SSN-637 USS Sturgeon
I recommend this kit for any collection of USN submarine models. This kit is for intermediate-skill modelers, and will result in very nice representation of any of the short-hull Sturgeon class attack submarines that served in the U. S. Navy. Assembly was straight forward, with no major problems. No alignment pins or sockets are present in the kit design, and many parts may require addition of pins or wire for positive location. This is not a detraction from the kit, but something to think about when you start assembly. The resulting model looks proper in comparison to photographs and references.
Initial Impression in the Box
The kit arrived in an 11.75 x 6. x 1.5 inch box, featuring colorful artwork of the Sturgeon surfaced in ice pack. Poly bags enclosed the part sprues and the kit materials are not too tightly packed in the box. Three medium gray sprues, a decal sheet, a small brass photo-etch fret and an instruction sheet are included. No mold release traces were observed on any of the sprues. The plastic is moderately shiny, and surface detail is recessed. The instruction sheet is printed in black-and-white, with color paint guidelines and decal placement instructions. I believe that the decal sheet has names and numbers for all of the short-hull Sturgeon class boats. The decal sheet has the christening/launching day bow bunting for the Sturgeon. I thought this would be an excellent colorful addition to my collection, and decided to model SSN-637 as she appeared on the ways on 26 FEB 66.
Construction was quite straightforward. I glued BBs into the lower hull to provide some weight to the model for security. Flash is present on some parts, but did not present any serious obstacles. Cyanoacrylates and extra thin cements worked very well. The “forest” of periscopes and other masts atop the sail is well represented. I certainly recommend that all of the parts have wire or plastic rods added and placed in corresponding drill holes. The brass propeller was assembled without trouble. The brass is soft enough to be formed into whatever you may consider the correct prop design to be. I used a plastic circle template to hold the hull halves together for gluing. I found conflicting information about the stern plane configuration with regard to the small vertical “finlets” outboard on the horizontal stern planes. A retired submarine officer familiar with the class thought the finlets were added during a later overhaul. I didn’t add them either, since my Sturgeon model is depicted on launch day. I still have the parts, so I can add them later, perhaps during an “overhaul’. Later boats in the class did have these finlets. Mikro Mir gets kudos for covering the possibilities! I did not use the stand base and pylons since my submarine collection has a different style of display cradle.
I finished the sub per the painting instructions, using black and hull-red colors. I painted the bow gloss white as a base for bunting decals. I used acrylic paints, and had no challenges with paint adhesion. The kit was washed prior to construction, as usual, the final assembly cleaned with Polly-S Plastic prep, and a light coat of black primer applied before the final coats.
The only disappointment I really had throughout building was with the decals. The bunting decals fragmented into unusable pieces within a couple of seconds of contact with de-ionized water. I was very surprised to see this with new kit decals. The same behavior persisted with the other markings, but I was able to tweak the sail numbers into position at least. I did not try any decal setting solutions. I shifted my historical reference to just before first patrol, with only the sail numbers left to be painted out!
I am very pleased with this kit. It does take a bit of extra work, however it is an excellent value. Assembly was quite quick, and outside of the decal disappointment and subsequent adaptations, the challenges and successes were well worth the time.
I highly recommend this kit for any submarine aficionado! The Sturgeon looks great in my display case with my boomers, 688s, fleet boats, and Guppies.
I am very appreciative of Mikro-Mir for providing a review example of a one of the USN’s attack submarines. I also wish to extend a very deep appreciation to the IPMS/USA Reviewer Corps for allowing me to review this newly released kit. Thank you again Mikro Mir and the IPMS Reviewer Corps! As always, it is an honor to be part of the team.