by: Jim Adams [ ]
Imagine you are driving down the road in a rain storm in your Geo Metro. Out of nowhere an 18 wheeler is headed right at you. The resulting image really scares a person. Now imagine you are in a running gun battle at sea in the dark. Night vision has not been invented and radar is in its infancy. So, you are pretty much blind. Flashes from your gun mounts blind your helmsman as he does his best to avoid any possible collisions.
You are on the USS Laffey and it is November 13, 1942. You do not know it, but directly ahead of you is the IJN Hiei which out weights you by almost 23 times. Unbeknownst to you both ships are heading to the exact same spot of pitch blackened ocean. Out of the darkness the monster appears and you react. Both ships miss one another by a mere 20 feet. Your ship fires its small 5” main guns at the monster. Countless rounds of small arms pour from your barrels toward the opposing ships bridge.
The Hiei returns fire with her main guns which are almost 3 times larger than yours. The ship shutters under the impact of a 14” round, but you fight on, fight or die. A torpedo hits your fantail and your ship comes to a halt. Weapons of all calibers flash, fountains of water erupt all around your stricken ship, and finally the order is given to abandon ship. Before all of her crew can evacuate, your once proud warship erupts in a massive explosion killing a majority of your shipmates.
That is how the USS Laffey went down. At the height of the battle she had one battleship to her stern, one to her port beam, and two Japanese destroyers to her port bow. All of this the night after fighting a gun duel with another Japanese surface force.
Displacement: 1620 Tons
Length: 347ft 10in
Beam: 36ft 1in
Draft: 11ft 10in
Speed: 37.5 knots
Crew: 208 officers and men
Armament: 4 x 5”/38 cal, 5 x 20mm, 3x 21” torpedo tunes, 5 depth charge projectors, 2 depth charge racks.
Laid Down: January 13, 1941
Launched: October 30, 1941
Commissioned: March 31, 1942
Fate: Sunk in enemy action November 13, 1942.
Later in the war another USS Laffey would take her place in the Pacific Fleet.
The kit comes in a lidded box. On its top is a painting of Laffey’s encounter with Hiei that faithful night. Indies you will find the box packed with wrapped sprues, two frets of PE, decals, clear parts, figures, and instructions.
Sprue A has portions of the ships superstructure and main deck fittings. Just like with the previous releases in the Dragon World War II destroyer line you will find plenty of detail in the parts. The bulkheads have nicely molded railings and deep set port holes. Some of the watertight doors are able to be replaced with PE doors. These can be positioned open or closed.
Sprue B contains more superstructure sections. Just like those on Sprue A they have nice detail on the exterior bulkheads and openings for watertight doors. The ships funnels are molded in one piece, so no worry about seams.
Sprue C has the main deck sections, propeller shafts, two post bollards, rudder, and the ships screws. The main deck has the molded camber just as the real ship had. Also the main deck has a matte appearance. I am guessing this will help to replicate the overall finish of the actual ship when it is painted. The screws have nice thin blades with the correct shape for the ship.
Sprue D starts to get into the ship weapons. Both quad and quint torpedo tubes are provided. Both are nice looking and represent the actual tubes. The ships small arms are also provided here. These are made up of multiple small parts.
Sprue E has the range finder and radar antennas on it. The parts all look great, but I would rather see the radars done in PE.
Sprue F are the PE folding tools for the kit. This is a very unique feature of this series of kits. They are used to fold the ships screw guards and life raft mounting brackets.
Sprue G gets the ships 5” guns mounts out in the open. Just like with previous releases in the Destroyer line. The gun barrels have open muzzles. The mounts have the access doors molded on the sides.
Sprue J are the two lenses for the search lights.
Sprue K all sorts of the ships small fittings are present here. All the way from the ships davits to the depth charge launchers. The depth charge racks are not split down the center like other kits have. The racks are split to minimize the typical seam down the middle of the racks.
Sprue L carries the square funnels found onboard the Laffery. These are molded in one piece, no seams.
Sprue M are the superstructure parts which make the Laffery unique as compared to the other ships in this series.
There are two small frets of PE included with the kit. There are also two small curved pieces which are used for director shileds. Ladders, gun shields, radar brackets, screw guards, and life raft racks are art of the itmes produced here. There are also several watertight doors also provided with the PE fret.
The decals with this kit echo those included with the other Dragon Destroyer kits. Non-skid deck markings are present and really stand out on the finished kit. Also included are the few markings needed for a wartime US destroyer.
Dragon continues to include 6 figures with their Destroyer kits. These six have different poses than have been in other kits.
The instructions are printed on 8 pages of folded paper. They are easy to follow and give you a logical construction procedure.