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Getting It Right The Second Time

My vacation this year to Hawaii included a stop at the Pearl Harbor Memorial and in particular, the final resting place for the USS Arizona and 1,177 members of her crew. It is a moving experience if you’ve ever served aboard a US Navy ship.

I stopped by the gift shop and purchased a Revell-Monogram 1:426 kit of the Arizona preparing for another modeling adventure. Years, many years ago, I built this same kit but lacked the drive to start with research, accurate photos, had no desire to achieve and as a teenager, allowing enough time…there was always something better to do.

Revell USS Arizona kit build

Click on the Box and save 25% off what I paid in Hawaii.

USS Arizona by Revell Monogram

Multi-part Build

To begin with, Revell-Monogram has been around for quite a while and so has this particular kit It was initially released in 1957, the year I graduated from high school and shortly before I built it the first time.

At the time I wasn't concerned with molded details, parts fit or any of the other shortcomings you will find touted by many modelers. To me it was just a fun project to fill some spare hours in the winter.

Now it is a challenge. Can I produce quality results from a kit that dates back to my teen years.

Over the years I have learned a lot about modeling with plastic kits and most of the good models start with research. This is a part of modeling I thoroughly enjoy, learning the detailed history of the subject.

Early in this phase, I learned detail of such kits is really brought to life with photo etched brass. GMM Photo Ethced Brass Left is an example of the modifications made to a kit model to add to its realism and make details ...Pop. It adds considerably to the work load. For instance, it took me four hours yesterday just to remove the molded on deck railing to be replaced by brass railings.

I got my brass photo etched kit from Gold Metal Models and it adds about another 100 pieces to a kit that already contains 133 pieces.

Now I have enough invested (above the kit price) that I am committed to see this through.

The Hull

Just like the real thing, you begin a model of a battleship at the bottom. The Revell Arizona hull is in two parts and the deck is in two parts.

I started with a test fit putting the two halves of the hull together with masking tape "patches" across the bow, the stern and laterally across the bottom of the hull in three plces. I inserted the deck pieces where they belong, just below the molded on rails.

When I set out to remove the railings, I followed directions learned from another forum which recommended using one of my wife's needles in a pin vise to scribe short lines at the base of the molded rails. After bending a couple of needles, I snipped the head off of a "T" pin (stouter, but just as sharp) and it worked fine. I also found the process got faster when I followed up with an Xacto knife with a #11 blade to slice away the scribed sections.

Today's project was drilling out each of the 180 portholes on two levels around the hull. Exciting work. I reversed a drill bit from my pin vise to fit inside the porthole rims.
I am waiting for Paul Stillwell's "Battleship Arizona" which I ordered last week for another detail most wouldn't notice. Did the Arizona's portholes have finish rings or do I need to shave these off?

Stillwell's book is a history of the ship from keel-laying in 1914, based heavily upon some hundred interviews with crewmen, and upon official documents. Abundant photos. Click on the book cover for more information

I am looking forward to doing further research through this book into the history of the USS Arizona (BB 39).

Finding Arizona's True Colors

One question that troubled me. Most finished models I have seen feature the USS Arizona in one shade or another of standard Navy Grey.

The model of the Arizona at the Memorial Museum in Pearl Harbor is Sea Blue.

Somehow I can't imagine the model's builder walking into a meeting of the museum directors with model in hand saying "Have I got a surprise for you".

USS Arizona model in Blue

On To Arizona Build, Deck 2


SBI! Proof