The evolution and gestation of American battleship designs occurred in noticeable stages. After a 25year absence in designing modern warships from the coastal monitors
of the American Civil War, the navy didn’t trust American designers to design a battleship equal to those of other navies, so
USS Maine (originally rated as an armored
cruiser) and
USS Texas were built to purchased British designs. Neither was equal to contemporary Royal Navy designs but after the long hiatus in warship construction,
US shipbuilding yards and facilities had to be further developed to build totally modern designs. When it came to producing modern US designed battleships, another
obstacle was Congress and the great distrust the legislative body had in large battleships. Congress considered a large navy and especially large battleships the tools of
colonialism. Accordingly the first classes of US designed battleships were intentionally designed for coastal operations and coastal defense missions.

This led to the second stage of American battleship construction, the low freeboard coastal battleships. The
Indiana class was heavily armed and armored but the low
freeboard limited their use in the open ocean, in spite of
USS Oregon’s world cruise. The following single ship Iowa class raised the freeboard somewhat but not enough
for true Blue Water operations. The two ship
Keasarge class kept a low freeboard but introduced its own innovation. To save weight and still keep a four gun broadside
for the secondary guns, the two gun 8-inch positions were sited on top of the two main gun turrets that had to be trained with the main guns, as they were incapable of
independently training in a different direction from the main guns. The following
Illinois class was still limited by the Congressional mandate “seagoing coastline
battleships” the USN design committee contemplated that this politically motivated design feature would seriously impair good seagoing and sea-enduring qualities. Still the
three ships of the
Illinois had the same length and beam as the Keasarges. The eight-inch gun secondary, a feature of all USN designed battleships up to the Illinois class
was deleted in favor of a battery of a casemate mounted uniform battery of 6-inch guns. All of these classes were designed to have a maximum 12 to 24 hour full speed
of 14 to 15-knots. All of these classes were designed and laid down before an event, which would forever change the capital ship design emphasis for the USN.
The Spanish-American War forever changed the world role of the USA and the USN warship designs. The short war with spectacular naval victories at Manila Bay
and Santiago, left the USA with colonies acquired in the peace treaty with Spain. It didn’t matter that in both battles USN forces were far superior than their Spanish
opponents, from hence forth designs were no longer legislatively limited to coastal battleships. It didn’t matter that prior to the war Congress opposed blue water
battleship designs in that they were tools of colonial empires, once the United States became the Imperial Republic with colonies in the Pacific Ocean, she needed
warships capable of working in any ocean. This led to the third evolution of the American battleship. All classes of predreadnought battleships after the
Illinois class
would have sufficient freeboard for worldwide operations.

The three ship
Maine class of 1898 was the first beneficiary of this change in outlook and policy. Originally this class was to be a repeat of the Illinois class but
requirements were rewritten to provide a better deep water capability. The first thing changed was the maximum speed, as the
Maine class were required to be
capable of 18-knots, the same as the best battleships as other navies. Krupp armor was adopted, which provided the same resistance but with lesser weight than the
previous designs and the ships went back to a 12-inch main gun battery instead of the 13-inch guns carried from
Kearsarge through the Illinois classes. Hull length
was increased by 30-feet from the preceding
Illinois class.
All of this allowed for a far roomier and ocean capable design with higher freeboard, a more powerful power plant and greater range thanks to increased coal bunkerage,
50% greater than the
Illinois Class. The secondary battery increased to sixteen 6-inch/50 guns mounted in broadside positions, as in the Illinois class.  Ten of the 6-inch
guns were on the main deck and inspite of the increased freeboard, they were still too close to the waterline. They were very difficult to work in any seaway, especially
those mounted forward.  Niclausee small watertube boilers were used for
Maine and large tube Thornycroft boilers used for the Ohio and Missouri.  The Niclausee
boilers proved a failure and the
Maine was known as a coal eater. One the first leg of the cruise of the Great White Fleet Maine had to carry extra bags of coal on her
deck to keep up with her sisters. Rear Admiral Robley Evans stated that
USS Maine had no economical speed.  Because of her voracious appetite for coal Maine was
left behind in California when the Great White Fleet  started to cross the Pacific. The class developed 16,000hp compared to the 10,000hp of the
Illinois Class.

All three ships were authorized on May 4, 1898. The three ships were contracted to private yards. In the Congressional authorization for the class, one of the ships had
to be named
USS Maine to carry on the name of the battleship sunk in Havana harbor. USS Maine BB-10 was the first of the class to start and complete. The contract
was awarded to William Cramp and Sons of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 1, 1898 and the keel was laid down on February 15, 1899, exactly a year after the
first
Maine had blown up and became the spark that started the Spanish- American War. She was launched July 27, 1901 and commissioned  on December 29, 1902.
She could be distinguished from her two sisters in that her funnels were of a slightly greater diameter and taller than the those of the other two ships.
USS Ohio BB-12
was  contracted October 5, 1898 to the Union Iron Works in San Francisco, California. Ohio was laid down April 22, 1899 and launched May 18, 1901. She was the
slowest building of the trio as she was last to commission on October 4, 1904. The
Ohio had the shortest funnels of the class. USS Missouri BB-11 was built by
Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia. She was contracted on December 30, 1898 and laid down February 7, 1900.
Missouri
was launched on December 28, 1901 and commissioned on December 1, 1903. Her funnels were shorter than those on
Maine but taller than those on Ohio.

The
Maine Class ships were twenty feet longer than the preceeding Illinois Class but of the same beam, presenting a better underwater form. Maine and Missouri were
393-feet 11-inches in length but
Ohio was one inch shorter at 393-feet 10-inches. Beam was 72-feet 2.5-inches and draught full load was 26-feet 8-inches.
Displacement varied from ship to ship. The heaviest was
Maine with 12,508-tons normal and 13,911-tons full load. Missouri was the lightest at 12,362-tons normal and
13,271-tons full load. Right in the middle was
Ohio at 12,500-tons normal and 13,500-tons full load. One reason for the heavier displacement of Maine was her
machinery.  As the test ship for small watertube boilers, Maine had 24 Niclausee boilers and her sisters had only 12 Thornycroft boilers.
Maine carried three cylinder
triple expansion reciprocating engines while
Missouri and Ohio carried a newer design, four cylinder triple expansion reciprocating engines  with two low pressure
cylinders. At higher speeds the two low pressure cylinders kicked in to replace one of the high pressure cylinders, reducing vibration and lowering stress on the
propeller shafts. The ships were remarkably handy with a tight turning radius of 325 yards at 18-knots. Ventilation was poor and with
Missouri some coal bunkers
recorded temperatures of 147 degrees. Watertight doors were susceptible to leaking and deck hatches and skylights shipped in water in any degree of seaway, creating
wet ships.  To reduce this all hatches skylight and doors had to be sealed in bad weather, further deteriorating the habitability inside the hull as almost all ventilation was
obtainable in these conditions.
As the Missouri was completing in the summer of 1903, she became a test bed for ship improved ventilation systems. No longer was the USN confined to the North
Atlantic and Pacific coastline. Now with Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, tropical deployment would become an operational environment from time to time for
the battleships.`The next year
Missouri was the recipient of an unexpected and deadly discovery about the new 12-inch gun design. As with the older 13-inch guns,
there was no system to vent unignited gases from the gun barrels after firing. The new smokeless powder produced much more gases upon ignition and the gun
barrels were longer. On April 13, 1904
Missouri was in gunnery practice. As the breechblock was opened on one of the guns in Missouri’s aft turret, unburnt gases
ignited upon contact with oxygen inside the turret and flashedbacked into the turret. The turret had 340-350 pounds of ready powder bags, which caught fire.
Although they fortunately did not explode, their ignition flared to the handling room below, which ignited another 720 ponds in powder. The entire turret crew of 18 ,
along with 12 men in the handling room were killed. The Navy initiated a crash program to solve the problem and quickly found a workable way to flush the barrel
with compressed air as a breehblock was being opened. The life saving improvement was applied to the guns of all the battleships. Another gunnery problem was
discovered when the gun muzzles of the new MK 3 12-inch guns started blowing off in service. The gun designers had designed the barrels based on the physics of
combustion of the older brown and black gunpowder but the smokeless powder had a different pressure curve and the barrels could not cope with the pressure at the
muzzle. As a temporary fix the MK 3 guns received reinforcement bands at the muzzles of the guns and designated MK 3 Mod 3. After the return of the Great White
Fleet, none of the three sisters saw much active employment. There was a plethora of newer, better predreadnought battleships and the USN was rapidly building all
big gun battleships. They spent much time in reserve status.

Missouri stayed in commission but Maine and Ohio were decommissioned from 1909 to 1911. All three sisters received cage masts during this period to replace their
original military masts. Their bridgework was also reduced and the new cagemasts received multiple platforms to fit a large number of searchlights.
Missouri and Ohio
initially had only their foremast replaced with a cagemast but
Maine had both masts replaced at the same time. Later the other two had their main mast also replaced
with a cagemast. During the refits the
Missouri received the new Mk 4 main guns, which had overcome the muzzle weakness of the Mk 3. However, the Maine and
Ohio received only the banded MK 3 Mod 3, Maine in 1912 an Ohio in 1915. The old stocked anchors were replaced by the new stockless variety. With the USA
entry into World War One, the
Maine class had secondary guns striped in order to provide guns for other ships. The secondary guns went from 16 to 10 as the
forward 6-inch gun and the second and forth guns in the five gun amidships position was landed.
Missouri spent all of World War One in the Chesapeake Bay area
training gun crews for merchant ships. In common, after the war she repaitriated troops from Europe, making four trips in which she carried 3,278 soldiers back to
the US. With the signing of the Washington Treaty in 1922 the three
Maine class battleships were part of the mass scrapping. It was no loss to the USN, as they were
long obsolete.
Maine and Missouri were sold for scrap in 1922 to be followed by Ohio in 1923.
The Samek 1:700 scale of the USS Missouri BB-11 shows her 1912 fit with both military masts replaced by cage masts.  The three tall, thin funnels with the towering
cage masts preset a very balanced and for a predreadnought, elegant profile. The hull casting is a typical
Samek product. Cast in cream colored resin, the hull casting
reflects good detail but misses certain things. The hull detail includes the anchor exits as originally built but lack the very prominent, horse collar, hawse fittings. Look at
the anchor hawse fittings on the postcard used for the title photograph of this review. The photograph on the box top of the kit reflects WWI anchor fittings, in which the
anchors were moved just below the forecastle. The armor belt is spot on, running from just aft of the stern barbette to the bow. Most of the porthole placement on the
hull matches photographs. Most but not all. Photographs show six portholes aft of the first casemate in the highest row of hull side portholes. The model has only five.
The aft portholes arn’t quite grouped as in photographs. Although the model has the two forward drainage scuttles at the bow, the scuttles right above the belt and aft
scuttles are missing. This certainly a minor point, as they can be drilled. For those wishing to get the exact placement of the aft portholes, you’ll have to do a little fill and
drill. The shape of the recessed secondary gun casemates also look spot on, including the rhomboid shape of the openings. The 01 level is part of the hull casting and the
detail matches photographs, including porthole placement and access doors.

Deck detail is plentiful. Deck planking detail is very fine but lacks butt end detail. The 24 boat chocks for eight ship’s boats are suitably thin, exhibiting no shipping
damage. In point of fact there was no damage to the hull casting and no casting voids were present. Skylights have individual circular windows/portholes. Unfortunately I
had neither a plan view of
Maine class, nor photographs of the deck taken from the mast tops, so I can’t compare/contrast the placement and shapes of the numerous
deck fittings and details. As far as the fittings,
Samek did a very good job. The four anchor windlasses, three forward and one aft, are finely done in an hourglass shape.
On the forecastle, other than the barbette, the largest fitting is just forward of the barbette with a raised position with three skylights and one access panel. There are
seven deck access doors, with doors closed. What especially impressed me about these fittings is the fact that each had a base plate running the perimeter of the raised
coaming. There are five smaller square shaped fittings that do not appear to deck access fittings but whose purpose is unknown to me. There are two deck anchor hawse
openings for the forward anchors on each side of the hull. The rear anchor on each side was carried on an angled washboard, which is present on the hull casting. Seven
twin bollard fittings are present on the forecastle, three on each side and one centerline at the bow. To show the lengths that
Samek took to provide fine detail, one only
needs to look at the bollards. In most kits, resin or plastic, bollards appear as vertical posts. Real bollards actually flare outward at the top in order to prevent a cable from
slipping over the top of the fitting.
Samek has the flare at the top of the bollard captured.  Two cable reels are present at the base of the 01 level. The 01 deck detail
amidship carries on with the plentiful detail. In addition to the 24 boat chocks, there are plenty more fittings on this deck. Each of the three stacks sits upon a square base
with a plate around the perimeter of each position. The base for each cage mast follows the same pattern, except they are circular, rather than square. Both forward and
aft splinter shields/bulkheads are very thin. Other fittings include access fittings, crane bases, skylights and more smaller square fittings. The quarterdeck continues on
with the same type of fittings and even throws in some unique items. Again, there are deck access fittings, skylights, a cable reel, square coamings, more bollards,
barbette, and a J ventilator cowl.

The smaller resin parts come in two general types of castings. Thin decks and tops are on a thin casting wafer, with the rest of the resin parts cast on runners. The wafer
has the two main gun turrets with each turret having crown detail of three sighter cupolas, one for the turret commander and one for each gun captain. Additionally there
two access panels at the rear of each crown. The forward navigation deck with thin bulkheads. The two crane machinery platforms are present but the greatest number
of parts are all of the variations that you place on the cage masts. Initially there were four small searchlight platforms on each mast and those eight platforms are on the
sheet. Latter the arrangement of searchlights was simplified with the four searchlight on mast mounted on a single platform with a smaller hexagon platform located a
level lower. Those parts are also present on the sheet. You also have a choice of tops. The USN started with circular tops with the initial cage masts but quickly
discovered that these too small and cramped. A larger square top was quickly introduced. Some ships carried one of each but generally the square version came to replace
the circular version. The mainmast was more likely to retain the circular tops, as photographs show the foremast top almost always the larger square version, except for
when the cagemasts were initially fitted with circular tops.
Samek provides two of each type with overheads.
Before looking at the resin runner pieces, there is one other resin piece that needs to be highlights and that is a mold for the photo-etch cage masts. Samek provides a
resin mold upon which the photo-etch brass cage masts are wrapped to get the correct shape and taper. If you have ever “rolled your own”, you’ll know that getting
the correct shape can pose a problem.
Samek has provided the solution. The kit contains 12 resin runners. One has the three slim funnels with steam pipes and
clinker screen detail cast on to the funnels. The two cranes each are cast on a runner. The ship’s guns take up three runners. One has the main guns, some 6-in guns,
tertiary guns and J shaped ventilators funnels in two sizes. Another runner has just 6-in gun barrels and a third has light deck guns. Two identical runners provide
searchlights, signal lamps, drum ventilators and slim pipe ventilators. The other four resin runners have the ship’s boats. There are two identical runners with two
large boats and two identical runners with four smaller boats.

There is no doubt that the photo-etch fret of the
Samek Missouri is show stopper for the kit, just for the presence of the two cage masts but is also lacking in some
areas. Four two-piece anchors are on the fret. Other specific parts are crane rigging, bow anchor cranes, boat davits, relief-etched name plate for the bridge face, a
very large relief-etched name plate used for a base plate, yardarms, anchor chain, vertical ladder, four bar railings, three bar railings and two accommodation ladders.
All of the railings have to be cut to shape. The instructions only show railing on the 01 level and searchlight platforms and no railings on the quarterdeck or forecastle.
It does appear that you will need go use additional railing for the whole ship. No inclined ladders are provided and the accommodation ladders lack side railings. There
is also a decal sheet with two flags.

The instructions are sparse, consisting of two sheets one of which is back-printed. One sheet has the Missouri’s history and specifications. The back-printed sheet
has a parts laydown on one side and actual assembly steps one the other side. To say assembly steps is a misnomer as there are no steps just four photographs of an
assembled model with resin part numbers and brass part numbers showing their location on the assembled model. One photo has the profile and one the plan view.
Two smaller photo insets show detail for USS Maine and the variant for the later searchlight platforms on the cage masts.
The Samek USS Missouri BB-11 in 1912 fit shows the shift after replacement of the military masts with cage masts. It is a good, solid kit with variable options for
searchlight platforms and tops for the cage masts.
___________________________________________________