Dragon 1/700 USS Long Beach (CGN-9)

KIT #: 7091
PRICE: $42.39 SRP
DECALS: One option

GMM 1/700 Modern US Navy PE Set used


USS Long Beach was the first and only member of its class because it was the test ship for the AN/SPS-32 and 33 phased array radars which were the ancestors of the SPY-1 radars used currently by the Aegis class CGs and Arleigh Burke DDGs.  She was also unique as she was the last cruiser in the US Navy based on a cruiser hull as all subsequent cruisers were built on frigate/destroyer leader or extended Spruance destroyer hulls.


The Long Beach was launched July 14, 1959 as the first nuclear powered combatant and supposed to have an all missile armament including Regulus and Polaris missiles but later added two 5 inch guns at the request/demand of President John F. Kennedy.  Designed to escort nuclear powered aircraft carriers such as the (soon to be decommissioned) USS Enterprise, the Long Beach carried two Terrier and one Talos SAM launchers along with an ASROC launcher, two triple tube ASW torpedo tubes as well as the two aforementioned 5 inch guns.  Later in the Cold War, Standard SAMs replaced the Terriers, the Talos launcher was deleted and was replaced with Harpoon and Tomahawk ASMs instead.


She was also one of the first warships to make extensive use of aluminum for its superstructure which turned out to be a major mistake as discovered during the 1975 John F Kennedy/Belknap collision and the Falklands war where aluminum superstructures proved to be a major fire hazard.  Her callsign was ďAlcoa.Ē

The Long Beach served with the Atlantic Fleet till she was transferred to PACFLT in 1966 and soon went to Vietnam.  She acted as the ground controller to guide an F-4 to shoot down an An-2 Colt in 1967 and shot down two Mig-17s with her Talos missiles during 1968 in the Gulf of Tonkin.

She served with PACFLT for the rest of her active life including Operation Nimble Archer during 1987.  Thanks to the US having to face the cost of the Cold War (including the 600 ship Navy), the US Navy decided to deactivate all its nuclear power cruisers when they needed refueling.  The Long Beach was decommissioned in 1994, had her reactors and superstructure removed in 1995 and sold for scrap in 2012.




Dragonís Long Beach contains fittings for the original 1961 configuration without guns and the 1967 version which does.  The hull is a two piece affair that is split at the waterline (and comes with a stand) for those who wish to build the full hull or wish for a waterline version/diorama.  It comes with nine sprues of parts, a small decal sheet and a PE fret. 


The detail on these parts is very good and free of flash.  All the parts for the 1961 and 1967 configurations are provided.  The PE fret contains the stairs and 5 inch gun crown radars (however, the rings for the crown radars are actually too big), but not for the railings.


Instructions for this kit are the typical Dragon instructions which are sometimes vague (hence frustrating) and the paints colors they use are Gunze but I used Tamiya equivalents instead.



It all began with the hull.  I opted to build the Long Beach with the full hull and 1967 configuration.  I glued the hull together (the rudders and prop shaft were glued on) and used a little bit of Vallejo plastic putty at the bow.

I built the deck and superstructure layer by layer and left off any parts that were painted a different color than the hull, but did not glue it all together till I was done painting.


The deck fittings, antennas and weapons were cleaned up and assembled if they were to be painted the same color.  The only problem I had was with the gun crown radars as the ring was too big.


Yes, it was that easy.



This is where things got complicated.  First thing I did was paint the entire hull haze grey (actually Tamiya XF-80 Royal Grey.)  Next I masked off the top part of the hull and sprayed the lower hull Tamiya Hull Red.  I took some 4mm wide tape and masked off areas surrounding the waterline black stripe and painted it. I had to do a bit of touch up but it was not a big deal.


The vertical surfaces of superstructure parts and guns were painted haze grey as well as the deck fittings, PE stairs, antennas, missile launchers, etc.  The missiles were painted white.


When the Haze grey was dry, I masked off everything I could and sprayed on Tamiya Kure Grey XF-75 which I used for the deck grey while I used Medium Grey for the Radar Panels that surround the superstructure. When the modelís hull and superstructure was glued together and mounted on the stand (which was painted flat black) I sprayed on several thin coats of Future for the decals.


The props were sprayed Tamiya Gold Leaf.


The Dragon decals went on without much issue.  I didnít even need Microsol or Microset. I did no weathering and when the model was completed I added the final coat.



I did this in between painting.  The superstructure parts were added and the various tiny parts including hand painted lifeboats were glued in place.  The SAMs were glued onto the launch rails with CA glue.


The kit comes with way too think radio aerials (?) located next to the 2nd Terrier Launcher so I replaced those with .008 thick brass wire that was painted haze grey and glued on with CA glue.


I recently purchased a Gold Medal Modelworks PE set for 1/700 USN modern warships which was sprayed Haze Grey.   I used this to add railings where ever needed.  I didnít add many rails midships because I was kind of lazy so my excuse is that assumed that they would be removed during action stations.  I used internet photos to figure out where the rails went and there actually more than I thought there were.  The set even had rescue netting which I used around the helo pad.


If you want to build a 1/700 warship then I recommend the Long Beach as a great starter.  It is ridiculously easy to put to together and if you plan your painting ahead of time then it is really no trouble at all.

Dan Lee

April 2013

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