by: Jim Adams [ ]
USS Virginia CGN38 was the ninth ship to carry the name for the US Navy. She was laid down as DLGN-38, a nuclear powered guided missile frigate, but had her designation changed to nuclear-powered cruiser guided missile, CGN-38. She was laid down on August 19, 1972 and commissioned on September 11, 1976.
She was the lead ship in her class of 4 ships, USS Virginia, USS Texas, USS Mississippi, and USS Aransas. The initial portion of her service could be considered routine. She sailed the east coast of the US and was comported in Norfolk. Her first Mediterranean deployment took part in early 1979. During her third deployment in 1983 she helped support US Marines in their mission in Lebanon. She fired over 300 rounds of her 5” guns. Many of these rounds were fired in defense of the mountain town of Suk El Gharb.
After the Marine Barracks was bombed she also provided emergency assistance. For her extended deployment she was honored as the Sixth Fleet Top Hand. In 1984 she entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for her single major overhaul. She was converted to the Navy’s first strike cruiser. Her helo hangar and elevator were removed and two armored box launchers were added. The also received CWIS and SM-2 missile capability.
In December 1990 she deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean in support of Operations Desert Shield and Storm. In January 1991 she fired two Tomahawk missiles from the Med to Iraq. At the time this was the longest official launch of a Tomahawk.
Due to tightening of budgets Virginia and her sisters were all decommissioned. Virginia was struck from the Naval Registry on November 29, 1994. She finished recycling, a nice way to say scrapped, on October 10, 2002.
Class and Type: Cruiser - class Virginia
Displacement: 11,000 tons
Speed: 30 knots
Sensors: AN/SPS-48, AN/SPS-49, AN/SPS-55, AN/SPQ-5, AN/SPG-51, AN/SQQ-26, AN/SLQ-15
Countermeasures: AN/SLQ-32, Mark 36 SRBOC
Weapons: two Mk-26 missile launchers, two M-141 Harpoon launchers, two AML Tomahawk Launchers ASM/LAM, Mk-46 torpedoes, two 5”/54 deck guns, two 20mm CWIS guns.
Crew: 500 officers and crew
The kit comes in a nice lidded box featuring the Virginia cruising on the open ocean. Inside you will find 6 bags of sprue, decals, instructions, and one fret of PE.
If you want you can build her as either full hull or a waterline. If you go the full hull route there is a nice display stand included in the kit.
The PE includes in the set includes the ships AN/SPS49 radar set, a few ladders, and some of the ships antenna. Being 1/700 scale the radar will need some delicate hands, but should look great when finished. It would have been nice to see the AN/SPS 48 radar included in the PE as well, but you can’t get everything.
The decals include deck warning markings, vert-rep markings, hull numbers, and battle “E” markings. There are two sets of hull number, one white, one grey. The grey is to used if a ship enters the Persian Gulf.
The instructions are printed on a single folded sheet. They take you through construction in a logical ordered set of steps.
Here are the main deck sections of the ship. The foc’sle is a separate part and is split just forward the bridge. This will help hide the seam here. The deck portions are nicely done and include many small details mostly left off on a 700 scale ship. Other portions of the superstructure are also found here. These have ladders, hatches, and other items molded on their surfaces.
Now we get to the ships weapons. The MK-26 launchers are in 4 separate pieces. Plus missiles are separate. Remember a ship at sea most of the time does not have birds on the rail, so remember this when building. The anchors are some of the nicest seen.
More superstructure sections and the main bridge section. The bridge is molded in one piece. It is a nice section of the ship. The other sections of the superstructure are also nicely done. They include hatches and other external details typical to surface ships.
Most of the parts on this sprue are not used for your build. There are many different gun mounts that are included, but not used. So, maybe a small hint at things to come. Many of the parts on this sprue had flash on them. This is odd since the other sprues did not. You will also get two different helos, one SH-60 and one H3.
The bottom of the ship. This section of the hull does have some areas where you will need to clean up. The bottom sections did fit snuggly to the upper section so that was a nice discovery.
Like mentioned before this is the stand for the full hull ship. Although all plastic it can be really made to look nice with a little work. The base has different holes in it again pointing to more ships in different sizes to come.
Well, the Virginia is a nice it and will fill that hole in Modern USN warships. The level of detain is nice and impressive. You will need to add your own railings if you wish to really make your Virginia look great. Out of the box she will still look great. Some fo the smaller parts will need to be handled with care. Their attachment points seem a little heavy, so watch out for the clean up on them.
Also with there only being one set of hull numbers you are left out in the cold if you want to build one of her sisters.