Cyber-hobby/Dragon 1/350 USS Gearing
KIT #: 1029
PRICE: 4,700 Yen at HobbyLink Japan (approx $50.45 at today’s exchange rate)
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: Released in the US and Europe under the Dragon label


            I served in the U.S. Navy during the last decade of major operations for Fletcher, Sumner and Gearing class destroyers. To me, there was nothing better-looking in the fleet than these all-gun “little boys,” and there was nothing more pugnacious than the over-gunned Gearing ships, many of which by then had gone through the FRAM rebuild. But there were enough of them in their Second World War configuration (other than their AA weapons, which had been modernized) to remind a young sailor of the days - and more, the nights - when a nation’s fate had hung in the balance of the fighting ability of “little boys” like these ships (particularly when you could talk to an Old Chief who had “been there”). 

             The Gearing class destroyers were the product of battle learned the hard way; one can only imagine what things would have been like had a Gearing been in the line of battle the night of November 12/13 1942 off Guadalcanal.  To me, the Gearings are still the best-looking, toughest, meanest American destroyers ever built.  They may have missed the war they were designed for, but they held the line in Korea, in Cold War crises like the Cuban Missile Crisis, and in Vietnam, where one of them - U.S.S. Maddox - participated in the lie that began the Vietnam war and gave her name to the event: “The Maddox Incident”.

             The lead ship of her class of destroyers, U.S.S. Gearing  was named for three generations of naval officers in the Gearing family: Commander Henry Chalfant Gearing, Sr., veteran of the Spanish-American War; Captain Henry Chalfant Gearing, Jr., veteran of the First World War; and Lieutenant Henry Chalfant Gearing, III, who gave his life to save his crewmates in the loss of the submarine S-49 and won the Navy Cross for his sacrifice.  Each was a distinguished naval officer whose service represented the best of the Navy. 

             The keel for U.S.S. Gearing was laid August 10, 1944 at the Federal Shipbuilding and  Drydock Company, in Port Newark, New Jersey.  She was launched on February 18, 1945 just 192 days after the keel was laid, a tribute to the level of proficiency American shipbuilders had achieved in four years of wartime production.  She was commissioned on May 3, 1945, and the crew expected they would be participants in the coming invasion of Japan.  During June and July 1945, U.S.S. Gearing took part in training exercises in the Caribbean, based at Guantanamo Bay.  She returned to Norfolk in late July, but the surrender came before she could depart to join the Pacific Fleet.

            As a ship assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, U.S.S. Gearing participated in many cruises on the east coast of the United States, and many deployments to the Mediterranean with the U.S. Sixth Fleet from 1947-60, when she went into the yards for rebuild under the FRAM program.  Returned to service in early 1962, she came close to seeing combat that October, as one of the destroyers assigned to the “quarantine” of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  She was decommissioned in and stricken from the active register on July 1, 1973 and sold for scrap on November 6, 1974.


            Released in 2009 by Dragon under the label (in Japan; it is under the Dragon label in the US. Ed), this kit of the USS Gearing is the second U.S. destroyer class released by Dragon, the first being the Benson/Gleaves class destroyer kits.  This is the first injection-molded kit of a Gearing-class destroyer.  At a US/Japan MSRP price of around $50.00, it is a far more attractive kit for most modelers than the very expensive resin kits previously available, all of which start at a minimum of around $100.  Not only that, it’s a whole lot easier to build.

             The kit is crisply molded, with a the two part hull that allows a modeler to build either a waterline or full-hull kit.  There is photoetch detail for the radars, but I strongly recommend obtaining photoetch sets for US destroyers for everything else that’s needed.  Out of the box, the kit recreates U.S.S. Gearing in her original configuration, prior to the modernization in 1949 that saw her equipped with a tripod main mast, and her 40mm and 20mm anti-aircraft weapons replaced with 3-inch DP weapons.


            Construction is straightforward.  I assembled the full hull with main deck, then proceeded to paint everything before further assembly.



            I painted the lower hull below the waterline with Tamiya Hull Red, and used Xtracrylix Dark Sea Grey and Ghost Grey for the upper surface colors.  I painted all of the rest of the parts before assembly.  I particularly like using Xtracrylix because whether it is airbrushed or brush-painted, it will dry the same shade, which means that touch-ups are easy to do after cutting a part off the sprue. The screws were painted with Model Master Brass.


             The kit goes together easily with no fit problems whatsoever.  One should pay close attention to the instruction sheet, something aircraft modelers have a tendency to forget.  I find I really appreciate my swing-arm lamp with built-in magnifying glass when assembling 1/350 scale ships, given that 1/350 is about as small as my eyes can go nowadays.

             I used Tom’s Model Works photoetch for the radar assemblies and for the railing.  These went together without trouble, using Gator Glue.

             I did not rig the model, since doing so will make it an attractive nuisance for the Thundering Feline Herd.  Should I ever decide to enter it in a contest, I would then proceed to finish the rigging.


            Like I said at the outset, the Gearing class destroyers are my favorites.  This kit makes up into a beautiful and accurate model of this ship, as did the earlier Benson/Gleaves kits.  I hope Dragon will finally release an accurate Fletcher class destroyer as their next in this series.  It’s the perfect kit for an aircraft modeler who’s decided to explore the dark side of the hobby and build a ship.

 Review kit courtesy of HobbyLink Japan. 

 April 2010

Tom Cleaver

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