The United States Navy built 75 Tacoma class patrol frigates in the later part of Word War II. Of these vessels, 27 were transferred to the Soviet Union as part of the Lend-Lease program. These ships were mass-produced and easy to build, which made them attractive as an anti-submarine and escort weapon. Many of these ships later served in the Korean War in a variety of capacities.
Iron Shipwright's latest release in 1/350 scale caught my eye for a couple of reasons. While I prefer to model in 1/600 and 1/400 scales, I do enjoy building small combatants in this larger scale. The Tacoma class ships were manned by Coast Guard crews during the war and some of the ships were named after small cities near my home in the New York City area (Bayonne and Poughkeepsie). The Tacomas were also handsome ships. Finally, the limited time introductory price of $49.95 was also attractive, so I decided to go for it.
The kit features a one-piece full hull and is cast in a light gray resin. Personally, I would have preferred having the option of a waterline version. The casting is good, with some very nice detail on the decks and superstructure. The grating on the floor of the forward 3-inch gun tub is excellent and the portholes, watertight doors, ready ammo locker doors and deck hatches are very clean. Although the hull measures about 10.25 inches, there is no warping. This is not to say that there aren't some problems with the hull casting. The tops of some of the vents and lockers had pinholes of various sizes. Several of the depth charge throwers located on the quarterdeck were not cast properly. The biggest problems lie along the ship's keel. There is quite a bit of resin over pour that must be cleaned up and sanded smooth. There are many holes, ranging from pinholes to one measuring about a quarter inch that must be filled in and smoothed out along the bottom of the hull. While these are not insurmountable problems, this has to be the largest number of such imperfections that I have seen on an Iron Shipwright kit.
The smaller resin parts come in a ziplock bag and include structural items (upper bridge, bridge wings, aft 3" gun tub and deck, and stack) and numerous other items, such as the main and secondary armament, searchlights, and gun directors. For the most part, these items are well cast but require cleanup to remove over pour and film. One of the resin lifeboat davits came broken but can be easily replaced by contacting Iron Shipwright directly. The barrels of the 20mm guns, with the exception of one, were all broken off. This really doesn't matter to me as I was planning to replace these barrels with wire. Some of the twin 40mm barrels had a similar problem, but I only need two and a dozen are provided. As a matter of fact, Iron Shipwright provides an extra 40mm gun base and an additional 3 inch gun assembly.
The photoetched brass provided with this kit comes in two frets. The first contains ten lengths of 3-bar rail with greater stanchion spacing, one length of 3-bar railing with tighter stanchion spacing, one length of 2-bar railing and two lengths of vertical ladders.
The second fret contains detail parts and additional lengths of 3-bar railing. The railings on this fret have even narrower stanchion spacing. The other items on the detail fret are the depth charge racks, K gun racks, 20mm gun shields, inclined and vertical ladders, rails for the 40mm mounts, the radar, cap grill and platform for the stack, bridge wing supports, life raft mounts and the yardarm for the mast. Two lengths of brass rod are taped to the inside of the box top that are to be used for the mast and propeller shafts.
The photoetch is very clean and crisply done.
The kit's instructions are better than some that I have seen in other Iron Shipwright kits, yet I cannot quite say that they are comprehensive. There are four singled sided sheets, with the first page being a cover sheet with general information and tips and how to contact the vendor for replacement parts and questions. Pages two and three have an inventory of the resin and photoetch parts and hand drawn diagrams indicating placement of the various resin and photoetch parts. The final page has a graphic of the photoetch detail fret with letter part references (resin parts have number references). Some of the parts in the kit are not referenced in the inventory but are referenced in the diagrams and vice versa.
No guidance is provided on colors and paint schemes. Modelers will have to seek other references for this. If you need more detailed information to assist with model construction, I am aware that some plans are available through The Floating Drydock.
My biggest peeve with this and all Iron Shipwright kits that I have are the lack of decals. A decal sheet with the letters "PF" and hull numbers would have been a welcome addition.
Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the Burlington kit a 6. There is more cleanup and minor repairing that I had anticipated, but this is not too difficult for somebody with some experience with resin kits; it just adds time and work.