This article is about the case. For the location, see Nicholson Electroplating Plant.

"All units, all units...reports of an explosion... Location...not sure of location, it's south of Santa Monica, west of...uh... stand by for further."
KGPL broadcast

Nicholson Electroplating is an Arson case in L.A. Noire. It is the first downloadable content pack for the game. The first 16 customers who bought a copy of L.A. Noire at one of Best Buy's midnight openings received a code to obtain this downloadable content when it released.[1] "Nicholson Electroplating" was released on June 21, 2011.[2] It was later included in the Complete Edition for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. It is now a storyline case in the remastered version.

Persons of Interest


  • Subdue the Looters
  • Investigate Explosion Site
  • Trace Address for Superior Laundry
  • Investigate Deciphered Address
  • Investigate Superior Laundry Services
  • Investigate Hughes Aircraft
  • Return to Wilshire Station
  • Investigate Tech Services

Detailed Walkthrough

The case begins with Phelps and Biggs discussing the whereabouts of Jack Kelso, currently the subject of a state-wide APB. No mention is made of Elsa Lichtmann and her kidnapping, nor of the death of Harlan Fontaine, as this case begins during A Polite Invitation, presumably after Cole has visited Jack's office but before the shootout at Leland Monroe's Mansion. Suddenly, a huge explosion, complete with a mushroom cloud, occurs a few blocks away. Biggs at first thinks the Soviets have launched a hydrogen bomb at Los Angeles.

Drive towards the direction of the explosion; you can see smoke rising into the sky. Be careful not to run over any panicking pedestrians or get hit by speeding cars. Also note the unusually chaotic transmissions from KGPL; for a few moments it almost appears as if Biggs is right about the Soviet assault. After arriving, two armed looters will fire at you and flee. Chase them and put them down.

You then arrive at the remains of an industrial plant owned by Nicholson Electroplating. Walk through the entrance and look up to your right to see a water tower collapsing. Approaching Ray Pinker triggers a cutscene wherein Ray explains that it was not a nuclear explosion but some form of major industrial accident. Biggs and Phelps are ordered to scour the area for clues.

Crime Scene

This is a very large crime scene. Begin by following the path of destruction past Mayor Bowron, who can be seen giving a rare TV interview with news reporter Howie Beale.

  1. Airplane part: You will come across a fork in the rubble, just after walking passed the mayor. Turn right and inspect the clue next to the Officer at the end of the path. Phelps will pick up one half of a part and try to match it with the second half. Successfully match up the letters to get the clue and unlock The Nose Knows Achievement/Trophy.
  2. Laundry tag: Doubling back to the fork in the debris, continue straight and almost immediately you will be alerted to a clue on the ground, which happens to be a piece of burnt shirt with a laundry tag.
  3. Ahead of the piece of shirt with the laundry tag, you will be called on by Officer Ralph Dunn to look at a burnt locker containing a damaged-but-intact briefcase. Phelps will open the briefcase and four clues will be present:
    1. Spy camera which indicates Espionage.
    2. Ornate golden ball or earring.
    3. Business card with the name Tomoko Okamoto.
    4. Undeciphered message and decoder apparatus. To decipher the message you must first align the cipher rings by aligning the H in the outer ring with the K in the inner ring. Then turn the outer ring to the letters in the message. The first letter in the message, K, will decipher as N; keep rotating the outer ring to the remaining letters (SBOJLKQ XSB). Correct letters will appear in the top left of the screen. The message reads "133 N. Vermont Ave" and you will obtain the Deciphered message clue.

Head back towards your vehicle and you will encounter Fred Nicholson, owner and proprietor of Nicholson Electroplating.

Interview Fred Nicholson

Question Response Response (Remaster) Evidence Clue/Location/P.O.I/Lead/Objective
Nicholson Plant Explosion Doubt Bad Cop POI Harold McLellan
Whereabouts of Okamoto Lie Accuse Espionage or Spy camera
Whereabouts of McLellan Doubt Bad Cop

After the interview, drive your vehicle out of the disaster zone; you should find a gamewell around the corner. Make a call to the operator and Phelps will request information regarding the piece of airplane equipment that you found, as well as the address for Superior Laundry Services.

You can choose to either drive to Okamoto's Apartment, which is the deciphered address, or to the Laundry Service. The order in which you do this doesn't matter.

Okamoto's Apartment

Once you arrive you will notice that the apartment's door is open and someone has turned the place over.

  1. Wristwatch, Ring and POI: Open the refrigerator and a dead body will fall out. Inspect both hands to find the ring and watch. You will also need to tilt the victim's head to the right for a new POI: "John Doe", later identified as a Lockheed Employee.
  2. Tie pin: On the floor next to the fireplace.
  3. Microfilm: In the back room, next to the bed, is a dresser with a golden ball earring atop it. When attached to the one you found at the crime scene you get the microfilm.

Once you have inspected all clues and the music cue sounds, you'll receive the Skeletons in the Icebox Achievement/Trophy.

At this point Biggs will automatically call in to report your findings. If you have already been to Superior Laundry Services you can use the phone to initiate contact with Ray Pinker (see below).

Superior Laundry Services

Go to Superior Laundry in Melrose. View the customer log listing laundry tag information. Herschel Biggs will remind you that the number on the tag you found was J2620. Tap on said number for a new POI, Oscar Hangstrom. This is a dead end.

Use the phone near the front door of the shop. If you have already been to the apartment you will be put through to Ray Pinker who discovers that the part is a prop spinner and that Hughes Aircraft's Spruce Goose runs eight Wasp R-4360's. You also ask the operator for information regarding Oscar Hangstrom but there is no information.

After visiting both locations, it is time to go find out more about the airplane part. Go to the new address, Hughes Aircraft.

Hughes Aircraft

You arrive at what appears to be a huge airplane hangar but the MPs stop you at the front gate. Apparently you don't have the clearance to get inside. Luckily, your partner is friends with Vernon Mapes, a retired cop and now head of security for Howard Hughes. Mapes turns up moments later and lets you in. Follow him to the large hangar to find the H-4 Hercules. After the pleasantries, you get to interrogate Mapes.

Vernon Mapes Interrogation

Question Response Response (Remaster) Evidence Clue/Location/P.O.I/Lead/Objective
Nicholson Plant Explosion Doubt Bad Cop
Knowledge of Okamoto Doubt Bad Cop
Knowledge of McLellan Lie Accuse Prop Spinner

After the interrogation you get to look around the hangar and inside the plane.

Stencil Details
Nicholsonelectroplating navigation note

Navigation note

Found inside the plane by climbing the ladder and examining the pinboard.
Description Handwritten note reads: Latitude 24 15' north, Longitude 76 00' west
Clue White Clues Navigation note
Nicholsonelectroplating bahamas


Discovered by entering 24 15' Latitude and 76 00' Longitude into the nearby navigation machine.
Description Navigation location in cockpit of Spruce Goose set to the Bahamas islands
Clue White Clues Bahamas
Nicholsonelectroplating linseed oil

Linseed oil

Found stacked at the nose of the aircraft.
Description 50 gallon drum of linseed oil used by aircraft technicians
Clue White Clues Linseed oil
Nicholsonelectroplating photograph


Found on a desk in Mapes' second floor office.
Description A photograph of Marie 'The Body' McDonald.
Clue White Clues Photograph

You must look at the picture to the right of the Photograph clue to get the Unknown Address location. You will also find a mechanic on the outside, rear end of the plane. There will be a bay of three engines and he is tending to one. Approaching him will trigger a cutscene and an inside look at the prop spinner of one of the engines. Examine the prop spinner to find aluminum covered in oil.

Wilshire Police Station

Now head back to the police station. Go downstairs to Technical Services and talk to Ray Pinker. Investigate the photos from the spy camera carefully. After this, Ray will ask you to help in an (optional) experiment. Following this experiment, check the other side of the desk where the earlier photos were placed to examine the microfilm image to get a clue. It is easy to overlook this clue because the usual "clue music" does not play during this sequence and the game inserts a distraction between examining one set of images and the microfilm.

Stencil Details
Nicholsonelectroplating aluminum polishing patent

Aluminum polishing patent

Found on the desk in Technical Services.
Description Patent application for electrochemical polishing process, filed by Harold McLellan
Clue White Clues Aluminum polishing patent

This is the content of the microfilm found in Tomoko's apartment and is the patent for the aluminum polishing process. This is needed in order to get a 5 star case rating. Once examined, head to the location discovered in the photos.

House in Photograph

Head to the house and enter it, you will discover gas cans of aviation fuel on the floor. On the table across from the bed you will discover an airline ticket and passport. The passport belongs to Oscar Hangstrom but the picture is actually of Harold McLellan, revealing them to be the same person. Upon investigating the passport fully, Mapes will set the house on fire. Shoot the gas tank next to the stove to get out alive.

The Chase

Chase Mapes back to the hangar. Along the way, you will have to avoid or take down MP. If you successfully chase Mapes all the way back to the hangar on your first attempt, you will get the Out of the Frying Pan Achievement/Trophy. To get the Bulletproof Windshield Achievement/Trophy, you will have to kill the drivers of two of the four incoming MP cars before they can exit their vehicles. Upon getting to the hangar, you will initiate a shootout. After you kill all of the enemies, including Vernon Mapes, a cutscene will be triggered wherein Captain McKelty congratulates Phelps and Biggs. He says Phelps may have just solved the case of the decade. Afterwards, the case will be closed.

Finishing the case will net you The Big Unfriendly Achievement/Trophy.

Case Briefing

"Large explosion in the Wilshire district. Smoke and flame easily visible above the skyline, southeast of our current position. I'd say less than a mile distant. Garbled reports via KGPL but nothing about the nature or cause of the blast. Our first priority is reaching the scene, restoring order, and helping to triage any causalities. The investigation will depend on how much evidence survived."

Case Notes

  • "McLellan and Okamoto might never be heard from again, but neither will Vernon Mapes."
  • "Completing Pinker's chemical experiment might have added more weight to the case file."
  • "Proving he knew the intrigues of his own plant would have made the case against Nicholson. "
  • "Linking Mapes to the blast with evidence is as close as you could have come to touching Howard Hughes."

Achievements and Trophies


  • Chief William Worrell can be seen in the Nicholson Electroplating Plant. He seems to wonder why Cole has not been suspended.
  • In the cutscene where Ray asks you to help with his "experiment", Malcolm Carruthers can be seen in the background, walking in to the lab and quickly hiding behind a counter. He reveals that Ray pulled the same trick on him earlier.
  • Be careful during the car chase. You can find all clues and answer every question correctly but get less than 5 stars because of general damage.
  • You can "free roam" with guns in this case. After chasing Mapes back to the Hughes Aircraft hangar, a short cutscene ensues. When it's finished you're free to leave the area and go anywhere in the game with your weapons, without the risk of failing the mission.
  • During the trailer, McKelty shouts at Phelps and Biggs inside the hangar, suggesting there is an alternate ending. However, no evidence of it can be found in-game, so it would seem it was scrapped.
  • If you pass the suitcase clue at ground zero, there is a Bible and body parts next to it. An arm can be examined.
  • The case is loosely based on the real-life 1947 explosion of O'Connor Electro-Plating Corp., south of downtown Los Angeles, which was caused by a perchloric acid reaction. Information about the real case and the scene as it appears today on the 1947 project time travel blog.[1][2]
  • The Mayor of L.A. and the Chief of Police are both featured in the case and can be seen at the Nicholson Electroplating Plant.
  • The television crew seen at the plant contains numerous historical inaccuracies and oversights by the developers. The call letters printed on the van, W4XYZ, were assigned to an experimental television station in Hollywood that was licensed in 1939 and signed on in 1942. In January 1947, W4XYZ became the first non-experimental station west of the Mississippi and changed its callsign to KTLA, which it still uses today. The camera has a nameplate reading "WRC-TV Channel 4", which are the call letters and channel position for the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C.. WRC wasn't known as WRC until 1954. It signed on as experimental station W3XNB and was active during the period that L.A. Noire takes place in. This is likely an oversight by the developers, as there is no reason for a small local station from the east coast to be in Los Angeles.
  • Like many things in L.A. Noire, the television station's van and camera signage were sourced from real life.
  • There seems to be a historical inaccuracy with one of Biggs' statements at the beginning of the case. After the explosion of the plant, Biggs asks "do you think those Russky sons of bitches have dropped the H-bomb on us?" L.A. Noire takes place during 1947, and though the idea of the hydrogen bomb was suggested in 1941, serious development did not occur until the early 1950s, with the first detonation, Codename "Ivy Mike", occurring on November 1, 1952. However, "Ivy Mike" was of American origin, not Russian. The first Russian test, Codename "RDS-6", occurred on August 12, 1953. It is likely that the developers accidentally confused the H-bomb with the A-bomb. The first Russian nuclear test did not occur until August 29, 1949.
  • This is the only mission in which an NPC possesses one of the Hidden Vehicles. The head of security for Hughes Aircraft, Vernon Mapes, has a Tucker Torpedo, which you can take after investigating the hangar. Coincidentally (or not), a Tucker Torpedo is also parked in the Hidden Vehicle garage across the street from the explosion site.
  • As with most destroyed buildings, you can examine the intact building by going "back in time" and visiting the site via Free Roam. Note that you cannot access the interior area of Nicholson Electroplating until the front of the building is destroyed.
  • This is the only time in the game where you get to visit the interior of the Hughes Aircraft hangar and the Spruce Goose, as both are off-limits in Free Roam.
  • Several Nash Deluxe 600 Army cars are parked on the Hughes Aircraft site. This and the military training base in Boyle Heights are the only places where they can be found for the Auto Fanatic Achievement/Trophy. Fortunately, the cars are always parked here, even outside of the mission.
  • The woman in the two photos in Vernon Mapes' Hughes Aircraft office is real-life Hollywood actress Marie McDonald.
  • Although it's not necessary for clue-finding or progressing the mission, it's possible to climb the scaffolding and walk along the top of the Spruce Goose.
  • No screenshot of the Out of the Frying Pan trophy on the PlayStation 4 version will be taken, as it can only be unlocked during a cutscene, and cutscenes are blocked scenes which prevent gameplay recording, including screenshots.
  • This is the only Arson case that doesn't feature or mention the Suburban Redevelopment Fund.
  • This case shares a host of similarities with a case from the M-rated courtroom drama video game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies. The case, called "Turnabout Countdown",  involves a massive explosion which occures at the District Courthouse in Los Angeles in the middle of an ongoing trial. At first it is speculated to be an isolated act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by an disgruntled high school student, but is ultimately revealed to be linked to acts of espionage. 


Video Walkthroughs


If you visit the laundromat after the Deciphered Address, and then use the phone there, Phelps will occasionally act like he is using a gamewell. Also, Phelps' dialogue may be hard to hear, due to loud sounds from the washing machines. The camera seems to be further away, as if you were meant to be using a gamewell during this call instead of a regular phone.


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