My Review and Build of Hellers 1/400 scale Kit #81032,
French D612 De Grasse Destroyer

Last updated: Detailing decks, adding PE railing & parts, adding decals, complete - December 21, 2013 <-- Click to go directly there.

Introduction and What's in the Box - December 11, 2013

Introduction and Overview
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the French Navy identified a need for a multi-role destroyer that would specialize in anti-submarine warfare. The Tourville class of destroyers was the result of the French development to meet this need. The vessels were optimized for anti-submarine warfare, carrying both towed array as well as hull-mounted sonar arrays. They also carry naval guns, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons, surface-to-air missiles, and a helicopter landing pad and hanger for two helicopters. All of this armament allowed them to meet their specialized ASW requirement while also operating as true multi-role destroyers. They were desinged for good seakeeping characteristics in heavy seas to allow them to operate in the Atlantic Ocean, particularly in the heavy seas of the North Atlantic.

The ships were powered by a two shaft, steam turbine system that produced 58,000 shp. They were also the first ships fitted with the marine version of the Crotale surface to air missile system, which has been upgraded numoerous times to keep its sensors and missiles capable of intercepting the newer threats posed by sea-skimming anti-shipping missiles.

Three vessels were built:

D610 Tourville: Launched in May 1972, Commissioned in June 1974 , and Decommissioned in June 1011.
D611 Dugway-Trouin: Launched in June 1972, Commissioned in Spetember 1975, and Decommissione din July 1999.
D612 De grasse: Launched in NOvember 1974, Commissioned in October 1977, in service, slated fo decommissioning in late 2013 or 2014.

The Tourville and the De Grasse went through extensive modernizations in the 1980s when their obsolete Malafon anti-submarine missile was removed and their other weapons, snesors, and sonars were upgraded. Again, in the 1990s, these two vessels were upgraded, modernized and refitted with the modern SLASM anti-submarine system, and a active Very Low Frequency (VLF) sonar system. This allowed them to continue to operate in the modern threat environment, and particularly as critical ASW escorts for the French nuclear aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, R91.

The specifications of these vessels include:

Displacement: 6,100 tons (full)
Length: 501 ft.
Beam: 51 ft. 10 in.
Draft: 21 ft. 8 in.
Speed: 32 knots
2 Rateau steam turbines
4 multi-tubular boilers
2 fixed propellers
Crew: 295
- 2 100mm DP gun
- 6 MM40 BLock II Excocet missiles
- 2 20mm F2 guns
- 1 Crotale EDIR Missile launcher (8 Ready, 16 stored))
Aircraft: 2 x Lynx helicopters (hanger and pad):

The De Grasse, D612, is the last of the Tourville destroyers. She is slated to continue surviving through 2013 and potentially 2014.

What's in the Box:
Heller manufactures models for most of the French modern naval vessles and specialize in 1/400 scale. You simply cannot find most of the modern French naval vessels with Trumpeter, Dragon, Airfix, or the other model makers in 1/350 scale. So, if you want to build a larger scale French Carrier group (as I do) then you deal with Heller and their 1/400 scale vessels. This is Heller's Kit #81032, Dugway-Trouin Destroyer, which I intend to build as the D612, De Grasse. She will represent the principle ASW Destroyer escort for my French Carrier group centered on the R91, Charles de Gaulle nuclear aircraft carrier, which I have already completed.

Heller does a good job with its models. Earlier, they had a few issues with some excessive flash, not as clean a finish, and a relative un-detailed look. But over the years they have overcome those issues and now produce some very good moldings that are free of flash and are quite detailed.

This model seems like it will go together realtively quickly, though there are quite a few details.

Inside the box, you find that the hull in two pieces, split longitudinally down the middle. There is no waterline option with this model, unless you cut it yourself at the waterline and make your own waterline plate on the bottom. But that is okay with me since I build mine full hull in any case.

The entire main deck is a single piece. All of the pieces are molded in a light grey. There are three main sprues, two focused on all of the details for the deck houses, armament, sensors, helo, and the props, struts, and rudders. A third sprue includes railing. A word about this railing. With most plastic injected molded kits, you have to either buy a seperate Photo Etch kit to provide realistic railings and sensors, or some of the newer kits now come with these Photo etched parts included in them. Howerver, this kit comes with this plastic railing and it actually looks very good for injected molded plastic. I have to say that when painted carefully, it will do the trick and there will be no need for PE railing.

Altogether there are 164 pieces to this model.

Also included is a small sheet of 10 water slide decals. They include the pennant number, helo pad markings and a few ships markings. A very basic set.

The intructions are included on three sheets. They are also pretty basic, but intuitive and cover the entire build of the model adequately. The painting instructions are included in the instructions too. Again, they are basic and adequate. There is no full color, glossy painting scheme like you see on the newer Trumpeter, Dragon, Broinco, and other model companies. but what there is is more than adequate.

Here's the box and its contents, including the decal sheet and the instructions.

This looks like it is going to be a fun build. Probably a fairly quick build too. I do intend to use some left over photo etch sensors, and ladders (and railings) wherever necessary to srpuce up the model.

The Build: Painting parts and hull, adding main decks and weapons, adding masts December 16, 2012

Lots of progreess made in this session. I started off painting all the parts on their sprues, after careffull cutting the parts away from the sprues except for one attachment point. This lessons touch up later. I painted all of th weather deck/flat surfacee in regular testor's gray. I paineted all of the vertical portions in Model Master's Light Ghost Gray. Then I pianted the hull. Light Ghpst Gray above the water line, the lighter hull red supplied by Heller in the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier model, and then masked off and painted the waterline mark in flat black.

I then added the aft deck where the De Grasse deploys its towed array sonar, and the main deck which I had already painted.

Once all of this was completed and dried, I began assembling the two main deck houses and the weapons systems on them. The forward deck house includes the second 100mm gun (I had already assembled and placed the 1st one forward on the maind deck), the bridge, and the Exocet Missile launch deck where the six Excoet missiles are located. These missiles and their exhaust pads are made up of three pieces each. They go together fairly nicely and then you have some touch up on the seams.

The second deck house incudes the main mast/funnel and the helicopter hanger. Forward of the helo hanger would be the third 10mm gun, which comes with the model and is shown in the instructions. But in the modernizations of the 80s and 90s that gun was taken away and the Eight-missile Crotale Launcher was placed there on top of a small deck house to hold its reloads. This is the way I built the model. The parts for the Croitale missiles are not marked well, and they are not exaclty right. So I improvised building my own launcher and rails in between the sets of two missiles. Came out pretty nice.

I then added all of this and am failry far along wiht the structrual part of the model.

She's looking pretty good. In the next seesion I have a few more sensors to add to the masts, a few more fittings on the deck, the struts, props and rudder (which I have already painted and sub-assembled), and will then add the railings that came with the models and the decals. I hope to do all of that in the next week and be complete with the De Grasse.

The Build: Detailing decks, adding PE railing & parts, adding decals, complete December 21, 2012

In this session, I added the final detail parts from the kit to the decks and then began in on the hand rails. I had intended on putting the plastic hand rails on the ship that came with the kit. but, after painting them and then cutting the first section out to place, the thickness of the rails was simply too much to give a good look to this 1/400 scale model. So I changed plans. Luckiluy, I had a PE set of TYom's Model Works 1/400 PE railing and so decided to use them for the railings. I also had a left over Photo Etch main radar for a 1/350 scale Oliver Hazard Perry Class US Navy FFG, and so used that. I took some time, and the smaller railings are delicate so you have to be careful, but they all went down well.

Then it was time for the decals. The kit comes as the D611 Dugway-Tourin, but I am building the D612 De Grasse. So I had to do some changes to the pennant numbers to achieve the desired result. The helicopter landing pad markings required no change.

With that, the vessel was complete. I needed to do some touch paint work and then add a couple of good coats of dull coat..which I did. And then it was time to take the display pictures:

Now that looks mighy fine indeed. With the Charles de Gaulle nuclear aircraft carrier, the two Lafayette Class guided missile frigates, and this De Grasse destroyer, that completes my French CSG for the time being until a FREMM FFG, a Forbin DDG, and a Rubis SSN model are available to add.

SCHEDULE for Future Activities - December 21, 2013

  1. By Feb 31, 2014, Start the Russian Carrier Group centerd on Trumpeter's Kuznetsov with a CGN, a DDGs and a SSN.
  2. By Apr 31, 2014, Start the US Navy Amphibious Ready Group centered on the Gallery USS Wasp with an LHD, an LPD, a DDG, a SSN and two LCS.
  3. By Jul 31, 2014, Start the PLAN Amphibious Ready Group centered on the Trumpeter Type 071 LPD-999, with a FFG, and three DDGs.
  4. By Sep 31, 2014 Go back and start fleshing out 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'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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Copyright © 2012 by Jeff Head, All Rights Reserved