Building the USS Missouri, BB-63
Anyone who is even a casual student of WWII history has heard of the USS Missouri, the US Navy battleship upon whose deck the Japanese formally surrendered to end WW II. Over the years there have many fine plastic, resin, fiberglass and wooden model kits of this iconic ship issued in a wide variety of scales.
This plastic kit from Kangnam of South Korea isn't one of those nice kits. It appears to be a knock-off of a better-quality kit, in an odd scale, but that's not what got it front and center on my workbench. That occurred when a son-in-law asked if I would build a model of the ship his grandfather had served on in WWII and Korea. His Dad had apparently bought the model kit on a whim and then ... never built it. So I dove in. Head first. Never a good idea.
Absolute accuracy wasn't an issue with this build, thankfully (son-in-law just wanted a cool ship model), but I still had my work cut out for me. The model portrays the Missouri (more-or-less) in her 1980s configuration, with more communications antennae, fewer gun mounts, cruise missile launchers, etc. I was going to have to try and backdate her to early 1950s-Korean War vintage, which among other things would require:
Adding four dual 5-inch gun turrets;
Adding 20 40mm quad mount anti-aircraft gun positions;
Adding the large aircraft handling crane on the stern;
Adding a period correct helicopter or two;
Making what simple modifications to the superstructure I could manage;
Scratchbuilding new fore and main masts;
Getting all new photoetch for things like railings, inclined ladders, radars, etc., in 1/600 scale, since I normally build in 1/700 scale (although I swore when I started this it would be PE free ...).
To quote that memorable line from the movie Apollo 13, "Clearly we have some obstacles to overcome."
Further upping the joy level was the absolute lack of detail on most of the molded parts. Except for a hint of bridge windows and the inevitable Aztec-type "inclined ladders" everywhere, none of the superstructure pieces had any detail. No portholes, hatches, doors, piping, etc. Absolutely smooth. The hull was just as bare - and with no mounting points for the propellers on the inner skegs, and no mounting holes at all for the outer prop shafts. Those were not gonna' be fun fixes - so let's start there!
In the photo at left showing the Aztec steps, the yellow arrows point to the ones just on that piece of the superstructure I still have to grind and file off; the orange arrow shows where one has been removed and the sides (sort of) squared off.
The photo at right shows where I had to graft on two short pieces of plastic tubing for the inner prop shaft mounts (red arrows), the mounting hole I had to drill for the outside prop shaft mount (yellow arrow), and where I'm going to have to make a mounting for the hull entry end of the prop shaft (yellow dot). I guess I should be grateful that the kit even had the outer prop shafts.
One of the oddities of this kit was the inclusion of a set of mediocre tweezers - inside a small box that had a duplicate of the boxtop art on it. Kind of like a mini-me kit and something I had never seen before. But cool nonetheless.
This page was last updated Feb. 6, 2022.