The USS Texas, Viginia Class SSN-775
The new class is officially called the Virginia Class after the first boat in class, USS Virginia, SSN-774, which was launched in August of 2003 and commissioned in October of 2004. The USS Texas was launched in April 2005, and commissioned in September 2006. Since that time, seven more Viginia class submarines have been launched and commissioned, brining the total to nine currently in service. Five more are currently building and it is expected that at least 32 will be built, but plans exist for this number to ultimately reach 49 vessels.
These submarines are the most advance, most quiet, and most deadly submarines on earth. They have 12 Vertical Launch Missile (VLS) cells, and four 533mm torpedo tubes. They can carry a mixture of up to forty weapons each, which can vary and include the twelve Tomahawk cruise missiles, Mk-48 ADCAP heavy-wight torpedoes, Harpoon anti-shipping missiles, various types of mines including the new "mobile" mine, and various unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) for recon and various other underwater tasks.
The vessels are also very innovative and on the cutting edge of technology. They employ, for the first time, a photonic mast (two on each vessel)instead of the traditional periscope. Each mast contains high-resolution cameras, light-intensification and infrared sensors, an infrared laser rangefinder, and an integrated Electronic Support Measures (ESM) array. Signals from these sensors are transmitted by fiber optic cables through signal processors to the control room. The vessels also employ, for the first time in the US inventory, a punp-jet propulsor system in conjunction with its propeller, instead of a traditional shaft driven propellor system. This reduces the chance of cavitation significantly. Finally, the boats sonar capabilities mark a significant upgrade for submarine technology and include a bow-mounted spherical active/passive sonar array, a wide aperture lightweight fiber optic sonar array (three flat panels mounted low along either side of the hull), as well as two high frequency active sonars mounted in the sail and keel (under the bow). The keel mounted high frequency sonar supplements the main sonar enabling safer operations in coastal waters as well as improving ASW performance. The submarines are also equipped with a low frequency towed sonar array and a high frequency towed sonar array. Each vessel also inlcudes a nine-man lockout chamber and the capability of carrying US Navy SEAL teams and their dry shelters and delivery vehicles.
These vessels displace 7,900 tons, are 377 feet long and have a beam of 34 feet. They are capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots, unofficially capable of up to 35 knots. Their operational depth is near 900 feet, with a maximum dive depth of 1,600 feet. They have been designed to be produced in batches, allowing for modular technology increases to be added to new boats, and then retro-fitted to older vessels if possible. For example, starting in 2019, the new boats will have a "Virginia Payload Module" added to the vessel which will increase their length by approximately 90 feet, and add four large vertical launch tubes, each of which will be capable of holding seven Tomohawk missiles, for a total of 28 additional missiles per vessel, as well as other, configuarbale use of the tubes (for SEAL team egress, or launching larger UUVs for example). This will allow them to also replace the cpaability of the four Ohio class SSGN vessel which were retrofitted from their original SSBN configuration and are due to start decomissioning in 2026. This modification will not be retrofitted to earlier boats.
The hull is built in two sections, an upper and lower half which dry fir very nicely together with no gaps and very little seam. The sail is a single piece with the charteristic flair into the hull forward on the sail and done very well. The numerous details on the hull have been done very well, the side facing sonars, the VLS tubes, and the various tiles and other details are all finely etched into or raised appropriately on the surface. The propulsor and prop assembly looks very good, with little of no flash on the pieces.
The kit comes with the two hull havles, a sprue that contains the sail, dive planes, stabilizors, the fins for the towed arrays, and all of the antennae and sensors for the masts (21 parts altogether). Another bag contains the base for the stand. A PE sprue contains various cleats, sensors, railings for the sail, and a name plate for the stand (16 parts altogether). This makes for a total of 40 parts which should allow for a fairly quick build. Here's how that looks out of the box:
There is also a decent, water slide decal set which includes the various depth markings, the replenishment/landing/loading markers, and other markings on the hull, and a very decent set of instructions which are understandably straignt forward. There is a nice full-color painting and decal guide sheet as well.
The construction of the basic submarine went very well, and quickly, invovling the glueing together of the two hull halves, the sail, the two forward dive planes, and the four stabilizors and then two fins for the towed arrarys. Just 10 parts altogether.
I then painted the propulsor machinery (Model Master Engine Gray) and the propeller (Model Master Brass).
I then masked off the upper section of the hull (with the sail) for painting in Model Master Flat Black which I sprayed on. The lower section of the hull and the propulsor housing were then painted in a dark grey (I used Model Master gunship gray). I then glued together the propulsor housing, and the machinery, the propellor, and the housing to the aft end of the hull. Here's that entire process:
This is looking good, and progressing quickly. In my next session I hope to get the entire sail detailed and painted with the masts, sensors, railings, etc. If there is time I will go ahead and add the other PE details, decals, and finish the boat...but that may take two evening sessions instead of just the next one.
I really like working with these 1/350 scale nuclear attack submarines. They are well detailed, few parts, and can, in 2-3 days produce a very nice looking boat. And so it has been with the USS Texas, SSN-775, based on this Hobby Boss Virginia Class model.
I painted the various masts and sensors for the sail of the boat. There were six altogether. I added some silve colr to two of the masts to better represent the nature of those masts/sensors which slide in and out of their housings as they deploy. I painted the light green of the photonic masts. I then painted the PE parts. The railing is EXTREMELY delicate. It painted up fine...but then when bending it to form (which I do while attached whenever possible because of the extra stability the attachment point provides), the railing was so delicate that simply bending it to a 90 degree angle ended up breaking the major cross bar on the front. First the botton one, which I was going to live with, and then the top one. You have to make two bends to form the part properly and those bars were so then that on the second bend, first on one side, and then on the other, they detached from the rest. I will come back with another PE part later to add this railing. But, with the masts and sensors painted, and with the PE vents and doors for the masts painted, I then glued them to the sail. Here that is:
Then it was time to place the decals. There are two larger decals for the landing/replenishment positions, and then thetre are a total of 22 marker decals along the sides of the vessel, 14 to starboard and 8 to port, just above the waterline. There were then a total of 7 decals that guage the depth along the vessel two on the hull to port and starboard, two on the vertical fin, one each to port and starboard, and then one on the very front of the fin which is always difficult to place properly and then get to bend properly around the fin. Decal set solution helps in that regard to soften the decals up and have them "mold" to the surface. I used it on all of the decals once they had initially dried.
Then it was touchup paint time and time for the final two good coats of dull coat...and viola, we had a finished boat:
And a few close ups:
So, there you have it. Hobby Boss's 1/350 scale USS Texas, SSN-775, built up from their USS Virginia Kit #83513.
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 to the other escorts already completed) will incluide Mini Hobby's's PLAN Guangzhou, DDG-168. If a 1/350 scale model of the PLAN Type 071 LPD, Yuzhao Class, is ever released, I will add one of those, propbably LPD-999, Jinggangshan, add the PLAN- DDG-139, Ningbo, and perhaps the PLAN DDG-115, Shenyang, and build a PLAN ARG.
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 Trumpeter's, USS Freedom, LCS-1, Dragon's USS Preble, DDG-88 and Hobby Boss's USS Texas, SSN-775. (All of which I already own). 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. 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 also already have), 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.
The French CSG will be centered on Heller's 1/400 scale Charles De Gualle (which I already own). 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 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 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 tow for when a Misteral Class LPD is released so I can create a French ARG with those vessels.
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 and the JMSDF, DDG-178, Ahigara (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 is released, 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, Bronoc Models 1/350 Scale USS New York, LPD-21, Cyber Hobbies USS Independence, LCS-2, Acadamy's 1/350 scale USS Rueben James, FFG-57, and andother 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.
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 Udaloy 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 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 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.
Years 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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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?
The Stand at Klamatjh Falls: How rural western farmers and their supporters stood up to entrenched environmentalism, activist judges, and agencies of the Federal gGovernment in southwestern Oregon...and prevailed.
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