USS Ward / Buckley
1/240 Photoetch set
by Gold Medal Models
Reviewed by Tracy White
Originally released in the 1960s, the Revell flush deck destroyer and Buckley Class Destroyers have been long staples in many modeler's stashes. Each has been re-released at least three times as different ships but the only changes have been to decals, and both models are just asking for detail work to bring them up to par. Enter Gold Medal Models and the combined Buckley/Ward Photo-etch set.

There are sets for two models included in this one purchase; good if you have both kits but not as good if you only intend to build one of them. The upshot is that if you only have one, this is a great "first PE" set due to the extra railings and fittings you'll have to practice on.

USS Buckley/Bligh Set
Buckley PE
Part A of this set is for the Revell USS Buckley/USS Blessman/HMS Bligh/Tai Chao kits. It contains railings, ladders (inclined and vertical), replacement watertight doors, details for the depth charge racks and guns, as well as details for the 20mm guns and other assorted miscellaneous details. 

Main deck railings come in two varieties; with canvas covers and without. They are "pre-fitted," meaning that instead of lengths of railings that you measure and cut to length there are specific part numbers for each railing corresponding to a certain area of the model. This is handy in that it allows an exact replica of the ship's railings to be done, including cut-outs for the chocks, bracings, and different lengths of railing sections. This prevents the modeler from either having railing sections that go around a corner without an actual support post or having to cut multiple sections to ensure there is always a support post in a corner. There is a drawback to this that I will cover in the Ward PE section.

Two inclined ladders are provided as direct replacements for kit parts. This ensures a perfect fit for the stairway and railings without lots of work by the modeler. Vertical ladders come in six section so you will need to measure and cut these, but this gives the modeler the flexibility to use them where they need to.

The watertight doors come in both the open and closed position, with multiple faces for the closed doors. Also included in the "miscellaneous but welcome" category are four stokes liters, life rings, boat rudder and propeller, and four floater net baskets. Also included are four life raft bottoms to better represent the actual rafts.

Weapons upgrades include improvements to the depth charge racks and K-gun launchers. Two all-new roller racks are provided; once folded the modeler can fill them with tiny depth charges made from plastic rod. Improvements to the K-guns involve an intricate loading rack and loading davits.

There are also details for the two twin 40mm guns (gun sights and rails), eight 20mms (in the form of new splinter shields, sight, and harness), and seats and sights for the 3" guns.

There is a replacement frame for the bridge windshield and details for the main mast which include radar's, lights, and antennae's. Parts fit well but the modeler will be in for some work due to the nature of the way Revell molded the kit. Originally there were separate pieces that went in the edges of the decks to produce railing posts that the builder could use to hang string or thread with as realistic a look as could be had at the time the kit was produced. That means today the modeler must glue in the bases for these posts, shave them off, and then fill and sand in the gaps in the deck. While it causes more work, it doesn't reflect badly on the Photo-etch set at all and this will help turn what in today's market is a mediocre kit into a gem.

USS Ward/Aaron Ward/ Campbelltown set
The second part of this set is for the flush-deck four-stack destroyers, namely the Buchanan, Aaron Ward, and Ward. I used this set in a build of the USS Ward and am more familiar with it than the Buckley set, which I will use "Someday."

Like the Buckley set, this includes pre-fit railings in multiple varieties. A point about pre-fit Photo-etch; it's great if you're not changing anything on the ship, but in my case I made significant changes to my model and wound up having to buy two sets to get the amount of railings I needed. I was lucky in that Loren Perry of Gold Medal Models had a damaged Ward set he was willing to sell me at a reduced rate, but there is no guarantee this will be available to you, and you might want to consider this factor of pre-fit railings before embarking on this kit.

A key piece of the remaining details centers around the flush-deckers boats; they carried three amidships and are a noticeable feature for this class. New Davits are present, as are pulleys, and oars. The davits are folded in half and glued together; I found this task fairly straight forward as long as you can keep yourself from gluing the parts to your fingers! Once finished the davits are extremely narrow and I was worried about how durable their connection to the deck would be, so I glued a small piece of "quarter round" plastic rod to the bottom to give them a wider gluing base. As there were sections of railings in between these davits this small extra detail is hard to see. Replacements floors for the two rafts are provided along with oars.

Another area that receives much in the way of improvement are the ships' 4" guns. The kit's guns leave much to be desired and this set certainly helps point them in the right direction; a gun sight is provided for each gun as well as elevation and training wheels. The front gun had a splinter shield on some ships and one is provided. I could point out that even with the details the gun is overly simplified, but it looks 100% better with the photo-etch. Depth charge racks are provided as well in the same manner as the Buckley set; fold and stuff with cut up Rod.

The replacement bridge windows fit beautifully but since the kit's don't actually cover enough of the bridge I wound up cutting one of the two different styles offered in the set up to extend it outward. The Yardarms come with doublers so that they are strong enough for rigging, and the mast lights really help bring the mast to life.

A searchlight was mounted amidships of the flush deckers, and Revell's tower for this is thick and full of difficult-to-clean flash. The GMM replacement bends quickly and easily with a tool such as the Small Shop's Hold-n-Fold and fit perfectly with the searchlight platform supplied in the kit.

For some reason my favorite part of this set were the two ship's wheels, one for the bridge and another for the stern steering station; they really are fun to look at once attached. Removing the plastic ones from the pedestal they were part of can be difficult if one has big fingers ant it might be easier and better to fabricate a new one.

When I first decided to rebuild my old Ward kit, the first thing I did was order this Gold Medal Models set. It was only when I really tore into it and realized how involved the project was going to be that I truly became aware of how much of a life saver this set was. These are old kits, but with work they can be turned into good models. The Gold Medal Models Ward / Buckley sets are indispensable to those who want their kit to stand out as a ship and not a crude model.