Breaking News
Dragon 1/700 Gleaves class destroyer launched.
USS Livermore - USS Monssen 1942 1+1 kit Preview
Hot on the heels of their recent release of the Benson Class destroyer Laffey / Woodworth in 1/700, comes the Gleaves class Livermore and Monssen duo. The Livermore started with the same CAD that the popular 1/350 USS Livermore was produced from. However since Dragon is packaging two kits in these sets, they wanted another famous ship with a similar fit to go along with the Livermore. What better ship than the USS Monssen? Especially as we remember the 67th anniversery of the Friday the 13th battle of Guadalcanal. A ship that went head to head with Japanese at point blank range and went down with gun blazzing.
The Monssen (DD -436) was commissioned 14 March 1941. After shakedown and training, Monssen reported to the Atlantic Fleet on 27 June 1941 as a unit of DesDiv 22. For the next 5 months she operated in the northwestern Atlantic participating in the neutrality patrol. On 9 February 1942 she entered the Boston Navy Yard for overhaul in preparation for her transfer to the Pacific Fleet. Her first action upon joining TF16 was as part of the antisubmarine screen for Hornet (CV-8) as the carrier headed towards Japan with Doolittle's B-25's on her flight deck. 

After returning to Pearl Harbor they sortied 30 April to aid Yorktown (CV-5) and Lexington (CV-2) in the Battle of the Coral Sea, but reached the scene after the battle was over. TF16 returned to Pearl Harbor and departed again, this time for the Battle of Midway. After Midway the force remained at Pearl Harbor for a month before departing for the Solomon Isles by way of the Tonga Islands. On the 7th and 8th of August, Monssen with Buchanan (DD-484) stood off Gavutu and Tanambago, circling those islands and providing fire support to units of the 2d Marine Regiment. She was then assigned to the screening forces guarding the eastern approaches to Sealark, Lengo, and Nggela Channels. 

Monssen was one of the ships designated to escort Saratoga (CV-3) to the Tonga Islands after she was damaged in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons She then took up duties patrolling the sea routes to Guadalcanal. 

Monssen returned to Guadalcanal 18 September to insure the integrity of an Allied supply line and to block Japanese efforts at resupply. On 8 November, she departed Noumea with two cruisers and two other destroyers as TG 67.4, under Rear Admiral Callaghan, as escort for transports carrying reinforcements to the marines on Guadalcanal. At the same time, another convoy set out from Espiritu Santo, covered by one cruiser and four destroyers under Rear Admiral Scott. Arriving off Lunga Point on the 12th, a day after those from Espiritu Santo they commenced unloading. By dusk as reports of Japanese ship movements from Truk increased, 90 percent of the transports had been unladen despite afternoon torpedo plane attacks, one of which had cost Monssen the use of her fire control radar. The transports were pulled out, escorted through Lengo Channel, and seen safely on their way to Espiritu Santo. Then Admiral Callaghans force, heavily outnumbered even with the addition of, Admiral Scott's ships reversed course and steamed back to engage the enemy in the initial action of what would later be called the Naval Battle for Guadalcanal.

Shortly, after 0140, 13 November, they sighted the enemy fleet, under Vice Admiral Abe, 3 miles north of Kukum. The enemy was headed toward Henderson Field to bombard it and cripple Allied air operations long enough to sneak in 11 of their transports, then en route to relieve their beleaguered comrades fighting on the island. 

Battle was given at 0150. At about 0220 Monssen forced to rely on radio information and optics, was spot lighted, hit by some 37 shells, and reduced to a burning hulk. Twenty minutes later, completely immobilized in all departments, the ship was ordered abandoned. After daybreak Monssen was still a floating incinerator. C. C. Storey, BM2c, L. F. Sturgeon, GM2c, and J. G. Hughes F1c, climbed back into the inferno and rescued eight men still aboard and alive, five of whom lived after reaching land. The survivors, 40 percent of the crew, were picked up at about 0800 and taken to Guadalcanal. The ship itself continued to blaze until early afternoon, when the waters of Ironbottom Sound closed over her. 

Monssen was awarded four battle stars for World War II service. 

As many of you know the USS Monssen was the first ship I built upon my return to ship modeling. I picked a tough kit to get started, a Kobo Hiryu resin kit. This was an out of production resin kit that needed a lot of work. In the end I was able to build a decent representation of that ship. But it bothered me that there were at the time no Benson/Gleaves class kits in 1/700 scale. So I did something about it, and sent plans that I had drawn to Pit-Road. The result was a pretty nice plastic kit. However that kit was rushed to market without the benefit of the latestest research and 3D CAD. 
Dragon sample built up as Monssen
The information available at the time suggested that her fit was identical to the Livermore in 1942. A typical fleet type DD with four 5" gun mounts, two sets of torpedo tubes and six 20 mm guns. The more you study the Benson Gleave class, the more you find out that no two ship were exactly alike and that the fit of the ships changed over time. Thanks to some fellow destroyer fans Rick E Davis and Richard Jenson we were able to track down information on the modifications that were made to the USS Monssen after the battle of Midway. We now know that Monssen went to war with a mix of 20 mm and 50 cal machine guns. She is seen in the photo on the right receiving mail from the Enterprise in May of 1942. 
Sometime after Midway Monssen was modified at Peal Harbor and her inefective 50 cal guns were removed. To beef up the anti-aircraft protection the aft gun tub was modified and two more 20 mm guns were added. Also the starboard side 26' whaleboat and it's davits were removed and an additonal 20 mm gun tub was added here giving her a some what unique appearance. This fit is also shared by Grayson DD-435
Armed with this new information I updated my CAD drawings sent them to the engineering team at Dragon. Who promptly created the new parts to turn the basic Livermore into a Monssen. So finally after all these years we will have the makings for an accurate model of the Monssen. 

Here are the first promotional images from Dragon of a built up sample and CAD drawings of this new kit. Many of the features of the larger Dragon Smart kits were retained such as realistic deck camber and the extensive use of slides to produce a nearly seamless main gun turret. Lower mounts accurately molded with the extra knuckle are supplied with a choice of movable barrels or fixed ones with blast bags molded on. Not only do you get accurate upper and lower mounts, but a half sheilded canvas covered #3 mount is included. 

Most of the fine details mentioned on the Laffey are included. Instead of the flat sided funnels of the Benson class you get the round ones found on the Gleaves class. The older streamlined deckhouse under the bridge is used instead of the simplified flat version and of course the kit is set up for the dual torpedo mounts. 
Lot of other features from the 350 kit will be included. But it doesn't end there. There are two complete hulls, one waterline and one full hull, in the box. Markings for both USS Livermore and Monssen are included. 

Pricing will be in the around $20.00 US. That's a great price, two complete destroyer kits for less than the price of one of the Pit-Road kits. In these tough econimic times it's nice to have a manufacture that is producing state of the art kits that we can still afford. More details will be available here or at soon.