Dragon 1/350
USS Benson DD-421, 1940

Reviewed by Matthew Enochs

Dragon has released their 6th version of a Benson/Gleaves class destroyer in 1/350 injected plastic. This version follows their 1945 fit USS Benson DD-421 with a 1940 version with 5 5-inch guns, no radars, .50 cal machine guns and a tall searchlight platform high above the aft deck house. Some of the cool features about this kit are the fact that they have done a new slide mold for the hull to allow it to represent the extra portholes that this class had prior to the outbreak of the war. There are new decks to account for the lack of splinter shields and lots of extra goodies that will help populate the spares box.

This kit is almost completely identical to the previous releases of this class and as such it contains all those common sprues with new ones for specific parts. There are 2 new sprues, one being "R" and the other interestingly labeled "K". However to avoid confusion with the "K" sprue from previous releases, this one is identified in the instructions by a light blue "K" and the older one in black.

The open 5-inch guns look very nice; unfortunately both barrels in mine were broken but I would be replacing these anyway with a set of brass barrels. These are a little different from the ones in the new Independence kit, but once built up they would be hard to distinguish.

The aft searchlight tower is made up of plastic pieces and these are very thin and appear just a little thick for the scale but being plastic not bad at all. The new deck levels are departure from previous releases in that there is no anti-slip tread molded on the deck, but there is still detail in the form of deck hatches.

I must say that I am a little disappointed by the .50cals, I haven't built one up yet but they seem a little light on detail which is very strange as most things in these kits are just crammed full. The built up preview of this kit shows them and they don't look bad, so maybe it's one of those looks plain on the sprue but pops when it on the ship type of situations.

The aft torpedo tubes are a newly molded part with a 2 piece blast cover and that looks really nice and detailed and there are of course extra boats and PE cradles for them to sit in.

This kit includes a set of round stacks so you could build a Gleaves variant in this fit with some minor modifications. The same 6 crew figures that appeared in the 42' Buchanan make an appearance in this kit as well. This kit would probably also serve well as a starting point for a conversion to a Sims class as it comes with enough quad torpedo tubes, 5 inch guns and the bridge has the little searchlight wings towards the back that were on the Sims class.



The PE set is almost the same as the previous releases but like them there are minor differences to tailor it to this ship and fit.


The decals are of typical high quality; the large bow numbers are very nice and will stand out on the completed kit.


Instructions are typical of Dragon's instructions, maybe a little clearer than some others. Their grey and blue paint guide is also included for the very simple overall gray scheme, a little break from previous MS12(mod) and dazzle paint schemes.


Is this kit perfect? No, but there is no kit out there that is and this kit comes pretty darn close and for the price it is hard to beat. There are enough spare parts to mostly scratchbuild another ship or at least outfit one, there is some great detail and the choices for ships to build are great. My biggest gripe would be that this kit uses the same deck as the 42' Buchanan which has the holes in the deck for the depth charges and throwers which were not equipped at the time of this kits fit. The modeler will need to fill all of these in to get a smooth deck otherwise your 1/350 crew is going to have to walk carefully not to brake an ankle. This kit is available from Dragon USA. for $42.95.