Construction started with the stand and a visit from Murphy. Following the kit instructions, I drilled out holes #3 and #6 and cemented in part Z1. The instructions label the base as Z2 but it is marked Z1, not a big deal, it is obvious what’s what. When I tried to set the lower hull on the stand it did not fit. The pedestals should be installed in holes #4 and #5, NOT holes #3 and #6 (so much for starting with something easy).
Construction was straightforward with no real problems. Some areas that could be better are listed here:
- Mast assembly and attachment would be better with alignment pins
- Life raft canisters and brackets were fiddly due to a lack of positive alignment points
- Aft quarter railings just do not fit correctly so I left them off. The rest of the P/E went on without any problems
- Flight deck safety netting fit fine but the etching could be finer
- A full set of railings would really help this kit stand out
- The paint call-out numbers for the SH-60 and the ship are not listed in the paint list
- The rotor blades for the SH-60 are just a little oversized and need a P/E replacement
Do not sand part C20 to fit, the real ship has an overhang here, just like the kit part. Great job Dragon for catching that and doing such a great job of making the part fit right.
These are not real problems, just things to be aware of. The fit of all of the parts and the end result is nothing less than exceptional.
It appears that the real ship is natural aluminum that has started to oxidize just like the lamp post in the parking lot. Rather than trying to replicate that finish, I decided to paint my model like one of the pictures on the General Dynamics web site. I used Model Master intermediate Blue FS 35164 and Light Sea Gray FS 36307. Not sure if these colors match what GD has in mind, but they look right to me. The flight deck was done in Gunship Gray FS36118. After a coat of clear gloss, the decals were applied without any problems. Once everything was dry, I gave it a final coat of Testors Dullcoat and set it aside to dry for a couple of days.
This was a fun build of a really great ship; keep up the good work Dragon. My thanks to Dragon Models and to IPMS for allowing me to build and review it.