by: David J. Salvin [ ]
This review will take a detailed look at the new “Smart Kit” of the USS Monssen/Livermore by Dragon Models, in 1/700 scale.
Dragon calls this a “smart kit”, and it truly lives up to its name. Distinguished by the involvement of Timothy Dike from Modelwarships.com, this kit greatly benefits from the involvement of a real model builder from the ground up. In ways that we will delve into below, the kit assists the modeler in many ways to make the best kit possible.
As can be seen in the pictures, the kit contains two full kits for two ships, including two PE sets, and a set of decals with details such as black lines representing the rubber mats that were placed on the deck to keep the crew from slipping in rough seas on often wet deck. Although if painted as called for in the instructions and on the box with Navy “20B” deck blue on the deck its unlikely you’d actually see the rubber mat decals. Still a nice detail.
Why is This Kit So Well Done?
1. Care was taken with seam lines. Nothing will destroy fine details in 1/700 faster than poorly placed seam lines. You will notice that the deck is naturally cut to fall where you don’t have to sand a seam off and will not be seen. Further, the construction of the superstructure parts hides several seams on the ends, and comes together at 45 degree angles at the rest of the seams so you don’t have much sanding to do to get a great look.
2. Two photo etch frets are included. This allows the modeler comfortable with PE to build both kits, but also allows less PE savvy modelers a “margin of error” when working with small parts. And let’s face it, on a 1/700 scale destroyer that is only six inches long stem to stern every part will be a small one.
3. For the first time I have ever seen, the kit includes jigs to help the modeler bend the propeller guards and other PE pieces to the right shape. (Why haven’t they thought of this before?!)
4. The molding details are fantastic! Very fine, crisp lines and details down to the watertight doors so well done you don’t need to add aftermarket PE doors.
5. Main armament is extremely well detailed and allows for construction with or without blast bags. (A very nice option not usually seen)
6. 20mm parts are very well done for plastic of this scale.
Whether its instructions in Japanese, or resin kit instructions that just don’t give you any details, instructions are always the week point in most kits. This kit is the exception.
Here, the instructions are clear and concise, and provide actual pictures of the parts and their sub-assemblies in a logical order. The actually show you exactly where everything goes! (Go figure)
Arrows clearly show where all the decals are to go and even where all the PE ladders are to go. This is a huge help in more easily building both a well-built and accurate model. Both the box and the instructions give great details to allow the modeler to finish the kit in MS 12 modified camo scheme.
Another feature I’ve never seen before in a kit is the front page of the instructions which actually shows you which parts are not used in the construction of the ships. (How many times have you had leftover parts and wondered what you missed?!)