 

Outside of a few months in late 1942, when she operated on both sides of the Panama Canal, Albemarle spent the majority of the Second World War in the Atlantic Theater, where, in May 1941, she fueled and readied PBY's of VP-52, which helped search for the German battleship Bismarck while operating from Argentia, Newfoundland

Post-war she traveled to the Pacific, where she was a laboratory ship for Operation Sandstone at Eniwetok.   In August, 1950, the Albemarle was decommissioned in Brooklyn, New York, and attached to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

For further information, check out her Wikipedia page, from where this abridged history was taken from.   Banner photo above is photo 80G-282682, from the US National Archives. 

The Loose Cannon Albemarle

Loose Cannon's Albemarle comes in a sturdy white box, with the hull wrapped in plastic and surrounded on three sides by thin cardboard for further protection.  The rest of the parts are packaged in plastic bags, which are then stapled into small sections, to prevent the contents from shifting and being damaged.  My instructions, which had the photo-etch and decal sheets taped to the first page, arrived outside of the box in the shipping package.  The photo-etch was bent in some places. 
THE HULL 
The hull is cast as one piece, waterline, with some of the superstructure decks and the sides of the hangar integral to the hull.  Overall, the hull is decently cast.  Some portholes are a little shallow, and will need to be drilled a little deeper.  There are a few blemishes on the hull, and a trace of over pour that will need to be sanded off the bottom of the hull.  Looking at photos of the real ship, there looks there is some prominent piping around the hanger, and pronounced plating on the hull.  More detail oriented modelers may want to try and add those details.  The wooden decks are nicely done - there is thin individual planking with butt ends. 

According to the measurements for Albemarle, the hull scales out pretty close in beam and length. 

DECKS
The 01, 02 superstructure decks, as well as the roof of the hangar, are separate parts.  The 03 and 04 superstructure levels are cast as one piece.  All of these parts have resin over pour, which will have to be sanded off.  The 01 and 02 decks are quite thin, and, as a result, slightly warped.  Details include portholes, porthole covers (on the 03 level only), splinter shields, planking (but without the butt ends found on the fo'c'sle and main decks), hatches and watertight doors.  There are wind baffles on the facing of the 04 level.   The hangar roof looks like it will need the most clean-up.  All bollards, chocks and fairleads are cast separately, which will help with painting (more on those later). 
FUNNELS, LARGE CRANE BASES AND MAIN BATTERY DIRECTORS
These come on one runner.   There will be some cleanup needed on these parts, as the crane bases have some flash on them.   Detail is okay, but a little soft. 
BOLLARDS, OPEN CHOCKS, FAIRLEADS AND READY SERVICE LOCKERS
All the aforementioned parts are cast separately from the hull.   This makes painting the deck, with it's two color camo, easier to paint.   Overall, these parts are a mixed bag.   Some are decently cast, others, not so much.   It's also going to be a challenge to sand these small parts off the wafers they are on. 
RAFTS
The kit has three different  types of rafts - two sizes of oval rafts, and one size of rectangular rafts.    There is "netting" cast into the bottoms of the rafts, which is a nice touch, but these will need the outer edges sanded and cleaned up before painting. 
SHIPS BOATS AND DAVITS
You'll find a total of 17 boats, of 5 different types, included with the model.   The larger motor boats and launches have boat cradles molded as part of the hull.   There is some flash on these parts, especially on the davits.   Overall, detail, especially on the large motor boats, is soft. 
GUN TUBS, SEARCHLIGHT PLATFORMS, CRANE TUBS
There is an assortment of gun tubs and platforms in the kit.  Some are for the 40mm guns, some for the 20mm guns, some go with the crane and some are for the searchlights.   The 40mm and 20mm gun tubs have bracing cast into the sides of the tubs.
WEAPONS
Many USN auxiliaries, which could sometimes operate in forward areas, were fairly well armed during World War II.  Albemarle is no different.  She carried four 5"/38 caliber guns in single turrets, four quad 40 mm AA guns, and 16 20mm guns after her mid-1944 refit in Boston.   The 5"/38 caliber and 40mm guns are cast in resin, while the 20mm are photo-etch. 

Frankly, the weapons are the weakest part of the kit.  The 40mm gun barrels appear to be short cast, and the mount themselves are not crisply molded.   The 5/38 look soft, lack detail and appear to be undersize.  The only think I had in 700 scale to compare them to were the 5/38 turrets in the old PitRoad E-6 USN Equipment for US Navy Ships set.    While I don't know if the PitRoad versions are to scale, the kit parts are smaller.  Personally, I'd replace all the weapons with 3D printed parts.   The model also includes the two open 5/38 guns that Albemarle's sister Curtiss carried. 

ASSORTED PARTS 
Other small parts in the kit include searchlights, Mk 51 directors, capstans, vents, cable reels, what looks like a pelorous, anchors, paravanes, masts, yards, the hangar door and various assorted bits and bobs.  Quality is a mixed bag.  Some parts are nicely cast, some are not.  The masts and yards look pretty good, but I'd probably replace them with brass rod, for strength (especially if you are going to rig).  The cable reels look pretty good. 
AIRCRAFT
Two resin PBM Mariners are included with Albemarle.   Each aircraft consists of about five parts - fuselage, wing, tail planes and floats.   The photo-etch set includes the under wing braces for the floats and propellers.  The tail surfaces have fabric detail cast into them, there are faint scribed lines on the upper wings for the flaps, but elsewhere the detail is soft.   As with the weapons, you may want to see if a 3D printed replacement exists. 
DECALS
Two small decal sheets are contained in the model.   One has a variety of codes for US Auxiliaries (AR, AD,, AV, ect) and hull numbers from 1 to 19.  The second set contains US national markings for  the PBMs.   Both sheets contain a US flag. 
PHOTOETCH
There is a fairly extensive photo-etch set included with the kit.   You'll find railings, radars, lattice supports for platforms, inclined ladders, crane booms, bracing for the hangar overhead, pulleys, yardarms, 20mm guns, anchor chain and the aforementioned parts for the PBMs.  There is some relief etching present.   This looks very complete and is nicely etched. 
INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions are excellent.  There are 18 pages of history, parts inventory and detail drawings and instructions on how to assemble the ship.  There are even drawings to rig the funnels and masts, as well as three pages dedicated to Albemarle's complex Measure 32, Design 5Ax camouflage pattern.   Bravo to Loose Cannon for providing such detailed instructions.  Other manufacturers should take note, and follow their lead. 
CONCLUSIONS
Overall, I'd call this a bit of a mixed bag.   Some areas are nicely done, some are not as nicely done.   It is an usual subject with a striking camouflage design, and the possibilities to use it in a diorama are only limited to your imagination.  The photo-etch is well done, and fairly extensive, while the instructions are excellent.   For those of you who don't care for dazzle camouflage, Loose Cannon is also releasing a model of sister ship Curtiss when she was painted Ms 21. 

This is Loose Cannon Eastís 1/700 USS Albemarle, kit number 138. The model lists for around $95.00 and is available directly from Loose Cannon East.  Thanks to Loose Cannon East for the review sample.  Recommended to fans of Auxiliaries and modelers with a few resin kits under their belts.

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