by: Jim Adams [ ]
The Los Angeles class submarines began to enter the fleet in 1976 with the lead boat in the class, USS Los Angeles, SSN688. In total 62 of these submarines were to enter service with the United States Navy. During its construction run three different versions, Flights were produced.
The Los Angeles class Flight II fast attack submarines introduced the vertical launch system to submarines. The VLS includes 12 tubes mounted in the forward section of the pressure hull for tomahawk cruise missiles. Both versions, TLAM and TSAM, were used on the 8 boats in the Flt II sub-class. The sub-class was also defined by an upgraded reactor core.
This sub-class has been used in works of Tom Clancy. “In Red Storm Rising” the Providence, Key West, and Chicago launch a cruise missile strike at Russia. Providence was later sunk in the book by an Alpha class fast attack sub. The USS Louisville played the part of USS Dallas in the movie “The Hunt for Red October.”
With these two changes the stage was set for the final step in the 688 class boats. the 688i. These boats have increased capabilities, reduced acoustic signature, and the ability to operate under Artic ice packs.
Displacement: 5759 tons light, 6162 tons full, 403 tons dead
Length: 110.3 m (362 ft)
Beam: 10 m (33 ft)
Draft: 9.4 m (31 ft)
Propulsion: One S6G Reactor
Complement: 12 officers, 98 men
Speed: Surfaced: 20 knots
Submerged: 20 knots (official), 33 knots (reported)
Range: Refueling required after 30 years
Endurance: 90 days
Armament: 4×21 in (533 mm) bow tubes
12 VLS Bow mounted tubes
The kit comes in a heavy duty flip top box. There is a picture on the boxes lid of a completed model. Inside you will find a small zip lock bag and the main body of the sub itself.
The hull of the sub is cast in a heavy resin material. The sail of the sub is molded on the back of the hull. The Flight II group of the LA class is distinguished by their bow mounted VLS tubes. The kits hull has this weapons system represented by finely recessed lines in the bow of the boat. Other areas of the sub also have finely recessed lines in the hull. These include hatches on the top side of the hull.
As stated before the sail is molded onto the hull. There is a gap at the connection between the hull and sail. This will need to be filled and some clean up will need to be done. There is also one major piece of work that needs to be done with the hull, removal of the mammoth pour plug. It runs the almost the entire length of the hull and is about 3/8” thick. Take time to remove it and smooth out the hull. This could cause a major headache if you are not familiar with resin. Break out the Dremel tool or a small coping saw to remove this plug. Also remember to wear a mask while sanding the bottom of the hull smooth.
Next we have a small bag full of parts. These include the periscopes, diving planes, rudders, and prop hub. These are all cast in white metal. There was a good deal of metal flash on these parts. Clean up will be needed on these parts as well. Be careful when cleaning the diving planes and rudders. They have a subtle curve on them so they fit the hull correctly. The instructions do point you to the proper locations of the diving planes and rudders, but there is nothing on the hull to give you and location help. Lining these up will require a steady hand and a good eye.
The periscopes and sensors are also white metal and will require clean up. If you wish to use those, there is no indication as to their locations on the instructions. Not only that, but there is nothing to tell you what colors to use when painting them. Check your references for positions and colors on these.
There is also a fret of PE. Included are three propellers, tie down cleats, and several railings. Some words of caution here. Make sure to use the correct propeller and put it on correctly. Teh two brass rods provided are not mentioned, so stash those in your spare parts box.
There is a single sheet of decals included in the box. They include hull numbers, ship names, draft markers, and two rescue markers. There is only one set of hull numbers pre done for you, 719 USS Providence. So, if you wish to do say, the USS Chicago SSN721, you need to peace your numbers together. All ships in the sub class are represented by name.
The instructions are in a 5 page stapled booklet. It starts out giving you a short history of the Flight II sub class. Some of the history information is incorrect and that does not bode well for your assembly instructions inside. The white metal parts are only listed and not pictured with a part number. There is no direction as to which periscope goes where. The colors for the sub are only given by name, but do not include even FS numbers.
The only PE part that is needed if the propeller. The other parts are not called out nor do the instructions give any hint as to where they go. So if you wish to build your sub in port you will need to do some homework.
The base kit gives you a good starting point. If you wish to build a true representation of a Flight II LA Class sub you will bee to do some home work. Filling the panel lines and rescribing them. Cutting off the excessive pour stud and sanding the bottom smooth will require a good deal of work. Cleaning up the white metal but keeping the curves will test some peoples skill.
Finding the locations for all of the PE parts is another time to dig into the research material. This is the only current kit of a Flight II LA class submarine in 1/350 scale, so if you wish to build all three versions of the 688 class fast attack sub, this is your only kit.