by: Russ Amott [ ]
USS Buchanan & USS Lansdowne HistoryThe USS Buchanan, DD-484, and USS Lansdowne, DD-486, were Gleaves class destroyers, built in 1941 and commissioned in 1942. Buchanan was sent directly to the Pacific and jumped right into the action in the Solomons, participating in the battles of Savo Island, Cape Esperance and the Guadalcanal. She participated in much of the fighting in the Solomons chain, then after refit went to the Palaus and Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa to support invasions there, as well as bombardment of Formosa and China. Buchanan received 16 battle stars for WWII service as well as the Presidential Unit Citation.
USS Lansdowne began operations in the Atlantic, performing anti-submarine and escort duties. In August of 1942 she headed to the Pacific and was present when Wasp was torpedoed. She took on over 400 of Wasp's crew and scuttled the carrier. She also continued fighting in the Solomons until sent to San Francisco for repairs in early 1943. She then went to the Aleutians, returned to the Solomons and then west to New Guinea. She performed bombardment operations across the Pacific and participated in the invasion of Guam and Tinian, then after refit patrolled the Carolines and Ryukyus. USS Lansdowne received 12 battle stars for WWII service.
Both ships were not only present during surrender ceremonies in Tokyo bay in 1945, they had starring roles. USS Buchanan transported the US delegation, including General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz, to the USS Missouri. USS Lansdowne transported the Japanese delegation to Missouri.
The ModelsDragon have now released a 1:700 scale kit containing two Gleaves class destroyers in late WWII fit to represent both the USS Buchanan, DD-484, and USS Lansdowne, DD-486, as they would have appeared in Tokyo Bay.
The box is a smallish, top opening type with artwork showing the two ships side by side in Tokyo Bay, larger ships arrayed in the background and the overcast sky filled with US aircraft. Lansdowne is shown in Measure 21 (1945) paint scheme of 5-N Navy Blue on the lower hull above the waterline and 5-H Haze Gray above on all vertical surfaces. Buchanan is shown wearing Measure 22, with 5-N Navy Blue on the hull sides and vertical surfaces.
Inside the box are two sets of sprues, carefully packaged. The box is quite full and many of the parts are delicate, so once opened it may be difficult to get everything back in the box, so you had better just jump right in and start building. I examined each sprue carefully and the detail is amazing. I did not see any flash or broken parts. There are some minor mold seam lines to clean up which may be tricky because of the small size of the parts involved. A small photo-etch fret is included, and as a very nice touch there are plastic forms included to shape the etch parts. Kit breakdown is as follows.
There are two "A" sprues, the first marked USS Benson Class, from which the forward deck and propeller and shafts come, and the second, marked USS Buchanan class, carrying the rear deck and some superstructure details.
Sprue C, also marked USS Benson Class, carries more superstructure detail, with 11 parts not for use.
Sprue D, marked USS Benson Class, has many of the small detail parts such as masts, davits and life boats.
Sprues F, H, I and J are all attached. They hold the torpedo launchers, depth charge racks, 5" guns, 20mm cannon and gun turrets. The muzzles of the 5" guns are indented and the depth charge racks and turrets have detail all around.
There are two hulls in the box, L and K. L is a waterline hull and K is a complete hull. Both are very well molded with a slight seam line on the K hull to clean up.
There are four S sprues, containing life rafts, spot lights, gun director and radar masts.
DetailsAll plastic parts are very well molded, with hatches, portholes and other raised details clearly and cleanly represented. The bitts, although very small, are also nicely done on the deck sections. Slide molds have been used where detail is needed on multiple surfaces, such as the gun turrets mentioned above, and is beautifully rendered. A single display stand is included for mounting the full hull version.
There is a small etch fret for each ship, with ladders, steps, life boat brackets and very tiny detail parts for the twin 40mm AA mounts. The inclusion of plastic forms to shape the parts is a simple but generous and helpful act that is greatly appreciated.
Decals, Instructions and PaintThe decal sheet, by Cartograff, is clearly printed. It has hull numbers and anti-skid walkways. Placing the walkways may require painting of deck surfaces to place the decals, and then adding the details. The anti-skid walkways are broken down into small sections to allow the modeler to place them around surface details, which should make things easier. There is a separate card with flags shown slack and furled in the breeze.
The instructions are typical Dragon fold out type, with line drawings and sub-assemblies shown in side boxes. They are busy but not too complicated. A paint guide is included with colors indicated for GSI Creos Aqueous Hobby and Mr. Color ranges, and Model Master enamel paints. The painting diagram at the end of the instructions shows both ships in full hull profile, with views from port side, above and both fore and aft. Buchanan is in measure 22, hull red below the water line, a flat black stripe along the water line and 5-N Navy Blue on all vertical surfaces above the water line, with the deck painted in 20-B deck blue. Lansdowne is shown in measure 23, with hull red below the water line, black stripe on the water line, 5-N Navy blue up to the lowest point of the deck, and 5-H haze gray above the deck line on all vertical surfaces, with the deck painted in 20-B deck blue.
ConclusionOverall, I think the kit is very well made and detailed. About the only issue I would have is with the option of the hulls. Some may wish to show both in waterline form, some may have wanted to show both with full hull on display. Considering how many unused parts Dragon include in their kits, I don't think it too much to ask for two of each hull.
In conclusion, my overall impression of the kit is as follows. Molding and detail are excellent, decals look very good, forms to bend the photoetch is a very nice touch and the instructions appear fairly well organized and clear. My experience with Dragon is that fit is generally very good as well. If not already available, I'm sure there will be aftermarket accessories for those who wish for even more detail, but I think many will be satisfied with what is in the box.
The suggested retail price was about $23.99 US, but searching online I saw prices in the range of $16-$18, before shipping.
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