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First Look Review
USS San Francisco CA38, 1942
New Orleans Class Heavy Cruiser
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by: Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

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"This "First Look" style MSW review is of Trumpeter Models, USS San Francisco CA38, 1942, in 1/700 scale plastic injection mold."

But first, the vessel...

USS San Francisco, a 9950-ton New Orleans class heavy cruiser, was built at Mare Island, California. She was commissioned in February 1934 and made a shakedown cruise from Hawaii to Canada to Panama before joining the U.S. Fleet in early 1935. For the next four years, she operated in the eastern Pacific and in early 1939 went to the Caribbean to participate in Fleet Problem XX. After the completion of that exercise, she led Cruiser Division Seven on a long voyage around South America, returning to the U.S. east coast via the Panama Canal. With the outbreak of the European war in September 1939, San Francisco made Neutrality Patrols in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean.

Returning to the Pacific in early 1940, San Francisco began operations out of Pearl Harbor, where she was undergoing overhaul on 7 December 1941, when Japan attacked the Pacific Fleet there. Though their ship was largely dismantled, the cruiser's crew actively participated in anti-aircraft gunfire against enemy aircraft. San Francisco was back at sea in mid-month, when she joined in the abortive expedition to relieve the American outpost on Wake Island. During the first months of 1942, she took part in the reinforcement of Allied positions in the southern Pacific, an attempted carrier raid on Rabaul and a successful raid on Japanese forces off northern New Guinea. In the August 1942 invasion of Guadalcanal and Tulagi, San Francisco operated with the U.S. aircraft carriers that supported the landings. She remained active in the Guadalcanal Campaign for three months, serving as task force flagship in the Battle of Cape Esperance on 11-12 October and in the first parts of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 12-13 November 1942. During the latter action she was severely damaged by a crashing Japanese plane and by gunfire.

Following extensive repairs San Francisco escorted a convoy to the south Pacific, and then went to the Aleutians, where she took part in the recovery of Attu and Kiska in mid-1943. In October, she participated in a raid on Japanese-held Wake Island and during the next two months was part of the forces that captured the Gilbert Islands and raided the Marshalls. She stayed busy in 1944, participating in the January-February Marshall Islands invasion, raids on Japanese central and south Pacific bases in February-April, and the vast Marianas campaign in June and July. Late in the year and early in 1945, following a west coast overhaul, she escorted the carrier task forces that raided throughout the western Pacific as U.S. amphibious operations seized the northern Philippines and Iwo Jima. From late March 1945 into June she participated in the Ryukyus campaign.

After the fighting ended in mid-August, San Francisco operated off China and Korea. She arrived back in the U.S. in December 1945 and was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in February 1946. Following more than a decade in the Reserve Fleet, USS San Francisco was sold for scrapping in September 1959.

and now, the model kit...

The model kit is packaged in an open lidded style, cardboard kit box, with nice box-art to stir the modelerís imagination.
Inside there are seven separate bags of kit parts, along with one instruction sheet, full color painting diagram, and decal sheet.

Model Specifications
Model Dimensions-L: 256.2mm W: 27.4 mm H: 63.2mm
Total Plastic Parts-322pcs
Total Sprues-10 sprues plus lower hull, upper hull, waterline plate,
Decal/Marking-camouflage scheme, Measure 21, 1942
Full hull version or waterline version option

Sprue Description/Breakdown

Starting with the main hull assembly, you have a two piece structure here, modelers choice of either a full hull display build, or a waterline version...molded in typical Trumpy dark red plastic, this kit's lower hull is very nicely done, and scales out quite well, with nicely detailed bilge keels molded in, as well as a small centerline keel.

Upper hull assembly is a one piece mold, again, scaling out well, with clean details molded in. The upper and lower hull assemblies dry fit nearly perfectly...off to a great start!

Sprue A, 42 parts total, molded in fine gray plastic, contains many smaller parts of the build, including the funnel assemblies, propeller shafts, masts, catapults, and superstructure details. All molded very crisp and clean, with no flash.

Sprues B and C, times 2 each, contain all of the ships armaments, 9 X 8, 8 X 5, and 8 X .50 caliber guns, respectively. All molding again is very clean and crisp, and even the smallest AA guns had no apparent flash to remove. Nicely molded blast bags on the mains, along with good turret detail will make for an accurate looking build. Also on these sprues are some smaller deck details, life rafts for stowage, ships anchors, and screws.

Sprue E holds the deck assembly, in two piece fashion, with well molded planking and other smaller surface deck details. Forecastle comes with the anchor chains molded in, but these look a bit flat, even for 1/700...other than this small negative, these parts look very good, and dry fit is excellent in the lower hull assembly.

Sprues H and J carry the vessels primary superstructure parts, all detailed again quite well, open windows, and other minute moldings...very clean and clear. Superstructure decks look good, nice planking details where required. Searchlight tower and some of the ships boats make up the balance of kit parts on these sprues, along with the molded kit nameplate.

Sprue F contains the kits four piece full hull display stand, if desired.

The Clear sprue holds the two 1/700 scale, SOC float planes included, with nice detail and panels lines for this scale, decent floats, struts, and molded on prop's. These will build up nicely and add a nice touch to your finished subject.


Decal sheet is well done, clean lines and good colors, with ships flags and ensigns, as well as aircraft markings. Hull numbers for four New Orleans class vessels are included, the SanFran '42 and '44 versions, as well as the Quincy CA-39 1944, and the Vincennes, CA-44.

Instruction sheet is typical Trumpeter, double sided, four panel fold-out style, with good drawings, and very clear explanation of construction. No rigging diagrams are included, so reference photo's and scale drawings will have to be depended upon for this step if desired.

A one page full color paint scheme diagram is included, with port, starboard, and top views of the vessel shown, very nicely done, with a six color paint scheme. Colors are listed in Gunze Aqueous Hobby and Mr. Color paint numbers, and shouldn't be a problem to cross over to your favorite paint manufacturer

Highs: Clean, clear details and molding throughout, great dry fit of parts, good instructions.
Lows: Some super-detailing is soft (searchlights, etc) but an addition of A/M PE should rectify this.
Verdict: Overall, a nice rendition of the vessel in this scale and time frame, should make for a fine build and addition to your display shelves...definitely recommended from this modelers point of view,
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:700
  Mfg. ID: 05746
  Suggested Retail: MSR-$32.95 USD
  Related Link: Official Company Website
  PUBLISHED: Apr 21, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Stevens International!
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 Mark R. Smith (Gunny)

I have been building models of all sorts all of my life, concentrating mainly on the coolest one's when I was younger, but now I focus directly on all military subjects, from armor to warships. After years of counting rivets, I put away the calipers, dial indicators, and micrometers and now just ha...

Copyright ©2020 text by Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]. All rights reserved.



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