Lee 1/600 Scale USS New Jersey
Shortly after the call from the webmaster asking for contributions to this site, I happened to come across the entire Iowa class made by Lee. As the box art was promising and the price reasonable (nearly half that of Airfix models here in Spain), I bought USS New Jersey since she was my first 1/700 ship that I had built that was not a Japanese subject. The entire series depicts the ships after their 1980's reactivation.
Upon opening the box, I feel the first pang of disappointment. What is not stated on the box (unless it is written in Chinese characters) is that it is a motorized model, so there are some things that must be corrected for static display. The kit consists of 135 parts (not including the ones used for motorizing). The full hull, the main deck, and the superstructure are all one piece each and the stand is broken down into six-parts. The parts are molded in a thick gray plastic, except for the stand, which is black. Contrary to what is stated on the instruction sheet, there are only decals for the bow numbers. The kit's instructions come on a six-page sheet, with construction diagrams, a parts list and rudimentary painting instructions. A separate sheet with motorization instructions is also included.
With regards to the hull, the most noticeably flaws are a prominent seam along the entire keel and a rectangular opening for a false skeg which allows for the insertion a dummy skeg to support the motorized shaft and screw. Surrounding this opening is a rectangular seam. The anchors are molded on the hull without hawse holes or fairleads. The hull appears to be some 3 scale meters short, according to Sumrall's Iowa Class Battleships.
Generally, the pieces are inaccurate, with noticeably flash, sinkholes and ejector pin marks. The 5" gunhouses are very crude, without any detail and very short barrels. The Tomahawk launchers are merely plastic rectangles with some relief on top and the RBOC are represented with rounded projections. The main turrets come without floors, and the overhanging parts shows pin marks and holes for the parts to be situated overhead. The two piece mountings, such as the aft stack and forward tower, come without locating tabs. Locating tabs are also omitted from the shaft supports.
The helicopters, marred with prominent sinkholes, are supposed to be Seasprites but are totally inadequate. The 3-bladed main rotor and 2- bladed tail rotor are inaccurate for this type of helicopter; they should both be 4-bladed. All of the ship's screws included are 4-bladed which is incorrect for the inboard pair, since they were 5-bladed. The main and secondary directors are incorrect, as the former are represented rounded, not polygonal, and the latter come with an opening along the captain's cupola which I suppose tries to represent the spotting hatch. The hood for the stacks are recessed. The helicopter control station isn't represented but for a platform and a vertical tab. The NTDS array and radar antennas are very simple, as are the enclosures on the air defense level of the ECM equipment.
In conclusion, it's not a highly accurate kit, with serious fit problems (e.g. the main deck is wider than the hull) and very simplified parts. So, if you are not worried about accuracy and want a quick-build kit (at least after removing the flash), or if you seek a cheap kit to perform major surgery on, I think it will suffice. As for myself, I will attempt the major surgery.
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