Reviewed by Sean Hert
August 2012

Fort Drum, the "concrete battleship", lies at the mount of Manila harbor, across from Corregidor, in the Philippines. Originally El Fraile Island, the US Army demolished the island in 1909, and constructed a massive fortification in its place. The final version was armed with two twin 14-inch naval rifles in rotating turrets, with 6-inch casemate guns mounted for local defense, in 1916. Later, various anti-aircraft guns, primary and axillary fire control and searchlights were mounted.

Fort Drum, as this edifice was named, was a US Army installation. Constructed from layers of steel-reinforced concrete, reaching thicknesses of 18 feet for the overhead protection, and walls of up to 60 feet thick!

After holding out for five months against the invading Imperial Japanese forces, the US Army Coastal Artillery units manning Fort Drum surrendered. The facility was taken over by the Japanese, who were never able to return it to a functioning fortress. Later, when US forces returned to the Philippines, Fort Drum was subjected to intense close-range naval bombardment. While this heavily damaged the outer shape of Fort Drum, the occupying Japanese troops refused to budge. Fort Drum was retaken by pumping a fuel mixture down an air vent which was later ignited; the resulting explosion destroyed one of the casemates, as well as incinerating everything inside. Fort Drum was never made operational again, and still stands today at the mouth of Manila Bay.

Blue Ridge Models has released a resin model of Fort Drum in 1/350. This kit is very securely packed, with all the parts firmly placed within foam!


This is one heavy piece of resin. The sides are all very smooth and crisp, the bevels clean, and the fort lays nice and flat. The fort has some sanding required on the bottom, but there are no other casting defects apparent. The topside has regular lines scribed, showing both the various blocks from the concrete pours during construction, and others showing the outline of building or other details to be added. These lines have a variety of thickness and depths, from deep and wide to barely there.

The port and starboard sides of the fort are equipped with 6-inch casemate guns, known as batteries Roberts and McCrea. These curved embrasures are not quite as crisp as the rest of the piece, and will need some careful work to sharpen the detail to match the rest of this kit.

There is a part which fits the "aft" of the fort, covering the sally ports. This part is stepped down from the rest of the structure, both on the sides and bottom. This part will also require careful sanding to make sure the various lines on the top and base all align properly.


In addition to the hull there are resin buildings and water tanks and of course, the two 14-inch main battery turrets, named Batteries Marshall and Wilson. There are resin vents and other detail parts as well. The is a large "slab" for the boat dock that has been well cast.

The buildings all have great details- the windows, doors, roofs, etc have all been obviously built to a high model railroading standard. The searchlights for the cage mast assembly come with MV Lenses- a very nice touch!

This kit also includes machined brass barrels for all the guns of Fort Drum; the 14" mains, the 6" secondaries, and the 3" AA mounts. The barrels have drilled and chamfered muzzles, but the muzzles on the 14" barrels do not appear to be perfectly centered.


There are two long sheets of photoetch for this kit, and they comprise the most complex aspects of the kit. The various railings are to standard, but the derrick hoist will be an interesting build, and the rigging may prove challenging to some. However, it should be simple when compared to the complexity of building the cage mast! The second sheet is all about the cage mast, and it will be a most impressive assembly when completed.


A small set of battle "E"'s are included for affixing to Batteries Marshall and Wilson.


Blue Ridge has included a well-detailed and full color instruction book. These CAD-based instructions are pretty thorough, with paining steps interspersed with the assembly. This can lead to some steps approaching overload; make sure you take your time when reading them over. As the instructions themselves say, familiarize yourself with the steps concerning the derrick and the cage mast before assembly.


This is a really neat kit, and a real departure from most 1/350 kits. A few years ago this fort was released in 1/700, and many 1/350 scale modelers have wished for the "Concrete Battleship" to be available in their scale. The 14" barrels look great from the side, but may be a disappointment when viewed head on. This kit is a bit pricey, retailing at $249.99, which may be too rich for some, but recommended for anyone who has used some photoetch and has an interest in something a bit out of the ordinary.

Available now from Freetime Hobbies. This kit, BRM-35001, retails for $249.95. Thanks to Blue Ridge Models for this review sample.