Dragon 1/700 USS Bon Homme Richard

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
Bon Homme Richard departed Norfolk 19 March 1945 to join the Pacific Fleet and arrived at Pearl Harbor 5 April 1945. Following additional training in Hawaiian waters, the carrier joined TF 38 off Okinawa 6 June 1945. During 7-10 June she joined in the attacks on Okino Daito Jima and then served with the 3rd Fleet during the air strikes against Japan (2 July-15 August). She remained off Japan until 16 September and after a short training period off Guam, proceeded to San Francisco, arriving 20 Oc tober. She left San Francisco 29 October and steamed to Pearl Harbor to undergo conversion for troop transport duty. From 8 November 1945 to 16 January 1946 she made trans-Pacific voyages, returning servicemen to the United States. Bon Homme Richard then reported to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for inactivation and was placed out of commission in reserve 9 January 1947.

Bon Homme Richard was recommissioned 15 January 1951 and on 10 May departed San Diego for the Far East. She joined TF 77 off Korea on 29 May and launched her first air strikes 31 May. Bon Homme Richard continued operations with TF 77 unti l 20 November 1951. The carrier reached San Diego in mid-December and on 20 May 1952 was off again to the Far East. She joined TF 77 once more on 23 June and took part in the heavy strikes against the North Korean power complex (24-25 June) and the amphibious feint at Kojo (12-16 October). She continued operations against North Korean targets until 18 December 1952 and then steamed to San Francisco where she arrived 8 January 1953. Her classification was changed from CV-31 to CVA-31, 1 October 1952.

Bon Homme Richard went out of commission 15 May 1953 preparatory to modernization. When recommissioned 6 September 1955, she had an angled and strengthened flight deck, enclosed bow, enlarged elevators, and steam catapults. She completed her con version period 31 October 1955 and commenced sea trials in the Alameda-San Diego area. Bon Homme Richard has since continued to serve with the Pacific Fleet and has made two tours of the Far East.

Bon Homme Richard received one battle star for her World War II service and five battle stars for participation in the Korean conflict.

This latest carrier from Dragon represents another evolution in the Essex class design. This takes us into the Korean War era and into the jet age. 
The hull is one piece with a separate hanger deck and lower hull.. There is some really nice porthole detail with eyebrows (rain gutters) above them and plenty of piping, vent, and other detail. The many openings to the hanger deck are all left open with separate roll up doors that can be shown open or closed. Click images
to enlarge
Probably the most exciting item on this kit, is this detailed hanger deck. It included some interior details and nice deck plate details. 
The flight deck looks like the one in the USS Essex CV-9, however there are two catapults, one slightly offset from the front of the deck. The deck on this carrier is also shorter to clear the field of fire for the bow mounted anti aircraft guns. This is typical of  Long Hull type Essex Class carriers. The deck is nicely engraved with some really intricate planking and tie down detailing. Note the deck elevator for a close-up of this pattern.
Notice the bow insert for the deck is different on this ship than the Short hull Essex. It is longer and includes two gun tubs for the 40 mm gun mounts. The bow deck piece is finely detailed with some really nice anchor chain molded on.
You even get a clear flight deck that will allow you to show off that detailed hanger deck. The deck is smooth without surface detail so you can clearly see into the hanger. Note one way to show off the details in this photo from Dragon below.
This sprue is identical to the one in the Essex kit. It contains some of the walls that form the hanger deck as well as the separate roll up doors. Various platforms and other details are very sharp. You might also notice that there are carly floats molded on the underside of many of these platforms. One other thing that I noticed was the absence of those dreaded Aztec stairs. Finally a kit that you don't have to try to scrape them off the platforms.
This sprue is similar to the one in the Essex kit except it has been extended on the bottom side to include the four platforms and sponsons shown below. The other items on the sprue include the walls and doors seen on the above sprue. It also included the boat cranes and deck edge elevators as well as the folding deck antenna masts. There are two different deck edge elevators; one with molded on underside detail and one without. The latter is designed for use with the included photo etch fret shown below. Again the modeler is presented with a choice in how they wish to build their ship.
These sprues include many of the gun platforms and bridge platforms. Notice that in most cases the underside bracing is present. There are also several extra platforms that are not used on this kit. Stay tuned for details on future releases. Dragon has more in store for us in the future. Also notice the open grills in the top of the funnel cap, nice!
More platforms for the 20 mm guns. The other parts on this sprue are not needed for the BHR.
This sprue contains many platforms exclusive to the Hancock and BHR. The only ones you will need are the 40 mm quad tubs.
The sprue is new for the  Bon Homme Richard and includes some of the enclosed bridge parts it is molded in clear.
A stand is included to mount your ship on. 
This is the weapons spure and there are two 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. 5" 38 cal guns are included in both open and closed types. 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.
The island is another really nice part in this kit. The main sprue pictured below is from a very complex multi-slide mold that allows for detail to be molded on almost all sides. On a conventional mold, there are two halves and the parts need to be able to slide out of the mold. This prevents some surface detail from being included as it would be scraped off as the part was ejected out of the mold. The mold used here has what are called slides that pull from different directions. This allows detail to be cast on the sides and then before the part is ejected those parts of the mold slide out of the way preserving the detail. These types of molds are expensive and require quite an engineering effort to design.  This goes to show that Dragon is committed to offering the most accurate kits to modelers and is willing to invest in the Research and Development to bring it about.
The bridge has all kinds of detail on it from extensive conduit piping, to the watertight doors and molded on ladders. The four dual 5" 38 cal gun mounts on this sprue are a testament to how detail can be preserved with this type of molding technology. The sights on the gun houses rival that that we see in resin kits.
This sprue contains some of the quad 40 mm gun tubs that mount under the flightdeck.
This is a second weapons sprue that adds an important weapon to the kit. Specifically 20 mm twin mounts. Dragon has created a brand new fret to add this weapon that was added later in the war. Additional 40 mm quad mounts and gun directors are also added.
A base is included to display your ship on should you chose to build it full hull. A nameplate is also included with a peel and stick label that fits within the border.
Two photoetch frets are included that will allow you to replace some of the molded on details. The lower frame of the deck edge elevator and open radio antenna. You also get radar's and other platforms. There is also a variety of deck personnel in various poses that will lend action to your deck.

The second fret includes the later radar for the Korean War era.

The decals by Cartograf include the aircraft insignia that were used during the war and include the red outlined insignia used briefly by some squadrons. The deck striping and lines are well done. They are all nicely registered and much improved from the typical kit supplied decals.
The aircraft are all new and based on the typical 1950's airwing. Included are newly tooled Grumman F9F-2 Panther and Douglas AD-6 Skyraider aircraft. Sikorsky H-5 Dragonfly helicopter, Grumman F9F-8 Panther, McDonnell F-2H Banshee jet aircraft all molded in clear plastic. 
AD-6 Skyraider with wing tanks, One with wings extended and one folded. Includes separate landing gear and propellers.
H-5 Dragonfly helicopter. Separate propeller blades and landing gear.
McDonnell F-2H Banshee. One with extended wings, one with separate wings for folding. Includes separate landing gear.
F4U Corsair. One with extended wings, one with separate wings for folding. Includes separate landing gear.
F9F2 Panther.  One with extended wings, one with separate wings for folding. Includes separate landing gear.
F9F2 Panther.  Includes separate landing gear. Two motor tugs are also on this fret.
The instructions are an eight page booklet showing the assembly in a step by step process that is easy to follow. It looks like first pages that show the weapons call for too many 20 mm guns. You will have to do a little research depending on what year you are building your CV to represent. 
Here's another nice touch, a bonus tug boat to help you dock this carrier. It will help give you an idea of this ships immense size when displayed alongside the carrier. This tug is not just an extra thrown in, it is an all new mold produced with the slide molding technology that is fast making Dragon famous.
This kit is extremely well designed and packed with options like the sister ships already on the market. The modeler has many choices when building this kit. Full hull or waterline, Open hanger doors or closed, clear deck or opaque, and your choice of early or late Korean War versions. My only complaint is that I would like to see more of those new aircraft. According to Dragon consultant Ray Bean, they will be available separately as well. 

Dragon USA lists this kit with an MSRP of $34.95 US. More than a fair price when you consider the extras. It even improves on their previous release the Essex. I am extremely pleased to see Dragon expanding their Essex line to include Korean era, and can hardly wait to see what's next.