Black Label (Dragon) 1/700 USS Zumwalt DDG 1000

KIT #: 7141
PRICE: $38.99 SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit


The hull classification symbol for the USS Zumwalt is DDG-1000, eschewing the guided missile destroyer sequence that goes up to DDG-118 (currently the last of the named Arleigh Burke-class destroyers), and continue in the previous "gun destroyer" sequence left off with the last of the Spruance-class, USS Hayler. With the production run of the Zumwalt-class limited to three units, plans are underway for a third "flight" of Arleigh-Burke-class destroyers.

Many of the ship's features were originally developed under the DD21 program ("21st Century Destroyer"). In 2001, Congress cut the DD-21 program by half as part of the SC21 program. To save it, the acquisition program was renamed as DD(X) and heavily reworked. The initial funding allocation for DDG-1000 was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007.

A contract worth $1.4 billion was awarded to General Dynamics on 14 February 2008 for the construction of USS Zumwalt at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.

Full rate production officially began on 11 February 2009.

As of July 2008, the construction timetable was for General Dynamics to deliver the ship in April 2013, with March 2015 as the target for Zumwalt to meet her initial operating capability. However, by 2012, the planned completion and delivery of the vessel had slipped to the 2014 fiscal year.

The first section of the ship was laid down on the slipway at Bath Iron Works on 17 November 2011. By this point, fabrication of the ship was over 60% complete. The naming ceremony was planned for 19 October 2013, but was canceled due to the United States federal government shutdown of 2013.

Despite rumours that the launch of Zumwalt would be delayed until early 2014, the vessel was launched from its shipyard in Bath, Maine on 29 October 2013.

In January 2014, Zumwalt began to prepare for heavy weather trials. The trials will see how the ship and its instrumentation reacts to high winds, stormy seas, and adverse weather conditions. The ship's new wave-piercing tumblehome hull configuration is made to reduce her radar cross-section. Tests will involve lateral and vertical accelerations and pitch and roll. Later tests will include fuel on-loading, data center tests, propulsion events, X-band radar evaluations, and mission systems activation to finalize integration of electronics, currently 90 percent complete out of 6 million lines of code. These all culminate in builders trials and acceptance trials, with delivery for U.S. Navy tests in late 2014 with initial operating capability (IOC) to be reached by 2016.

Dragon seems to be right on the leading edge when it comes to releasing kits of modern warships and so it is with this release of the USS Zumwalt. Looking like a modernized cruiser of the 1890s with its backswept bow, the ship is nothing if not unusual.

The kit consists of three new sprues, a generic sprue for helos and such, a base sprue and a photo etch sprue for the MQ-8B drone. Unfortunately, my kit was missing the photo etch. The bag for it was in the kit, but no fret. Means that my model will be without the drone. This is the second time I've gotten a ship kit from Dragon without the etched fret in the last 10 years. Trying to get a replacement the first time was an exercise in futility and that kit still sits unfinished.

Thanks to the design of the kit, this one is actually rather simple. There is a full lower hull with the upper hull and superstructure being vertically split. Into this will fit the various decks as well as the top, front, and rear of the superstructure. On the underside, there are prop shafts, props and rudders as well as the usual lower hull strakes. On the upper deck, there are two forward gun positions, These can be built with the barrels out or lowered into their housings. There are two smaller gun positions atop the hangar bay that are similarly designed. Basically, there are small doors that can be posed open or closed atop the barrel housings. For the helos, I've mentioned the MQ-8B, and you also have a Seahawk, of which you have to cut away the radome on the bottom. All the parts for the Seahawk are plastic. All this fits atop a nice display stand. If you wish to do one as waterline, simply leave off the lower hull.

Instructions are well drawn and have the usual Gunze paint references. THe decal sheet includes all the deck markings and decals for the Seahawk as well. 


I'm not a big ship modeler, mostly due to my inability to get p.e. railings to look nice as anything else, so when the opportunity came about to build a ship that didn't have these items, I thought it would be a good time to do something floaty.

The first thing I did was to fill in the sink areas along the hull sides. There are some pretty hefty ones opposite the inner hull braces. I used super glue and it took a few applications. Once that was done, the big parts of the weatherdecks went together rather rapidly. I did end up taping a lot of pieces as the hull sides wanted to bow out. This also allowed me to glue the large braces on the inside of the hull. Once it dried, it was very sturdy.

The lower hull piece has a separate lower bow section. I glued that together and let it dry, a bit of a mistake because when I glued it to the lower hull, there was a step. Nothing that filler and sanding cannot cure, but it would have been nice not to have that. I then attached all the other bits, including a pair of strakes that has three ejector pin marks that have to be dealt with. Naturally, they are on the outside of the part where it will be seen. All but the props were glued on and I then painted the lower hull assembly Testors Dark Red from a spray can.

Back at the main hull, the gun turrets were added. These can be posed open or closed. Frankly, as thin as the gun barrels are, I saw no reason to have these out in the open so on both main and both secondary guns, the covers were glued closed. The little pieces in front of the main turrets needed the attachment holes opened up more so that they would sit flush. Same with the turrets themselves. The small covers fit, but not very well. Fortunately the surface is flat and easy to sand down.

Painting this is quite simple. All the upper surfaces are in 26270 Neutral Grey and I used Testors Dark Red for the lower hull section. The upper hull was given several coats of clear. Once those areas were painted, I cemented the upper and lower sections together. The flight deck was masked around and since I did not have any FS 36008, I used Tamiya Panzer Grey. Applying decals was not difficult, but the size of some made it a bit tricky. All the white stripe sections are so jammed onto the sheet, that I had to use fine cuticle scissors to cut them out. I used Mr Mark Softer on these and it worked great. Before adding the plimsol lines, I used Microscale 1/16" black stripes for the waterline marking. Once all the decals were in place, the props were painted Brass and glued on. I sprayed the base with a dark blue, deliberately letting it show runs to somewhat simulate water. (You believe that, don't you?). Attempts at building up the helo proved fruitless so that is why there isn't one.

Thanks to the rather minimal number of parts, this was a one week build. Actually, I was expecting Tamiya-quality fit and for the most part I got it. There were enough areas of concern to add some building skills into the equation and the result is the first actual non-submarine ship model for me in well over 10 years.


Here is a link to an interesting interactive page on this ship.

June 2015

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