USN 20mm Oerlikon AA Photoetch Set

Published: January 11th, 2012     
Product Image
Detail Packaging
Reviewed by: Luke R. Bucci PhD - IPMS# 33549
Scale: 1/700
Company: Eduard
Price: $16.95
Product / Stock #: 99035
Product provided by: Eduard

Bottom Line

Another entry into aftermarket 1/700 scale US Navy 20mm mounts. Has single and double tripod mounts. Photoetch steel with close to scale look, not difficult to fold, fair value, but still has flat barrels. One of few sources for 20mmx2 mounts. Will give acceptable, good-looking 20mm mounts for late WW2 USN warships.

One major bugaboo for 1/700 scale warships has been oversized light AA weapons. Most injection-molded kits have 20mm barrels that are more like 3-5 inch guns when scaled up to actual size. Gun shields are thicker than battle ship armor plate when scaled up. In other words, most WW2 models suffer from light AA weapons that are way too big, wide, chunky and oversized, enough so to make the model look toy-like instead of accurate. This is especially true for US Navy WW2 warships, which carried numerous Oerlikon 20mm mounts.

Enter photoetch. For over two decades, a handful of companies have sold sets of light AA weapons, mostly USN single 20mm mounts (20mmx1) with shields. PE sets for individual ships or classes sometimes included 20mm mounts and shields. Earlier versions were better than plastic parts and close to scale, but very crude and not really accurate. For instance, the shield shape was too square. Nowadays, there are many PE 20mm mount choices and most are close to scale and accurate in appearance (except for lack of ammo drums and spent cartridge bags).

Eduard has produced a steel fret with 72 20mmx1 and 20 20mmx2 mounts. What is not explained is that all mounts have the Mark 10 tripod base used later in the war (after 1943) - Mark 24 20mmx2 mounts were all tripods. Previously, solid, conical pedestal bases were fitted (Marks 2, 4, 5, 6). Flyhawk and Lion Roar are the only other sources for PE tripod USN 20mmx1 mounts. As usual, if building a particular ship at a particular time, check references for which mount Marks where used. General rule of thumb: most new builds and major refits in 1944 had tripod bases for 20mm mounts.

An instruction sheet is supplied with pictures of how to fold single and double mounts. One good feature of Eduard's USN 20mm shields is the support ribbing on the inside (not outside). Another good feature is that the entire mount is one piece - no need to glue anything. What is not mentioned is that there are right- and left-handed mounts. The instructions only show how to fold a right-handed mount. To avoid getting the inside of the shield outside, follow this rule: after removal of the mount, look for the embossed ribbing on the shield. That will be the inside after folding. To start folding, be sure you are looking at the ribbing on the shield, no matter which side the gun is on.

Then follow the instructions, in this order:

  1. Fold shield 90 degrees towards base (up, not down).
  2. Fold leg with shield down (away from) base at the notch as shown in the instructions.
  3. Fold gun barrel slightly away from base (so it will be vertical when folded) at notch.
  4. Fold leg with barrel until barrel is centered over the base.
  5. Fold leg without barrel to touch barrel.
  6. Fold leg with shield up to barrel. The barrel should be placed in the opening of the shield.
  7. Check for alignment and adjust legs, barrel or shield if necessary.

You only have about two folds per notch/leg before the steel breaks. So if you get it wrong, odds are you have lost that mount. Of course, you can glue broken pieces back together, but this is tedious. You will need a pair of small tweezers with needle tips. Fingers and fingernails also work well to fold pieces, but another pair of tweezers can be used to fold. 20mmx2 mounts are folded similarly, but each side has a gun barrel, so it is easier to make sure the shield ribbing is on the inside. Be sure to keep the folded barrels a short distance apart - they do not touch.

Like most PE USN 20mm mounts, the round ammo drum is depicted as a 2-D, centered, vertical rectangle. This does not look right as the drum is 3-D on the right side of the barrel. If you want to accurize these mounts, slice off thin pieces of plastic rod (like pepperoni) and glue to the right side of the vertical rectangle.

These mounts look close to 1/700 scale when folded and added to USN warships. To illustrate their look, I chose a 1942 USS Livermore destroyer kit by Dragon (7088, reviewed last year on IPMS/USA). Please note that 20mm mounts in 1942 on the actual Livermore were the pedestal type, so this review is for illustrative purposes to show how Eduard mounts look. The kit plastic 20mm mounts were oversized, and even though I filed down the shield thickness and barrels, they were still obviously too large. I painted the Eduard mounts USN Haze Gray (5-H) from ModelMaster acrylics before folding and touched up mounts after folding. Replacement by Eduard 20mmx1 mounts looked much closer to actual photos of the Livermore, and are acceptable for WW2 USN warships.

Value

Eduard 99035 20mmx1 mounts cost $0.24 each, and 20mmx2 mounts are $0.85 each. Eduard 20mm set has the second-most number of mounts per fret, enough to fit most battleships and aircraft carriers. At a MSRP of $17, you can fit out one battleship or one carrier or two cruisers or 4-6 destroyers.

Table shows the relative mounts per set, type, cost and value for currently available aftermarket PE USN 20mm mounts. Note the actual cost may vary depending on discounts and vendor, so these costs are a maximum. It can be seen that Eduard has the 3rd-highest cost per mount. This is not necessarily bad, because you get 72 20mmx1 mounts per set, more than all but one other set. Also, each mount is a single piece that is relatively easy to fold and does not require gluing, which I feel is a plus because of savings in time and frustration and tedium.

Table

Comparative value among aftermarket photoetch US Navy 20mm mounts

Manufacturer Stock No. # mounts per set Mount Type MSRP ($) Value (cost per mount)
Classic Warships F014 13/36/12 50cal/x1/x2 pedestal 5.00 0.38/0.14/0.42
Corsair Armada PE7001 24 pedestal 6.00 0.25
Eduard 99035 72/20 x1/x2 tripod 16.95 0.24/0.85
Fine Molds AM37 56 pedestal 17.00 0.30
Flyhawk 700041 81 tripod 8.00 0.10
Gold Medal 7021 60 pedestal 7.00 0.12
Lion Roar R7080 60 - 24 ped, 36 tri ped/tripod 9.00 0.15
Tom's Modelworks 711 32 pedestal 4.00 0.125

Pros

  1. Acceptably accurate, to-scale "look" for 1/700 USN ships;
  2. 92 total mounts (more than any other USN 20mm set);
  3. Relatively easy to fold;
  4. Each mount has one piece (no gluing required);
  5. Late-war Mark 10 tripod mounts;
  6. One of few PE 20mmx2 mounts available.

Cons

  1. The difference between pedestal and tripod bases are not mentioned - for super-accurizing, this limits utility to late-war USN warships (you might fit out a ship with the wrong type of mounts);
  2. No information on the mounts themselves (e.g., never say they are Mark 10 and Mark 24 mounts or give any details on the gun itself);
  3. Instructions do not mention that 20mmx1 mounts are left- and right-handed;
  4. Steel mounts are more brittle than brass and cannot be folded more than twice without breaking;

Summary

All in all, Eduard US Navy 20mm mounts are certainly acceptable for late-war 1/700 scale USN ships. They look much closer to scale than kit pieces, and are relatively easy to assemble. Eduard 20mm mounts are a decent value, and one set contains enough mounts to outfit almost any single major warship or several smaller warships - a decent value. For pedestal 200mmx1 mounts, I prefer Corsair Armada resin/PE mounts, but for tripod mounts, Eduard 99035 mounts are fine and will make your 1/700 scale USN WW2 warships look right.

References

Campbell J. Naval Weapons of World War Two. Conway Maritime Press, London, UK, 1985, p75. ISBN 0-85177-329-X

  • Photo 1: Eduard PE fret and instructions
  • Photo 2: Dragon 7088 USS Livermore DD 429 built out-of-box. Notice kit 20mmx1 mounts in front of bridge, beside aft funnel and just forward of C 5in mount under the US flag. These kit mounts were sanded down to thin barrels and shields, but still have an oversized appearance - the 20mm barrels are same diameter as the 5in barrels.
  • Photo 3: Dragon 7088 USS Livermore DD 429 with kit 20mm mounts replaced by Eduard 99035 20mm mounts. Notice the much smaller appearance of PE mounts, which when compared to photographs, look very close to accurate size (to-scale size).
  • Photo 4: Close-up of bridge area comparing original kit and Eduard PE 20mm mounts from same perspective. Eduard PE 20mm mounts look more realistic than kit pieces.
  • Photo 5: Close-up of Dragon kit and Eduard PE 20mm mounts. Obvious that PE mounts are much more realistic. And Dragon kit 20mm mounts are better than most plastic 20mm mounts in 1/700 scale.

Thanks to Eduard for supplying the photoetch set and to IPMS for allowing me to review it.

  • PE and instructions
    PE and instructions
  • USS Livermore with OOB 20mm mounts
    USS Livermore with OOB 20mm mounts
  • USS Livermore with Eduard 20mm mounts
    USS Livermore with Eduard 20mm mounts
  • Close-up comparison of bridge area
    Close-up comparison of bridge area
  • Close-up comparison of kit and Eduard mounts
    Close-up comparison of kit and Eduard mounts

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