Dragon 1/350 USS Frank Knox (DD-742)
KIT #: 1045
PRICE: $62.00 SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Smart Kit


USS Frank Knox (DD-742) was a Gearing-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II. She was named after Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox.

Frank Knox was built at Bath, Maine. Commissioned in December 1944, she arrived in the western Pacific war zone in mid-June 1945, in time to participate in the final carrier air raids on the Japanese home islands as part of Task Force 38. During the Battle of Okinawa she acted as a picket destroyer giving early warnings of incoming air raids. She was present in Tokyo Bay when Japan formally surrendered on 2 September 1945 and remained in the Far East until early February 1946. The ship made additional deployments to the region during the later 1940s and was reclassified as a radar picket destroyer (DDR) in March 1949.

Frank Knox again steamed across the Pacific to take part in hostilities in early July 1950, shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War. During this combat tour, which lasted into 1951, her missions included support of the Inchon invasion, shelling enemy targets ashore and patrolling the Taiwan Straits. Two more Korean War cruises followed in 1952 and 1953, and for the rest of the decade Frank Knox deployed regularly to WestPac for Seventh Fleet service.

In 19601961 Frank Knox was modernized under the FRAM II program, which gave her updated radars and other new equipment. She was based in the Far East from late 1961 until mid-1964, then returned home via Australia and the south Pacific. Again deployed in June 1965, she briefly served off Vietnam conducting naval gunfire support and coastal patrol operations. While underway in the South China Sea on 18 July,Frank Knox ran aground on Pratas Reef, and was only freed after a very difficult salvage effort. Though she was badly damaged, and relatively elderly, her command and control capabilities justified an extensive repair job, which was carried out at Yokosuka, Japan, over the next year.

Frank Knox rejoined the active forces in November 1966 and resumed her pattern of nearly annual Seventh Fleet cruises, frequently taking part in Vietnam combat missions. Redesignated DD-742 at the beginning of 1969, she completed her final deployment in November 1970 and was decommissioned at the end of January 1971. USS Frank Knox was transferred to the Greek Navy a few days later. Renamed Themistoklis (D-210) (from Themistocles Athenian statesman who persuaded Athens to build a navy and then led it to victory over the Persians), she served for another two decades before being placed out of commission in the early 1990s. The old ship was sunk as a torpedo target by the Greek Submarine Nereus (S-111) on 12 September 2001.


This kit is similar to the initial release aside from a few upgrades. Thos include new props, new 40mm guns, and new torpedo launchers. This boxing is the 1945 fit and thanks to the additional enhancements and photo etch, has had the parts count rise from 430 to over 700 parts. Still no railings, which would be a very nice addition, but we can hope for something like that to be added in the future if modelers demand it.  As in the other kit, there are a pair of photo etch frets for a myriad of enhancements such as turret ladders, AA-gun sights, life rafts, stack screens and the list goes on. This is a somewhat complex kit with over 430 parts. It also includes six crew figures so that you can add some life to the decks. As you can read in the features list, this is not a snap-kit!

The instructions are very well done with easy to read construction steps. You spend the first part of the build making up a large number of smaller subassemblies like guns, searchlights and directors. Getting the main deck built means adding on much of the photo etch in terms of hatches and things on the bulkheads. The kit can be built as a waterline if you so desire, but there is no separate bottom plate as you find on some other kits. The lower hull is well done and appears to fit quite well. A stand is provided with some small posts that support the model (assuming you have remembered to drill out the holes in the lower hull). The decal sheets are very well done. I appreciate that Dragon has given us non-skid decals to place on the weatherdecks. These are a common sight on any US Navy ship. A sheet of flags is also provided as well as the one with the ship's name and number. In fact, the only real markings option is the ability to shadow shade the hull number.

So below are all the features of this beauty:

- Newly tooled true-to-scale ultra-thin propellers
- Newly tooled radar mounted on twin 40mm Mk4 guns

- Newly designed quintuple torpedo launcher can be assembled in separate parts
- Whalers w/photo-etched parts newly designed

- 5 realistic 1/350 scale figures
- Waterline or full-hull version can be assembled
- Selected parts available in either plastic or photo-etched version
- One-piece slide-molded upper hull w/undercut details
- Deck has realistic camber
- Rudder is movable
- Bilge keels w/removable sonar dome on lower hull made with slide-mold technology
- Fine photo-etched propeller guards
- Extra-thin shield walls on superstructure reproduced for accurate 1/350 scale appearance
- 3-directional slide-molded twin 5-inch gun turret
- Every detail present, right down to access ladders and rivet heads
- Realistically detailed slide-molded gun barrels w/hollow muzzles
- Shield wall on superstructure and bonus captain's chain both w/full detail
- Depth charges molded w/extra-fine detail
- Front and rear funnels w/DBM antennas
- Funnels provided w/option of molded-on ladders or add-on photo-etched ladders
- Platforms on funnels finely modeled by photo-etched parts
- Extra-fine detailed superstructure
- Passageway for crew access realistically presented w/interior detail
- Authentic radar tower reproduced
- Mk37 gun director w/highly detailed Mk12 radar antenna assembly
- Photo-etched parts finely reproduced for radar and antenna
- Doors available in either plastic or photo-etched metal
- Side doors can be assembled open/closed
- Extremely fine parts like davits for whalers
- Twin 40mm Mk4 guns reproduced w/delicate detail
- Finely detailed quadruple 40mm Mk4 mount
- Twin 20mm guns tinely reproduced w/photo-etched shields
- Finely represented Mk51 gun director
- 5-inch practice loading machine has great detail
- 12-inch and 36-inch searchlights provided
- Movable mount for 36-inch searchlight w/clear part included
- Oval- and square-shaped rafts look authentic
- Bridge supports portrayed w/photo-etched parts


Here we have another excellent WWII destroyer kit from our friends at Dragon. It would be nice if sometime, they would offer these in their post war fit, and perhaps they will.



June 2012

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