USS Mobile Bay, CG-53 Ticonderoga AEGIS Cruiser,
and Italeri's 1/350 Scale kit #5554,
USS Gettysburg, CG-64 Ticonderoga AEGIS Cruiser
Genrally, Trumpeter has become the pre-iminent manufacturer of 1/350 scale model warships, particularly modern warships. But this kit, kit #80702, is an older model, and was released under the Mini Hobby Model brand. It is actually of the USS Bunker Hill, CG-52, but it has the decals to build several of the vessels of the class and I choose to build the USS Mobile Bay, CG-53. The Ticonderoga AEGIS crusiers, 22 of which are still in commission (though that number will reduce to 17 over the next year or two), are a testament to a platform that was designed to be upgraded over its service life. The AEGIS system and the VLS launchers have been through multiple upgrades and are continually improving. These vessels, with their 128 VLS cells for firing Standard Missiles in their several varieties, Tomahawk missiles in their several varieties, Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles in quad-packs, and SUBROC ASW missiles, are the heart and soul of fleet defense on the surface. The 17 vessels that will remain in service will do so for another 5-15 years as the Flight III Burke Class Destroyers (which will actually be as large as these vessels in displacment and be mnore like cruisers themselves) are buillt to replace them.
For the model itself, as one of their older models, this kit does not have the detail, the crisp molding, or the extra photo etch parts that their newer models have. When it comes to Ticondergoa Class AEGIS cruisers in 1/350 scale for plastic injection molded models, you have this Trumpeter model, a Dragon model of the USS Mobile Bay, CG-53, and Italeri Kit #5554, the USS Gettysburg, CG-64 to choose from. I choose to go with the Trunpeter/Mini Hobby kit because it was readily available to me.
The kit comes in an illustrated box (the picture is more a depiction than a real-to-life view) and the box is well built and protective. Inside, the hull comes in a single piece and there is a small DC motor in the hull, already mounted to be run off two AA batteries to drive two screws. I will build the model without making it motorized. The props that come with the model are not at all accurate, they being made to propel this model through the water and have three blades each which is not representative of the actual vessel where there ate five blades on each prop. So, I purchased some brass props for the model, specifically for the Ticonderoga class, from G Factor through TotalNavy.com. These will work nicely to depict the true nature of the props on this vessel. There are a total of six sprues with about 215 parts, one of which is the set of parts for the props, shafts, and coverings for the shafts on the exterior of the model. There are no Photo Etch parts, so I purchased a Photo Etch after market set for the Ticonderoga class from White Ensign Models through Free-Time Hobbies. I also purchased some Mk-38 25mm auto cannons from White Ensign models in 1/350 scale so I could upgrade the vessel to the modern standard of having these close in, anti-surface weapons to help prevent another incident like what occurred to the USS Cole in Yeman when a small craft came up to the vessel in port and exploded, severely damaging the vessel.
The plastic parts on this model are, as stated, not nearly as well molded as the newer Trumpeter models. There is a lot of flash, and the pieces are attached to the sprues with quite thick attach points. The pieces themselves are not nearly as delicate or detailed as the newer models. For this build, it's back to the 1980s where a lot of sanding, trimming and some cutting and filling will be necessary to get the more detailed look. I intend to use my standard US Navy paint scheme of Model Master Neutral Gray for all major vertical surfaces of the ship, a mix of 2 parts red and one part brown of Model Masters paints for the below water line hull, Flat Black for the waterline stripe and other flat black areas, Weathered Black for the funnels and the windows, Model Master Flight Deck Stain for the horizontal surfaces, Model Master Light Gray for the hangar interior walls, and Flat White for the radomes and life rafts. Other colors (such as Ensignia Orange for the life buoys), as required. Here are the initial parts out of the box.
The Italeri Model of the USS Gettyeburg is the exact same model kit, but released by Italeri. It was built two uears later and was built in the same fashion. Its completion pictures are at the end of the kit build for the USS Mobile Bay.
The parts themselves come on spures where the parts are more or less catergorized into the major side panels for the deckhouses, the below water line rudders ans shaft supports, the smoke stacks and rear deck house along with the hanger and landing pad (which on the Ticonderogas is amidships on the second deck, and the rear deck, with various deck details ...weapons and sensors...included on the various sprues. The bulbous bow is particularly of concern. It does not flair into the bow as it ought to and will require some attention (sadning and filler) to get the desired and actual effect.
The instructions are somewhat lacking. Very little english, but fairly good, intuitive figures showing how everything is put together. The color scheme is old and deficient...we have really become spoiled by the newer, full color, very nice glossy color schemes in three views that most kits include now, showing multiple paint supplier's paint numbers for the various colors. You do not get that on this older model.
Per my normal practise, I first go through and paint all of the parts on the sprues their respective colors, figuring to do any touch-up work later after they come together where necessary...and it is always necessary. This started with the hull, which I got masked off for the red, and then the double mask for the black waterline mark.
The bulbous bow turned out pretty good after some sanding and filler.
The other parts all were painted nicely, using the Neutral Gray for the verticle surfaces and the Flight Deck Stain for the decks themselves.
Kind of boring...but all necessary steps to get to the point where we can actually start putting the vessel together. I hope in my next installment to have the hull and main decks and main deck houses together. Hopefully by the installment after that, when I have completed the second level decks, the PE parts will have come in for all of the railing and sensors so I can then add those before I detail those decks and start on the masts.
The Ticonderoga class is armed with two 5" (127mm) dual purpose guns for self defense, strike at sea, and fire support missions. There is one forward and one aft. it is also armed with two 20mm PPhalanyx CIWS systems, both located amindships on either side. These assemplbies were fairly straight forward. I also started constructing othe rsmall assmblies for the upcoming main deck house. The guns, CIWS and some of these parts are shown below. In the last, you can see some of the flash and attachment point resulting from these older moldinghs. Lots of stuff to trim away and straightren out...which anyone building this model will want to take care to do.
Then it was time to put the main deck house (which included the hanger and helo deck) together. On the Tocinderoga Class (like the Spruance Cladd DDs the hull is based on), the helo landing pad and hanger are located amidships, on their own deck above the main deck, and not on the aft of the vessel as has become the standard and desired location. Here are those parts and assemblies coming together.
This produced a very recognizable and well fitted (after the sanding, trimming, and filling necessary because of these older molds) deckhouse. Not all detailed up at this point, but that is fine. That will come later after the other deck houses are complete and I get the railing on all of these relatively bare structure.
Next, I will finish the forward deck house containing the bridge, and then add the railings. Then it will be time to glue the main deck pieces to the hull and add these deck houses so I can thereafter start detailing them.
Well, I added the warning decals to the main deck for the 5" guns, and to the main deck house for the CIWS and other rotating sensors. A note here, this model does not include any deacls for the helo landing pad or the fore and aft vertrep spots. You either have to hand paint them, or, in my case I have after-market US Naval decals in 1/350 scale by Gold Medal Models which incluide these markings and many, many more. Added the PARS panels, the bridge area, and then did some touch up to complete the main deck house in its basic form. This completed the main deck house to the point where I was ready to start adding the railing. I did not want too many details on those decks before doing so because it makes it much more difficult to fit the railing in. Here's how that was looking:
Then it was time to add all of the railing to the main deck house. I used spare railings from Burke and other PE sets I had purchased (because my Tico PE set has not come in yet) and previously painted the three-rail railings the neutral gray I use for the horizontal surfaces and railings. Once these were painted and added, I then was ready to add the main deck house to the hull. The fit of the model in this regard was not the best, and as with adding the main deck to the hull, it took some filling, clamping and use of rubber bands to hold it down firmly and get as good a fit as possible, followed by some putty for fill. Once that had all dried, I came back and did some touch up paint work and achieved the following for this point in the build:
Now she is starting to look like 1/350 scale model of the Ticonderoga class AEGIS crusier that she is.
In the last few days I have accomplished a lot of small detail work on the vessel. The masts were all put together, additional deck levels attached, life rafts, launches and davits, the Mk-41 VLS pads. And that is where I want to go into some detail, just as pointers for other modelers and what you need to have to get the best fit and look possible.
The VLS Pads on this model look really, really good from the top, but underneath the molding left a lot to be desired. There were additional portrusions and numerous holes from the mold. The portrusions particularly were bothersome because without removing them you definitely would not get a good fit on the deck. Here's what I mean:
So, I used my dremel tool and took out one of the finer grinding tools and attached it as shown, and then applied it to the area in question. This cleaned up those undersides very nicely and left them flat and smooth as desired:
But all was not done for this aft VLS pad. I found that the rear hatch, and another raised area futher forward molded into the deck interfered with the Mk-41 VLS cells. I either had to notch the VLS pad (which is not seen on the vessel) or I had to remove the interfering portion of those areas. After carefully marking the areas in question during a "dry fit" then using my same dremel grinding surface, and my Xacto knife, I was able to remove the areas in question, and then place the Mk-41 pad properly:
This was one example of a number of necessary "adjustments" in this model. It is an older Trumpeter model and so I am apt to excuse them...and there are, as I say, only a few 1/350 scale injection molded model of the Ticonderoga class available anyway. Anyhow, with this I continued on until finishing progress where I wanted to get and am now nearing completions.
That's looking pretty good. Now, I am waiting on some PE parts to do some of the radars and others sensors on the masts, and will also place the final railings on the main deck and the helo deck, as well as the rudders, shatfs, and props. Then its just the decals and the rigging and she's done. Hopefully the next installment will get me there...if those parts will just get here! LOL!
I received my Photo Etch parts for the class (though I had used spare railings from Burke class and other builds, and immediately began preparing the helo pad safety netting and the main radar and some other PE parts I planned to use (like the detailed deck and railing for the life rafts located on the port side). In addition, I have purchased several Mk-38 25mm chain guns in 1/350 scale made by White Ensign Models. These weapons were added to almost all US major combatants in the wake of the USS Cole bombing in Somalia. They are very effective weapons, either manually or automatically controlled and are specifically for defending against close in speed boats and suicide bombers. Each US vessel, from destroyers to cruisers (like this one) to the San Antonio LPDs, Wasp class LHDs, America class LHAs, etc. have received two of these weapons. In addition, I built the SH-60 helo, painted it, and added the decals. I did not use the helo that came with the kit. It was just too indistinct and the older rotors were not very well formed (this kit is over 25 years old). Instead, I used one of Trunpeter's new purpose-built 1/350 scale SH-60 helos from thier add-on kits which include six each of the helos. Trumpeter makes a wide variety of 1/350 scale aircraft off all types from pre-world war II through the present time. These have much more detail and are much more accurate.
So, I began preparing all of these to add to the vessel. Finally, I still had the rudders, shafts and props to build. Since this model was packaged as a motorized and remote control vessel (which I did not include), the props that came with the vessel were more for that application and were unsuited for the actual craft. Luckily I have a couple of other old Ticonderoga class vessels, one of which I will add to my future ARG, and so getting a couple of those props was no problem. Just be aware, that this particular model by Trumpeter, the Older USS Bunker Hill (though I am building it as the Mobile Bay, does not include suitable props to depict the actual vessel.
Once these parts were all cut from their sprues, assembled, trimmed, filed/sanded, and then painted they were ready to add to the vessel:
With this complete, all of the major parts were now on the model and it was just a matter of adding the decals and doing the touch up paint work, including painting and attaching the stand. A note here, as I stated earlier in the build, this model does not include any deacls for the helo landing pad or the fore and aft vertrep spots. You either have to hand paint them, or, in my case I have after-market US Naval decals in 1/350 scale by Gold Medal Models which incluide these markings and many, many more. Gold medal models makes several sets of 1/350 scale naval vessels and are a good resource.
Anyhow, after all of that was complete, a quick, good, even coat of dull coat sprayed onto the model and she was finished (except for the rigging, more on that later), and here's how she looks:
Now that looks very nice for this older model...and for my own less than expert capabilities. I hope someone comes up with new tooling at some point for the Ticonderoga Class, to build them as they currently appear, and to update the detailing and quality of the molds.
I did add a scratch built tower on the main deck house holding another dome that exists on current vessels. There are two more larger domes located just aft of the bridge on the port side, and just aft of the second set of funnels on the starboard side. Currently I do not have material suitable for those parts, but as soon as I do, I will retrofit them to the vessel, just like they were added in real life at a later date.
Finally, I have prepped the model for the rigging and will add it later. Since I completed this model somehwat ahead of schedule, I intend to alter my build schedule to squeeze in the USS Reuben James, FFG-57, an Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigate before building the USS Freedom, LCS-1. This is shown in my new build scehdule below:
I built the USS Gettysburg as the principle anti-air escort for my US Navy ARG centered on the USS Iwo Jima, LPD-7. Here are the pictures, first of its box and instructions:
And now the pictures of the completed USS Gettysburg model. It was built in the same fashion as the Mini-Craft (Trumpeter) model for the USS Mobile Bay, CG-53, above, which is the same model kit released under that brand name.
...and some close ups:
That's it. An older model and not as good a fit as they make these days. But with the proper attention, paint and some PE detail, she looks pretty nice...and they are really the only 1/350 scale kits of the Ticonderoga class.
The completion of the PLAN Carrier group, centered on the already completed Trumpeter's 1/350 scale PLA Navy's Aircraft Carrier CV-16, Liaoning, (in addition ot the other escorts already completed) will incluide Mini Hobby's's PLAN Guangzhou, DDG-168; the PLAN Ningbo, DDG-139; and the PLAN ChangZhang5, SSN-405 by Hobby Boss. If a 1/350 scale model of the PLAN Type 071 LPD, Yuzhao Class, is added, I will add one of those, propbably LPD-999, Jinggangshan.
The completion of the US Carrier Strike group, centered on the completed Tamyia's 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-65, (in addition ot the other escorts already completed) will include Dragon's USS Preble, DDG-88 and Hobby Boss's USS Texas, SSN-775. (Both of which I already own). When a 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-80 (or any Gerald R. Ford Class) comes out from Trumpeter, Airfix, Tamiya, Dragon, or whomever else, I will add it to this group along with another AEGIS Cruiser. Whatever Ford Class coms out, I will build her as the USS Enterprise, CVN-80.
The UK Group will indlude the Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Illustrious (which I already own), two Airfix 1/350 scale Daring Class DDGs (which I own and should arrive in January 2013), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Type 23 HMS Duke class Frigates (which I already own), and the Hobby Boss 1/350 scale HMS Astute SSN and Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Tragalgar SSN, both of which which I already own. One day, when a 1/350 scale HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier and a 1/350 HMS Ocean LPD come out, I will add both to this group.
The French CSG will be centered on Heller's 1/400 scale Charles De Gualle (which I already own). I have purchased 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 F713 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 comes out, I will add that to the group. Also as soon as the Forbin D620, Horizon class anti-air DDG is available, I will purchase it and add it to the group as well.
The Japanese JMSDF group will be centered on Fujimi's very finely detailed, 1/350 scale Hyuga, DDH-181, which I own. It will be escorted by Trumpeter's 1/350 scale DDG-177, Atago, an AEGIS class DDG (which I have purchased), Trumpeters's 1/350 scale DDG-114 Susunami (A Tachanami Class DDG 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 soo as a DDG-115 Akizuki in 1/350 scale becomes available, I will add it to this group.
The completion of 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, Cyber Hobbies USS Independence, LCS-2, and Trumpeter's 1/350 scale USS The Sullivans DDG-68,
Then, finally it will be a complete Russian CSG (centered on Trumpeter's Kuznetsov which is available but I have not purchased yet) the Russian Slava Class cruiser, Varyag by Trumperter (which I own), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Udalaoy DDGs (which I own), Hobby Boss's Akula II class SSN (which I own), and the Russian Alfa Class SSN, which I have already completed.
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 bacame 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.
Then, again, once the models are available, I'd like to build an Italian Group centered on the Cavour and their Horizon DDGs, a Spanish Group centered on the Juan Carlos and their F-100 AEGIS FFGs, and ultimatly an Australian Group centered on the new Canberra Class LPD and the Hobart class AEGIS DDGs. If they ever build the models, an Indian 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.
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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