USS Rueben James

Published on
July 10, 2011
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Academy Models - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: MRC - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

Short History

USS Reuben James (FFG-57), an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate, is the third ship of the U.S. Navy named for Reuben James, a boatswain's mate who distinguished himself fighting the Barbary pirates.

Reuben James was born in Delaware, Ohio about 1776. He joined the Navy and served on various ships, including the frigate USS Constellation. During the Barbary Wars, the American frigate Philadelphia was captured by the Barbary pirates, when it ran aground in the city of Tripoli, on the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, along with a group of volunteers that included Reuben James, entered the harbor of Tripoli under the cover of darkness in an attempt to burn the Philadelphia so that the pirates could not make use of her.

The American volunteers boarded the Philadelphia on 16 February 1804 and were met by a group of Barbary pirates who were guarding their prize. During the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, Reuben James, with both of his hands already wounded, positioned himself between Lieutenant Decatur and a sword-wielding pirate. Reuben James, willing to give his life in defense of his captain, took the blow from the sword but survived and recovered from his wounds.

Reuben James continued his career in the U.S. Navy, including many years with Decatur. James was forced to retire in January 1836 because of declining health brought on because of past wounds. He died on 3 December 1838 at the US Naval Hospital in Washington DC.

USS Reuben James (FFG 57) is named in his honor, as were DD 245 (1920-1941), and DE 153 (1943-1947).

Her crew totals 201 enlisted 18 chief petty officers and 26 officers.

The Kit - What’s in the Box

Molded in Gray plastic, Full Hull Model, Has waterline option, Photo etch Hand Rails and radars, Display stand included, 6 Trees of plastic parts

FEATURES: Special edition

  • Highly detailed and accurate superstructure
  • Two SH-60 anti-submarine helicopters
  • Full hull or waterline option
  • Premium detail parts included
  • Photo-etched parts and brass barrel
  • Display stand included
  • Waterslide decals
  • Pictorial instructions for assembly

It was about 3 years ago when Academy released the first Perry-class frigate kit.

The kit showed off some sharp detailing and had options for the Flight 1 or Flight 3 configurations.

The down side was the kit only included the SH-60 Seahawk helicopters and the Seahawk was only on the Flight 3. The kit also needed an SH-2 Sea sprite for the Flight 1. Markings were provided only for the Flight 1, USS Oliver Hazard Perry FFG 7.

In the special edition release, Academy addresses the Flight 3s. The parts are identical to the first release. The kit provides one Seahawk with its main rotors folded the other ready for flight.

What makes this kit a Special Edition is the new decals and photo-etched sheet.

The photo-etched parts offer alternative parts for the styrene molded radar and a set of railings for around the catwalks and deck, also a nice set of PE safety nets that go around the flight deck. All these parts are optional and come in molded styrene for the basic modeler.

Markings are provided for nine Flight III Perry-class frigates:

  • FFG 42 USS Klakring
  • FFG 46 USS Rentz
  • FFG 47 USS Nicholas
  • FFG 51 USS Gary
  • FFG 53 USS Hawes
  • FFG 54 USS Ford
  • FFG 55 USS Elrod
  • FFG 57 USS Reuben James
  • FFG 59 USS Kauffman

While only nine sets of names are provided, Academy provides a complete set of hull numbers that will allow you to replicate any of the Perry-class frigates. Deck markings are set up for the Flight 3 option.

The hull is molded in halves, with a cut line inside the hull to make it easy to turn it into a waterline display, complete with a solid bottom.

The full hull option comes with the rudder and single shaft propulsion along with a name plate and display stands.

The main deck is comprised of two sections, the main deck, and the flight deck. The Flight 1 and Flight 3 decks are included in the kit.

The superstructure and main mast are nicely replicated. The yardarms have the various VHF, UHF, and HF antennas as well as the Link 16 dome atop the main mast.

Getting Started

I would recommend you study the plans and formulate a build strategy before you start. I built this kit out of order to avoid having parts in the way when you needed to place decals and the PE railings.

Most all the parts fell into place with little or no adjusting.

You start out with the 2 hull halves and the main deck; I like to use a very "hot" glue called Tenax to weld the halves together. It dries fast and creates a sold seam to sand down.

Once the main deck and halves are together, I painted and sealed them with light Future coat. This will help protect the paint job as you complete the build.

When you place the flight deck, you will have to make a small cut to get the end of the flight deck to line it up.

Most of the rest of the build is placing all the small parts and building up the exterior components. I built all the radar and main towers first and add the PE railings then set them aside to be mounted last, that way you can work on placing the PE railings around the rest of the ship without damaging them.

The PE instructions are nicely laid out in full color; however you still need to pay close attention to what side of the ship you are working on… I managed to place one of the side railings on the opposite side.

The kit comes with two detailed SH-60 anti-submarine helicopters. One is flight ready and the other is not. One of the things I failed to do was to leave a hanger door open so you could place the other SH-60 in side.

Painting and Decals

Painting guild (Gold, Flat White, Gray, Flat Black, Hull Red, FS36375 Light Ghost Gray, FS36320 Dark Ghost Gray, Gray Green)

I used a combination of Model Master, Tamiya and Testers paints.

I didn’t have the Gray Green paint on hand so I used a combination of Tamiya XF22 RLM Grey for the base color and then created a very thinned down wash type solution of Model Masters RLM72 enamel and hand painted the deck surfaces. This seems to have created a very nice shade of dark grey that has some color depth to it. Depending on how thin your wash is you may have to make more than one pass with it, I made 2. It may look blotchy in some places after it dries, that’s ok when you spray the clear coat on it things will even out nicely.

I recommend that you apply the decals for the flight deck and main decks before adding the PE railings and radar/antenna towers.

I airbrushed the PE tree with ghost grey, also painted the Radar PE parts Flat Black before assembling them on the kit.

The SH-60s only have one set of decals for the flight ready version.

I decided to paint the hull and main decks before building up the exterior parts. As I went through the building process I painted most of the parts before placing them on the kit.

Weathering and Detailing

I didn’t do any weathering on this kit; I mainly used Future for a base coat and Model Master Gloss coat to seal the different layers.


Academy has put together a very nice kit, the details and molded parts are crisp and clear of any flash or ejector pin marks. The PE parts really make this kit special and well worth the price. Academy also provided a nice decal sheet that gives you many options to build other ships in this same class.

Everything just fell into place. I had fun building it and you will too.

I would recommend this kit for medium to advanced builder levels because Academy also provided the styrene parts if you don’t want to use the Photo-etch parts.

I would like to thank MRC-Model Rectifier Corp., Academy and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to conduct this review.


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