by Martin J Quinn
|In the wake of the London Naval Treaty of 1930,
and with advances being made in destroyer designs in other countries, the
United States began design work - done by Bethlehem Steel - on the new
type of destroyer in 1931. The result was the eight ship Farragut-class
of 1,500 ton ships, which surpassed the preceding flush-deckers in speed,
maneuverability, seaworthiness, range, armament and habitability.
So advanced were the Farragut's over the previous Clemson-class,
that their “over-lavish facilities” attracted criticism; old-time destroyermen
soon began referring to them as “gold-platers.”
Laid down at Bethlehem Shipbuilding in Quincy, Massachusetts, in September 1932, Farragut was launched in March 1934 and commissioned on 18 June 1934, with Commander Elliott Buckmaster (later CO of the USS Yorktown) in command.
After commissioning and working up in the Atlantic, she played the part of Presidential Yacht in earlier 1935, before being transferred to the Pacific. She operated out of Pearl Harbor starting in 1939, and was present when the Japanese launched their sneak attack on December 7, 1941. Sounding the general alarm at 7:58am, she was underway at 8:12am. Proceeding down the channel thereafter, Farragut was strafed by what was most likely a Japanese Zero.
Post-attack, Farragut participated in patrols around the Hawaiian Islands, before being assigned to the Lexington's Task Force, which was headed to the Coral Sea. During the Battle of the Coral Sea, she was assigned to Australian Rear Admiral John G. Crace's TG 17.3 surface group, which survived air attacks by Japanese land based planes, while out hunting for the Japanese Invasion force.
Later in 1942, she was part of the carrier escort for both the Watchtower Operation (the invasion of Guadalcanal) and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, where she formed part of Saratoga's screen.
Refitted in early 1943, Farragut served in Alaskan waters, then participated in the operations against the Gilbert and Marshall Islands in late '43 and early '44, with a brief refit inbetween those operations. Later in 1944, Farragut supported landings in New Guinea before returning to the central Pacific to participate in the invasions of Saipan and Guam and in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, during June and July 1944.
The end of 1944 saw the ship mostly doing escort duty, screening the oilers of the fleet train. In 1945, she was also used as a radar picket off Okinawa.
Arriving at the New York Navy yard in September 1945, she was quickly decommissioned and sold for scrap in August 1947. For her hectic wartime service, Farragut earned 14 battle stars.
Black Cat USS Farragut
Farragut is packaged in a large white cardboard box, with a very nice painting of the ship underway on the box top. Inside the box is the hull, resin parts (both bagged and loose) and several plastic clamshell containers with 3D printed parts. There are approximately 75 resin parts, 175 3D printed parts and over 20 turned brass parts, along with a photo-etch set and decals. The model depicts Farragut after her 1943 refit, when she received an upgraded AA fit.
|The hull is cast in a buttery yellow resin. My model is a waterline version. There appears to be some unevenness to the casting of the bottom of the hull, but that can be remedied by mounting it to a seascape on a base. The hulls scales out very close to the real ship in length and beam. Detail is good, with eyebrows over the portholes, thin bulkheads at the break of the forecastle (you can almost see through them), and small recesses where the propeller guards will attach to the hull. This is a really smart and welcome feature. I also like how there are recesses cast into the deck for the deckhouses and fittings.|
|DECKHOUSES, FUNNELS, PLATFORMS|
|The superstructure and deckhouses
are in sub assemblies. Parts are decently cast with generally
good details. Inside some of the portholes are a small "X",
which appears to make them look like the covers are shut. Nice detail!
There will be clean-up required on some parts - there is some flash and
some over pour here and there. The funnels look good
- the piping running up the sides of them are really nicely cast.
The bridge is cast as one piece, so the windows are closed. I would have liked to have seen this part been either totally or partially 3D printed, so that the bridge windows and interior of the bridge could have been open.
The platforms are well cast, though there is some flash that will need to be removed. Being that these parts (especially the one for the after deckhouse) are cast separately, could "Early War" or "Pre-War" (for the US) versions be forthcoming?
|OTHER RESIN PARTS|
|There are lots of miscellaneous resin parts included - ready ammo lockers, gun tubs, propeller struts, rudder, vents, bollards, depth charges, etc. As mentioned previously, detail is generally good, but some cleanup will be required.|
|3D PRINTED PARTS|
|Here is where this model separates
itself from other resin kits - the inclusion of 3D printed parts.
Where 3D printing has revolutionized scale modeling, Black Cat Models has
revolutionized 3D printing, taking it to a whole new level.
As mentioned in reviews of their torpedo
directors or gun
mounts, the detail and fidelity of these parts are superb.
Included with the Farragut are 3D printed 5 inch gun mounts and shields,
40mm guns, 20mm guns, ships boats, winches, cable reels, torpedo mounts,
propellers, a practice loader, davits, bridge equipment (signal lamps,
etc), gun directors, open and closed chocks, running lights, smoke dischargers,
anchors, rafts, depth charge racks and funnel caps. The parts
are spread across three plastic clamshell packages.
Simply put, these parts make this model. The quality is excellent across the board, but some of the things that really pop out are bridge support braces with lightening holes, the depth change racks, the ships boats with individual hand and grab rails, the propellers and the funnel caps, which have realistic bracing across the tops of the funnels and include grab rails.
|TURNED BRASS PARTS|
|A small bag of turned brass parts are included. There are gun barrels, support columns, propeller shafts, masts and parts for the boat davits. These parts are made for this model by Master Models of Poland, and up to that company's usual high level of quality.|
|There is one fret of photo-etch included. On this you'll find braces, railings, vertical and inclined ladders, davits and propeller guards, along with other smaller parts. The photo-etch is very thin, so care must be use removing it from the fret and installing it on the model. There doesn't appear to be any relief etching, that I could see. The railings all look to be pre-measured to fit in particular areas.|
|There is one small decal sheet included, consisting of the hull numbers for the members of the Farragut class. Consult your references to see what changes you'll have to make to build one of Farragut's sisters.|
|The instructions are another plus. They are in the form of a booklet, with the different parts (resin, 3D printed, brass) all laid out, and shown in different colors, for ease of identification. The build sequences seem to be fairly logical and straightforward, and should be easy to follow. Other resin manufacturers should take a look at these directions and take note - this is how you do it!|
|This isn't the first 1/350
Farragut-class kit available in resin (a late war version from another
manufacturer exists), but it's certainly the best. Overall,
the photo-etch and the resin casting are pretty good - the resin is not
as crisp at what Combrig is doing - but what sets this model apart is the
exquisite 3D printed parts that come with it, and the instruction booklet.
This kit includes pretty much everything you need to build a mid-war Farragut
right out of the box (there are no floater net baskets included).
My only nit-picks are the closed windows on the resin bridge (I would have
liked to have seen at least part of this been 3D printed) and the high
price of the model.
Fans of World War II destroyers in general, and fans of US Navy destroyers, in particular, should really like this kit. Recommended.
This is Black Cat Models USS Farragut, kit number 350-004. The model lists for $157.00 USD, and is available from many of our fine sponsors. This is an in-box review, your mileage may vary once you commence construction. This review sample was purchased by me, courtesy of one of my over worked credit cards.