Fujimi’s 1/700 Spruance Class Destroyer - USS O’Brien
By Richard Eaton, Originally published February 2005
I reviewed the Fujimi Spruance Class destroyer
(USS O’Brien) in 1/700 scale in the May issue
of Internet Modeler. Armed with a bit of Eduard
PE railings, I recently launched into this
one. This is the first time I have worked with
1/700 PE. After so many years of modeling, it
is interesting to encounter a “first.” It was challenging.
Spruance Class destroyers were designed as
replacements for the aging Allen M. Sumner
(DD-692) and Gearing (DD-710) class ships
whose service lives ended in the mid-1970s. All
31 ships in the class were built by Ingalls
Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at
Pascagoula, MS. Designed for the future installation
of weapons systems and sensors not yet
developed, and with an unprecedented attention
to habitability, the result was a destroyer
larger than many WWII-era cruisers. They were
the first U.S. Navy major combatants to employ
gas turbine engines as their main propulsion.
Highly specialized ASW ships, their primary
AA defense is a point-defense missile system.
The target of much criticism, many viewed the
advent of the Spruance destroyer as a reversal
of roles from the traditional destroyer, from
hunter to hunted. Throughout the years, these
ships have received a number of modifications
and upgrades. Now, more than 22 years since
the lead ship of this class entered service,
Spruance Class destroyers have taken their
rightful place as the workhorse of the U.S. fleet.
Like the traditional (hunter) destroyers of
WWII, their service as all-purpose fighting
ships is marked with exceptional performance
in a variety of missions.
This 1999 kit, from Fujimi, places all the latest
technology on the O’Brien. It is a dandy, with
clean crisp moldings and no flash. The parts
consist of five trees of hard gray styrene parts,
a metal “ballast” bar, and two decal sheets.
As is my habit, I separated and sprayed the parts
while on the sprue. I painted the ships decks
with Testors Gunship Gray, the hull and superstructure
Light Aircraft Gray, and masts and
exhausts Flat Black. Careful paint application
at the start of a kit like this saves a ton of masking down the road.
Following directions, step one assembled the ship’s guns,
turbine cooling, and exhaust housings. Two parts make up each
of the cooling housings. A separate decal sheet has vent details
to apply to all four sides of each structure. Each exhaust
structure is made up of nine parts including separate tiny stacks.
Fit was perfect and only minor sanding and touch-up completed
In step two I mounted the stacks and other components on the
superstructure deck. I also assembled the superstructure and
flight deck out of individual bulkheads and decking. Careful
alignment left little to clean up. I posed the hanger doors open
because I wanted to show the helicopter as it was emerging
from the shelter.
Next, I secured the superstructure, and other major assemblies
onto the hull piece. I kept the top deck separate to ease decalling
and adding PE rails. With the hull basically complete, I applied
a coat of clear gloss over the entire ship. Decals for the kit
include extensive deck warning striping, flight deck, and bridge
windows. These were large sheet decals with plenty of clear
area so I was afraid of silvering. I applied Future acrylic floor
polish over all decal areas. I then applied the decals. So far, so
good. I then applied more Future over the decals and, when dry,
they looked painted on. The bridge window decals were a
particularly nice touch.
The ship was now ready for the PE
railings. Actually the ship was more
ready than I was. I had sprayed the PE
with the ship's colors. The Eduard PE
is finely done and extremely delicate. I
started with the top deck. It has been a
while since some aspect of modeling
has kicked my behind. This was it.
After a full night of experimenting I
finally got the right combination of
magnification so that I could see what
I was doing. After a few tries, I could
actually cut the railings from the fret successfully. I could not
bend the rails to fit (as I would in 1/350 scale PE) on the first
few attempts. Suffering my whimpering, I was given some
much needed encouragement and advice. I saw improvement in
the next few sessions and got the railings done. Not pretty but
I then assembled the ships masts, SH-60B helicopter and
remaining items. The final step in the directions added all the
remaining items onto the hull. Boy, I wish that I had added all
these prior to the PE. PE 1/700 railing are delicate and, despite
my care, received some damage. I used CA to add the mast
structures, antennae, Harpoon launchers, and helicopter.
Then the ship went under the magnifier again to straighten out
all that bent PE. At this stage I noticed that the flight deck
looked pretty bare without any safety webbing. All I had was
railing. Well, what the heck. I constructed webbing out of the
railings as best I could and applied them. Hey, a few days ago
I couldn't even cut this stuff off the fret! What do you know? A
little dry brushing and touch-up and she was done. I painted a
water scene using acrylic Navy Blue, White, and a touch of
Turquoise. I tacked the ship on with a touch of glue and took it
out in the sun for some photos.
This kit builds up to a really nice looking model. The numerous
detailed parts fit well and, with careful painting, make a convincing
Spruance class destroyer. I think average modelers
would have a great time building up this nice kit right out of the
box. More advanced modelers should add PE railings to add that
level of realism. I think my next crack at 1/700 PE should go a
lot smoother having this one under my belt.
I thank HobbyLink Japan http://www.hlj.com for this review
- Modern Naval Combat by David and Chris Miller (Salamander Books Ltd. 1986)
- The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships Online http://www.uss-salem.org/danfs
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