Trumpeter 1/350 USS Lassen DDG-82
The Arleigh Burke class destroyers were a continuation of the Aegis radar system, with a clean-sheet design for a destroyer (unlike the original Aegis ship, the Ticonderoga class cruiser, which was built on a Spruance class destroyer hull). Unlike earlier destroyers, the Arleigh Burke class is made entirely of steel, including the superstructure. Studies of the British experiences during the Falkland War and the 1975 fire aboard the USS Belknap led designers to forego the traditional aluminum superstructure for a more durable steel construction. As another first, the Arleigh Burke destroyers were the first US Navy ship to have an NBC air-filtration system.
The first of the class, DDG-51 USS Arleigh Burke, was launched on 16 September 1989 and commissioned two years later on 4 July 1991. The first twenty-one ships are Flight I ships, followed by seven Flight II ships, all of which are notable in their lack of helicopter hangars. The Flight IIA Arleigh Burke class destroyers added two hangars to the aft superstructure, changing the lines of the ship. DDG-79, the Oscar Austin, was the first Flight IIA ship, launching in November 1998 and commissioning in 2000.
Flight IIA Arleigh Burke destroyers are further divided into different ships, with subtle variations between them (although they are all labeled Flight IIA). The first two ships, the USS Oscar Austin DDG-79 and the USS Roosevelt DDG-80 were equipped with the original 5”/54 Mk 45 Mod 2 gun found on the Flight I/II ships. Starting with DDG-81, the Winston S. Churchill, the Arleigh Burke Flight IIA ships were equipped with the 5”/62 Mk 45 Mod 4 gun, with a longer barrel. With the USS McCampbell, DDG-85, the rear CIWS was removed, and from the USS Mustin, DDG-89, a redesigned funnel system reduced the IR signature of the ship. To further confuse things, later Flight IIA ships that were designed without the CIWS are now carrying the system via a retrofit. The USS Pinckney, DDG-90 saw the addition of the Remote Mine-hunting System that changed the superstructure slightly and moved the Mk 32 torpedo tubes from amidships to the missile deck. The RMS was put in place on only a few ships, though, and those after the USS Bainbridge, DDG-96, do not have the RMS.
The Arleigh Burke destroyer is destined to serve with the US Navy for many more years, as the DDG-1000 has been cut to just three vessels and the next replacement won't make an appearance until the mid-2020s.
Trumpeter's release of a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke seemed to be somewhat of an oddity, considering that Dragon has also released a Flight IIA kit. However, The Dragon kit is of the USS Momsen, DDG-92, which means that it has the redesigned funnel system and the RMS superstructure, while the Trumpeter kit is a slightly earlier version with the original funnel/superstructure, but still with the Mk 45 Mod 4 gun. As I do not have the Dragon kit at hand, I cannot do a direct comparison between the two, but given those differences, there is room for both kits.
As we have come to expect from Trumpeter ship kits, this one is molded in gray plastic, with the waterline and full hull lower pieces molded in red. In a departure from their recent Kirishima kit (which is based on the Arleigh Burke), this kit provides clear parts for some of the bridge, as well as the expected clear Seahawk helicopters (two of which are included). A photoetch fret includes railings, a nice feature that is usually left up to the aftermarket companies. The decal sheet is colorful and provides deck markings and hull numbers.
The basic construction starts with the hull, and this is broken down logically. The one-piece upper hull has two deck pieces, with the aft piece including the hangar floors. Yes, this kit comes with a complete hangar deck, which allows you to display one SH-60 on the fantail and the other one in the hangar, with rotors folded (which is an option in the kit). The surface detailing on the deck pieces is quite good, and onto those pieces goes quite a few smaller fittings, stanchions, davits, etc. The forward gun is a nice representation of the Mk 45 Mod 4 turret, and the two motor launches include decent interior details. Surrounding the helo deck are several photoetch pieces for the safety nets, a nice touch as plastic would have been grossly out of scale.
The superstructure follows the same assembly procedure found in the Trumpeter Kirishima kit, reviewed last month. The main assembly is made up from individual faces. This allows for excellent detail to be molded in place, as there's no sharp angles to mold around. Some careful cleanup on the edges should result in some excellent results. The main bridge is made up from clear parts, giving the modeler clear windows, another nice touch. With the recent release of 1/350 pre-painted PE figures by Eduard, it would be rather fun to populate the bridge with people to be seen through the windows.
The aft superstructure is built up much like the forward one, although it is a bit simpler. For the hangars, there are optional pieces to have the doors open or closed, allowing you to have some added variation. Personally, I would be tempted to put both helos in the hangar, with both doors open. The two helicopters are nicely molded in clear plastic, so you can have clear windows (via careful masking).
Moving on to the decals, this sheet looks impressive upon first glance. The various deck markings, from the helicopter pad to the gun warning rings are nicely printed. Small details such as the ribbon bar and ship's emblem are also included. The hull numbers are provided for the USS Lassen, DDG-82, and oddly, the decal sheet includes extra large bow numbers to allow you to build almost any Arleigh Burke ship (well, at least one that matches the fittings of this particular Flight IIA version). However, the stern hull numbers are not included, nor are any other ship names, so the spare bow numbers are not really useful. Furthermore, the hull numbers are printed in black and white, while they should be much more subdued, in two shades of gray. These will either have to be painted over with a thin gray wash, or new hull numbers sourced from aftermarket companies.
For the helicopters, the only markings provided are the NAVY on the rear boom and a unit emblem on the fuselage, and there are markings for only one helicopter. Granted, these are small helicopters, but there should still be the star and bar for the fuselage, and at least decals for both helicopters. Hopefully we will see some enterprising individual come out with a set of 1/350 SH-60 decals covering all the squadrons, as these are quite nice little kits that deserve better treatment.
Overall, this is a nicely detailed Arleigh Burke Flight IIA model, one which will nicely supplement the Dragon kit (which is considerably simpler in detail, and also subtly different in fittings). My thanks to Stevens International for the review sample.