Revell 1/390 SS Brasil
Review by William Swan

Revell released their models of the Brasil and Argentina (sister ships) to coincide with the advent of Moore-McCormack Lines ships. These two ships were a really big event at the time, 1957-58, as they represented the most modern types of construction and amenities introduced in an American shipping company. Brasil, was launched at Ingalls Shipbuilding Yard No. 467, Pasagoula, on December 16, 1957. This twin screw, turbine steam passenger liner of 35,000 SHP had accommodations for 553 single class passengers and 401 crew within its 617 foot length. Both sisters were intended for the South American cruise trade and were fully air-conditioned. Brasil was initially registered with U.S. authorities at 14,984 GRT. Rebuilt by Bethlehem in Baltimore in 1963 Brasil received a modest facelift. The kit represents Brasil as initially built. Her GRT went up to 15,257. From this point on Brasil underwent what can only be described as a bewildering array of multiple owners, registrations, lay-ups, transfers and repaintings. She also appeared from the various registrations to have been a Jenny Craig nightmare, zooming from a low of 13,680 GRT to a high of 23,858 GRT and back again. Amazing what those accountants can do to save fees, isn't it? In addition to the creative accounting on her weight and her launch name of Brasil she also went by the names Volendam, Monarch Sun, Volendam again, Island Sun and Liberté. All of this just through 1986!

 For the modeler this all adds up to a plus. The rebuilds (extremely modest) and repaintings in different livery create a host of options for the modeler with some time to research the color schemes. You could buy a fleet of these ships and make them into at least five different major paint schemes! However, as this kit has been long out of production I should add a note as to value on the Brasil/Argentina kits. I have been watching Ebay and these things sell for an incredible amount of money. In the last few months the cheapest one I have seen sold for $81 and at the time I wrote this review, there was one with a high bid of $131 and the auction still had a few days to go! Most kits have sold in the low 100s. Amazing, isn't it?

 This is one of Revell's great early kits and I can only hope that somewhere, somehow this model could be reissued. As it is if you really want one you are faced with the occasional surfacing at vintage kit dealers and on Ebay. This review is based on my initial impressions upon opening the box and surveying the contents.

 The kit is molded in solid hard white plastic and is comprised of 100 pieces including foil, flag and decal sheets. From stem to stern hull measures out to 19 inches and appears to scale out to 1/390. The model is a full hull with props and rudder and the general hull contours appear to be consistent with drawings and photos I have seen. Molding is crisp with no flash and dry fitting of decks and superstructure parts shows a good tight fit with no readily apparent sloppy joints or mismatched mating surfaces.

 In common with other ships of the era and beyond the railings and deck detail are molded in. The railings could be removed with a razor saw or by scribing and replaced with brass. Deck planking is simulated by raised lines and appears to be grossly over scaled (or Ingalls was using redwoods for planks), not much can be done with that unless you are willing to sand them all down and rescribe in scale. Also with regard to the decks there are quite a few ejector pin marks that are impossible to remove or disguise without sanding and rescribing the whole deck. The water in the pools is simulated by a molded in wavy surface which actually looks quite good. There is a foil appliqué included to reproduce the shine of the water as well.

 Superstructure/ Deck assembly is of the "wedding cake" type construction so beloved by Revell in the '50s and 60s (and now repeated by Trumpeter in the new century). Normally I would really hate this but it works on this ship because of the tight fit and the rectangular shapes of the ports, windows and passages that mate together. Loading ports, hatches, etc. are simply holes or blobs on the deck or hull but filling and detailing such are the modeler's lot in life.

 The life boat davits appear somewhat out of scale and devoid of detail, but then again when was the last time you ever saw good plastic davits? The ship's boats are split down the middle vertically for assembly and may pose considerable problem retaining the correct shape after fitting and assembly, or maybe not, but my little red flags went up on seeing and handling them.

 Directions are very large, clear and unambiguous. Painting instructions are of course suspect.

 Overall I am really impressed with the look and feel of this model. It is truly evocative of the prototype and time. I would build it right out of the box (except of course to cut that beautiful bottom off for a waterline model) to recapture the full flavor of the era and it would look fantastic. Drill out the port holes, crystal clear everything in sight and pick your favorite paint job and you can have a really great looking 1950s liner!

 All you superdetailers out there would also have a worthy project on your hands. The scale is large enough to work with and there is such a great product to begin with that modelers on any level will be happy with this kit. While there are numerous sources of information on this ship I am especially indebted to Vols. 5 & 6 of Arnold Kludas' Great Passenger Ships Of The World and the Holland America Line Centennial Edition of A Bridge To The Seven Seas. My wife and I honeymooned on the Rotterdam V in 1976 when Brazil and Argentina were part of Holland America as Volendam and Veendam. 

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