USS Los Angeles Class Submarine SSN-688/VLS/688I (3 in 1)
The Los Angeles-class is a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines that forms the backbone of the United States submarine fleet. With 42 submarines on active duty and 20 retired, the Los Angeles class is the most numerous nuclear-powered submarine class in the world.
- SSNs 688-718 – Original Los Angeles class
- SSNs 719-750 – Starting with SSN 719 and beyond, the last 31 hulls of the class have 12 vertical launch tubes for the Tomahawk cruise missile.
- SSNs 751-773 – The final 23 hulls (SSN 751 and later) referred to as "688I" (for improved) are quieter, incorporating an advanced BSY-1 sonar suite combat system and the ability to lay mines from their torpedo tubes. They are configured for under-ice operations in that their forward diving planes have been moved from the sail structure to the bow and the sail has been strengthened for breaking through ice.
HobbyBoss’ new kit is a “3 in 1,” which means that there are options to build a 688, a 688 with VLS, or a 688I. To do this, there are one lower hull, two upper hulls, two different sails, and a stand. To detail the kit, there is a sprue of detail parts, a stand, a photo etch fret with props, and a label for the base.
I elected to build SSN-721, the USS Chicago, which is a 688I class with no diving planes on the sail and has the VLS system. The kit is well molded and fit is good throughout. I assembled the hull first; a little putty was required, but not much. Some of the parts are small, so be careful not to lose them. I used the injection molded prop, as it had the correct bend to it. The sail was assembled and the periscopes left off.
There is an excellent full-color page showing markings and color numbers. After the surface was prepped, I sprayed the bottom Tamiya Hull Red. This was masked off and a dark gray was used. I followed with brass for the prop and then I sealed the entire thing with Alclad clear.
Once dry, I added the decals and here I ran into a problem. The decals for the SSN-721 folded over for the sail and I just couldn’t save them. I ended up having to use SSN-688 decals. They still looks good, but they’re not accurate. I added a black wash to bring out the highlights. A couple coats of flat and it was finished.
This is a great little kit with great fit, lots of options, and a cool subject. Recommended! My thanks to Gary Newman of Squadron Products for the review kit and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review it.