My Review and Build of Bronco' 1/350 scale Kit# 5026,
USS Coronado LCS-4, Littoral Combat Ship


Last updated: Touch up, Dull Coat, and completion - January 6, 2015

Introduction and What's in the Box - December 22, 2014

About the ship:
This model is a 1/350 scale model depiction of the US Navy's USS Coronado, LCS-4 Littoral Combat 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 several ways in the littoral waters, with a shallow draft, very fast sprint speeds, 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 duties, particularly in the anti-submarine role for other task forces if called upon. As such, they were to be called Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and would end up replacing the older Perry Class Frigates, Avenger Class counter-mine vessels, and other vessels associated with the missions these ships were 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 accommodate 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 an 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 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 was for 55 vessels. Current contracts will produce 24 vessels, 12 of each variant. But the US Navy at this point will only build 4-8 more (after the initial 12 of each) LCS vessels to the original specification. After that, the Navy has decided to build what is called the Small surface Combatant (SSC) and has chosen an up armed, and more multi-role (without the modules) version of the two vessels to go forward with. The older, existing vessels, like the Coronado, will be retrofitted to receive some of the up armaments. 28-32 of the new SSC vessels will be built.

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 four have been built (USS Freedom, LCS-1, USS Fort Worth, LCS-2, and USS Milwaukee, LCS-5), and USS Detroit, LCS-7. Six more are under various stages of construction.

The second, Trimaren design by Grumman/Austral 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. Four of those ships have also been built to date (USS Independence, LCS-2, USS Coronado, LCS-4, USS Jackson, LCS-6, and USS Montgomery, LCS-8 ) Six others of this variant are also in various stages of construction.

After launching two of each variant and having them deployed, the US Navy determined that the vessels were under-armed for their role, and not able to exchange mission packs quickly enough. Experiencing this in real life led to the decision to product the SSC. The current vessels will receive refits to add more weaponry to them. For the SSC, Lockheed and Grumman/Austral bid multi-role versions of their two designs. Huntington/Ingalls bid a US Navy Frigate version of the US Coast Guard Legend Class cutter. The decision was made in late 2014 to go with the modified LCS designs.

The Kit:
The Bronco kit for the Coronado is fairly recent. It is a very strong kit with lots of detail, photo etched parts, and numerous options. I earlier built the Trumpeter LCS, USS Independence, LCS-2 in 1/350 scale. Comparing the two is a typical comparison between Trumpeter and either Bronco or Dragon. Trumpeter has more small, detailed plastic parts that come as individual pieces. Bronco molds more detail into the deck houses and structure of the ship, alleviating the need for as many small pieces.

That is also the case here, though the Bronco model still has plenty of parts and detail.

The Bronco hull itself actually has more parts than the Trumpeter one. That is because the Bronco model comes with a water-line option, and with the Trimaren, this means more parts. I am choosing the full hull version in any case.

The upper hull is made up of one large piece and a cover for the stern. With this Bronco model, the main deck house is a separate assembly and not molded into the upper hull as was the case with the Trumpeter Independence Class LCS. There are a lot of details for the sensors, hull cut-outs for launches, etc.

There is a large fret of Photo Etch parts for railing, sensors, various parts for the helos and the mine hunting sled.

The vessel comes with a 32-cell Mk-41 launcher for the space behind the 57mm main gun and includes four separate photo etch assemblies for .50 caliber machine guns. The armament is rounded out with the SeaRAM missile launcher which is molded in fine detail.

The kit comes with a Fire Scout helicopter drone, a MH-60R ASW helicopter, a large MH-53E mine hunting helicopter, and a Mine Hunting Sled for the MH-53E.

The plastic parts are on five gray plastic sprues and three clear plastic sprues. The clear sprues are for the helicopters. All told there are well over 300 parts to the model, as opposed to 450 parts for the Trumpeter model...though the Trumpeter model took up several dozen parts for the separate tie downs for the landing deck.

The instructions are very well done and all of the pages are very detailed and yet intuitive explanations, clearly displayed in full color. There is a full color, color scheme that depicts the painting and the locations for the decals for the ship in its various views and of the aircraft and the mine sled.

All in all a very good looking, out of the box kit that looks really 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 Build - Initial construction of and painting of the hull and main deck house - December 27, 2014

I began by building the hull and painting it. The Independence class has a Neutral Gray upper hull, both vertical surfaces and weather deck (mostly), and then a black below the water line. The landing deck is in gunship gray, and the pathways to the 57mm gun and the SeaRAM launcher are in medium gray.

I also built the main deck house.



I then added the water jet propulsion at this point to the underside of the after portion of the ship.

This is looking good. I will next work on the armament, masts, the helo and mine sled, and the Photo etch.

The Build - Main mast, armament, MH-53E helo, Mine sled, PE Railing, decals - January 5, 2015

I began by building the hanger deck and then placing the completed Main Deck House over it. I then built and added the main armaments, including the 57mm main gun, the SeaRAM missile launcher, the 32 cell Mk-41 VLS (which is provided for, but not actually included in the production ships at this point). I also built and added the main sensors, the radar domes, the antennae, etc.

Finally I built the large mine hunting sled that this class vessel uses for the Counter Mine Measures (CMM), and is dragged across the ocean by the MH-53E. This was a pretty large assembly itself consisting of well over 30 parts.



At this point I built and added the four .50 caliber machine guns and their mounts, two forward along the side of the main deck house, and two on small gun decks, aft, under the landing pad. I also built and added the decoy and chaff launchers which are also on either side of the main deck house, amidships.

I then built the MH-53E large helicopter...which is the largest helicopter (along with the CH-53E Super Stallion it is based upon) in the US Military inventory. It is neat that this relatively small vessel was built to accommodate the MH-53E for anti-mine warfare operations. The assembly for the MH-53E is also a large assembly comprising something on the order of 30 parts and numerous decals. But it and the mine hunting sled make a fine addition to the landing pad and hanger area on the Coronado.

At this point I had also painted and added the flight deck safety meshing along the sides of the landing pad. This is a place where the PE of the Bronco model excels (IMHO) over the Trumpeter. The four parts at the transition (from the deck railing to the landing area, and at each aft corner of the landing are) are superb, and allow the netting to be modeled along the sides, just below the deck, accurately.



Now it was time to add the photo etch railing around the rest of the vessel. These all come in pre-cut pieces, which is nice, requiring that you simply bend the railing appropriately before installing it (after painting of course).

I also added the ships launch and crane, and the auxiliary propulsor to the vessel at this point and attached it to its stand.

With the railing and all of the other details added the vessel is looking GREAT! A few more decals, some touch up, and then I will take the final pictures all in the next session.

The Build - Touch up, Dull Coat, and completion - January 6, 2015

Added the final water depth/gauge decals, touched up the paint in a few places, and then added the two coats of dull coat to finish the Coronado.

Here's the look at her all around:



And then here's quite a few various views and close ups of the vessel. Like I say, the safety netting detail for the landing deck is nice around the four corners and transitioning the safety netting into the railing.





...and there she is. The Bronco Model's, 1/350 scale USS Coronado, LCS-4.

I believe next I will do the very large project of Gallery Model's 1/350 Scale USS Iwo Jima, LHD-7. That will be a large, involved, and probably three or more month long project.


Schedule for Future Activities: January 6, 2015


  1. By Mar 15, 2015, Complete the US Navy Amphibious Ready Group centered on the Gallery USS Iwo Jima, a CG, a DDG, and another LCS.
  2. By Mar 16, 2015 Go back and start finishing the rest of the DDG and FFG escorts for each CSG and ARG group.

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 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, probably 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 to 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 Somerset, LPD-25, Bronco Models 1/350 Scale USS New York, LPD-21, Cyber Hobby's USS Independence, LCS-2, Academyís 1/350 scale USS Rueben James, FFG-57, and another Flight IIA US AEGIS class destroyer 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 center piece 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 Trafalgar SSN. One day, when a 1/350 scale HMS Ocean LPD comes out, I will use it to start building a Royal Navy ARG.

The French CSG is centered on Heller's 1/400 scale Charles De Gaulle, 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 Pearle 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 Grasse 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), Trumpeterís 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 released, 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 Trumpeter (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. Sometime 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 Clemenceau Class carrier that was sold to the Brazilians in 2000 and in 2002 was refitted and became the Brazilian CV, Sao Paulo, using steam catapults. 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 air wing 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 ultimately 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 specifications at my site:

WORLD-WIDE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS


FINE ALL-AMERICAN, LIBERTY ORIENTED BOOKS AUTHORED BY JEFF HEAD
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Dragon's Fury - World War Against America and the West
: Following great success in the War on Terror, politicians and analysts alike thought that future global conflict was impossible...but they were wrong. Journey into a possible future where Islamic terrorists sharpen their horrific skills & ally with Red China. In such a future, can the U.S. & western civilization survive?
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The Stand at Klamatjh Falls
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