by: Russ Amott [ ]
Part of the "Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower" deals with the changing nature of modern warfare and the need to operate in littoral zones in support of a variety of combat, support and relief operations. This includes anti submarine warfare, mine countermeasures and combating small boat operations by regular and insurgent forces.
Two types of ships were built, LCS-1 by Lockheed Martin, using a semi planing steel monohull with aluminum superstructure, and LCS-2 by General Dynamics, an all aluminum trimaran design. LCS-1 uses a specially designed internal layout that allows for mission specific modules to be installed. Even though the LCS-1 is smaller than the LCS-2, the internal hangar space is slightly larger. The ship can carry two MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters and one MQ-8 Fire Scout UAV. It can launch and recover manned and unmanned boats from the stern and side.
Armament includes a Mk 110 57mm gun, 2 Mk 44 Bushmaster 30mm guns, RIM-116 Rolling Airframe missile launcher and topside .50 cal mounts.
Propulsion is provided by two Rolls Royce MT30 gas turbines and two Colt-Pielstick diesel engines, and four Rolls Royce water jets, creating 47 knots maximum speed. The ship has a 3,500 mile range and 21 day endurance capability at 18 knots. The crew is 40 members for basic operations, 75 for mission package and air crews. Two crews rotate on the ship in four month deployments.
Of particular interest is the launching. The ship was sponsored by Mrs. Birgit Smith, widow of US Army 1st sergeant Paul Smith, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for action in operation Iraqi Freedom. Mrs. Smiths initials are welded on the ships keel, and their wedding bands and St. Christopher medal are welded to the ships mast.
The ModelCyber-Hobby have now released a 1:700 scale kit representing this ship. Packaged in a top opening box with artwork of the ship in motion, the contents are carefully packaged, with plenty of room. The sprues are all cleanly molded and detail is very good. Due to the extremely small size of some of the parts, mold seams are somewhat of a problem as they are much more prominent in appearance, and there was a small amount of flash, mainly around small details that sit on seam lines, but the flash can be easily removed, with care.
The sprue layout is simple. Sprue A holds the lower hull, forward deck and helicopter pad and the stern launching doors, with option for the doors being posed open or closed. Packaged with this is part B, the upper hull section, with solid floor for the internal launch bay.
Sprue B holds an assortment of guns, launchers and two helicopters. Only one helicopter, the MH-60, is used.
Sprue C has the RIM-116 launcher module, with the launcher tubes recessed, and part of the rear superstructure.
Sprue D holds parts for the mast, spotlights and other small superstructure details.
Sprue E holds additional small superstructure parts.
Sprue F is the main upper superstructure.
There is a small brass photoetch fret with safety screens for the edge of the landing deck and optional .50cal guns and shields to replace plastic parts.
Decals, Instructions and Painting GuideThe decal sheet is clearly printed, with everything appearing to be in register. They are from Cartograff, on very thin carrier film. A small stand is included for displaying the kit.
The instructions are in foldout pamphlet style, showing construction in 9 steps. The line drawings show several sub assemblies on the side. The instructions are slightly crowded, but generally clear. Painting of specific parts is called out and optional parts are indicated. The painting guide shows colors by number for GSI Creos Aqueous Hobby color, GSI Creos Mr. Color and Model Masters paints.
Building the ModelEverything looked very good in the box, but I wanted to see how things fit together. The assembly process was fairly simple, but for those new to this scale, parts size is an issue as they are tiny and can easily be lost or destroyed when being removed from the sprue. I set the kit up on a clean (at least moderately; I am a modeler after all) surface and did the build with the assistance of a magnifying lamp.
Steps 1-3 deal with building sub assemblies. The mast and superstructure, 57mm gun and missile launcher and two forward .50cal mounts are assembled here. I took a photo of some of the parts against a #11 blade for scale representation. I opted for the etch .50 cal guns as they looked a lot better in scale. The plastic parts had bigger barrels than the main gun. The helicopter had a gap where the right side of the fuselage attached to the left. It was filled with a small piece of scrap styrene. The gun barrel, part D20, is marked as part D21 on the sprue. It has the "t" shape on the end of the barrel. The other part D21 is the pole that goes on the front of the ship.
Steps four and 5 complete assembly of the superstructure, add the parts assembled in the first 3 steps, and the completed assembly is added to the hull and deck sections in step 6. I added the two Bushmaster guns on the rear superstructure last as I didn't want them interfering with installation of any of the other parts. I also waited to add the two etch .50 cal mounts until completion as that is the kind of part I routinely knock off during assembly.
Hull assembly is simple, and fit of all parts was good. The lower hull can be left of for a waterline appearance, if you wish. Parts E4, small bits added to both the forward and landing deck, are shown in the instructions as E4 and E5, but E5 is the rear square jet nozzle. I opted to show the rear loading ramp doors closed. There was an unused, extended rear loading ramp door that is included on the sprue but is not shown on the sprue map in the instructions, and is not for use. Safety screens were installed around the landing deck and I added the two rear .50 cal mounts. The instructions show the safety screens deployed and sitting horizontal with the deck. Photos show they are set slightly down below the deck level, which I don't thing could be shown clearly in this scale, and angled up. As an option, they can be stowed in vertical position. I noted that the exhaust vents were molded in the hull sides.
The entire assembly process was very simple and the build was quite quick. Aside from some minor eye strain and some fiddly clean-up of parts, everything went where it was supposed to. Many of the details that are present were too small to photograph clearly, but will show up when painted. The completed model is very small, but the ship itself is on the smaller side. Based on the extended rear loading bay door part, I guess that the LCS-3 USS Fort Worth is probably in the works.
ConclusionMy overall impression of the kit is as follows. Parts molding is good, fit was good, instructions were good and clear, assembly was simply (aside from the challenge of seeing some of the parts) and the completed model is very nice. I think Cyber-Hobby have done a very good job with this model. Searching online I found the price for the kit was generally in the $25.00 US range. I think this is a good kit, and worth getting.
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