Interesting Fletcher tidbits. Excellent cocktail party conversation and quite effective for chatting up members of the opposite sex...
ANCHORS: Some ships carried only one anchor. In an attempt to reduce weight, ships had the portside anchor removed. This was common aboard ships that had emergency AA fits later in the war. Thus, the Lindbergh kit is correct in its exclusion of one anchor, but not for the ship it represents. USS Melvin carried two.
RUDDERS: The last four ships of the class were fitted with twin rudders. This feature was a design test-bed for the upcoming Sumner Class. The ships fitted were DD-801 through 804, the USS Colhoun, Gregory, Little, and Rooks. The prop configuration remained the same. Again, the Lindbergh kit is correct for the last 4 ships of the class, but is wrong in the ship it portrays.
EMERGENCY AA FITS: When the Kamikaze became a significant threat to the US Fleet, several ships were refit with Quad 40mm Bofors. The midship dual 40mm were removed, and the forward torpedo tubes were removed. In their place, a fire control director platform for the quad 40mm were fitted. The USS Kidd is a perfect example of this configuration. NOTE: The addition of the dual 40mm amidships is not considered an Emergency AA fit. These AA fits also saw the replacement of single 20mm with twin mounts. Melvin did not receive an Emergency AA fit, therefore she should carry single 20mm mounts, not twins.
SEARCHLIGHT PLATFORMS: There were several configurations used. Some ships had only one platform on the after funnel, others carried two. All ships fitted with midship twin 40mm had a second platform. Originally for searchlights, the after platform carried Mk51 fire control directors for the 40mm, and the searchlights were moved forward.
CAMOUFLAGE PATTERNS: The pattern in the kit instructions did not exist, plain and simple. Fletchers carried numerous dazzle patterns, and by war's end, most reverted to Measure 21 (overall Navy Blue 5-N) or Measure 22 ( 5-N on the hull and 5-H Haze gray upper works). My book has all of the most common schemes, and a few carried by only one or two ships. Pick your ship, decide if you want a dazzle pattern, and go to it. Contrary to many sources, decks were not always 20-B Deck Blue. Many of the Measure 31 and 32 schemes had 5-O Ocean Gray on the decks to break up the outline of the ship when viewed from above. Check your references.
RADAR: All Fletchers carried either SC-1 or SC-2 through SC-5 series radar arrays. The only exception to this rule was the USS Pringle, which carried an SA radar set until her refit in mid-1944. The SC-2 thru SC-5 radar sets differed very little in shape and appearance. SC-1 sets were carried by early Fletchers. All ships carried an SG set as fitted on a small platform located below the SC set. Ships carried a variety of electronic countmeasures and shortwave antenna on the foremast, and later, on the mainmast by the after 40mm mount.
CATAPULTS: This would make an interesting conversion to this kit, as 4 ships were fitted with steam catapults for Vought Kingfishers. None of the ships retained their catapults throughout, all were eventually returned to their original configurations, but several ships returned to service with the No. 3 turret and after torpedo tubes removed. Dual 40mm and single 20mm mounts were often fitted until these ships could be refitted with standard armament.
Research Materials: Very important if you intend to do this right. Here are a list of references I used in this project:
Fletcher Class Destroyers by Alan Raven. A great book by a good friend, but hard to find as it's out of print.
Fletcher Class Plan Book by Floating Drydock. A must have, every fitting, every nut & bolt. 'Nuff said.
Fletcher Class Destroyers in Action by Squadron Signal. A good book, line drawings are good, although they appear to be the same as found in Raven's book. Hmm....
Fletcher, Gearing & Sumner Class Destroyers in World War Two by yours truly. I wrote this book around the model. I figured if this book can correct all the things wrong with this kit, then it can't be half bad!!!
Warship Data #1: USS Kidd (DD-661) A Pictorial Histories Publication
Photos: Countless photos (at this point over 4000) of Fletchers, from the USS Kidd, the US National Archives, private sources, and Destroyer Associations.
Friends and veterans: Don't be afraid to walk right up to that older gent with the destroyer cap on his head. Chances are they have photos and memories, and you'll be amazed at the details they remember. Most are thrilled that their ships aren't forgotten, and will talk your ear off. I have developed long-time friendships by simply saying, "Did you serve on the USS __________?"
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