Gold Medal Models 1/350 Benson/Gleaves Destroyers Photo-Etch Detail Set

Reviewed by Tracy White


Dragon's 1/350th DD-484 Buchanan was the first in a series of superlative releases of Benson/Gleaves destroyers, and once again, Loren Perry's Gold Medal Models is on the scene to add their own level of excellence to the mix. It is the best detail set for this series of releases (as of this writing, DD-484 Buchanans in 1942 and 1945 versions, a DD-459 Laffey Benson Class kit, and a DD-429 Livermore due to be released in 2009), offering more parts and crisper detail than the CyberModel photo-etch set. The set is well laid out, with parts grouped together and demarcation lines etched around some of them to help the modeler keep track of assemblies easily.

The set contains the prerequisite railings in pre-fit and generic lengths, ladders and inclined ladders, along with a wide selection of extra parts for early and later-war ships. The inclined ladders have a separate alignment jig piece used to quickly fold the flip-up steps to the same, even amount. Radars include a SA, SC, SC-2, two SGs, and two BKs; a Mk 4/12 and Mk 22 radars for the Mk 37 director; as well as four Type A and two Type B ECM Antennas. I would have liked to have seen a Mk 28 radar for the Mk 37 director, but very few ships carried this by the end of the war so it's not a serious omission.

The ship's weapons also get treatment, with the torpedo tubes being the only items lacking augmentation. The twin 40mm mounts get sights and a railing, 20mm mounts get four pieces each, and new depth charge tracks and K-gun racks are included. The K-gun racks might not be used based on the ship and time you are building, so check your references.

The sailors that come with your Buchanan will be pleased with the attention paid to their safety; three stokes litters are included for the wounded, as are six floater net baskets and a replacement life raft bottom for each of the eight provided in the kit. The motor whale boat is the recipient of five detail pieces that will really help bring it to life. A special figure of Mr. Queeg from the Caine Mutiny will help keep your Dragon crew members in line.

There are a couple of things the modeler should be aware of. This set was designed for the Gleaves-class ships, which had round funnels. Dragon has some Benson-class kits in the pipeline, and ships of this class had a funnel that was squared off, which will preclude the funnel railings from this set from being used. Otherwise the details should be the same. Additionally, while a new searchlight platform structure is included, looking much nicer than the kit-supplied solid piece, the angled railings that Buchanan and other ships of both classes had is not provided. Some ships had vertical railings and the three-bar railings provided will work fine for those, but as of the time of this writing there is no set that provides a replacement for the funnel-shaped railing that Dragon molded as a solid, canvas covered piece..


Those of you who have used Gold Medal Models sets before know what to expect, but for those who haven't, a two-sided orange-yellow folded piece of paper contains numerous drawings and sketches of the parts and how they go together and are attached to the model. About the only wish I would have would be for a guide to diameters in cases when parts are to be formed around a rod-shaped former. For those of us with a selection of spare rod and tubing this is not a big deal, but for those starting out it could be helpful.

The scanned sheets below are only partials for the sake of review, as they were too long for my scanner.