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Trumpeter 1/700 scale U.S.S. New Jersey 1983

Kit: No. 5702
Scale: 1/700

Manufacturer: Trumpeter, distributed by Stevens International, P.O. Box 126, Magnolia, NJ 08049, 856-435-1555
Price: $22.95
Comments: Injection molded, 222 parts, decals
Pros: Overall good detail, average fit, modern configuration
Cons: Some small details missing, small parts too thick for the scale, color instructions are confusing
Called the "Black Dragon" during World War II, the U.S.S. New Jersey was launched on Dec. 7, 1942, and commissioned on May 23, 1943. It served with distinction during WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and off Lebanon, until it was decommissioned for the final time on Feb. 8, 1991. On Jan. 20, 2000, the New Jersey became a museum in Camden, New Jersey.

Trumpeter's new 1/700 scale release of the U.S.S. New Jersey represents the ship as configured during 1983. It is a cooperative project with Pit-Road Models of Japan, so you will likely see this same kit under Pit-Road's Skywave brand. The kit provides the option of modeling a full-hull or waterline version. The plastic is soft and contains varying degrees of flash and ejector-pin and mold marks. All pieces require clean-up before assembly, and since the plastic is soft, care should be taken, especially with the small parts such as masts, radar arrays, and screws.

The 12-step instructions consist of exploded-view line drawings, parts maps, and a painting and marking guide. The parts are numbered but not named. Decals are well done and provide hull number, name, various warning stripes, helipad markings, campaign ribbons for the bridge, and even stars-and-bars for the two Seahawk helicopters. However, the American flag and naval ensign do not have stars.

Trumpeter's sequence of assembly would have created difficulties down the road. I began construction with the hull. This way I could build the superstructure sections, radar array, stacks, turret, and so forth, and paint them separately.

The parts breakdown is similar to most 1/700 scale ships. The superstructure parts are split into right and left sides, and some seam cleanup is required. The main deck is split into three sections, with the center, including the lower portions of the superstructure, molded as part of the hull. The seam between the rear deck section and the center section creates a noticeable gap that requires filling. The seam created by the forward deck is not as noticeable and is eventually covered by a warning-stripe decal. The simulated wood planking on the deck is too large for this scale.

I chose to model my New Jersey with a full hull. My kit had a warped lower hull section. To straighten it, I attached the stern portion and gradually worked forward toward the bow, applying super glue as I went. The lower and upper hull sections did not fit perfectly, and some minor sanding and filling was required. The full hull is much more impressive than the waterline version.

The barrels for the 16" and 5" guns are separate pieces, which is a nice touch, and the Tomahawk missile launchers can be displayed open or closed. Blast bags are molded on the 16", but not on the 5" guns. The four Mk. 15 Phalanx guns are nicely molded, but the barrels are oversized. They also have ejector-pin marks on the backside of the radomes. Two Seahawk helicopters are provided, with the choice of rotors in the stowed position or fully extended. I deleted these from my model as my references did not show helicopters on deck with the ship underway.

Some hatches and portholes are lacking on the conning tower as well as around the main deckhouses, but these can be scratchbuilt or found on an aftermarket photoetched detail set. The main radar mast and radar arrays are heavy, but that is to be expected in this scale. Once again, after-market details will substitute nicely.

I painted the New Jersey using Testor Model Masters enamels. There was some confusion in determining the color scheme for the ship as it appeared in 1983. The instructions give Mr. Color code numbers but no FS numbers. Trumpeter provides a top view of the ship on the box side-panel, and I used this as a color guide. Allow several hours for masking, as it is a complex scheme.

The overall shape of the ship appears accurate, duplicating the graceful lines of the Iowa-class battleships. The model is just a couple of scale feet short in beam, and a scale foot short in length.

I spent about 30 hours on my New Jersey, most of that cleaning parts and masking and painting. I recommend this kit to modelers who have a few 1/700 scale ships under their belts and can work with a myriad of small parts. The addition of an aftermarket photoetched set would make this into a truly impressive model, especially if you want the New Jersey at the end of its career.

Bill Teehan

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