Hobby Boss 1/1250 USS Spruance DD-963

KIT #: 82504
PRICE: 3.99
DECALS: Included
REVIEWER: Jeff Simpson
NOTES: Built as a waterline model, with aftermarket "Gwylan" Photo-Etched masts

HISTORY

 

USS Spruance (1975-2006) was the first of its class of Gas Turbine powered destroyers in the US Navy. Hobby Boss have brief historical notes on the side of the box, if you want more I would suggest starting with the Wikipedia entry for the ship and follow the links from there. Looking at photos available on the internet the early colour scheme was a smart grey with black above the level of the funnel tops. In recent years it was more or less overall grey. The appearance of the ship changed noticeably in 1987 with the removal of Asroc and the installation of vertical launch missiles, however no doubt there have been all sorts of subtle changes over the years.

 

THE KIT

 

For an idea of what the kit is like in the (end-opening) box see the Modelling Madness preview and builds of near sister ship kits - Hobby Boss USS Princeton and Hobby Boss Ticonderoga 1:1250 scale.

The Spruance and four similar missile destroyers have been released by Hobby Boss, with appropriate extra/ different sprues and decals, they all seem to use the same hull, deck and basic superstructure, some of the Ticonderoga sprues are included. The hull is 136mm long, which works out at about 1:1265 scale, close enough for me, the model looks in proportion.

The instructions are basic: two or three exploded diagrams with the relevant part numbers shown. However the box lid colour plan and profile views helped me to resolve any doubts about where the parts were supposed to be located. The instructions do not highlight the sealed hole that needs to be punched or drilled out for the Asroc mount. Nor do they explain that some of the "ex Ticonderoga" parts are not required and can go straight into your spares box.

 

CONSTRUCTION

 

I tested my acrylic paints on this kit and I didn't find any need to degrease at all. Since I wanted to make a waterline model I trimmed off the sprues and also the locating sockets inside the upper hull.

I missed the sealed hole in the forward deck for the missile launcher, it was easy for me to drill this through, afterwards, using the marked location underneath the deck. If I had glued the hull bottom on this would, no doubt, have led to some gnashing of teeth.

I painted the decks and most of the parts before assembly. I put the kit masts to one side, to be replaced with the photo etch (except for some plastic details).

I decided to fill the slight flaws in the hull, especially the "dimple" (sink mark?) in the hull at the bow. I used fine grain Milliput (white tube), which is easily sanded once set. I painted the filler with neutral grey just to check it looked ok, as a sort of primer.

 

I built the model, assembling parts from the deck up being careful to paint and apply decals to the main deck before the gun mounts were attached. I used polystyrene glue, with no need to use superglue, except for the photo-etch masts.

Most parts fitted well, there was some need to sand down mould lines and no other need for filler. The impression I got is that there is a little bit more flash compared to the early Ticonderoga class models. I had to trim the locating pins for the boats and the Phalanx mounts before they would fit, the rear gun locating hole in the deck needed to be enlarged too.

The boat with davits can be fitted after the superstructure, you just have to be sure to hook the base of the davit outward to get a neat join, a fingernail or a knife blade will do the job.

I did not remove the mounting lugs for the masts, but painted them neutral grey along with the decks, the photo-etch masts do not locate tightly on these lugs and it would probably be "better" to remove them first and smooth the decks before painting.

 

Photo etch.

Gwylan make a few photo etch parts and decals for 1/1200 scale projects, a specialised area indeed! The PE for the Spruance class comes in a small ziplock plastic bag with a slip of paper advising you to go to their website.

Full instructions can be downloaded from the website at www.gwylanmodels.co.uk/downloads . Sensibly Gwylan suggest that one finishes the rest of the model, including painting and decals, before fitting the very fragile masts. I will not repeat the instructions here. I did depart slightly from the suggestions: I painted the brass neutral grey first, no adhesion problem was noticed. They suggest two sharp knives are required (use the back of one blade as a former). A lot of patience is required to assemble the parts, after the first few bends I found a small stiff piece of card was just as effective as a former. I tried to bend the parts "too far" and then ease them back to reduce the spring tension on the joins, Gwylan caution against this, but I found it worked and it saves continually holding the parts together until the superglue sets enough to hold the joins under the internal tension.

When cutting antennae and radar domes off the plastic masts, I tried to cut into the mast to give the maximum amount of height to the part, filing the cut end flat to glue to the PE mast with superglue.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 

I used Hannants Xtracolour acrylic paints (which are gloss), applied with a brush. I painted the small parts before detaching them from the sprues and then touching up after assembly.  I painted the decks "Neutral grey" and the sides "Light Gull grey". Matt Aeromodeller acrylics were used for: small antennae - light grey, the mast and funnel (exhausts) - black and the Phalanx tops - white.

As an aside on naval greys, I see various warships, from various nations, including U.S.A. here at Portsmouth UK, the apparent colour depends on the lighting conditions at the time of day. In my opinion the colours I chose are a reasonable approximation to USN colours (and are probably better than the Ghost Grey I used for the Ticonderoga build).

 

Decals:

The provided decal sheet has the wrong ship name but the hull number and the deck markings are actually correct for Spruance DD963.

They have a large film surround and the flight deck markings need to be trimmed very closely to avoid having the film projecting over the edge of the deck. The decals snuggled down quite nicely on the gloss paint. Acrylic Matt Xtracolour varnish was used on top of everything and helped seal the decals.

CONCLUSIONS

 

This kit was a straightforward built, the photo-etched mast is a time-consuming challenge but it improves the appearance compared to the plastic mast (see the photo comparing with the Ticonderoga I built). Although the photo-etch doubles the price of the kit I think it is worth it, 8 overall is not expensive compared to the typical prices of metal fully finished models collected in this scale.

 

Kit provided courtesy of my wallet, both kit and photo-etch obtained from waterline-ships.co.uk

Jeff Simpson

May 2009

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