Dragon 1/350 USS Laffey (1942)
KIT #: 1026
PRICE: around $52.00 HSRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New Mold Kit


The first USS Laffey (DD-459) was a Benson-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II. She was named forBartlett Laffey.

Laffey was laid down 13 January 1941 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company, San Francisco, California; launched 30 October 1941; sponsored by Miss Eleanor G. Forgerty, granddaughter of Seaman Laffey; and commissioned 31 March 1942, Lieutenant Commander William E. Hank in command.

After shakedown off the west coast, Laffey headed for the war zone via Pearl Harbor, arriving Efate 28 August 1942. She steamed in antisubmarine screen until she joined Task Force 18 on 6 September. When Wasp (CV-7), her flagship, was sunk 15 September, Laffey rescued survivors and returned them to Espiritu Santo. She sailed with Task Force 64 and touched at Noumea, New Caledonia, 18 September.

Laffey saw her first fleet action in theBattle of Cape Esperance (also known as the Second Battle of Savo Island) on 11 and 12 October 1942. The destroyer operated with Admiral Norman Scott's cruiser group, guarding against enemy attempts to reinforce Guadalcanal. On 11 October, when the group formed into single column, Laffey joined two other destroyers in the van. About an hour later sailors ran to their battle stations, steel doors clanged shut, and all made ready for battle. When the engagement began, Laffey raked the Aoba with three of her 5-inch guns. The furious gunfire roared on through the night. At dawn, destroyer Duncan (DD-485) was sinking, destroyer Farenholt (DD-491) was badly damaged, and cruiser Boise (CL-47), though hard hit, had weathered several powerful blows. On the other hand, the Japanese losses were even greater. Cruiser Furutaka was sinking, cruiser Aoba was badly damaged, and destroyer Fubuki had sunk.

After the battle, Laffey rendezvoused with a group escorting transports from Nouméa 11 November, and sailed to Lunga Point, arriving the next day. The disembarking operations were interrupted by a heavy air attack. On Friday 13 November 1942 Laffey was placed in the van of a column of eight destroyers and five cruisers under Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan. Early in the mid-watch the radar operator reported contact with the enemy. TheNaval Battle of Guadalcanal was just about to begin when the Japanese force, a group of two battleships, one light cruiser and 14 destroyers, under Vice-Admiral Hiroaki Abe, appeared on the horizon. Laffey lashed out at the enemy with gunfire and torpedoes. At the height of the violent battle, the Japanese battleship Hiei came through the darkness and both ships headed at full speed for the same spot. They missed colliding by 20 feet. The Laffey unleashed her torpedoes and, using all her firepower, raked the battleship’s bridge, wounding Admiral Abe. With a battleship on her stern, a second on her port beam, and two destroyers on her port bow, Laffey fought the Japanese ships with the three remaining main battery guns in a no-quarter duel at point-blank range. She was hit by a 14-inch shell from the Hiei. Then a torpedo in her fantail put Laffey out of action. As the order to abandon ship was passed, a violent explosion ripped the destroyer apart and she sank immediately with heavy loss of lives.


Dragon is justifiably proud of this new ship kit so let them explain the features of this beauty. I should also mention that having Tim Dike involved in the research of this ship ensures that you will have an accurate representation.

- Newly tooled flat-sided funnels for Benson class destroyers like USS Laffey
- Funnels provided with option of molded on ladders or add on photo-etched ladders
- New separate piping on rear of funnel
- Realistic photo etch funnel caps gills
- Realistic photo etch funnel platform
- 4 new superstructure mounted K-gun cranes represented by photo-etched parts
- Forward superstructure deck retooled for close mounted 20 mm gun tubs
- Flat faced superstructure deckhouse for Benson class is newly tooled
- Rear undecked funnel trunking for superstructure is newly tooled
- New lower profile platform for 36-inch searchlight
- 6 realistic 1/350 scale figures
- New self adhesive flexible material for signal flags
- Cartograf decal, including the deck walkway anti-skid texture


- Upper mount and lower mount 5-inch guns realistically reproduced
- Turret with realistic detail
- Realistically detailed gun barrels are slide molded with hollow ends
- Optional barrels with blast bags provided for gun turrets
- 20mm AA gun barrels can be elevated just like the real ones
- 20mm AA guns finely reproduced with plastic or photo-etched shields
- Quintuple torpedo launcher in fine detail
- 1.1-inch AA gun reproduced with delicate detail
- 5-inch practice loading machine in great detail
- Smoke generator with fine detail
- Depth charges and K-gun molded with extra-fine detail


- Extra-thin shield walls on superstructure reproduced for accurate 1/350 appearance
- Extra-fine detail on superstructure walls like hose, ladder patterns delicately reproduced
- Watertight doors (with optional photo-etched parts) can be assembled open or closed
- Photo etched parts finely reproduced for radar and antennas
- 12-inch, 24-inch and 36-inch searchlights provided
- Option of superstructure walls to protect searchlights
- Movable structure for 36-inch searchlight with clear lens included
- Sky-lookout shield finely represented with photo etched parts
- Bridge supports finely represented with photo-etched or plastic parts
- Photo etched propeller guards finely reproduced
- Special device included to bend specific photo-etched parts to correct angle
- Finest tread pattern ever reproduced on decks
- Whale boats with photo etched parts finely reproduced
- Extremely fine detailed parts like davits for 26’ whale boats


- One-piece slide molded upper hull with undercut details realistically represented
- Bilge keels are represented on lower hull by slide mold technology
- Deck has realistically reproduced chamber
- Waterline or full hull version can be assembled
- Rudder is movable
- True-to-scale ultra thin propellers reproduced

You'll notice from the parts layout guide that there are bits not used, so expect other ships in this class to be offered.

Dragon's instructions are superbly done, providing not only Gunze color references, but 'on the go' decal placement information for those non-skid decals. The ship lived such a short life that it only wore one camouflage scheme of overall 5N Navy blue with the decks in 20B Deck blue, making painting a rather easy task. Though the Deck blue requires mixing with the Gunze range, there are other paint brands that offer this ready to go. I'm thinking Polly Scale on this one.


As you can see, there are a ton of new items as well as enough detail to keep any ship modeler happy. With over 430 parts, there are enough bits and pieces to provide the builder with many hours of enjoyable construction. The results will be a superlative reproduction of one of WWII's more famous ships.



January 2009

Thanks to the fine folks at www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.

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