On 4 March 1941 the keel was laid of the YMS-1 at the Henry B. Nevins, Inc. Shipyard in City Island, NY. This ship was the first of 561 Yard
Minesweepers designed by the Nevins Shipyard and built at various yards on the East Coast, West Coast and the Great Lakes.

These wooden hulled minesweepers were originally intended to operate in and around the waters of the Naval Yard or Base they were assigned to, hence
the "Y" in YMS. However, the U.S. Navy claims that the "Yard" designation was assigned because these vessels were built at 35 yacht yards and not
larger shipyards. In either event, as was the case with most smaller naval ships and craft, these minesweepers were used in all theaters of the war all
over the globe, sweeping lanes clear of mines for invasion forces. They performed an essential and extremely dangerous mission, cloaked in anonymity
because they were not large and sleek ships of war. Approximately 27 were lost during the war, with 7 alone sunk in a typhoon off Okinawa on October
9, 1945. Two ships,
YMS-304 and YMS-350, were lost to mines off the coast of Normandy, which underscores just how dangerous their duties were.
The YMS motor minesweepers of the USN were built in three series. They were motor minesweepers because they were powered by two diesel
engines, rather than steam.
YMS 1-134 had two funnels, YMS 135-445 had one and YMS 446-481 did not have any visible funnels. They were
originally to have been built to the pattern of the British 105 foot motor minesweeper but were enlarged to 136 feet in order to accommodate a third
diesel engine to produce a magnetic sweep to counter magnetic mines. Wooden hulls were used for simplicity and speed of construction, rather than the
need to present a smaller magnetic footprint. The hulls were reinforced because of the threat of mines detonating nearby. These ships were well
designed and many were transferred to foreign navies during World War II, such as the Free French, British, and Soviet navies. These ships also saw
service during the Korean War and into the 1960’s and many were transferred in later years to Greece, the Philippines, and Brazil.
Niko Model‘s third 1:350 scale kit is a multimedia kit that is comprised of an assortment of cast resin parts, photo-etch, decals and, in a first for Niko
Model
, laser-cut wooden decks. Unlike the previous releases, this is a full hull model, which I found a little disappointing as I prefer to do seascapes.
However, with a relatively shallow draft, one can either take a saw to the hull or sink it into a recess and build up your medium of choice to make your
sea base. Looking at the hull, it is interesting to see that it is not solid but instead has open spaces with bulkheads. This reduces the amount of resin
need to cast the part, which is most likely a cost savings for
Niko Model. Also, since wooden decks are being used, the hollow spaces make it easier
to fit the various resin parts into the openings in the decks. The casting is very well done and about as clean as it comes. I don’t see any resin over-
pour or film that needs to be removed.

The solid cast main deck housing and bridge are the next largest parts. The main deck housing doesn’t have too much in the way of detail. There are
portholes along the sides, some recesses along the top to fit other kit parts and photo-etch doors have to be added. This part needs clean up to remove
some casting plugs underneath but be careful not to sand it all the way down as there are two tabs present that are meant to fit into corresponding
openings in the wood deck for a tight fit. The bridge has more integral details, such as doors, portholes, a flag bag, a wooden grate on the upper deck
and some fittings along the inner bulkhead. This part has some rough spots that need to be cleaned up and the tab underneath that fits into
corresponding opening in the wood deck and recess in the deck housing will need to be cut or sanded down some to make the bridge flush with the
deck.
The bulkheads along the outer edges of the main deck are separate parts with some small tabs along the bottom which look like fit into openings in the
wooden deck. The funnel is broken down into two parts: the actual funnel and a separate cap.

There is a multitude of smaller resin parts which include the main armament (3” deck gun and 20mm Oerlikons), vents, hatches, lockers, the large
cable reel and its housing, main sweep booms and post, boats and rafts, paravanes, depth-charges, running gear, bitts and various deck and bridge
fittings and other equipment. These are all generally well-cast but there are some spots that need clean up. A resin casting film and some mold frames
will need to be carefully removed from the main sweep booms and post. All of the small parts will give the model a very busy look to it. Having depth-
charges already cast and done in such a way to simplify assembly is a bonus. It can be a bit of a pain cutting down plastic rod to make your own
depth charges. Brass rod is provided to make the mast and yardarms and a length of plastic rod is also provided to make the strakes along the foc’sle.

The laser-cut wood decks are a sight to behold. They appear to be well thought out in design and should fit snuggly into the recess in the hull. There
are openings to accommodate all of the resin parts that need to be fitted. The decks do not have an adhesive backing as some after-market ones do. I
would guess that some slow setting adhesive like epoxy, contact cement or wood glue would be used to affix the deck to the hull edges and
bulkheads. I am curious to see how the wood decks will hold up with all of the empty spaces underneath and if there will be some warping at some
point after time. Also as Measure 14 was the common color scheme used on yard craft, the decks were painted Deck Blue 20-B. Painting the deck
with obscure the planking unless it is a stain and some research will be needed to determine if any yard minesweepers had unpainted decks.
The kit comes with a complete set of photo-etch parts. Sections of railing in various styles and lengths which have individual stanchion ends are
included. The other parts include inclined and vertical ladders, parts for the 20mm guns, equipment handling davits, watertight doors, breakwater,
depth charge and paravane racks, mast details, propeller, anchors and other fittings. The etch looks well done with a good amount of relief etching.
However, the image of the photo-etch in the instructions is different from the actual photo-etch and as a result there are some errors and omissions
with the photo-etch and assembly instructions. The instructions show a pair of BK antennas, identified as photo-etch parts 31, being fitted to photo-
etch parts 24 on the yardarm. However, the BK antennas are not present in my kit’s photo-etch and parts 24 are actually identified as parts 29 on the
photo-etch fret. Parts 31 are really a pair of chain railings that are fitted at the peak of the foc’sle deck and those are misidentified in the instructions
as well. It looks like there are several other instances of this, particularly with some of the parts for the 20mm Oerlikons. You will have to look
carefully at the instructions and kit parts to reconcile them during assembly.

Two small decal sheets are provided. The first sheet has the U.S. flag in two sizes. The second sheet has the white background for the flags. As the
red and blue colors are printed on transparent backing, you will have to layer the flag decals over the white background to make a complete flag.
Instead of decals for the hull numbers a photo-etch airbrushing stencil is provided. I personally have had no success with stencils, so I will use
decals from another source for the hull markings.

The assembly instructions are printed on three pages. The first page has images of the kit parts. The resin parts are keyed to numbers that are
referenced in the assembly diagrams. The following pages are fully illustrated with sub-assemblies and more general placement of parts clearly
shown. The last page has painting instructions with references to Hobby Color paints so you will have to do your own cross referencing for
matching
White Ensign Colourcoats or some other brand. Aside from the issues I mentioned above, the illustrations are very well done and it is a
shame that these part reference number errors were made.
This appears to be another good and accurate kit from Niko Model. This could have been even better had the errors and omissions I pointed out
had not been made. These issues are certainly not deal breakers but expect some more diligence on
Niko Model’s part in future releases to prevent
this from happening again. With three 1/350 scale kits under their belt at this point, I am looking forward to
Niko Model was planned in this scale
for 2014. You can purchase this kit from such Steel Navy sponsors as
Free Time Hobbies, L’Arsenal and White Ensign Models.
Felix Bustelo