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Tamiya's USS "Fletcher" DD-445, 1/350

By Tom Cleaver

click on thumbnails for full image

The Ship

I was once sick as a dog for a day on a Fletcher-class DD off San Diego; this airedale did not like a rolling tin can in a Force-2 sea! Ever since, I have held the men who went to sea in these ships in some awe. Even a minimal read of naval history certainly shows the World War II destroyer, of whatever navy, was the "fightingest" class of ship.

The "Fletcher" class destroyer was built in the largest numbers - 175 - of any Navy destroyer class, and was one of the most successful types of destroyer to ever go to sea. Development of the "Fletchers" began in October 1939; they were to be larger and more versatile than the "Benson" and "Livermore" classes, the last US Navy destroyers built under the limitations of the London Treaty. With simple flush decks, rather than the distinctive high forecastle of the prewar ships, the "Fletchers" were "no-nonsense" in their look. 24 were ordered in June 1940, and more than 100 were on order by the end of the year. At 2,500 tons, armed with five 5" 38 cal. dual purpose guns, the "Fletchers" could steam into battle at 35 knots.

USS "Fletcher" herself was launched June 30, 1942, at the Federal Shipbuilding Yard in Kearney, New Jersey. By November 13 of the same year, she prepared to meet the enemy for the first time as part of a task force steaming in what was by then known as "Iron Bottom Sound," off Guadalcanal. That night, the American task force, composed of the cruisers "San Francisco," "Portland," "Helena" and "Juneau," with their escorting destroyers, went up against "the Tokyo Express," a Japanese force which included the battleship "Hiei," several cruisers and destroyers, all experienced in night combat. The action, known to history as "The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal" resulted in the sinking or damaging of all the American destroyers except "Fletcher," the near-total destruction of "San Francisco" with the loss of RADM Dan Callaghan, the task force commander, and the sinking of "Juneau" with the five brothers Sullivan aboard, who would later be memorialized by giving their name "The Sullivans" to another Fletcher-class destroyer. "Hiei" was severely damaged in this action and later sunk by aircraft from Guadalcanal the following day, the first Japanese capital ship lost in a surface battle. The US Navy's sacrifice, while a tactical defeat, prevented the Japanese shelling Guadalcanal at the height of their attempt to re-take the island and contributed to the ultimate success of the Solomons Campaign. If you ever want to get an idea of just how deadly that battle was, the bridge of USS "San Francisco" can be seen in Land's End Park at the seaward terminus of Geary Boulevard in her namesake city. It looks like a piece of swiss cheese, and will definitely give you food for thought. USS "Fletcher" continued her good luck through the rest of the war, participating in many battles, and bringing her crew home safe. That's about the highest compliment a warship can get.

The Model

 

This aircraft modeler has long been impressed by Tamiya's 1/350 warships. It's a size large enough to see detail, yet small enough a modeler can still find a place to display the completed work without having to build an addition to the house.

The one-piece full hull is crisply molded in traditional Tamiya dark grey plastic, as are the rest of the parts, which arrive on three sprues. While most of the detail parts can be used to build the ship straight out of the box, it is obvious that using the Gold Medal Models photo-etch set will result in a really good-looking model.

 

kit contains two of this sprue

Recommendation

I think this is a good first-step for a crossover modeler. The kit appears simple enough that even this airplane modeler could likely turn out something worthwhile - an adventure I shall report on in a coming issue of IM!

Thanks to Hobby Link Japan for the review sample




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Air Intelligence
1999 Modelers'
Reference Guides

1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00

Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.

TacAir Publications

PO Box 90933
Albuquerque NM
87199-0933
USA

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