Minicraft 1/350 Esmeralda "The White Lady"

Kit #11306                    MSRP $20.00                  $15.99 from Sprue Brothers
Images and text Copyright © 2015 by Matt Swan

Developmental History
       The Esmeralda was designed as a Naval training vessel for the Chilean Navy with her hull being laid down in 1946. After several construction delays and negotiations with Spain the ship was completed and christened in 1953. The local residents referred to her as "The White Lady". In 1973 the CIA backed a coup d'etat that placed General Augusto Pinochet in control of the government in a dictatorship that lasted until 1990. Early in that reign the Esmeralda was used as a prison ship where multiple incidents of torture occurred. Later the ship was and is still used as a goodwill ambassador for Chile however as a result of this history it often draws protests from human rights groups when visiting foreign ports.

The Kit
       This is an old kit originally released in the 1970's by Minicraft and suffers some general fit issues and detail discrepancies. The kit is also pretty basic. The plastic is molded in white, green and brown in what appears to be an attempt to preclude paining. Not only are there some prominent mold separation seams but there is also some mold misalignment creating some serious steps on some smaller parts. The Beret Green lower hull is not a good fit to the white, single piece upper hull and bar clamps are required to make things get close. Instructions are brief and difficult to read. There are some rudimentary rigging plans coupled with a few good black and white shots of a completed model that will help get you through this stage of the build. There is a decal for the stern of the ship and a collection of paper flags. There are neither ratlines nor instructions on making or placing them. I when to Sprue Brothers and picked up the Alliance Model Works 1/350 generic photo etched ratlines and railing sets. These helped bring the detail level up considerably.
       Recently I had finished my 1/350 Z-43 Destroyer build and placed it on display with my other similar scale ships when I realized I had no wind-jammers or tall ships to use as size comparison (something I like to have). Looking through my stash I found this kit which my wife had scored for me at a flea market for $3.33. I figured with some detail upgrades it would fill the bill nicely. So with that in mind I happily added over $30 worth of extras to my $3 kit - made sense to me! I only spent three weeks building this from start to finish and I had enough railings left over from the Alliance Model Works set to do another kit down the road.

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Here she is with the 1/350 scale German Destroyer Z-43

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