- Published on Thursday, 12 July 2012 00:00 David Johnson
1/232 Encore USS Olympia 'Premium Edition'
Catalogue # EC85001
Available directly from Squadron for $89.99USD
Background of the USS Olympia
The USS Olympia (C-6 Protected Cruiser) was the flagship of the Asiatic Squadron. It is the only naval vessel from the American Spanish-American War fleet that is still in existence. Olympia is one of the most significant vessels in United States history as she was the flagship of Commodore Dewey in his victory over Admiral Montojo's Spanish Squadron at Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War in 1898.
The USS Olympia was ordered on September 7th 1888, and laid down on June 17th 1891 at Union Iron Works in San Francisco, California. The USS Olympia took 17 months to be built and was launched on November 5th 1892. Upon her commissioning in February 1895, Olympia departed the Union Iron Works yard in San Francisco and steamed inland to the U.S. Navy's Mare Island Naval Shipyard at Vallejo, where her outfitting was completed. On 25 August 1895, USS Olympia departed the United States waters for Yokohama, Japan. On 15th November, USS Baltimore (C-3) arrived in Yokohama from Shanghai, China, to meet Olympia and to transfer command of the Asiatic Squadron to Olympia. The next two years were filled with training exercises with the other members of the Asiatic Squadron, and goodwill visits to various ports in Asia. On 3 January 1898, Commodore Dewey raised his flag on Olympia and assumed command of the squadron.
As tensions amplified and war with Spain became more likely, Olympia remained at Hong Kong and was prepared for action. When war was declared on 25 April 1898, Dewey moved his ships to Mirs Bay, China. Two days later, the Navy Department ordered the Squadron to Manila, Philippines, where a large Spanish naval force protected the harbour. Dewey was ordered to sink or capture the Spanish warships, opening the way for US forces. On the morning of 1 May 1898, Commodore Dewey steamed his ships into Manila Bay to confront the Spanish flotilla. At approximately 05:40, Dewey instructed Olympia's captain to open fire on the Spanish flotilla, which opened the battle and prompted the other American warships to begin firing.
By early afternoon, Dewey had completed the annihilation of Montojo's squadron and the shore batteries, while his own ships were largely undamaged. Dewey anchored his ships off Manila and accepted the surrender of the city.
Word of Dewey's victory quickly reached back home and both he and Olympia became famous as the first victors of the war. An expeditionary force was assembled and sent to complete the conquest of the Philippines. Olympia remained in the area and supported the Army by shelling Spanish forces on land. She returned to the Chinese coast on 20th May 1899. She remained there until the following month, when she departed back to home, via the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea. Olympia arrived in Boston on 10th October and then on 9th November, Olympia was decommissioned and placed in reserve.
She served until World War 1 as a training ship for naval cadets and as a floating barracks in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1917, she was mobilized again for war service, patrolling the American coast and escorting transport ships. Following the end of World War I, Olympia participated in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War in 1919, and conducted cruises in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas to promote peace in the unstable Balkan countries. In 1921, the ship carried the remains of World War I's Unknown Soldier from France to Washington, DC. USS Olympia was decommissioned for the last time in December 1922 and placed in reserve. In 1957, the U.S. Navy ceded title to the Cruiser Olympia Association, which restored the ship to its 1898 configuration. Since then, Olympia has been a museum ship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Olympia is the oldest steel US warship still afloat to date.
What you do you get?
Encore is a subsidiary of Squadron Products (www.squadron.com), which specialize in reboxing of other manufactures products with some very nice additions. The USS Olymipa tooling dates back to around 1959 from Revell USA. This was during the time that Revell liked to release products in a non-standard scale compared to the standard scales you see these days. This was done to fit the plastic sprues into a standard size box that Revell used during that time. Despite the age of the tooling the plastic is still nicely molded. Today we are going to be looking at the Premium Edition boxing which includes a lot of extra goodies to bring it up today's standards. There is also a standard version that doesn't include the extras for a lower price.
Opening the lid off the box you are greeted with the 53 year old kit parts that are molded in a light gray plastic. Due to the age of the tooling there are no sprue runners along the outside of the sprue, so expect to have a few parts floating around in the bag, as I did. This is no fault to Encore, but one of the downsides from tooling in the back in the day. The Hull is molded in a two piece full hull sectioned down the middle. The detail is very nicely done for a kit of this age, which features crisp raised plating and rivets. Fitment of the hull snaps together perfectly. There are a couple of sink marks in the lower areas of the hull near location tabs, but nothing a bit of putty can fix. The railing stanchions are also molded in place on the hull, which are a tad over done in scale, but these are to be removed and replaced with photo etch parts which are included in the Premium version of the kit. There is a small amount of flash that is found on all sprues, but it is very thin and brakes off with your fingers or a sharp knife. A & B sprues carries the rest of the plastic parts, which are - the main deck, funnels, ventilators, gun turrets, deck houses, bridge decks, life boats and masts. Some of the components are a bit clunky and are over scaled with their detail, but this is where most of the addition parts come in.
In the last couple of years veneer wooden decking and brass barrel upgrade kits have made a huge impact in the modelling industry and proved to be very popular with modellers across the world. Thanks to the ease of modern day technology, a set of decking and barrels have been included with the kit. There is a total of 13 wooden parts for the decking which are carried within 4 very thin wooden sheets. A word of warning... These sheets are very thin and are stuck together; some care is required when pulling them apart as they can tear very easily.
A total of 28 turned brass barrels are supplied for the three different types gun barrels that Olympia were fitted with. These will require the plastic barrel to be removed and a hole drilled for a direct replacement of the brass part. All of the barrels have open muzzles and mounting pegs on the rear. According to the parts lay out in the instructions, there is a replacement metal chain for anchor included. But, this seems to be missing in the sample that I received.
Also included within the kit are white metal and resin parts. These consist of breech assemblies for the 6-pounder deck guns, which are in white metal. The props, the bow and stern mounted torpedo tube doors are done in resin. The hull notch above the rudder is also included as a resin upgrade. But to use the resin parts the hull and rudder will need to be modified. The props are a direct swap for the plastic parts.
There are a total of 3 sheets of photo etch done in brass. Two of the sheets carry multiple parts and the third is a small nameplate for a display base which is also included. Sheet A carries most of the replacement railings for the molded-on plastic parts. Spread across the multiple sheets are a number of ladders, replacement watertight doors, a new wheelhouse, funnel screens, bases for the 6-pounders and a replacement crest for the bow. There is also a nicely detailed assembly for upgrading the engine room skylights and hatch.
As mentioned before, there is wooden display base with two brass pedestals, which replace the clunky plastic base. There are no decals with this kit, only a paper sheet with the various flags, ensigns and pennants.
Instruction booklet is printed in full colour in an A4 format and is nicely laided out. It has a mixture of illustrations from the original Revell instructions and photos of the kit parts showing the assembly sequence. These are also show numbered steps on the bottom of each page with written text instructions. Also included in the Instruction booklet is some history on the battle of Manila Bay and Political Cartoons during the Spanish American War and ideas how to weather your USS Olympia.
The kit offers 3 schemes during USS Olympia's service –
- Circa 1st May 1898, Battle of Manila Bay
- Circa September 1898 – August 1899.
- Circa September 1899.
Colour codes are listed in FS numbers throughout the build, which you will have to match up to your favourite brand.
So what do we think?
With all the extra additions that Encore has included, it's sure value for money! PE parts will help remove some of the old clunky, out dated parts and bring the kit up today specs. I am personally looking forward to having a crack at this kit in the near future!
Our sincere thanks to Squadron for the review sample used here. To purchase this directly, click THIS link.
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