Fighting Tops had been around since the age of sail. In the age of sail musketeers were stationed in the mast tops to fire down at sailors on the opposing ship's decks.
Admiral Nelson was mortally wounded by a shot from a fighting top of the French 74
Redoubtable. As sail gave way to steam and wood to iron and then steel, the
fighting top remained with gatling guns or machine guns replacing muskets. However, their anti-personnel mission was mad obsolete by the greatly increased battle
ranges. They were retained originally for close in defence against small torpedo boats, similar to CIWS of today is close in defence against air or missile attack. In
1941 the USN battleships at Pearl Harbor carried fighting tops, with an open position called a bird bath, on top of one or both of their masts. In the enclosed
multi-story top, sighting and fire direction were the missions. In the bird bath on top, .50 caliber machine guns were found providing light, if ineffectual, anti-aircraft
protection.

Trumpeter has produced a
USS California in her 1941 fit in 1:700 scale. The plastic fighting tops or too wide and have solid plastic windows. 3D Model Parts has
produced set
U717 to replicate the fighting tops for USS California or sistership USS Tennessee. The resin tops have a narrower profile than the Trumpeter plastic
version. Of equal or greater importance are the open windows with which Micro Krystal Klear can provide the appearance of actual windows rather than black painted
squares.
3D Model Parts produces a separate set for the fighting tops of the Colorado class battleships, which were slightly different from those of the Tennessee
class.
Steve Backer
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