by: Kevin Brant [ ]
The U.S.S Florida is an American Ohio Class ballistic missile submarine that was launched in November 1981. In July 2003 at Norfolk Naval Shipyards, the Florida was converted to a cruise missile submarine and redesignated SSGN-728. The submarine was also fitted to carry and support a team of more than 66 U.S. Navy SEAL’s. In March 2011, the Florida as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn launched approximately 90 Tomahawk missiles at Libyan air defense targets to allow British and French aircraft to begin enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya.
With a crew of 155 officers and enlisted men armed with four 21-inch torpedo tubes and 154 Tomahawk missiles, the U.S.S. Florida continues to serve in the United States Navy. Dragon Models has now released a 1/350 scale model of the U.S.S. Florida as equipped today.
6 plastic sprues
1 sheet of decals
1 instruction sheet
This new kit from Dragon Models of the U.S.S. Florida is based on the previous release of the U.S.S. Ohio. The molding of the plastic in the kit well is done, with no flash and no visible sink marks. The surface detail is very well done to include the anti-skid on the top, unfortunately the parts to convert to the Florida do not (more on this below). There are also some nice fine parts to include the masts on the top of the conning tower.
As mentioned this kit is a re-release of the U.S.S. Ohio and includes new parts to “convert” to the Florida. Of the new parts is a portion of the upper hull. This requires cutting of the existing part as per the directions and attaching the new part. While the existing part and top of the hull has simulated anti-skid along the top and between the silo doors, the new part does not. During some test fitting I have also found that the curvature of the transition of the top to the sides are slightly off. And when mounting the top hull piece, the seam that runs along the top of the submarine does not line up with the top ridge part, and this issue would have existed with the original Ohio kit.
In terms of other fit issues I came across while dry fitting, when attaching the upper hull ridge, the width of the part is narrower than the front molded onto the upper hull. This will require some putty and sanding. There is also an indentation of the lower hull where it meets the upper hull just ahead of the stern planes. Due to the thickness of the hull plastic, this was difficult to pull out to line up the seam, thus again this will require some putty and sanding.
The kit does provide the option of leaving a couple of the silo doors open and provides the parts to resemble the Tomahawk missiles in their tubes from the top. Also included are the new parts for the SEAL team support. The two cylindrical chambers are mounted on the top just behind the sail. The builder is also provided with the option of having the torpedo bay doors open or closed.
A display stand is included in the kit, as the holes are pre-molded into the bottom of the submarine. Unfortunately the only name plate included for the kit states “U.S.S. SSGN OHIO CLASS”, there is no name plate for the Florida. I would presume this allows Dragon to release any Ohio class without changing the name plate.
The kit instructions look rather straight forward with five steps on two pages. Painting and marking options provide the all black or the black/hull red schemes. Though I believe that based on the current configuration of the submarine, only the all black would be correct. A small sheet of decals is included with the standard submarine markings and the Florida name.
Overall it does look to be a decent kit of the U.S.S. Florida from Dragon Models, and with a little extra work should produce a great looking model showing off the size of the modern submarine. While the kit does have some fine details and options, the fit issues and the lack of continuation of the anti-skid on the new parts is a drawback. I would recommend this kit if you are looking to add to your collection of submarines with a few small changes.