|1/350 USS Lassen, Arleigh Burke Class DDG|
|Kit Number: 4526|
|Reviewed by Charles Landrum, IPMS# 26328|
Review kit provided by Stevens International: www.stevenshobby.com
Up until now, the only 1/350 model of the Arleigh Burke Class of destroyers was the kit by Panda. Originally released as the Flight 1 destroyer (see below), they later tooled a Flight IIA ship. At the time Panda played up their CAD origins and the ability to faithfully recreate detail. The result was a model not without its flaws, but not bad, comparable to the Dragon Spruance and Ticonderoga Class kits in detail. The Flight IIA however suffered from poor research and dimensions of the aft superstructure and flight deck that are wrong. Dragon has picked up this line and continues to release it. Trumpeter has created an original mold Arleigh Burke that makes these Panda/Dragon molds obsolete.
The Arleigh Burke family of destroyers has become a mainstay of the US Navy and is the largest class of ships built by the US Navy since WWII. The class was to end after 62 ships but the class is being extended by another 8-11 ships. This class can be divided into three "flights". The first of the class were the Flight I destroyers which lacked full aircraft handling facilities (including a lack of hangar amongst other things). These are the original Arleigh Burke destroyers. This outward appearance continued through the Flight II ships which benefited from internal improvements. The first Flight to offer full aircraft handling facilities was Flight IIA, which continues in production; Austin Oscar was the lead ship. Unlike the previous flights, the Flight IIA ships are not homogenous in design having introduced incremental improvements. For example:
This initial release by Trumpeter is the Flight IIA destroyer USS Lassen DDG-82. She is an early Flight IIA with the 5in 62cal gun, stacks and the SLQ-32 V3 antennas. It is obvious that this kit was designed by the varsity design team. Like other Trumpeter kits, this box is filled with plastic, but in this case fourteen sprues (in addition to the major components) with a parts count of 487; that is high for a ship model of this size. Most of the sub assemblies are made up of smaller parts to maximize detail. Although Trumpeter does not indicate it in the instructions, a number of these parts are for differing versions of the class, which appear to be for future releases. The detail is petite and well molded. The kit includes:
The Hull - I am glad that Trumpeter offers this as a waterline as well as full hull version. Fit of lower to upper hull is perfect. Hull detail is for the most part good. The detail of the upper hull is accurate with good anchor hawses, masker piping and transom detail. There is a weird rectangular shape on both sides of the bow and Trumpeter mistakenly tried to replicate the hogging-in padeyes on the hull. They did try to replicate some, but not all of the above waterline, overboard discharge openings. They padeyes are more petite than Panda's, but still are a distraction and should be sanded off. The underwater hull, as is true of most models, is devoid of detail below the hull. The waterline is in the correct place. The bilge keels are incorrectly curved and do not protrude properly from the hull. This is a common issue with model kits. When viewed on end, they should run straight along the turn of the bilge. The smile effect is due to the bulge of the hull when viewed from the side. Dragon got this right on BUCHANAN. Trumpeter has curved the bilge keel downward. Ideally the keels y would have been molded separately and a recess set in the hull to accept them. Still they are better than the keels on the Dragon Spruance, Ticonderoga and Kidd class hulls and unlike these kits can be easily removed and replaced. Trumpeter did include the Combined Wedge-Flap device just below the water line at the transom, which improves propulsion efficiency. The kit masker belts do not extend below the waterline. Also absent are the double rub strakes at the waterline to protect the belts from tug hits. The sonar dome (molded in gray - so why mold the lower hull in red?) is the proper shape, but does not properly depict the sonar dome rubber window; the dome has a line all the way around the center of the shape, which is incorrect and not prototypical of anything. The stern tubes and strut bearing housing are nicely tapered, though the struts themselves are not (nothing a little sanding can't fix). Also the stern tubes should extend farther aft and have a tapered fairing between the tube and the hull. The propellers are nicely rendered and are properly handed. The hub is accurate and blades well shaped. The rudders are nice and have correct mounting points to the hull.
Decks - the decks are for the most part well detailed and nicely done. They do suffer from raised flight deck markings that will need to be sanded down. The anchor chain is also molded as are the mooring bitts. The mooring bitts are a bit squat and featureless and would have been better molded separately. At least the chocks are separate and molded open. The vertical launch system doors and gun mount foundation are nicely done. On the flight deck, Trumpeter has included a good rendering of the RAST track for helo traversing and recovery (even though it is a bit wide).
Superstructure - Trumpeter has molded the superstructure in almost bulkhead by bulkhead fashion, which means more work building up the assemblies but it has allowed them to more faithfully replicate detail. The detail is quite good, especially the ventilation opening, SPY-1 antenna panels (which are molded separately), piping and firestations. The water/air tight doors are okay, but a bit heavy handed. I would replace them and the vertical ladders molded on. The sections with the bridge windows are molded in clear plastic (aarghh…why?) which is a feature I dislike. Of note, Trumpeter provides full hangar bays. These are dimensional accurate based on the Aviation Facility book put out by NAVAIR. The bulkheads and overhead are accurately detailed as well, including ventilation ducting and water tight doors. Even the RAST track extends all of the way in. Plus the doors can be posed closed or open. This is a very nice feature which gives the models many display options (remember the helicopters always point forward, no exceptions).
Weapons and Fittings - Here is an area where Trumpeter's attention to detail comes through. They provide some of the nicest fittings for modern warships in this kit and there are a lot parts to study. The harpoon launchers and SRBOC launchers (parts D32 and 33) are fabulous. The anchors, life rafts, tilt whip antennas, missile directors and smokestacks are also nice. The 5 in 54 cal and 5 in 62 cal gun mounts are correct in shape, but for some reason Trumpeter molded them with raised access doors. The J-bar davits, boat crane and SLQ-32 ESM/ECM antennas are not as good. Still I have found details absent in most kits like the glide slope indicator (GSI) bar above the hangar, the inclusion of the 25mm chain gun, independent optical site, .50 cal machine gun mounts and even the J-bar davits. The Mk-32 triple torpedo tubes look too small in diameter. The Helos are molded in clear practice as is the company's practice (again why?). Detail is nice and the blades are thin. Unfortunately there is no option to fold the tail, unless you cut it yourself.
Display Stand - Trumpeter provides a display stand similar to that provided by Dragon in its modern USN ships (Sprue W). It also provides a raised relief name plate on sprue K.
PE set - Included in this double relief etched set are main and upper deck railings and flight deck nets. Not included are ladders and small details that are typically found in after-market sets.
Instructions - As are typical of Trumpeter instructions, the building sequences are a bit odd. They have you assemble a lot of the peripheral detail before major structures. They also have you complete the upper hull before mounting it to the lower hull, which is a recipe for damaging a lot detail. The color painting guide is nice and accurately depicts what should be painted. However the recommended colors are not correct. The color for the Haze Gray is listed as Lt Ghost Gray. This is a pretty good match but the accurate color should be Neutral Gray FS 36270 (MM 1725). The deck color call out is correct. The color call out for the underwater hull is also incorrect. It should be red. I prefer Insignia Red, but Guards Red would be okay too. The helo should be painted Dark Ghost Grey over Light Ghost Gray - not Compass Grey over Light Ghost Gray.
Decals - The kits decals are nice printed, in register and with vivid colors. The white is bright. The markings are very petite and include:
So how does this model stack up to the Panda/Dragon Flight IIA kit given the significant price difference. The biggest criticism of the Panda/Dragon offering is the fact that they made the flight deck too long and the hanger far too short as a result; Trumpeter got all of the shapes and locations right. Just look at the comparison with a real photo and the location of assemblies. The Trumpeter hull detail is much better as well, particularly the bilge keels. The level of detail far surpasses the Panda/Dragon kit as well. Bottom line the extra outlay of money is worth the accuracy and detail received.
With the release of the Lassen, Trumpeter has brought it's A-game. It is clear that they did their research and used their top designers to create this kit. While not perfect, it is still hard to fault this kit. It is a very good kit to build a realistic model of the Flight IIA Arleigh Burke destroyer