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In-Box Review
USS Indianapolis
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by: Chris Flodberg [ SARGENTX ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights


Indianapolis is a classic horror story of war at sea. The Portland Class Heavy Cruiser was torpedoed on July 30, 1945 after delivering parts for the first nuclear bomb to the US air base at Tinian. Approximately 300 men went down with the ship while around 900 men remained adrift suffering the combined tortures of dehydration, shark attacks, exposure, and salt-water poisoning.

Indianapolis and her sister ship were laid-down in 1930 and launched the following year on November 7th. The ship had a distinguished career before her sinking including operations in the Aleutian Islands, assistance in securing the Gilbert Islands, and a dynamic fighting role on June 19th, 1944 in the famous "Marianas Turkey Shoot"; among others.

Sparing the reader a dry technical inventory of her weapons and various systems, I will say that from a modeller's perspective, Indianapolis is a handsome vessel reminiscent of British ships along the designs of the HMS Queen Elizabeth or King George the 5th. The boxy bridge, cubic amidships with hangar bays and catapults, along with the fore and after masts feel distinctly pre-1940 and exude a noble, castle-like presence. Looking at her forward guns and forecastle, I am also reminded of certain German vessels such as Graf Spee.

Trumpeter has decided to go with the 1944 configuration with Measure 32 camouflage. This is a welcome change of pace from the more sober Measure 22 scheme. This is a pretty ship with lots of diorama possibilities; but would make an attractive full-hull model as well with lots to look at, crammed into a relatively compact ship.

I can only assume that this is Trumpeter's answer to Academy's 1/350 offering in the same scale. The general consensus on the internet seems to be that Academy's Indianapolis is a beautiful kit so it will be interesting to crack open the box from Trumpeter and see if it can hold its own against its market rival.


At first glance, the box offers a gorgeous illustration if Indianapolis at sea in what appears to be a sunset or sunrise with an SOC Seagull flying close by. The ship, with her camouflage really sells the build and I already can't wait to see what's inside!

Opening the box, I am struck by the relatively few number of parts. In keeping with Trumpeter's excellent decision to move away from their older style of design where faces are glued onto block structures thus requiring a lot of corner filling and sanding, here we have beautifully moulded blocks complete with crisp detailing on their sides that are ready to go. While the doors and other small bulkhead details can't compete with a good photo-etch replacement, they are certainly adequate for most builders. To their credit, Trumpeter has managed to cast some very thin splinter shields directly onto their decks and has even included previously ignored details along bulkheads such as cable bundles, pipes with retaining brackets, and other things that I wouldn't dare try to identify!

The hull is in two pieces and features crisp plating and attached cleats. The cleats have been simplified into a v-shaped set of two triangles each. I've seen better cleats, but am glad to see that they will not have to be glued on as separate objects. At first glance, I am mystified by two long ridges that run along the hull at a diagonal from amidships, angling down to the bow. A quick internet search reveals no picture of Indianapolis sporting these ridges. Even the box-art does not include a depiction of these things. The expert modeller might be in for some careful excision and sanding work! I most certainly could be mistaken.

In total, there are 13 sprues of varying density of parts, 3 smallish sheets of photo-etch, 2 deck sections, decals and 2 clear sprues for the aircraft. As per their usual format, Trumpeter has included a folded, fully coloured port and starboard camouflage guide with their instructions. After building Belfast and North Carolina, I have come to fear these diagrams as they are notoriously inaccurate. At a glance, this camouflage guide appears accurate and matches the photographic records perfectly. If this is so, Trumpeter has taken a huge step forward. In this day and age of information sharing and an overabundance of readily available sources, it is unacceptable to have an inaccurate painting guide for a ship model. It can only be laziness on the manufacturers end.

I am disappointed by Trumpeter's decision to go with clear plastic for its planes. The overall consensus among ship modellers seems to be a resounding "No more clear parts!". While it may be advantages to provide separate clear or photo-etched canopies (my preference), the idea of moulding an entire plane or bridge out of clear plastic simply for the canopy or a few portholes is ridiculous. The parts are difficult to work with due to their brittle nature, and gluing them is made difficult by the fact that you can't see what is 'inside' or 'outside' and have no idea where your glue is going. It does not help that the planes included in this kit are way over-detailed with deep, ugly, panel, lines, and chunky overall design. I'd take one old-style, relatively smooth Tamiya plane in opaque plastic over a hundred of these dreadful planes any day. For me at least, I will now have to source replacement planes for this kit.

The photo etch that comes in the box looks certainly adequate to produce a nicely detailed model for more advanced builders. Interestingly, the catapults will consist of both plastic and PE. PE sides will be attached to a side less box that comprises the tops and bottoms of the catapults. Without seeing the final result, I anticipate a cleaner and more straightforward catapult build that I have not seen before. I like these kinds of innovations. It's nice to see a manufacturer continuing to make improvements to existing concepts.

The moulding on some of the guns is a bit chunky. The barrels of the quad Bofors are the worst offenders. The barrels are fused up the middle and appear toy-like at best. The main turrets look good and will benefit from a few PE additions to make them more detailed and interesting to look at. It's nice to see that some doors have been added to the turrets.
Highs: Multi-sided, detailed superstructure 'blocks' continue to add simplicity and design elegance to Trumpeter's latest offerings. Slightly frosted, grey plastic will make for a lovely base surface for painting.
Lows: -I could be wrong, but the long, diagonal ridges on the sides of the hull appear to be incorrect and utterly mysterious. I won't even speculate as to what they are. I couldn't find a single image online that shows Indianapolis with these ridges.
Verdict: I'm excited to build this kit! The overall design is crisp and finely detailed, elegant in it's moulding, and in a configuration that will allow for the awesome measure 32 camouflage scheme that is nicely and accurately presented in the instructions.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:350
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jul 12, 2014
  NATIONALITY: United States

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About Chris Flodberg (sargentx)

Copyright 2021 text by Chris Flodberg [ SARGENTX ]. All rights reserved.


A very nice review Chris, written in an easy to read format that is informative.
JUL 12, 2014 - 03:24 AM
Nice review Chris, your comment on the strange lines down the hull had me intrigued so I did some checking and found this picture taken at Mare island1945 which does show them however other photos taken 1944 and before don't seem to show them. As to what they are your guess is as good as mine. First thought was degaussing cables but it seems weird that if they are they don't go the whole length of the hull. Photo for discussion only, although available in the public domain.
JUL 12, 2014 - 05:17 AM
I appreciate these subjects, perfect for my Guadalcanal fixation. I hope they kit a Northampton class someday, speciafically CA-30 USS HOUSTON.
JUL 12, 2014 - 07:10 AM
Great review Chris!! Actually a pleasure to read! Sometimes I get the chance to click around and I came across a pic on the NavSource Online site :http://www.navsource.org/archives/04/035/04035.htm This photo is for discussion purposes only! I really no nothing about the ship other than the basic story behind here, but this appears to be a conduit added from her refit/repairs at Mare Island. Best guess some sort of electrical line from the aft section to the bow...possibly sonar related...again shooting at stars here! But it definitely belongs there as of at least July 10th, 1945 after the alterations. I would think if you wanted to, unless depicting her after this date, you could remove it unless photos before the Mare Island alterations show otherwise! Looking forward to seeing you crack this one, looks like a fun build!!
JUL 12, 2014 - 10:39 AM
So which is the better kit?
JUL 14, 2014 - 05:46 AM
Rumor has it that The Academy kit is far better. Just what I've heard.
JUL 15, 2014 - 11:47 AM
Guys, it's a gas line. Aviation gas was stored forward and below on a lot of US ships. Check out sheet 1 of her Booklet of General Plans, note the hold level (plate 11 / middle sheet) has two tanks for gasoline forward. The gas line was run outside the hull in case it was damaged when full - better to have gas leak outside of the ship than inside! You can see similar lines on aircraft carriers and even Battleship Arizona (port side). "Better" is subjective. The Academy kit is certainly more accurate, the Trumpeter hull is their now typical wild approximation. However, the Academy kit has a lot less slide-molded parts, leading to more joints, puttying and sanding, but also a lower price. So it entirely depends on where you put your values. Don't care about accuracy and want an easier build? Trumpeter is your best choice. Don't want to lop off the rear third of the hull and rebuild from scratch? Then you'll find the Academy kit superior.
JUL 19, 2014 - 06:45 AM
I was looking at the plans provided by Tracy...and it brings up a question. I'm sure I'm the only one that doesn't know the answer... What is the purpose of the chain that goes from the top of the bow to the bottom of the bow? it is shown in the plan profile. It seems to me it would just make a lot of turbulance and noise in the water...
OCT 08, 2014 - 03:39 AM
Paravanes. Turbulence was rather negligible, but I've seen photos of ships in drydock and you can sometimes see where the chains wore the paint from the hull
OCT 08, 2014 - 06:13 AM

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