USS Independence, LCS-2, Littoral Combat Ship
Last updated: Final PE, touchup and complete - Septmeber 27, 2014
Introduction and What's in the Box - September 20, 2014
About the ship:
In the mid 2000s, the United States Navy identified a need for a completely new class of combat vessel, specifically designed to fight in serveral ways in the littoral waters, with a shallow draft, very fast sprint dspeeds, and the ability to conduct anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, mine counter measures, and landing and supporting special forces in the shallow, near to the coast, littoral waters. These vessels would have to be stealthy, network centric, and capable of also performing escort duites, particularly in the anti-submarine role for other task forces if called upon. As such, they were to be called Littoral OCmbat Ships (LCS) and would end up replaceing the older Perry Class Frigates, Avenger Class counter-mine vessels, and other vessels associated with the missions this ship was meant to conduct.
The vessels would be either large corvette or light frigates in displacement, around 3,000-3,500 tons. They would have to consist of a basic armament suite, but would also allow for significant space internal to the vessel to accomodate one or two "mission packs," that would customize them to the specific mission they were meant to perform on that specific mission. Furthermore, these "mission packs," would have to be able to be changed out within a 24 hour period at forward operating bases so the vessels could change their mission as required.
Initially several companies submitted bids, but this was relatively quickly narrowed down to two manufacturers. One headed by Lockheed Martin building n advanced mono-plane hull design, and the second headed by Grumman with a new, trimaren hull design. Both had pros and cons for their specific designs, and both were meeting the requirements. In the final run-off the companies each built one vessel, and then were authorized to build another one. When the Navy tested both designs it found both adequate and then went ahead and signed contracts for each company to build another ten of each vessel.
The total requirement is for 55 vessels. Current contracts will produce 24 vessels, 12 of each variant. It is not known at the end of that time whether the US Navy will then decide on a single contractor to provide the additional 21 vessels, or continue to build both. At this point (March 2013) most analyst believe it is likely that both vessels will be built in number of anywhere from 26-30 vessels each.
The Lockheed design became the USS Freedom class of Littoral Combat Ships. These vessels will have odd pennant numbers, beginning with LCS-1 for the USS Freedom. So far three have been built (USS Freedom, LCS-1, USS Fort Worth, LCS-2, and USS Milwaulkee, LCS-5), USS Detroit, LCS-7 is expected to launch in october of 2014. Six more are under various stages of construction.
The second, Trimaren design by Grumman/Austal is called the Independence Class of Littoral Combat Ships, upon which this model is based. They will be numbered with even numbered pennants, starting with LCS-2, the USS Independence. Three of those have also been built to date (USS Independence, LCS-2, USS Coronado, LCS-4, and USS Jackson, LCS-6), USS Montgomery, LCS-8 is expected to be launched later in 2014, and six others of this variant are also in various stages of construction.
Originally a total of 56 LCS vessels were planned to be built. However, after launching two of each variant and having them deployed, the US Navy has determined that the vessels are under-armed for their role. The current vessels will be capped at 24-30 ships, or 12-15 of each variant. These vessels will receive refits to add more weaponry to them. At the same time, the US NAvy has put out a bid for a multi-role frigate sized vessel, for 26-32 vessels. Both Lockheen and Gruman/Austal are bidding multi-role versions of their two designs. Huntington/Ingalls is bidding a US NAvy Frigate version of the US Coast Guard Legend Class cutter.
The trumpeter kit has a two piece hull arrangment with an upper and lower hull. The upperhull already has the main deck house modled into it. There are extensive details for the sensors, hangars, well deck areas, hull cut-outs for launches, etc.
There is just a wealth of detail in the plastic molded parts for this model, including three frets of Photo Etch parts for railing, sensors, gratings, and tie downs. Every one of the 150+ tie down spots on the landing deck, which are molded into the deck with their repective indentations, has a tie down cover in PE for a very realistic look to that flight deck.
The plastic parts are on six sprues. Five of them are molded in grey and one of them is modled in clear plastic. The clear plastic includes two MH-60R helicopters and a vertical UAV helicopter. All told there are more than 450 parts for this model.
The hull is a complete hull, with no waterline option out of the box...you would have to cut the hull accordingly, but that is okay, I build mine full hull to show the propulsion in any case.
The instructions are very well done with 12 pages of very detailed and yet intuitive explanations. There is a full color color scheme that depicts the colors and the locations for the decals, and calls out the specific colors and their numbers for several different paint suppliers.
All in all a very good looking, out of the box kit that looks fun to build, with a lot of detail, but straight forward enough for the relative novice who has the right tools and the patience.
Here's how she looks out of the box:
The hull, with its very distinctive trimaren shap, is in two pieces. The upper hull includes the main deck house to which you have to add the helo hanger and its aft covering where it fits onto the flight deck. This vessel has a large flight deck, almost three times as large as the flight deck for USS Arleigh Burke destroyers.
This is looking good. I will next work on the armament, the masts, and other details around the main deck.
I started this session by placing all of the armament on the ship. This included the 57mm main gin in the stealth cupola forward, a 16 cell Mk-41 VLS launcher I added in the place that has been reserved for it behind the main gun (Note: Thee have not yet been added to these vessels, but I expect they will). And the SeaRAM launcher on the aft end of the helicopter hanger.
I then worked on the main mast and its various sensors, as wel as the ships launch section on the aft end of the ship. There's a similar comartment on each side, but I elected to show only one of them. I also added the life buoys and chaff launchers on the prot and starboard sides.
I then started the decals for the vessel. The helo-pad markings are prety extensive and they have ob decal for the entire main white markings. With these large markings, sometimes they come in one large piece with all of the space in between the marker lines filled in such that the dacal, in essence covers the entire deck. Those are easy to apply, but they end up covering the whole deck and the color and finish are off. This decal is not like that. The lines are all small decals. My experience ith these has shown me over numerous builds that they are almost impossible to apply as one. The small lines always break, fold back on themselves, and end up being a fiasco. I always cut these up into managable pieces. In this cas about six of them. Then fit them together. when these decals are put on properly, the always look beter than the large, single piece ones.
Then there were numerous other decals. The name of the ship, the pennant number, the depth markings, etc.
With all of the decals added, it was left to add the photo etch railings as well as a few other details. The railing for this model is vry thin and slight. This looks good once applied, bu is also very easy to bend. One has to apply it carefully.
I also added the numerous CCTV cameras that are along the after end of the hanger.
Then I built and painted the stand and then added the phot etch name plates that came with the model. Once completed, the helos were built. I configured this vessel for ASW (Anti-submarine Warfare) and added two MH-60R Seahawks and a Vertical UAV fire socut. One Seahawk in the hanger. One seahwak ready to take off., and th FireScout on its landing pad.
Here's how she looks:
...and three clos ups:
And there you have it. USS Independence, LCS-2 in 1/350 scale.
The completion of the PLAN Carrier group was centered on the already completed Trumpeter's 1/350 scale PLA Navy's Aircraft Carrier CV-16, Liaoning, (in addition to the other escorts already completed) included Mini Hobby's's PLAN Guangzhou, DDG-168. I recently pre-ordered a 1/350 scale model of the PLAN Type 071 LPD, Yuzhao Class, announced by Trumpeter and due out in October, 2013. I will end up adding two of those, propbably LPD-998 Yuzhao and LPD-999, Jinggangshan, add the PLAN- DDG-139, Ningbo, and the PLAN DDG-115, Shenyang, along with the PLAN Weifang, FFG-550 and thus build a PLAN ARG.
The completion of the US Carrier Strike group was centered on the completed Tamyia's 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-65, (in addition ot the other escorts already completed) included Trumpeter's, USS Freedom, LCS-1, Dragon's USS Preble, DDG-88 and Hobby Boss's USS Texas, SSN-775. When a 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-80 (or any Gerald R. Ford Class) is released from Trumpeter, Tamiya, Dragon, or whomever else, I will add it to this group along with another AEGIS Cruiser. Whichever Ford Class coms out in 1/350 scale, I will build it as the USS Enterprise, CVN-80.
The US ARG will include Tamiya's 1/350 scale, USS Iowa, BB-62 (which I have already completed), Trumpeter's 1/350 scale USS Iwo Jima LHD-7, Gallery's 1/350 scale USS Sommerset, LPD-25, Bronco Models 1/350 Scale USS New York, LPD-21, Cyber Hobby's USS Independence, LCS-2, Acadamy's 1/350 scale USS Rueben James, FFG-57, and another Flight IIA US AEGIS class detroyer based on Trumpeter's 1/350 scale USS Lassen, DDG-82...all of these models which I already own.
The completion of the UK Group featured the Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Illustrious, R06 as its centerp[iece until a 1/350 scale Queen Elizabeth carrier is released. When that happens, I will add that carrier to the group as its centerpiece. The Royal Navy CSG will also include two Airfix 1/350 scale Daring Class DDGs (one of which is already completed), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Type 23 HMS Duke class Frigates (one of which is already completed), and the Hobby Boss 1/350 scale HMS Astute SSN (which is also already completed) and Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Tragalgar SSN. One day, when a 1/350 scale HMS Ocean LPD come out, I will use tt to start building a Royal Navy ARG.
The French CSG is centered on Heller's 1/400 scale Charles De Gualle, R91. I have purchased the 1/400 scale Heller French De Grasse, D612 DDG, which is an ASW DDG, the French Duquesne, D603 DDG which is an anti-air multi-purpose DDG, and the French Aconit D612 FFG and Gueprattet F714 FFGs, both of which are Lafayette class frigates. These five vessels will round out my French CSG. As soon as a French Robin class nuclear sub, like the French Perale S606 SSN is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale, I will add that to the group. Also as soon as the Forbin D620, Horizon class anti-air DDG is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale, I will purchase two of them and replace the De Grrasse and Duquesne with them, and then save those two for when a Mistral Class LPD is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale so I can create a French ARG with those vessels.
The completion of the Japanese JMSDF group was centered on Fujimi's very finely detailed, 1/350 scale Hyuga, DDH-181. It will be escorted by Trumpeter's 1/350 scale DDG-177, Atago, an AEGIS class DDG and the JMSDF, DDG-174, Kongo class (which I own), Trumpeters's 1/350 scale DDG-114 Susunami and DDG-111 (both of which are Takinami Class DDGs which I own), and by the 1/350 scale SS-503 Hakuryu (which I own), one of Japans new, very modern and capable AIP Diesel Electric submarines. As soon as a DDG-115 Akizuki in 1/350 scale is released, I will add it to this group. Should a 1/350 scale Osumi Class LPD be relased, I will buy two of those vessels and create a JMSDF ARG.
Then, finally it will be a complete Russian CSG (centered on Trumpeter's Kuznetsov which I own) the Russian Kirov Class nuclear battle cruiser (CGN), the Peter the Great, by Trumpeter (which I own), the Russian Slava Class cruiser, Varyag by Trumperter (which I own), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Udaloy DDGs (which I own), Hobby Boss's Akula II class SSN (which I own), and the new Yasen class Russian SSN (which I own), all in 1/350 scale. Some time in the more distant future when a 1/350 scale Russian version of the French Mistral class comes out (which is building in real life right now), I will add two of those and build a Russian ARG.
Recently I purchased Heller's 1/400 scale Foch, the Clemceau Class carrier that was sold to the Brazilians in 2000 and in 2002 was refitted and became the Brazilian CV, Sao Paulo, using steam catapaults. I will build the model as the Sao Paulo and thus start a Brazilian group, though the Type 22 DDGs and the FFGs the Brazilians use are not available at present. I have however purchased a set of 1/400 scale A-4 Skyhawks and S-3 Trackers to build a suitable airwing for the Sao Paulo.
Then, again, once the models are available, I'd like to build an Italian Carrier Strike Group centered on the Cavour and their Horizon DDGs, a Spanish Carrier Strike Group centered on the Juan Carlos and their F-100 AEGIS FFGs, and ultimatly an Australian Strike Group centered on the new Canberra Class LPD and the Hobart class AEGIS DDGs. If they ever build the models, an Indian Carrier Strike Group centered on either the Vikramaditya or their new ADS Carrier, the Vikrant, and their Kolkata class DDGs and Shivlak class FFGs would also be nice.
Years more worth of work!
You can see all of these actual carriers, read their histories and specifictions at my site:
...and most of their surface escorts at:
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