- Published on Saturday, 24 March 2012 00:01 Robin Jenkins
USS North Carolina
Squadron at Sea 34002
Published by Squadron Signal Publications
Available direct from Squadron for $22.46
Softback 136pp Illustrated 29.8 x 20.4 x 0.3 cm
The USS North Carolina (BB-55), known throughout the naval world as "the Showboat", was the most decorated US battleship serving in WW2, earning an incredible 12 battle stars. Launched in June 1940 as the lead vessel of a new class, she finally underwent sea trials in August 1941 and then entered service with the US fleet. Fortuitously, she was in New York at the time of the Pearl Harbour attack, so escaped the fate of so many other US battleships.
Her wartime experiences then took her to the Atlantic until the summer of 1942, when she joined the Pacific Fleet. Her first campaign, in the Guadalcanal area, was almost her last. After several engagements with enemy aircraft, she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-19 in the same salvo attack that sank the carrier USS Wasp and the destroyer USS O'Brien. Thankfully, the hit on the bow was dealt with by good seamanship and she returned to Pearl Harbour for repairs. She returned and then saw action for the remainder of the war in a large number of campaigns including the Solomons, Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, the Carolines, Marianas and the Philippine Sea, after which she returned to Puget Sound for a refit. In the last months of the war, she saw action in the battles around Leyte, Formosa, the Ryukyus and Honshu; then she sailed for Okinawa, which proved to be her last major action. She was attacked by kamikazes many times, shot down a large number of enemy aircraft and lost 10 crewmen during WW2. Decommissioned in 1947, she was then saved for the US nation and is now a museum ship at Wilmington, North Carolina.
The North Carolina has proved a relatively popular subject with model manufacturers. Offhand, I can think of kits in 1/700th scale (Aoshima, Trumpeter, Pit Road), 1/570th scale (Revell) and 1/350th scale (Trumpeter) – there was even a really old 1/500th scale offering from Renwal. Specific references for modellers of this vessel have been sparse, but now Squadron Signal has launched a new book in their "Squadron at Sea" series concentrating on the Showboat.
The standard approach of this range of publications is to take the reader through the history of the chosen vessel mainly via photographs with accompanying text – in this case, there are over 300 of these. The more general text is of a smaller percentage than in, say, one of Squadron's "In Action" range. The book is completed with 11 colour profiles of the vessel at various stages of its career.
The modeller is fully catered for, with an excellent mixture of detail and general photographs throughout the book. To give the reader a flavour of the contents, I have chosen the following pages: some general views of North Carolina under construction (below);
A selection of fascinating interior shots of various parts of the ship (above); some overall photos of the vessel about to return to the War after its repair from the torpedo strike in 1942 (below);
and a combination of photograph and profiles of the battleship after its refit at Puget Sound in 1944, illustrating the Measure 32/18D camouflage scheme she carried at this time (above).
The overall presentation of the book is extremely good and no modeller of North Carolina or her sister Washington should be without it. The book offers fair value at the price.
So What Do We Think?
A good naval volume on a famous vessel that strikes a very happy medium as far as the modeller is concerned.
A praiseworthy naval reference
Our thanks to Squadron for the review copy. To purchase directly, click HERE.