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In-Box Review
USS Pennsylvania
BB-38 1944
  • penn_23

by: Jim Adams [ GOLDENPONY ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

The vessel...

The USS Pennsylvania, BB38, was the lead ship in the Navies new Super Dreadnought Class of ship, the other ship being the USS Arizona. She was laid down in 1913 and commissioned in June of 1916. Since she was oil fired she did not see service with the British fleet as the oiler could not be spared to sail across the Atlantic.

In 1922 she was transferred to the Pacific fleet and arrived in California in September of that year. A final transfer occurred in 1929 when her homeport was switched to Pearl Harbor.

On December 7th she was in dry dock along with the destroyers Cassin and Downs. Repeated attempts were made to torpedo the dry dock, but those failed. On December 20th she left for San Francisco for repairs. She spent the remaining time of the war providing gun fire support for the invasions of the Aleutian Campaign, the Gilberts, and the Philippines to name a few.

After taking a torpedo off Okinawa in 1945 she returned to San Francisco for overhaul and refitting. In 1946 she was taken to the Bikini Atoll for the Operation Crossroads as a target ship. After surviving two separate atomic explosions she was left to study the effects of radiation. On February 10th, 1948 she was towed Island of Kwajalein where her sea valves were opened and she slipped below the waves.

During World War II the USS Pennsylvania earned 8 battle stars on the Asiatic-Pacific Area Service Ribbon and a Navy Unit Citation.

Vessel Specifications

Class: Pennsylvania

Displacement: 31,400 tons

Length: 608 ft

Beam: 97.1 ft

Draft: 28.9 ft

Speed: 21 knots

Complement: 915 Officers and Men

Armament: 12 14 inch guns (4 3)
14 5 in (127 mm)/51 guns (14 1)
4 3 in (76 mm) AA (4 1)
4 3 pounder saluting (4 1)
2 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes (underwater)

The box, and what's inside...

The kit comes in a very nice box, open lidded style, depicting the Pennsylvania shelling an island in the distance, in a full color box-top. Inside the box you will be faced with 13 plastic bags of parts, two brass photo-etch frets, and one sheet of decals. This box is jammed full!

The kit features a first from Dragon, with the main deck and hull molded in one piece. The deck features nice wood grain detailing and is perfect if you plan to build the kit in the waterline version. When I dry fit the upper hull with the lower hull, the fit was not good. The center of the hulls did not match up and would require clamping to get these parts to mate. This may cause a problem for a novice builder. The lower hull does represent the updated hull with its torpedo defense bulges.

Sprue A holds a good deal of the superstructure parts and two PT boats. The bulkheads on the superstructure pieces are missing details. These details come in the form of brass photo-etch pieces. Hatches on these may then be shown open or closed. Novices with PE might be intimidated at needing to use it to get the detail, but since the brass will be attached directly to the styrene, there should be no problems. The PT boats have a decent amount of detail for their scale.

Sprue B gives you a good deal of parts for your spare parts box. These two come from the DML Arizona kit, and only a few parts are needed for the Pennsylvania. The main gun barrels and bases are the only parts used from these two sprues. The barrels did have some flash at their tips, so be careful when removing.

Sprue C yields the ships' float planes. There are also some motor whale boats and gigs, but these are not used in this version. The planes have recessed panel lines, and good detailing. The attachment points might be a little heavy, so be careful when cutting them loose from the sprue.

Sprue D, quite simply yet effectively, has the catapult and Arial masts.

Sprue E holds the ships shafts and propellers. The shafts themselves have very faint mold lines on them; otherwise these parts are nicely done.

Sprue K comes from the DML Essex kit. The extra anti-aircraft guns are on these four sprues. Take your time cutting these off, and beware of the carpet monster. The 20mm and 40mm guns have a nice, fine look to them, good details, as well.

Sprue L is yet another from the Essex, and gives you the 5 turrets. They are finely done, but do have some mold lines. These are faint, but will need to be dealt with.

The main guns are loose in a bag of their own. They have nice, clear detail right down to the access ladders on the sides.

Sprue P contains more of the ships anti-aircraft armament. There are two sprues of these and again, they are finely molded so be careful in handling.

The final sprue S holds the search lights, range finders, and radar masts. These are nicely done and have a good amount of detail.

Details, details.....

The brass photo-etch frets include railings for the ship as well as the crane for the plane. There are also hatches to add that extra level of detail. There are two pieces that are not used in this kit, but should be able to be used in another build...As stated before, novices may not be comfortable in using the photo-etch, but do not judge the kit just by this.

The kits decals and markings are quite minimal, only having the national flag, naval ensign, ship name and number. Also markings for the ships plane are on the decal sheet. Nice, clear lines and colors are present.

The instruction sheet is typical DML style, fold out, well drawn. and are easy to follow.

Final Impressions...

When I opened this box, I was shocked at how many parts there were inside. This box is jammed to the top with parts and will require a fair amount of concentration to keep them straight. This will be a very nice looking ship when all put together and finished.

The main deck with the molded wooden decking is a great step for a 1/700 scale ship. The one piece top hull is another great way to go. The biggest down point to me was the bad alignment between the upper and lower hull. There are no alignment pins on the inside of the hull to help in this area, so if your kit has similar problems, think water line.

The additions of a PT boat is a little puzzling, then add in the fact they call it PT109 that seems a little strange. The box art looks like the ship is shelling Iwo Jima....The Pennsylvania was not at Iwo Jima, and the 109 was sunk before then...either way, having a PT boat added can lead to possible "at sea" dioramas.

The Pennsylvania is a very special ship subject, being a survivor of Pearl Harbor, and also the only ship in her class ship to serve in the war. She fought a long hard fight and came through standing tall... She ended up giving herself to her country and ended her service as a warship should have.

Reference Sources:

USS Pennsylvania.com


Navy historical Center

Highs: Fine, wood grain deck details, one piece molded upper hull, clean, clear molding throughout
Lows: Poor fitting hull halves
Verdict: An overall nice kit of a special ship subject
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:700
  Mfg. ID: 7041
  Suggested Retail: MSR-$26.50 USD
  Related Link: Official Company Website
  PUBLISHED: Jan 17, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Jim Adams (goldenpony)

Copyright 2020 text by Jim Adams [ GOLDENPONY ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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