"Blue Devil" Fletcher-class Destroyer
Thanks to Round 2 models for sending us this “blast from the past” kit, and leadership for generously firing it my way to relive what could have been for a very young modeller…
First, this is a BIG model. A yard’s worth…(36 inches)… Suitable for R/C (Many have tried and succeeded), display (with work) or free-running (for those with big enough pools… it’s too easy to lose a non-controlled ship in a local pond).
The box art is an attention-getter: using the original 1964 box art is a great idea; nostalgia sells. (Yep, I was six at the time when I first saw this kit). It was what got my “COOL MODEL” factor spun up. (For those interested, I saw this kit at “Who hobbies” in Rapid City, South Dakota, where my father was stationed at the time as a missile support helicopter pilot flying H-19’s and later UH-1F’s out of Ellsworth AFB… that’s another story, as that hobby shop is, last time I checked, still in business!)
Originally the kit was designed with a motor option, with capability to set up a pre-program “run” path in the water while the rudders, gun turrets, and radar moved while the kit was in operation. This was the thing to do back in the day; a model that DID something… you even got to build the motors, usually. And yes, I actually got them to work as I gained experience. Absolutely cool… but be advised, although a lot of the parts (Including a gear set on a black plastic tree) are included in this release, there are no motors, electronic support parts, or instructions to install same. The instruction sheet is an abbreviated version without those details as well… so if you want an original release, the price will probably go up on E-bay.
Second: As of today (25 June) their website does not contain instructions to install the r/c or motorized options; this is pointed out in the instructions but not there yet. There are also a few missing steps in the instructions.. and the photocopy work is a bit dark, so sometimes there is a bit of a “where does that part go?” moment during the build.
As I frequently donate assembled IPMS review kits to the local kids or office workers, my plan drastically changed when I learned the original options were not included. This was to become a display item, capable of floating, without all the moving parts actuated.
The hull is a one-piece affair; I began by cleaning up the pour stub points, cementing the Propeller drive shaft standoff bearings, the drive shaft tunnels, and the rudders in place… then cement the upper deck support/spreaders to the upper hull, which makes the assembly pretty strong. The lower section was sprayed Duplicolor rattle-can primer red. After an hour, I masked the lower section, (no black anti-foul line required for this build), and sprayed the upper hull in Krylon rattle can “Classic Gray” gloss. Set aside for now… as
… IT”S TIME TO BUILD THE SUPERSTRUCTURE!!! ..
First note: I cemented the deck to the upper hull, as I wanted to waterproof the kit as much as possible. The instructions have you screw it into place without cement, but there is no gasket, and hydraulics being a matter of physics, there is NO way you can do this without provisions to prevent water intrusion. Plan ahead… also, the on/off switch used to be on the front deck right behind the bow cleat; you might want to fill this with plasticard.
The pilothouse, forward superstructure, center superstructure, and the aft Engine room/superstructure were all assembled in accordance with the instructions. These are all chamfered walls, meaning you have to make sure they are straight and true. Add the upper decks, and you have a strong box to attach to the deck. Also, if you plan on cementing these to the deck, this needs to be done before the deck is attached. Why: because if you cannot access the backside of the deck, it is hard to clamp the superstructure down, and you will end up with gaps. Hard experience there.
The deck has tie down cleats, and many small bits to add including fire hose reels. I left off the fragile parts on the edge of the deck such as the lifeboat arms, and railing stanchions, until I could install them at the end of the build. The 5” gun turrets, fire direction tower and radar, and torpedo tubes are all designed to move; without a motorization system, I opted to just leave them “free moving”. The pivot pins are sturdy and free-moving. Each turret is made up of two sides, top and front armor, a back side, and lower turret base. These fit together without filler required… the option of including a molded “blast bag” around the cannon barrel is included.
The four 40MM cannon are simple one-piece affairs which are cemented to their mounts, so there is no sighting system or similar detail to fight. Same for the twin 20mm cannons; these mount to stanchions on the deck, and include separate blast shields for the crew. Remember, this is an “action” model from the ‘60’s…
Depth charge storage racks are included for the aft and side of the ship, and include the large mortars with charges installed “at the ready” next to the side racks.
The main mast is a sturdy, one-part affair… and could take the abuse of water action.It just slides into place…
The railing stanchions have positive locations and are easily installed and rigged; bring your favorite method and have a good time; it’s not like there are thousands of lines required. In this kit, I have not installed the rigging, as I am building this kit like a 10-year old would (but who has a LOT of experience on what to do!)
The brass propeller shafts are inserted with the propellers; these are electric model props, and look better than nothing, but if accuracy is your thing, well. I chose to leave them off for now…
The kit includes paper signal flags and an ensign; not water-friendly, so they have been left off.
Decals! Two ship hull identifiers, two “blue Devils” for the stacks, and a non-descript “kill tally” decal, which I added to the forward port stack. They don’t show up in the instructions anywhere…
SO, final determination: a large scale Fletcher-class destroyer, with a lot of potential. Once Round 2 have their website updated, surely they will include the missing R/C instructions per their kit instructions for web-site access… for now the kit does not even show on the site, so…
A worthwhile step back in time; and a canvas for the superdetailer if desired. I had fun; that’s the point! Thanks again to Round 2 for bringing these kits back to life and to IPMS USA for a chance to review this classic kit.