My Review and Build of Bronco Model's 1/350 scale Kit #NB-5001,
The USS Sea Wolf nuclear attach submarine, SSN-21

Last updated: September 20, 2014 - Propulsor, Masts, Decals, Complete.

Introduction and what's in the box

The Boat:
The USS Sea Wolf, SSN-21, and the three boats of its class, are the fastest, heaviest, and most heavily armed nuclear attack submarines in the US Navy arsenal.

The Sea wolf was designed during the closing years of the cold war with Russia. The class was meant to be the replacement class for the venerable, and long lived Los Angeles Class nuclear attack submarines that had been built in several "flights" throughout the 1970s and 1980s for the US Navy. by the time the design was complete, and the intial vessel was under construction, the Soviet Union collpapsed. This collapse meant that the feared advancement of Soviet submarines was forstalled for many, many years. Many politicians, in an effort to find a "peace dividend," began clamoring for the Sea Wolf class, and other very capable systems, to be cancelled and replaced by cheaper systems, since the Soviet Union no longer posed the threatit had throughout the cold war. The result was the cancellation of the Sea Wolf program. Intially only two boats were to be built, but a third was ultimately approved as well. These were the:

USS Sea Wolf, SSN-21, Launched: 1995, Commissioned: 1997
USS Connecticut, SSN-22, Launched: 1997, Commissioned: 1998
USS Jimmy Carter SSN-23, Launched: 2004, commissioned: 2005

The Jimmy Carter was redesinged during its build, adding a hundred feet to the vessel, to give it several critical functions. One was to allow it to serve as a US Navy SEAL and Special Forces carrier with lockout chambers for the troops to leave the vessel while submerged. Anbother was to allow the submarine to launch Remotely Operated vehicles (ROVCs) from those chambers. Finally, the Jimmy Carter can also use its lengthened hull and the chanmbers to functiona as an underwater splicing chamber for tapping of undersea fiber optic cables. All of this delayed the launch of the vessel and its commissioning by several years.

A follow-on class, meant to cost less, be somewhat smaller, with less armament, was implemented. it was initially called the NSSN, for New SSN. Later this bacame the Virginia Class nuclear attack submarine. it took advantage of many of the innovations built into the Sea Wolf class, and improved uppon them, adding more new technology since they were designed almost 15 years later than the Sea wolf class. Where the Sea Wolf class displaces 9,150 tons submerged, the Virginia class displaces 7,800 tons. Where the Sea Wolf Class is capanble of carrying 50 warshot torpedoes and missiles, the Virginia Class carries . The Sea Wolf Class has eight eight 660 mm torpedo tubes, each of which is capable of launching a SLCM Tomohawk, Haproon ASMs, or all US torpedos and mines. The Virginia class is equipped with 12 VLS tubes for Tomohawks (although the Flight Five Virginias will add another 28 VLS tubes to that mix), and four 550 mm torpedo tubes and 27 warshots, fpor a total of 39 total weapons. Where the Sea Wolf Class is capable of 40 knots or more, the Virginia class is capable of 32 knots or more..To date (September 2014), since later 2003 when the first vessel was launched, a total of twelve Virginia class boats have been launched. Up to 48 of these boats are contemplated.

As to the Sea wolf class, they were capped at three boats as stated. IN their design, numerous innovations were added. For example, the Sea Wolf class was the first US submarine to be equipped with a shrouded propolusion unit, a pump jet propuslor, which is much quieter than the propulsion units that preceded it. The Sea Wolf class hulls were built entirely of HY-100 steel, which is significantly stronger than the HY-80 steel other US submarines had been built of. The Sea Wolf Class submarines were designed with significantly more stealth features and equipment to operate much more safely and quietly in littoral reagions. The Sea wolf class added a larger spherical sonar array, new wide aperture sonar arrays, and a new towed-array sonar over earlier classes. The Sea Wolf employed a new, more sophisticated battle management system. Finally, the Sea Wolf class employed a new S6W nuclear reactor, delivering 45,000 hp. All of this meant that the Sea Wolf was larger, quieter, faster, could dive deeper, and much more heavily armed than the submarines that proceeded her. Although the new Virginia class is as quiet, and has equal and even better battle management and communications capabilities, they are still slower, cannot dive as deeply, and are not as heavily armed as the Sea Wolf Class.

But the Sea Wolf class was also very expensive. The first 12 boats were going to cost the US Navy almost 3 billion dollars each. By comaprison, the newer Virginia Class are on the order of $500 million dollars cheaper each.

Specifcations for the USS Sea Wolf and USS Connecticut:
Displacement: 9,150 tons (submerged)
Length: 353 ft.
Beam: 40 ft.
Propulsion: 1 x S6W PWR delivering 45,000 hp (1 shaft), Shrouded, Pump jet propulsor
Speed: 40+ knots
Crew: 140 (16 officers, 124 Enlisted)
Armament: 50 Weapons fired from 8 x 660mm torpedo tubes, including:
Tomohawk cruise Missiles, Haproon Missiles, Mk-48 heavy torpedos, Naval Mines

Despite being only a class of three boats, with one of those being a significant departure from the traditional attack submarine role, the Sea Wolf class is expected to be operated by the US Navy for another 35 years. They are, to this day, considered the most lethal attack submarines on earth.

The Kit:
Bronco model produces good kits. They have a limited number of 1/350 scale vessels, but the models they do produce have excleent tooling which means little or no flash and a great fit.

This model, NB-5001, is no exception.

The hull is built in two sections, an upper and lower half which dry fit very nicely together with no gaps and very little seam. The sail is made of three pieces, left, roight, and the cap which has recesses and holes for the various antennae and periscopes. The numerous details on the hull have been done very well, the side facing sonars, and the various tiles and other details are all finely etched into or raised appropriately on the surface. The propulsor assembly looks very good, with little of no flash on those 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 (26 parts altogether). This will make for a quick build.

There is 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. The painting scheme and decal locators are in black and white and not that good. However, the model is straight forward, and with the internet the placement of some of the decals, and the coloring are easily located.

Here's how that looks out of the box:

The Build - Hull, Sail, diving planes, hull halves and basic painting and assembly - September 19, 2013

The construction of the basic submarine control surfaces, the sail, and hull halves went very well, and quickly, invovling the glueing together of the the sail parts, the two forward dive planes, and the stabilizors and then two fins for the towed arrarys. I glued them to their respective halves, and then painted those halves accordingly in Engine Gray and my US Navy hull red.

Gluing the halves together went nicely. The seam is tight and by using some care, I was able to have a great result, not requiring any masking at all.

Next I will add the propulsor unit and shroud, and then the verious masts, and decals. IN another session or two, it will be complete.

Building subs is a great interlude for the more detailed and painstaking 1/350 scale surface ships.

The Build - Propulsor, Masts, Decals, Completey - September 20, 2013

I started this session by painting and building the propulsor. Three parts consisting of two for the propulsion and one for the shroud. The after portion of the propulsor was painted in brass. Then it was on to the various masts. Six altogether. I cut them off the sprues and painted them in their grays, steel, and sensors colors and then added them to the sail.

Once this was completed and dry, it was time for the decals. The Sea Wolf class does display its pennant number (as shown above) on the vessel. The Virginia class does not. Anyhow, with the vertical replensishmemt/helo loading spots, the sonar markers, and the various other depth and naming decals...there were a total of twenty added to the vessel. Once these dried it was time to add the clear dull coats and complete the model, and here is how she looks:

And a last couple of close ups:

There you have the USS Sea Wolf, SSN-21, in 1/350 scale.

SCHEDULE for Future Activities - Sep 19, 2014

  1. By Oct 15, 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.
  2. By Dec 01, 2014, Start the PLAN Amphibious Ready Group centered on the Trumpeter Type 071 LPD-999, with a FFG, and three DDGs.
  3. By Jan 15, 2015 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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