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Rob Pollock
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USS Indianapolis (Premium Edition) UPDATED

June 2, 2015 · in Ships · · 42 · 4.4K


Earlier this month, I posted this article about the USS Indianapolis. I noted that the mid-line blue on the hull was, in retrospect, the wrong colour. It made the ship look more like a fairground attraction than a USN vessel, and after all the work I put into the build, I thought it only fair that I return to the issue to correct the error, this time using two colours to achieve a mid-line gray-blue. As well as a few new photos, I've re-posted the earlier build photos. The only image remaining of the earlier incarnation is one with the Indy and I-58 together, for contrast.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) was a Portland class heavy cruiser of the United States Navy. The world's first operational atomic bomb was delivered by the Indianapolis to the island of Tinian on 26 July, 1945. The ship then reported to CINCPAC (Commander-In-Chief, Pacific) Headquarters at Guam for further orders. She was directed to join the battleship USS Idaho (BB-42) at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to prepare for the invasion of Japan. The Indianapolis, unescorted, departed Guam on a course of 262 degrees making about 17 knots.

At 14 minutes past midnight, on 30 July, 1945, midway between Guam and Leyte Gulf, she was hit by two torpedoes out of six fired by the I-58, a Japanese submarine. The first torpedo blew away the bow, the second struck mid-ship on the starboard side adjacent to a fuel tank and a powder magazine. The resulting explosion split the ship to the keel, knocking out all electric power. Within 12 minutes she went down by the bow, rolling to starboard.

Of 1,196 crewmen aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship. The remaining 900 faced exposure, dehydration, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks. The Navy learned of the sinking when survivors were spotted four days later by the crew of a PV-1 Ventura on routine patrol. Only 317 survived. The events of the sinking, and after, have been widely documented in books and on film, as the worst naval disaster in US history.

This is 's 1/350 kit (14113) of the Indianapolis. They released the original kit in early 2013, in the first 'modern' boxing of the type, which coincidentally was followed shortly thereafter by 's own version.

About eighteen months later, Academy released the Premium version, which included the ex-AFV Club submarine I-58, and a wealth of Photo Etch and brass parts. The PE frets are said to be those produced earlier by , rebranded by Academy, and equate to upwards of 300 pieces, most of which are in use, together with about 60 pieces of turned brass for barrels, mast aerials, and so forth. As can be seen here, the kit comes in a substantial boxing setup, and as well as the standard instructions there are included three A3 colour sheets, double-sided, dealing with the Photo Etch.

Only 1500 kits were produced worldwide.

Although I chose not to run a WIP thread for this build, I photographed occasional sub-assembly work, to illustrate the intricate PE detail, which lifts the build to another level.

Humbrol and enamels were used as Federal Standard equivalents, the exception being the Deck Blue, which was replicated with Andrea Blue and Black inks, mixed, and thinned with water for a more uneven appearance to mimic wear (I should have stopped after the first application, but because another issue arose I had to re-coat, and so now the decks are a little too dark, I think).

The hull was spray-mottled with yellow, brown and green, with a spidery line of black traced randomly across the three colours at 15psi. A weak solution of 'hull red' was sprayed overall.

The strip of blue on the hull, as FS 15042, should have been a little more grey-blue, in my opinion. In hindsight, I should have sprayed a more transparent mix of the enamel over the underlying base grey.

Although only a few in number and naturally quite small, the decals were poor. On the aircraft the national markings were effectively glued in place. However, a nice touch in the kit was a selection of the numerals '35' for the CA reference, and hull draft markings, offered as dry transfers which worked well, avoiding the need to fight the decals on the main surfaces. The American flags, I've read, have 50 stars rather than the requisite 48 for the period, but honestly if you can count pinprick-sized dots to confirm it, I'll leave it to you; life's too short.

Included here are two atmospheric images of the ship as she departed Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California on July 10, 1945, following a refit. Two weeks later, she was at the bottom of the Pacific.

The I-58 was posted here previously, but I include a photo of the two vessels together, for interest.

Reader reactions:
14  Awesome

23 additional images. Click to enlarge.

42 responses

  1. said on June 2, 2015

    Rob you did an awesome job on this iconic ship. It is spectacular!

  2. Very nice work, great paint finish.

  3. Nicely done, Rob...I'd have never negotiated all that PE and rigging. My hat's off to ya! 🙂

  4. Looks great Rob.A fine tribute.

  5. Great posting, Rob, interesting history, good photographs and a superb model. Ten out of ten!

  6. Splendid build, Rob. Great details and a flawless paint job, well done.
    While i am really much on a naval modelling tripp, this one looks like a must have for me, after Hood is done.
    Build the Matchbox kit in my youth, a while back...

  7. Simply beautiful Rob……makes me want to do a ship.

  8. Stunning!

  9. Beautiful work with a complex kit. Knew the story of the Indianapolis' sinking, but wasn't aware that she had delivered the world's first operational atomic bomb just a few days before. Amazing.

    • Sometimes it seems that things are 'waiting for their history'. Who could predict such an incredible, dramatic, and, ultimately, terrible series of events unfolding around these men. Even the I-58, as a catalyst, played its part in this endgame, beyond the strictly military aspect: in 1946 it was destroyed by U.S.ships as a gunnery target.

  10. Great work - and all that PE is a nice reminder of why I stick to aircraft!

  11. Now that looks fantastic Rob! I keep thinking about the movie Jaws.
    I read a article years ago about how many people never knew about the aftermath of the sinking until it was mentioned in this movie.
    A well done tribute to this ship and her crew.
    California Steve

  12. Greetings :
    Your enjoyment in this project can be very well observed as well as your dedication. It is a well done example of a job well done. Kudos to you.

    • I also came across a photo if double set of drawings of the ship in use during its final refit at Mare Island. It seems all the more poignant looking at the details and comments on the drawings, and the attention to detail they applied to the task, knowing the ship's fate a fortnight later.

  13. Impressive labour of love there Rob! Well done.

  14. Hello Rob...Nice job on your USS Indianapolis build. I can appreciate the complexity of working with all those parts and finishing up with an outstanding model. Very nicely done.

  15. Nice job Rob!
    Hats off for getting all that PE so well aligned.
    Good job on the rigging too.
    Yes, I agree with you about the blue paint.
    Now, do exhibit that model as much as you ever can. There are far too few ship models at shows.

    • Thanks Ulf, and thanks again for the advice on rigging. I'm sure the ship will find its way to an exhibition stand somewhere.

      This was my first kit ship, and it was a challenging experience (as noted in errors!) but rewarding too, so I may revisit another project sometime, perhaps something in 1/200.

  16. Congratulations on a job well done Rob! Further inspiration for me as I have the Trumpeter 1944 version of this ship in my stash, which i think will be a winter project as it will take quite some time. I will save a link to this post for reference as I get into that build later this year.

    As you mentioned the story of the sinking of the Indianapolis and the aftermath are quite well documented, I recently finished reading another book on it. Although it is described as the worst naval disaster in USN history I think that is qualified as the worst single ship loss of life, perhaps the Battle of Savo Island may be more of a disaster in terms of ships lost. Both events were huge tragedies no doubt. The scapegoating of Capt. McVay was a shameful epilogue to the Indianapolis story in my own very small and practically valueless opinion.

    • Thanks Ralph. The Captain was tried for failing to zigzag on his course, but his orders were to zigzag 'weather permitting'. It took years for him to be exonerated. Although he continued in the USN as a high ranking officer, the episode followed him everywhere.

      By the way, you mentioned your build as a winter project. This one build took me 210 hours, mainly because of all the PE, not that the time means anything as such, just a heads-up on commitment.

      • yes he probably would have zig zagged too, had he know four enemy subs were operating along his route, but he wasn't given that information, although it was known amongst higher-ups.

  17. great model of a great haunting extravaganza...the navy really blew it...the fog of dad turret officer on the Idaho out of Iceland before U.S. entry

  18. great model of a great haunting extravaganza...the navy really blew it...the fog of dad was turret officer on the Idaho out of Iceland before U.S. entry

  19. Great model Rob, I've spent about ten minutes looking at all the detail!

  20. said on June 6, 2015

    FS15042 in fact was slightly green shade of dark blue. Maybe green filter or almost transparent green overspray would work?

    • I think the Academy colour callout doesn't help, and the Revell FS equivalent I used isn't what it should be. I've decided to take a small brush and mottle-in a grey-green over the blue. Any sort of colour will need to be changed from 'actuals' because of being scaled down, but I think the brush-mottle will be an effective and fairly straight forward solution.

      I'm wary of masking at this late stage as there are a number of very small parts adjacent the area, added to which is the possibility that the nearby black or grey might lift when de-masking.

  21. Hello Rob,
    Your detailling is excellent.
    I do like the overal result.
    besides that, it were beautiful hunters of the High Seas.

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