Review: VeryFire 1/350 USS Salem


his kit is currently available at HLI for $115.00 including shipping. We also have the deluxe set available too.

The third USS Salem (CA-139) is one of three Des Moines-class heavy cruisers completed for the United States Navy shortly after World War II. Commissioned in 1949, she was the world’s last heavy cruiser to enter service and the only one still in existence. She was decommissioned in 1959, after serving in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. She is open to the public as a museum ship in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Ordered by the US Navy on 14 June, 1943, USS Salem (CA 139) was laid down on 4 July, 1945 at the Bethlehem Steel Company’s Quincy Yard in Quincy, MA and launched on 25 March, 1947. She was commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 14 May, 1949.

USS Salem served a distinguished 10 year career as flagship of the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and the Second Fleet in the Atlantic. During her career she served as host to such notables as the US Ambassador to Spain, John D. Lodge; the Honorable Thomas S. Gates, Undersecretary of the Navy; Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, USN, Chief of Naval Operations; the Shah of Iran; the President of Lebanon and the King and Queen of Greece.

Although Salem never fired her mighty guns in anger, her very presence served as a stimulus for peace during those troubled times that came to be called the Cold War. She served as a Lady of Diplomacy, rather than as a means of exerting brute force.
Imagine a small city placed in “mothballs”, stored for 35 years, and then reopened and restored to it’s former glory.

When USS Salem was decommissioned on 30 January, 1959 and joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president of the United States and everyone was watching I Love Lucy on their new television.

In October of 1994, Salem once again made her way north to her birthplace in Quincy, where she is now the centerpiece of the United States Naval and Shipbuilding Museum. Bill Clinton was president of the United States, people were watching Murphy Brown and Beverly Hills: 90210 on their big-screen TV’s and “surfing the net”. Now “crewed” by a staff of museum professionals and enthusiastic volunteers, she is being restored to her full glory.

On 14 May, 1995 – 46 years to the day since her original commissioning – Salem was re-commissioned – this time as a member of the Historic Naval Ships Association. She now serves her country once again with her new mission of teaching people of all generations our nation’s rich history of shipbuilding and naval duty.

Here’s a couple of links for more info:

The USS Salem has not been released by anyone in 1/350 before. Very Fire has also released the USS Des Moines in 1/350 and a detail up set for the Salem. A detail set for the Des Moines is coming soon.

The box is a standard top opening box but it’s sturdier than most boxes and seems to be made of thin corrugated cardboard. Things inside the box are bagged in polythene, not the usual plastic. Everything is well protected and nothing can move around inside the box and overall the packaging is excellent.

The box contains:

  • 19 sprues of varying sizes holding 510 parts approx
  • 5 larger parts
  • 1 PE sheet holding 70 parts approx
  • 1 small decal sheet
  • 1 anchor chain

The instructions are in a booklet of 20 pages of full-size black and white text and images plus a black and white sheet that covers PE placement on the superstructure and a glossy colour sheet with the painting guide. The build is in 18 steps over 18 of the pages. The cover is a general introduction and has a little history of the ship and pages 2 and 3 are sprue layouts and explanations of the symbols used in the build to indicate options, PE bends etc. I’m not going to go through each step of the build as there are so many, but the general progress of the build is:

  • Hull halves together and propellors and shafts added
  • Various holes drilled in the plastic decks and fitted in place
  • Main turret assemblies together and masts assembled
  • Ship’s boats, funnel and catapult put together along with some other parts.
  • Bow assembly: all parts that attach to it
  • Stern assembly: all parts that attach to it
  • Bridge and superstructure assembly
  • Placing bridge and superstructure assembly onto the hull
  • Add final sets of railings

The paints are called out in Mr. Hobby, Victoriam, AK Interactive and WEM. The colour chart covers the ship’s boats and decal placement too.

The decals sheet looks to be good quality with a minimal backing sheet. The sheet also includes decals for only USS Salem

This kit is currently available at HLI for $115.00 including shipping.

Overall it’s an impressive kit. There are over 500 parts in the box which means the level of detail is going to be quite high. It has more detail out of the box than the Tamiya kit and is a more cost-effective solution than buying the Tamiya kit and a photoetch set, decks and brass barrels. This kit literally brings models of the USS Missouri into the 21st century and it is highly recommended.

Many thanks to VeryFire for sending the kit along for us to have a look at.

Paul Tosney – Editor
HobbyLink International
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