Dragon 1/700
USS Juneau CL-52

Premium Edition
Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The Juneau was a member of the Atlanta class light cruisers, often referred to as Anti-Aircraft Cruisers (CLAA). The early ships of this class were built with eight 5" 38 cal twin turrets, (the two waist turrets were eliminated in favor of 40 mm on later ships). These small cruisers (6,000 tons) were ideal for acting as Carrier escorts or Destroyer leaders, though they were known at times to go up against surface ships. The first four ships of this class had a round style bridge, while later ships had an open style square bridge.

The Juneau was laid down by Federal Shipbuilding Co. in Kearny, NJ  and launched October 25th 1941. She was commissioned February 14th 1942 with Captain Lyman K. Swenson in command. Juneau operated in the Atlantic helping to prevent the escape of Vichy French naval units in May 42. She left for the Pacific in August. She joined up with the USS Wasp on an resupply mission to Guadalcanal in September. Juneau was escorting the Wasp when the Japanese submarine I-19 scored three hits on the carrier. The carrier was badly damaged and had to be finished off by another escort. Juneau helped rescue the survivors. Soon after returning to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, she set out again this time with the USS Hornet. Juneau helped fight off air attacks at the battle of Santa Cruz on October 26. Sadly she was unable to keep the Japanese from scoring major hits on the carrier. Although 20 planes were shot down, enough got through and scored fatal hits on the Hornet. After the loss of her charge, Juneau joined up with the Enterprise to help that ship fight off the aggressive air attacks. The Task force withdrew knowing that the Marines had held on Guadalcanal for another day. 

On 8 November Juneau departed Noumea, New Caledonia, as a unit of Task Force 67 under the command of Rear Admiral R. K. Turner to escort reinforcements to Guadalcanal. The force arrived there early morning on November 12, and Juneau took up her station in the protective screen around the transports and cargo vessels. Unloading proceeded unmolested until 1405 when 30 Japanese planes attacked the alerted United States group. The AA fire was devastating, and Juneau alone accounted for six enemy torpedo planes shot down. The few remaining attackers were pounced on by American fighters; only one bomber escaped. News of an approaching Japanese surface force necessitated the withdrawal of the landing force. Juneau and 12 other ships formed up and returned to face the Japanese surface group consisting of two battleships, a cruiser and a host of destroyers armed with their deadly long lance torpedoes.  Early on the morning of Friday the 13th the two forces collided in a confused mass of ships all firing at point blank range. The Juneau pumped out round after round of 5" shells into the enemy ships. In the middle of it all Juneau took a torpedo hit that took her out of the action. Juneau joined up with the survivors. As they steamed out of channel the Juneau was down by the bow steaming on one screw, when the Japanese sub I-26 let loose a spread of torpedos. The first two were successfully evaded but the third hit in the same area as the previous hit and the Juneau blew up in a terrific explosion. So horrific was the blast  that when the smoke cleared, there was no sign of the ship or her crew. The gallant ship with Captain Swanson and most of her crew, including the five Sullivan brothers, was lost. Only 10 members of the crew survived the tragedy.

Juneau received four battle stars for World War II service.

This is a reboxing of one of my favorite ships. The kit is essentially the same as the USS San Diego Premium Edition kit. The only changes I noticed are the fantastic box art and the instructions. The kit has all the parts to build any of the first four ships of this class, including the Atlanta, San Juan, and San Diego.
The main sprue consists of the upper hull and superstructure parts. The hull is molded with an open bow and a separate bow deck insert. There is an insert along the waterline that is molded along the torpedo bulge. This extends too far aft and should stop by the end of the aft superstructure. The torpedo bulge itself protrudes too far from the sides of the hull when assembled. This turns out to be an easy fix, as you can sand this insert before attaching it to the hull.  Click images
to enlarge
The superstructure parts are nicely detailed and have a fair amount of surface detailing. There are nicely molded anchor chains on the forward deck. Many of the gun tubs have diamond plate tread molded on the floors. The masts are fairly thin and look pretty good.
This sprue also includes many other parts. These are the parts to build the USS Atlanta and Juneau. They include the stepped round bridge face and the middle deck with all the boat cradles. This kit has all the parts needed to build any of the first four San Diego class cruisers mentioned above and also including the USS San Juan.

At first glance this appears to be the same as the parts included in the old Skywave kit. But upon closer examination you can see that it has been cleaned up and that the 5" gun mounting locations have been modified to accept the new Dragon Weapons.

A full lower hull and mounting hardware are included on the second sprue. A nameplate is included with the USS Atlanta. Barely noticeable on this sprue are some rather tiny parts that have been added to the mold. The smallest is the base for the SG Radar set, a first in 1/700 scale.
 Wow, I didn't think you could mold a part that small. The SG antenna is provided in photo etch shown below.
Sprue B (x 2) 
The tried and true old E-6 weapons sprue is still included for some basic parts such as davits and boats. But Dragon has recently produced some very fine weapons for their Essex Class Carriers in 1/700 scale and have provided us with several of those as shown below. As nice as these sprues were 10 years ago, they are certainly not up to the standards that Dragon has set for new kits. So rather than just put the same old kit out, we have some new additions to it with the following state of the art parts sprues.
Sprue L (x 2)
Two Essex class sprues are included with the best 5" 38 cal gun mounts in this scale. I am thrilled that Dragon has provided these as the four dual 5" 38 cal gun mounts on this sprue are a testament to how detail can be preserved with slide molding technology. 
The sights on the gun houses rival that that we see in resin kits. You get some extra Essex Class island parts for your parts box, but I'm certainly not complaining! 
Sprue K (x 4)
This is the main weapons sprue and there are four of them in the kit. It includes the many anti-aircraft guns and various fittings used on the ship. Various radar's and other detail items are also included if you chose to use the plastic versions. 5" 38 cal guns are included here too, but you will want to use those on the L sprue above. The 40 mm guns are not bad but the gun barrels are a little thick. The 20 mm are also a little thick, but I really like the way they are molded. The front shield is offset from the pedestal and the separate gun can be mounted at any angle just like the real ones. 
You also get Mk-51 directors, searchlights and even some pelorus mounts. All are as fine as injections molding permits in this scale. Not to be overlooked are the nice life rafts that have some nice netting molded on.
Having all these extra weapons is a real plus for the ship modeler. Not only do you have extra parts to upgrade your other existing ship kits, but now you also have all the parts needed to update this kit to most any version, early war or late war, of the four Atlanta Class cruisers.
A photoetch fret is included that will allow you to replace some of the molded on details. Three new radar's are included, first an SG antenna that is used with the plastic part mentioned above. An SA and SC radar antenna will allow you to model the San Diego at any time during her career and are much nicer than the plastic ones supplied in the kit. 
New 1.1" gun mounts are provided with relief etched details and will give you that really thin scale width appearance. These are constructed as one piece gun mounts with separate barrels. These are designed to be folded into shape and photo etch novices will appreciate not having to glue a lot of parts into place. New depth charge racks are included as well. The railings have a realistic drooped chain effect that will really enhance your kit.
The decals by Cartograf include the ship names for the first four ships with hull numbers. Two US Flags and four ensigns are also include. These are nicely registered and pretty sharp. 
The instructions are an eight page booklet showing the assembly in a step by step process that is easy to follow. Very thorough and well illustrated. The last page shows the ship in the two camo patterns she wore during her career. You will have to make your best guess on the port side camo as no photos have ever turned up showing it. Most modelers will simply mirror the starboard side. 
This kit is a welcome upgrade to the 1/700 line of ships. The upgraded tooling and new parts make it an even better value. The retail price should be under $25.00 US. Definitely a great value when you consider all the extra state of the art parts that have been included. I can hardly wait to see the other Premium Edition kits.