The USS Essex was commissioned in October 1992 and is currently serving in the USN. LHD stands for "Landing Helicopter Dock". This vessel has the ability to launch helicopters along with Harriers and Ospreys. The one thing that makes these vessels unique is the ability to also launch AAVP, LCAC and LCU's from the well deck.
Hobby Boss provides the kit in a sturdy cardboard box that is stuffed full of plastic. There are twenty nine sprues of plastic, three photo etch frets, two decal sheets a twelve page instruction sheet a two page color paint guide. One note about the color guide, they list Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol paints. There is one mistake where they call for XF-58 olive green which is supposed to be the deck color. I believe that they meant XF-53 Neutral Gray which is what I used and was a pretty good match.
The construction of the kit is pretty straight forward. I made some changes to the way that I built the ship verse the way the instructions have you do it. The biggest change that I made was to assemble the hulls and flight deck first, I did add the hangar bays and anything that needed to put in place before I buttoned it up. My suggestion is to have a plan of attack prior to beginning.
There were just a few problem areas that I will address here. I had a fit issue with photo-etch pieces (PE-B3 and PE-B4)fitting in the kit pieces (A26 and A44). I ended up cutting relief cuts in the bottom of the kit piece to get the PE to fit properly. The next area that I had a fit problem was the upper hull to the lower hull. The lower hull is just a little bigger than the upper hull thus the problem. There are two ways that that I looked at fixing the problem. You can either match the front or the back together and work from there. If you match up the front it will require some major work in the back to blend everything together. I chose to match the back and all I had to do when I got to the front was use some putty to blend it together, The last item is not so much a problem just something you need to be aware of. There is some very delicate photo-etch included in the kit. The use of this photo-etch really enhances the kit verse using the plastic, but you will need to be very careful as it bends very easily.
I highly recommend this kit for modelers with an interest in modern USN subjects. My only advice is that you should have some experience working with photo-etch as this kit does have quite a bit of it. Not all is required for building the kit, but it does enhance it.
I would like to thank Hobby Boss, Squadron and the IPMS/USA for allowing me to do the review on this kit.