Avis 1/350 SSN-637 USS Sturgeon
KIT #:
PRICE: 2400 yen at www.hlj.com
DECALS: All short hull boats
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


             The “637-Class” submarines, also known as the “Sturgeon” class, were nuclear-powered attack submarines in service from the mid-1960s until the last was decommissioned in 2004.  The 28 “short hull” Sturgeons and the nine “long-hull” boats formed the backbone of the US Navy’s nuclear attack submarine fleet during the Cold War.

           Class leader “Sturgeon” (SSN-637" herself was launched in 1964 and commissioned in 1966.  The Sturgeons were a lengthened and improved variant of the Thresher/Permit class which directly preceded them, with the biggest difference being a much larger sail, which allowed the return of intelligence gathering masts to U.S. attack boats. The fairwater planes on the sail could be rotated 90 degrees, which allowed the submarine to surface through thin polar ice. Because power came from the S5W reactor which was the same powerplant used in the Skipjack and Thresher/Permit classes, with an increased in displacement, top speed of the Sturgeon class was 26 knots, two knots slower than the Thresher/Permits. The last nine boats of the class were lengthened 10 feet in order to provide more space for intelligence‑gathering equipment and to facilitate the use of dry deck shelters which allowed the submarine to base special forces on board.

            Armament for the Sturgeons could be the Harpoon missile, the Tomahawk cruise missile, the UUM‑44 SUBROC, the MK37 SLMM and MK 60 CAPTOR mines, and the MK‑48 and ADCAP torpedoes. The torpedo tubes were located amidships to dut to the the bow‑mounted sonar. The sonar sphere cover was either steel or glass reinforced plastic. The GRP domes improved the sonar performance, although the towed‑array sonar was normally used for intelligence-gathering missions as it was a much more sensitive array.

            The Sturgeon class were the last U.S. submarines to be named for fish, with all being named for famous World War II fleet submarines.


             This limited-run injection-molded kit from the Russian company Avis is the first injection-molded kit of a Sturgeon class submarine.  The other kit available in 1/350 is a full resin kit from Yankee Model Works. 

             The kit is quite simple, as one would expect with a modern submarine model, comprising 12 parts if one does not use the various masts on the sail.

             Decals are provided for all “short hull” SSN-637 class submarines.


             Construction is simple, though it was necessary to use filler on all the seams to get a smooth finish.  As with other modern submarines, there is nothing difficult to the project.

            I painted the model as the Sturgeons appeared in the 1970s at the height of their use.  The bow sonar was painted with Tamiya Semi-gloss Black, while the upper area of the hull and sail were painted with Tamiya NATO Black and the lower hull was painted with Tamiya Flat Red.

            I used the decals for the hull hatches and the displacement.  I left off the boat number, since these are always painted out on operations.


             If you like modern submarines and want to include a model of a significant class of nuclear attack submarine in your collection, this Sturgeon-class from Avis is just what you want.  Even as a limited-run kit it is simple to assemble and finish.

Tom Cleaver

October 2012

 Review Kit courtesy of HobbyLink Japan; order yours at http://www.hlj.com/product/AVS9304

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