The Big Five is a term used for the last five battleships constructed for the US Navy prior to the battleship holiday imposed by the Washington Treaty of 1922, or
more accurately allowed to be completed, as the last four were still under construction when the Treaty was signed. The Big Five consisted of the two battleships
of the
Tennessee class (Tennessee BB-43 and California BB-44) and the three ships of the Colorado class (Colorado BB-45, Maryland BB-46 and West Virginia
BB-48). A fourth battleship of the
Colorado class, USS Washington BB-47, had construction cancelled and the hull was sunk in gunnery practice in November
1925. All five were completed with the classic American cage mast and they were the last US battleships designed to receive a cage mast.

Trumpeter has released 1:700 scale models of the
California, Maryland and West Virginia as the ships appeared at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 with two
cage masts. The kits come with brass photo-etch cage masts that must be molded to the right shape and also create a vertical seams where the edges meet.
3D
Model Parts
has come up with a different solution, pre-formed resin cage masts. All you do is snip off the casting sprue, sand smooth the residue of the resin
vents and voila, the cage masts are ready to go and perfectly formed. The photographs below show the masts before and after removal of the casting sprue. The
brass still has the advantage of being finer than the resin masts but the resin versions have the advantages of being pre-formed, easy to attach to the hull and no
seams. Each tube of the set U715 has fore and main cage masts for one battleship.
Steve Backer
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