This is DMLís third Gearing Class destroyer and after the Gearing (DD-710) and the Chevalier (DD-805) were both in WWII guise, the Frank Knox comes with markings for right after the war in standard haze gray color scheme and the large white hull numbers, though the basic configuration is as she was during her short career in WWII.
History and Technology...
USS Frank Knox was laid down on 8 May 1944, launched 17 September 1944 and commissioned 11 December 1944. She was one of 97 Gearing Class destroyers built. The Gearing Class was basically a Sumner class with the hull being 4.3m longer which lead to an improved speed. The two classes are distinguishable in the longer distance between the funnels. They were armed with three twin 5-inch gun turrets, 10 (2x5) 21" torpedo tubes, depth charge racks and an assortment of 20mm and 40mm AA guns. Most Gearings saw little if any action during WWII and many were given to foreign navies for second careers later in their life..
In early 1945 12 Gearing Class destroyers were ordered rebuilt as radar pickets by removing the forward torpedo tubes and replacing them with an additional SP radar mast (another 12 were ordered rebuilt in May, they lost all torpedo tubes). Frank Knox was one from the first batch to be rebuilt. In mid June 1945 she joined the pacific fleet in time for the raids on the Japanese home islands where she served as a radar picket against Kamikaze attacks. Shortly thereafter the war ended and she was present at Tokyo bay for the surrender ceremony.
Frank Knox served in the Far East most of her time and was reclassified a radar picket destroyer in 1949 (DDR). She then served during the most crucial early months of the Korean War, providing fire support for the Inchon landings. Altogether she made three Korean War cruises and served in the Far East for the remainder of the 1950ies. In the early 1960ies she was modernized under the FRAMII program, which included new radar equipment.
In 1965 she briefly served in the Vietnam War but on 18 July she ran aground on Pratas Reef in the South China Sea. A very difficult salvage job followed during which her hull was badly damaged. After extensive repairs she returned to the fleet in November 1966 and service during the Vietnam War.
Decommissioned in January 1971, Frank Knox got a second career as Themistocles in the Greek Navy and was finally decommissioned in August 1992. She was finally sunk as a target on 12 September 2001 by the Greek submarine Nereus, almost 60 years after her first use.
Frank Knox received one Battle Star for WWII service and 5 for the Korean War.
For more information and lots of photos I can recommend the following links:
The box contains 18 grey plastic sprues for the ship, two tiny sprues with altogether 7 figures and one sprue for the stand and the stand itself. There is one clear sprue with two lenses. Two PE frets contain various antennas, AA gun accessories, ladders and doors. There is however unfortunately no railing and this will have to be sourced elsewhere. Markings are provided on 2 decal sheets and there is also the standard flag sticker sheet.
Most sprues will look familiar to those who have built one of the previous Gearings and only three are newly tooled for this kit. Sprue A contains all the parts for the upper deck and side walls and sprue H (marked M in the instructions) which is provided twice, contains new 5in gun turrets, as the Frank Knox and all later Gearings had reinforced turrets. Extensive slide molds have been used here to include all the little detail down to the rivets. The sprue also has a new torpedo tube assembly. I donít know why there are two of these sprues as only the two bow turrets are of the reinforced type and only one torpedo launcher is needed. Sprue R is also new and it contains changes to the bridge and most importantly the new DDR mast.
As usual, there are many unused parts, which will serve those who want to update older kits. Some of these are two launches, depth charge racks and 20mm AA guns.
The instructions are the standard DML line drawings with 8 steps on 8 pages. Crammed with sub assemblies they are not easy to follow and careful study is recommended. Judging from earlier DML instructions I expect a few mistakes, so dry fitting is always a good idea.
As with previous ship releases there are no detail painting instructions and only the painting and marking guide gives some idea on painting.
As with my previous USS Independence review, I will follow the steps of the instructions to guide you through whatís to be expected from this kit.
Step 1: Guns and Radar
The instructions start off with all the little details that will later be fitted along the way. Personally I prefer building these when I use them as I fear to lose them on the way. The first sub assembly is the twin 40mm AA guns with nice PE detail. The only gripe here is that there is no railing at the back. The same goes for the quad 40mm which includes what is probably either a large (radar) sight or a searchlight. Another subassembly is the 5in gun turrets that have slide molded hollowed out guns. Next are twin 20mm Oerlikon AA guns with more PE and a choice of plastic or PE shield. Contrary to earlier releases there are no gun sights, but my experience with these was that they broke easily and therefore I do not consider this a great loss.
Next are 5in gun directors (unfortunately not PE), searchlights and other antennas and fire directors.
Step 2: Main and Upper Deck, Gun Turrets and Depth Charge Racks
DMLís recommended way forward is to build the deck and all the details first and in the end add everything to the hull.
In step two all the details are fitted to the flush deck as well as the upper deck and sidewalls. Doors / Hatches are optional PE or plastic. There are many small details to be fitted here and I recommend to tick off the ones youíve already fitted. Also in this step are the instructions for the deckís anti slip decals (see below).
Personally I donít think I would add all the details to the deck first and then add the whole assembly to the hull as I would probably break off quite a few parts, especially when adding PE railings.
Step 3 and 4: Bridge, Smoke Stacks, Torpedo Tubes and Masts
These two steps are crammed with sub assemblies and sub assemblies within sub assemblies and itís hard to keep an overview. The details are very sharply molded and I especially like the stacks, which are hollow and include PE guards. The DDR tripod mast is made up mostly of very finely molded plastic and some PE (including a ladder) and plastic platforms with mesh pattern details. The only railings provided in the kit are used in this step for some of the platforms. Radar antennas are unfortunately not of PE with the only exception being the SC radar on the main mast to be installed in step 6.
Step 5: Hull
Step 5 finally is the assembly of the hull. The modeler has the option of making it a waterline or full hull model. What I really like are the propeller guards, which are made of PE and there is even a bending tool provided. A very nice touch!
Step 6: Main Deck Attachment
In step 6 you attach the deck with all the fittings to the hull. I imagine that this could result in catastrophe and personally will fit the deck to the hull before adding the details. In this step you also assemble the main mast with SC radar and the launch.
Step 7: Further Details (Life Rafts)
This is actually a quite small step as you only fit a few life rafts. The highly detailed life rafts are fitted to PE mounting frames.
Step 8: Final assembly
Final assembly includes the anchors and mounting to the base.
The kit contains two sprues with 7 figures in various poses. Two are at attention, two at parade rest and three are doing some work, presumably working on a 40mm AA gun? While figures are always a nice accessory, 7 figures is of course nowhere near enough to really get some life on the deck. Hopefully DML will release a whole bunch of these figures separately soon as they are worlds better than PE.
Decals are finely printed, well registered and commendably tin. Aside from the hull numbers (see below for more on that), there are various markings, such as name, depth indicator (sorry, I donít have the correct English word for that) and further deck markings that I assume to be anti-slip. This is a great idea as itís always hard to get this painted with all the detail on deck.
Marking & Painting...
Though the kit has no options for the build itself, there are two marking options regarding the hull numbers. The first one is for the period right after WWII with white only, somewhat over man high characters on the bow and smaller on the stern. The other option is with the more modern large white with black shading charcters. Painting options are both for Haze gray. Unfortunately there is no marking option for WWII (measure 22) and you will have to source the smaller bow hull numbers for that. This is unfortunate as the ship is in its WWII configuration.
Looking at photos from Mare Island in September 1946, it seems that Frank Knox lost its aft torpedo mount soon after the war (probably at Mare Island in 1946) (USS Knox Image
). Another photo of the same period shows Frank Knox in 1946 with the white only hull number (Image USS Knox
). My conclusion is that it seems unlikely that she ever carried the later hull numbers in the kitís configuration and the given white only numbers would only be applicable for a very short period after WWII. For a Korean War ship, some substantial modifications would have to be done.
The details included in this kit are of the highest quality and with all the extra parts included most any Gearing Class Destroyer can be built. Itís great to see DML working on those US Destroyers as they are great value and the size is ideal: large enough for great details, small enough to fit in your display cabinet.
Itís unfortunate that DML did not go all the way and included a full set of railings. Now you will need an extra PE set and while your at it you may want to replace some of the plastic radar antennas which even with the best of molding technology canít come close to PE.
One of the marking options covers only a very short period, while substantial rework on the aft upper deck is needed to use the other. For a late WWII Frank Knox you will have to source some new hull numbers.
Notwithstanding the above, this is another great kit from DML and Iím looking forward to getting to work on it!