Dragon 1/350 USS Livermore DD-484

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The USS Livermore was built by Bath Iron Works in Maine and commissioned October 7, 1940.  Often misidentified as the class leader she was actually the third of the Gleaves class. The machinery design was standardized with the Livermore and for a time she was referred to as the lead ship. Built to the original  five gun, ten torpedo tube configuration, it wasn't long before she lost her #3 5" mount and gained 6 20 mm guns. To save weight the new #3 mount (originally the #4 mount) was only partially enclosed. This mount was open on the top and had a removable canvas cover. Livermore retained both sets of torpedo tubes throughout the war and eventually had twin 40 mm guns installed aft. With war raging in Europe, Livermore was busy escorting convoys to Iceland and was present when the Kearny was torpedoed. When the United States entered the war, Livermore sailed as part of the task force sent to invade North Africa for the Torch landings. Livermore provided anti aircraft and anti sub protection for the invasion force as well as fire support for the landing forces. She sailed up and down the Atlantic for the duration of the war in Europe. When Japan surrendered Livermore was at Pearl Harbor preparing to join the fight. Livermore was placed in reserve.

More about the Livermore can be read here

Dragon has released their fourth Benson/Gleaves class destroyer with this early war version of the Livermore. This 10 torpedo tube configuration was common to many other sisterships including one of my favorites, the USS Monssen lost alongside the USS Laffey at Guadalcanal on Friday the 13th, 1942. This kit is based on the Buchanan, but adds newly tooled extra parts to allow you to build even more ships. Many of the parts and my comments on them are from the Buchanan review with new parts and changes noted for this kit. 

They have engineered the parts to achieve higher levels of detail than we are accustomed to in plastic. Extensive use of slide molding allows for accurate shapes and complex details. Before you read my review, you should know that I took an active part in the design of this kit and was compensated for my efforts, therefor my opinions may be a bit biased.

The first sprue consists of most of the forward superstructure parts. The bridge is composed of separate wings with interior bracing and conduit detail molded on. The bridge win floor includes the underside bracing. The doorways are molded with the doors as separate parts, the modeler can mount them in the open or closed positions. The doorways are hollowed out and it will be easy to open them up by removing the boss on the inside walls.  Click images
to enlarge
The bridge windows are not open due to mold limitations. You can blacken these with a marker or drill them out yourself. Raised wooden platforms for the 24" searchlight and pelorus mounts are also separate parts to allow easy modification to other versions of the ship. The mushroom vents are also separate parts as are the main deck hatchways. The funnels are presented in two styles on this sprue and the B sprue. On this one the molded on ladders are left off to allow for the included photo etch ones to be used. The funnels are slide molded so you wont have to big seams to fill. The funnel cap and base parts are designed so that the seams are in easy to hide locations.
The second sprue includes most of the mid and aft superstructure parts. You might notice the decks are lightly etches with a very fine diamond plate pattern. The mast is finely detailed with position lights and other items. The yardarm is separate as as the lower fighting lights. The funnel caps feature hollow tops with molded on grills. Yes, these are a bit thick for some modelers, but they will be easy to remove thanks to the smart way this part is molded. The separate funnel piping will give them a more realistic appearance. The Mk-37 gun director base is molded using slides to eliminate the seams and allow for open slits.
This sprue features the deck propeller gear and lower hull. One of the first things you will notice is that the deck is not flat. This is because like real ships the deck is cambered to allow water to run off. This may be a first for plastic ship models. The anchor chain is not molded on so the modeler can easily add real chain or use the included brass photo etch chain. The edges of the deck include the waterway that also acts as a guide for those adding photo etch railing.
The propellers are as thin as is practical for plastic. The deck is also notched along the edge to allow the separate bits to be easily placed and give a realistic appearance. The  lower hull is slide molded to allow for some very thin bilge keels. Test fitting shows that the fit is very good. The area where the rudder mounts will need a little smoothing as the clearance for the rudder is a bit exaggerated. The rudder is separate and can be mounted at any angle. 
SPRUE D (2X in this kit)
There are two of these sprues included in this kit so you will have some extra parts that you can use to upgrade your other kits. The torpedo mounts are very detailed with a separate control stand. The tubes are all loaded ready to fire.
The 20 mm guns are extremely detailed and push the envelope of injection molding capabilities. They are designed with separate shields, gun base and barrels, and even ammo cans. The latter can be left off for those who have problems with tiny parts. Additional photo etch details and alternate shields are also provided. The real beauty of these guns is that they can be elevated just like the real ones. A 5" practice loading machine is provided with a separate base, gun assembly, and motor.
Radar's and directors are presented on this sprue. The Mk-37 director is molded in two parts again with the use of slides to preserve the detailing. These are very detailed with crisp molding and sharp details. 
The torpedo director features nice gauge face detailing and the Mk-51 directors are awesome. The latter are molded with a separate base and yet another part to benefit from the slide molding. I am very pleased with the way the Mk-12 radar screen mounting arms came out. This is one part that you wont need to replace with photo etch. The plastic Mk-12 is not bad for plastic, but serious molders will want to get the upgrade set for this kit and replace them with the much more accurate versions provided in photo etch. The radar's are typical for plastic and too thick for my taste. But the SA radar mount is separate and will look great with a photo etch screens. Although not used on the Buchanan in 42, an SG radar set is included complete with separate base and antenna. 
The strange looking parts on this sprue are actually forming tools. Another smart feature of this kit. They are used to form the photo etch life raft supports and the propeller guards. The latter is a great idea as I'm sure I am not alone in having a hard time folding these to shape. Use this tool to form near perfect shaped prop guards for your ship. Note, the propeller guards are typical of those used on other USN destroyers, so hold onto this tool it make come in handy for other projects.
SPRUE G (x2)
The 5" 38 gun turrets are presented in the correct single and double knuckle style with all kinds of detail. The lower mounts feature extra rivets on the roof panel along the extra knuckle to reinforce them from the blast effects of the upper mount. I had thought the knuckle would be more pronounced, but it is barely noticeable. The gun have the correct offset for the gun. Such fine features as the louvers on the back are finely molded. The base of the gun includes underside bracing and they fit nicely with the upper mount reducing the amount of seams you will have to fill. 
You have a choice in gun barrels too. Canvas covered or bare ones that can be elevated throughout the whole range of a real gun. The ends are also hollowed. The amount of slide molding used on this sprue shows how serious Dragon is in getting it right. These are undoubtedly the best 5"38's ever done in plastic. They are even better than most resin versions. 
SPRUE H (New for Livermore)
The number three mount is a special canvas covered mount used in the number three position. This part includes a nice canvas textured top and a similar base and shields. The molding is very good and my only complaint is that with the top down there is no breach. 
Hint: Since there are two of D sprues included in the kit, you can use the breach portion of the extra practice loading machine to graft onto the 5" gun used in the open shield in case you chose to portray the top down. 
This sprue contains two 36" searchlight lenses. Just the lenses so if you don't like the brittle nature of clear parts, you will appreciate that the main part of that searchlight is good old gray plastic as shown below on the K sprue. The surface of the lenses even has the cross lines of the real ones.
This is the fittings sprue with everything from the ships boats to the doors and davits. The ships boats are nicely done with separate inserts for the seats and engine. Another insert allows you to convert the boat to a covered version typical of those found on the Buchanan and other DD's. The boats are designed to use a photo etch rudder assembly.
 Another first for ship modeling is the inclusion of separate plastic doors. If you don't like working with photo etch, you will like these. They allow you to model the doors open and while a little thicker than PE, they look very nice. Optional bridge wing braces are included for the non PE crowd. Floater net basket are provide in two styles, empty and with molded floater nets. The K-guns parts are great, they include separate launchers, stands with charges, and davits. The davits are a little on the thick side as testing proved they broke too easily when molded to scale thickness. Another nice detail is the pair of smoke generators found on the stern. A three piece assembly with a very realistic shape. The stern depth charge racks are well done but unfortunately the seam falls in the middle of the cans where it is noticeable. Three types of searchlights are provide. Swivel mount versions of the 12" searchlight in a left and right hand version. Two 24" searchlights and a really nice 36" searchlight assembly that can be aimed realistically. Photo etched seats are provided too. This will result in one smart looking assembly when finished. The aft mast on this sprue even includes a hooded truck light. The anchors are two pieces with a separate shank that allows the fluke to pivot just like a real one. A two piece deck winch, Flag bags and life rafts are among the other items on this sprue.
The upper hull is nicely done with lines that follow the hull lines of the real ship. Even the characteristic rounded edge that tapers from 15" to zero at the bow is faithfully represented. I test fitting the decks with this part with no problems. FYI the hull is split at the low water mark to represent the ship in light or unloaded condition. 
SPRUE N (New for Livermore)
Since the Livermore had two 20 mm guns mounted aft a new sprue is provided with that arrangement. Newly tooled hooded vents are provided for the mid superstructure. Slides were added to the mold even for these simple parts to allow the ended to be molded open. New mid superstructure walls are included with mounting holes to accommodate them. A new rear section for the second torpedo tube mount. Fillers for the bridge wing cutouts and a new searchlight mounts are the other new parts. 
A new base for this kit has been designed based on how most modelers like to display their ships in full hull mode. The stands which resemble lamp finales are even slide molded so they can be done without seams. Note there are additional mounting hole locations in the base. So this base can be used on future Dragon ships.
Two photo etch frets are included with the finer details that just can't be done in plastic. The first fret includes the photo etched details mention in the previous text as well as lots of others. Fore funnel platforms with relief etched decks, direction finder loop, inclined ladders, and aft mast details. The mast ladder not only helps add detail, it strengthens the joint of the upper and lower parts, smart. The second fret includes the optional doors. These are nice and are relief etched on both sides. Three types are included 60" 66" and bridge doors. 

Another included part is the shields for the skylookouts. These are pre formed so you wont have to do it yourself.

Another smart feature is the walkway decals printed by Cartograf. These represent the anti-skid rubber pads that were often applied to US Navy ship. Since this was a detail that was usually added by the crew, the arrangement and path tended to be different on each ship. There are some extra sections so you can adapt the walkway to fit other ships too. Hull numbers are done in the typical USN style. Draft markings are black above the boot topping line, and white below. These decals are customized to the Livermores fit and includes hull numbers and draft markings. 

A second decal sheet is provided for the flags printed on self adhesive vinyl. These include the straight and wavy flags, and a token amount of signal flags.

The instructions are an eight page booklet showing the assembly in a step by step process that is easy to follow. A full size camo drawing is provided to help you paint the MS-12 modified camo scheme. If you plan on painting your ship, then I would change the order of assembly as it is much easier to attach the decks to the hull without all the fine parts added. If you need more info on this ship, check the calling all ship fans section of the forum. Additional CAD images of this kit can be viewed in the preview here
Six different crew are provided with realistic poses and features. Three of them are newly tooled and three are the same as some used in the Laffey. Since they are plastic, you can easily modify the pose to suit your needs. These guys are head and shoulders above the flat lifeless forms available in other sets. 


Yes, I am biased when it comes to these new Dragon Smart kits. However this latest release improves on the successful Buchanan release and give the modeler even more bang for their buck. Even though I prepared the original CAD for this kit, I am still amazed at the level of detail that Dragon is able to incorporate in this small size. This smart kit features smart molding, smart detailing, and smart options. Not only is this a new state of the art kit, but it is also only the beginning. These Benson/Gleaves class destroyers are the best on the market. Dragon has raised the bar for all ship models. 
You can expect more great ships like this in the future. It is available now for only $42.95 at  Dragon USA. A fantastic price when you consider all that you get.