By now the relatively lightly armored Portland was heavily damaged and steaming in circles in the middle of a shooting battle. This did not faze her veteran crew one bit. Gunnery Officer Lieutenant Commander Elliot Shanklin found that
he had the two forward 8-inch turrets and six of the eight 5-inch mounts still operational. The aft fire control radar - the only main - battery still functioning - and the two starboard 5-inch directors, along with multiple lookouts had picked
out a large, slow-moving target to starboard that was already burning: the Hiei. Despite his damaged cruiser, Shanklin was determined to tackle the battleship. The equally aggressive Captain DuBose agreed, telling Shanklin, ‘Commence
firing when on target.’ As the Portland began her second involuntary turn to starboard, when the Japanese flagship was dead ahead, the cruiser let loose with a six-gun salvo. So began what Executive Officer Commander Wirth called ‘rodeo
gunnery’ - firing only when the involuntary starboard turn unmasked her guns. Before the turn masked her guns again, the Portland fired four six-gun salvos of 8-inch ammunition. Shanklin claimed ten to 14 hits on the Hiei’s already
mangled superstructure. Admiral Nimitz would later call this ‘one of the highlights of the action.’ In return, she took one 14-inch incendiary shell from the battleship, which did little damage, before the Hiei disappeared into the dark to the
” (Blazing Star, Setting Sun, The Guadalcanal-Solomons Campaign November 1942 - March 1943 by Jeffrey R. Cox, Osprey Publishing 2020, at pages 134 - 135.)
During the night the Portland continued her involuntary circling, but since she was still buoyant, she took on as many survivors as she could - 38, to be precise. At one point, the sound of splashing in the water was reported to Captain
DuBose. He asked if they were American or Japanese. ‘American Captain,’ was the reply. DuBose turned to the men in the dark water below and shouted, ‘I’m bringing the ship to a stop .Paddle your life raft over here. We have no steering
control. ‘Roger Captain. We have no life raft either.’ When it was light enough to see, around 5:30 am, the Portland’s lookouts identified all the visible ships - a Japanese battleship, Atlanta, Aaron Ward, Cushing, and Monssen - except for
one derelict destroyer burning south of Savo Island. The Portland requested the Atlanta’s help in identifying the ship, but the Atlanta, who was busy aiming torpedoes at the Portland, demanded she identify herself. Once that was addressed,
the destroyer was identified as Japanese. Over the intercom, Captain DuBose invited anyone not manning the main battery to watch. Crewmen in the Atlanta stopped work. ‘We stood frozen at the life-lines, spectators to a kind of action rarely
witnessed,’ wrote Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Bill McKinney. Because of the Portland’s unwilling circling, the cruiser’s gunners struggled to get a target lock on the destroyer from the aft fire-director. The first four salvos missed the
stationary ship. Then gunnery officer Lieutenant Commander Shanklin reported that the target was flying a white flag. Even so, the firey Captain DuBose was livid at the damage his ship had taken and the casualties his crew had suffered.
Determined to get his pound of steel, he asked Lieutenant Commander Shanklin what nationality the flag was. ‘It’s not in my registry, ‘Shanklin deadpanned. ‘Sink the SOB,’ DuBose growled. The next salvo blew up the destroyer.
” (Blazing
Star, Setting Sun, The Guadalcanal-Solomons Campaign November 1942 - March 1943
by Jeffrey R. Cox, Osprey Publishing 2020, at pages 148 - 149)
The USS Portland and sistership USS Indianapolis were caught between the underweight Northampton Class and the shorter, heavier New Orleans Class. The USS Augusta CA-31 was the last of the Northampton Class and the first ship of the
New Orleans Class was numbered CA-32, which was shorter but much heavier armored than the Northampton Class. The numbering for the Portland Class was mixed in between the other two classes with USS Portland CA-33 and Indianapolis
CA-35. In part this two ship class was caught between the two design philosophies of the
Northampton and New Orleans designs. The New Orleans Class cruisers were originally to be built to the Portland design and the ones being built in USN
yards could have their design change made to the
New Orleans design. However, the Portland and Indianapolis were being constructed in private yards and changes to their contracts would have been prohibitively expensive. The Portlands were
ten feet longer than the
Northamptons but had significantly more armor over magazines and engine spaces, as well as double the turret armor. They fully utilized the 10,000-tons treaty limit that was underutilized in the Northamptons. They had ten
5-inch/25 guns instead of the eight found in
Northampton. To reduce top weight the forward tripod was shorter and the tripod main mast was lighter. Both Portland and Indianapolis were fitted as flagships. The initial design was significantly
modified on both ships in refits in May 1943.
USS Portland was laid down at the Bethlehem Yard in Quincy, Massachusetts on February 17, 1930, launched on May 21, 1932 , and commissioned on February 23, 1933. Portland was 610-feet 4-inches (185.9m) overall 592-feet at waterline,
with a beam of 66-feet 1-inch (20.1m) and draught of 6.4m. Displacement was 10,258-tons standard 12,755-tons full load, over 1,200-tons heavier than the
Northamptons. Armament was nine 8-inch/55 guns, eight 5-inch/25 dual purpose guns,
and eight 0.50 water cooled machine guns. The armor scheme had a maximum belt of 5-inches, 2.5-inches on the turrets, 1.25-inches on the conning tower and a total of 2.5-inches deck armor. The power plant produced 107,000 horsepower for
a maximum speed of 32.5-knots. Endurance was 10,000 nm at 15-knots, which by 1945 was 8,640 nm at 15-knots, 6,360 nm at 20-knots. Complement in 1935 was 46 officers and 906 crewmen but increased hugely as World War Two
progressed with increased AA armament to 100 officers and 1,282 crewmen.

In May 1942 the
Portland had augmented her anti-aircraft gun armament with the addition of four quadruple 1.1-inch (28mm) mounts known as Chicago Pianos, as well as twelve 20mm Oerlikons. She was equipped with SC and SG radars. The
gun directors fitted were two Mk 27/2 Mk 3, two Mk 33/Mk 4, and several Mk 44 mounts. The year 1942 proved momentous for
Portland. In May 1942 she took part in the Battle of the Coral Sea and picked up 722 survivors of USS Lexington
CV-2. In June 1942
Portland was part of TF 17 at the Battle of Midway. August 7 through 9 saw support of landings at Guadalcanal and Tulagi and then the Battle of the Eastern Solomons during August 23 to 25. On October 26, 1942 she was
USS Enterprise CV-6 during the Battle of Santa Cruz. The apex of he action came at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on November 12, 1942 when she became involved in a grenade fight in a phone booth, taking on the battleship Hiei at
close range and being crippled by a torpedo before sinking a destroyer. She made Tulagi on November 14 for temporary repairs and then was towed to Sydney for more repairs, before being routed through Samoa and Pearl Harbor to Mare Island,
California for final repairs and a refit completed on March 3, 1943. (History from:
Blazing Star, Setting Sun, The Guadalcanal-Solomons Campaign November 1942 - March 1943 by Jeffrey R. Cox, Osprey Publishing 2020; Cruisers of the
US Navy 1922-1962
by Stefan Terzibaschitsch, Naval Institute Press 1984; U.S. Cruisers by Norman Friedman, Naval Institute Press 1984)
Why is the USS Portland CA-33 left in a vacuum when it comes to the release of 1:350 scale plastic warship kits? She had a superb history, especially 1942. What did her sistership, USS Indianapolis CA-35 do? Sure she bombarded islands and
often served as Flagship of the 5th Fleet with Admiral Spruance. However, her main claim in the history books is the ghastly aftermath after she was sunk in the waning days of the war. This is why there are three 1:350 scale plastic kits of the
Indianapolis, Academy 1945 fit, Trumpeter 1944 fit, and Trumpeter 1945 fit. If the large plastic companies won’t provide the kit, then 3D Printing companies will do the job for a conversion of a plastic sistership. I have already reviewed
conversion sets from
Kraken Hobbies that allow the modeler convert the 1942 fit 1:350 scale Trumpeter San Francisco kit into sisterships, USS Astoria CA-34 and USS Vincennes CA-44 as they appeared at the Battle of Savo Island. Kraken
also has conversion sets for
USS Quincey at Savo Island and HMAS Canberra at Savo Island based on the Trumpeter HMS Kent kit in 1:350 scale.

I was scrolling through the product catalog of
Model Monkey when my eyes were rivited on one item, a conversion set for the USS Portland as she appeared in 1942. The set can be used to convert any of 1:350 scale plastic Indianapolis kits
into the
Portland. You can also use the set to convert a resin Indianapolis kit but I don’t recommend this as it would be more expensive and more difficult. I recommend using the Trumpeter 1:350 Indianapolis 1944 fit kit as the starting point.
Basically the conversion set replaces everything between A turret and X turret and replaces them with 3D printed parts. You will still need to get six Chicago Pianos and twelve 20mm Oerlikons for
Portland’s 1942 AA armament. This set will give
up a finished product with a totally different look from the plastic
Indianapolis kit.
The Model Monkey Portland conversion gives you 23 finely detailed 3D printed parts. All parts will have to be snipped from their frames. Eleven of the twelve large printed frames have a single part, a deck, superstructure or funnel. The twelfth
frame has 12 parts, four AA splinter shields and eight ready ammunition lockers. The forward superstructure starts with a part with the 01 and 02 levels with the B barbette on the forward section and the bottom legs to the tripod on the aft
section. The 01 level bulkheads have horizontal cable detail and both levels have detailed door and open portholes. The decks have wood plank lines but no butt end detail. The two 1.1-inch positions have support ribs on their external splinter
shields and a base for the gun mount, which don’t come in the conversion set but are available separately. The B barbatte has very fine detail around the circumference. The deck on top of the 02 level has splinter shielding with rib supports at the
rear, It also has open rectangles for inclined ladders and the outline for the bridge part. The bridge above is a delight with nice open windows on the bridge face with a shade above the windows and an open door connecting the bridge with the
chart house aft. The chart house has detailed doors and open portholes and the aft portion has tripod legs and director tubs. The last part of the forward superstructure is the top of the tripod. This part has four levels and detail includes splinter
shielding, upper tripod legs with an open platform, detailed doors, main director, and open rectangles for inclined ladders.
At the hull’s deck break is the start of the next superstructure assembly. This area includes three 3D printed parts, the aviation deck, the forward funnel base and the forward funnel.  The aviation deck is rather large with the bottom of the tripod
legs and outline for the forward funnel base forward and the catapult towers to the rear.  Centerline is a very detailed double deck access hatches fitting. The catapult towers are very nice with catwalks, supports and open square windows on
their inner faces and open portholes on their outer faces. The forward funnel base is two levels in height and is asymmetrical with an extension on the port side. The starboard bulkhead features four open windows with a shade over two of them,
a sloping structure at the rear. The port bulkhead has to open square windows, seven very detailed ventilation hatches on the deck house extension, and four detailed doors at the rear of the funnel base. The forward funnel is especially
noteworthy. First of all, it is very tall. The steam pipes have lovely detail. They stand off from the front face of the funnel with brackets connecting the steam pipes to the funnel. The sip’s siren appears to be at the top of the long steam pipe and
the shorter one has a hollow opening. The open funnel top has the grate and interior clinker screens with a horizontal reinforcing band a little bit below. It also has a nice base apron.

The next assembly has two parts, the upper anti-aircraft deck and the aft funnel. The upper anti-aircraft deck has the base plates for four of the 5-inch/25 guns. Splinter shielding separates the gun positions while the deck edge shielding has
vertical support ribbing. Deck detail includes detailed ready ammunition lockers, a small patch, a centerline circular base (I don’t ascertain what is on this base), and locater outlines for the aft funnel part. The aft funnel part is another delight. On
the forward face is the aviation/catapult control station. It is lined with open rectangular windows and has an open searchlight platform immediately above. The top of the aft funnel has a nice apron and the same treatment of grate and clinker
screens as the forward funnel. Likewise the three steam pipes on the aft face of the funnel stand off from the funnel through a series of brackets. At the rear of the deck is a small deck house, two small director tubs and splinter shielding. The
next two items take us to the end of the superstructure. These two parts are the lower AA deck and aft superstructure. The lower AA deck is crammed with detail. It starts with two 1.1-inch gun tubs on top of small deck houses. These tubs
have openings for inclined entrance letters and splinter shielding with exterior vertical support ribs.  Four more 5-inch/25 base plates are present, separated with splinter shields with the exterior faces again having vertical support ribbing. On
centerline is a detailed director tower and aft deck house. The deck house has two open window shacks with sloping crowns that make an interesting focal point. Other deck detail includes ready ammunition lockers and deck access hatch with
hand wheel detail. The aft superstructure part is four levels tall. The bulkheads have detailed doors, square openings, horizontal cables, open port holes, an Oerlikon tub at the top, and other details.
The last frame in the conversion set has twelve parts. Four of these are Oerlikon splinter shielding for positions on the stern. A large seven-sided position gores on the aft quarterdeck for two Oerlikons. A horseshoe shaped shield goes on the
crown of X turret for one Oerlikon. Two smaller shields go on at deck edge abreast of the after superstructure and have one Oerlikon in each position. Also on the frame are eight ready ammunition lockers that go inside the Oerlikon shielding.
The Model Monkey Portland conversion set does not come with printed instructions. Instead
Model Monkey sends you an eleven page PDF to your e-mail which has the assembly instructions. I found these easy to follow. Page one has just a
photograph of the 1942
Portland. Page two shows the assembly of the four parts that go into the forward superstructure and tripod. Page three covers the three part assembly of the aviation deck and forward funnel. Page four shows connection
of the forward superstructure and forward funnel assemblies, as well a photograph taken of
Portland in this area. Page five has the assembly of the aft funnel and upper anti-aircraft deck. Page six has two photographs showing the aviation deck
from the forward to the aft funnels. Pages seven and eight show the connections among the aft funnel, lower anti-aircraft deck and aft superstructure, as well as a photographs of the area. Page nine has two photographs taken on the quarterdeck.
Page ten has two more photographs, one of the lower anti-aircraft deck and the other on the quarter deck. Page eleven has an amidship photograph and an overhead plan of the aft Oerlikon gun tubs and six gun positions.
Model Monkey refuses to let the Powerful Portland disappear into the mists of time. With the Model Monkey 1:350 scale Conversion Set for USS Portland CA-33, you can magically transform a humdrum plastic 1:350 scale Indianapolis into
a dynamic
Portland at her battling best in her 1942 fit, ready to take on the battleship Hiei off Guadalcanal.

Steve Backer
Huntsville, Alabama