A scale rendering of the last of the Perry Class frigates, Dragon Models Limited 1/700 scale U.S.S. Ingraham kit is presented to the modeler in the long-hulled, RAST equipped version, which of course means that there is an ASW helicopter (Seahawk). This “Inbox style” review will give us a closer look at just what is inside the box, and what you may expect in the kit itself.
One of the first things that struck me thinking, was that after I had studied the box art, was that after discovering that there was yes, a dedicated photo-etch fret inside, as well as an updated Cartograf decal sheet, DML had not tagged this as a “Premium Edition” kit. If you are not familiar with this style of model kit, DML re-issues some of their older kits, with a re-tool, add some dedicated PE, as well as a new decal, and then release it as a “Premium Edition”...not so with this one though, mates, which leads me to question, is the company trying something new out to raise the kit standards in the industry?
This kit holds a couple more added goodies, as well, with an inclusion of an updated complete lower hull, to give the modeler choice in finish style, whether full hull or waterline, and also a second “Bonus Kit” inside, a 1/700 scale Pegasus class hydrofoil, with multiple markings included. . .looks very interesting, thus far!
But first, a bit of history
Turn the clocks back to the late sixties, early 1970’s, when the major threat to NATO was of course the ever growing number of active Soviet submarines, which prompted the USN a definite need to develop a smaller, more cost effective vessel with a design that was different than the huge destroyers of the WWII era. A well maneuverable craft was needed, with the capability of ASW operations, as the sole intention of this vessels design was to be used as a defense against the Soviet attack submarine force. Many of these vessels were built in the coming years, with many additions, alterations, and changes made by the USN, some with great success, others, not much so.
The U.S.S. Ingraham FFG-61 was the last Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate to be built, laid down on 30 March, 1987. The vessel was built in San Pedro California, at Todd Pacific Shipyards. First launched on 25 June, 1988 and commissioned on 5 August, 1989.
In addition to the U.S. navy usage, interest from many of our allies in the ship brought sales of the ship class from Todd by Australia, Spain, and Taiwan, and beginning in 1996, many past serving units were sold off Turkey, Egypt, and Bahrain. One vessel was even given as a gift to Poland. The Ingraham is the newest design of the class though, and is scheduled to remain in U.S. service until the year 2015, when she will then be assigned to the Navy Reserves Forces.
The kit, the box, and what is inside
DML’s version is of the last vessel of the Perry class, the long hulled, RAST (Recovery, Assist, Securing, and Traversing) equipped ship. With re-tooled and updated kit parts, bonus PE, Cartograf decals, and the hydrofoil, this new ship looks to be a very interesting build so far, so let’s take a closer look at all the goodies.
The kit box is of typical Dragon design style and quality of their 1/700 scale kits, measuring in at 13.25”x7.5”x2”, top lidded style, with a nice artists recreation of the vessel on the box top, and all of the kits features displayed on all four sides, as well.
The kit is packaged well, with four separate sealed plastic bags holding each of the three sprues of kit parts, while the fourth bag holds the carded PE set and Cartograf decal, each of which is protected by their own dedicated clear bag, as well as re-bagged again for protection. The sprues are molded in the typical light gray DML quality plastic, all parts still on the sprue, clean, with no apparent flash at this point.
No signs of warp age are present either at this time.
A one sheet, 6 panel foldout Instruction sheet rests at the bottom of the box, in typical DML style as well, in which we will examine further later on. We will now examine each sprue separately, with a bit of detailed discussion of each.
Starting with sprue “A”, which contains mainly the upper hull and superstructure parts and details of the vessel, find the one piece upper hull part, smooth, clean, and less any detail (as is common with modern U.S. warships) except for the anchor well on the starboard side of the vessel, and upon looking at the top view, we find a solid bow bulkhead, molded with support ribbing detail on the inner wall, which looks good, and quite scale. There is a space in the bow end for the separate forecastle part, and the midships are slightly raised to allow placement of the superstructure with a bit more ease to the modeler.
The helicopter flight deck is molded (thankfully!) smooth, without the raised marking lines that have to be sanded and smoothed off for the attachment of the deck markings, but unfortunately, on the kits separate forecastle, there are some warning lines that are molded in that will need to be removed...luckily, no detail will be lost in this operation. The forecastle piece itself is a dandy little mold, with many fine details and deck fittings present. Holding true to DML’s modern warship design, the superstructure sides of this kit is loaded with details, including louvers and vents, doors and hatches, piping, ladders, and UNREP (Underway Replenishment) systems molded in, very clean and crisp, with no flash at all. The deck of the superstructure is equally well molded with details and deck fittings, multiple deck hatches the short stack (very well molded, by the way) and the top gun mount, which alas, here again are those nasty little molded raised warning lines around the mount, but this time, some major care is going to be needed to achieve a good cleanup without taking out too much detail. Otherwise, overall mold quality and detailing is top notch.
*Lets take a minute here and look a little closer at the hangar door assembly of this kit, as there is an option here that seems to be overlooked by the manufacturer, as there is no mention of such in the kits instructions, but as I dry fitted the parts, this came to me immediately. Kit parts # A40 and A41, the hangar face and hangar doors, are two separate molded pieces, thus, if desired by the modeler, the choice of building this ship with the hangar doors open and a Seahawk peeking out is a very doable option, or you can build as shown (closed doors) as in the kit instructions with the chopper parked on the flight deck pad. (see photo)
There are other small deck fittings of mention on the A sprue, including the optional plastic lattice masts and radars, RAST equipment, davits, and towers. One of the finest additions to the A sprue is the tiny hydrofoil patrol boat, the Pegasus.
The little boat has been designed and molded with a division at the waterline, for, that’s right, a full hull build version or a scene with the vessel skimming along in the waterline version, your choice, once again! The vessels superstructures are molded onto the upper hull section, but there are detailed bulkheads that are attached separately to the superstructures, adding a plethora of tiny details to the superstructure. Bow and stern planes and arms, mast, stack, Radom, and gun mount are all on the A-sprue, all very well molded, lots of crisp detail. All in all, a fine looking kit within the kit!
“B” sprue, the weapons
This sprue is the standard, generic modern US Navy weapons sprue that is a staple in all of Dragon’s modern naval vessel kits. Eighty six parts in all, only about half of them will be used on this build, though...the Seahawk helicopter, gun turret, missile mounts, torpedo tubes, and the harpoon canisters for the Pegasus make up most of the used parts on this sprue. Details are all top notch again, and no flash, even on the tiniest of molding. Look on the bright side, here’s a great modern USN addition to you spare parts box!
The “C” Sprue
This sprue contains the newly tooled full lower hull section for modelers doing this style of build, which in itself is a very nicely done cast, with prominent sonar dome, fine bilge keel slots (for yes, separate delicate little bilge keels...nice touch!) and a smaller centerline keel. You will also find the boats propulsion and steering systems on the sprue, along the lines of the single screw, the shaft, shaft support, rudder, fin stabilizers, and those fine little separate bilge keels. Again, all well molded, great detail, sharp and clean.
The kits display stand is also here on the sprue, four pieces total, including the base, two separate upright supports, and a nameplate that states “Oliver Hazard Perry Class”, and not the “U.S.S. Ingraham” molded into the plastic.
Some brass tactics
Again, very much like a “Premium Edition” kit, we have a very nicely done dedicated brass photo-etch fret, which includes the following replacement upgrade parts to help make your build a more accurate, as well as pleasing, rendition of the Ingraham.
On the fret are:
Small lattice foremast
Large lattice mainmast
Two part radar system
Mainmast platform, w/supports and railing
Deck railing, full set
The etching is well done, very clear, and fine. There is no question that using these parts in place of their plastic counterparts will greatly improve the accuracy and look of your finished build, for sure!
The decal and instructions
The kits supplied decal is a new addition from the Italian firm, Cartograf, and is a tiny work of art! This highly detailed and very colorful decal carries a full set of common deck markings, as well as nameplates and numbering for vessels for FFG-56 through FFG-61, as well as a full set of markings for three different hydrofoil variants, helicopter markings, two ensigns and two jacks.
The instructions supplied are of the one sheet style, divided up in six separate panels, with good blow-up style drawings that take the modeler through the construction of the kit easily. There are notations along the way as of where the modeler has the option of using the brass PE parts instead of the plastic ones, with instruction and any revisions necessary along the way. Color scheme is provided in both Gunze Sangyo paints and Model Master colors, and a full marking schedule is illustrated as well.