Tamiya 1/700 USS Fletcher

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
There have been a lot of Fletcher Class Destroyers released in the 1/700 Waterline Scale over the past 20 years. This is the most recent one and in many ways one of the most accurate, at least in size and basic shape. It is a great kit to introduce yourself to this scale and has many super detailing possibilities. This kit represents and early Fletcher Class DD, as they were originally built. Often referred to as the "Round Bridge" Fletcher's they differ from their later cousins from the shape of the bridge. For a better understanding compare the the parts included with the Tamiya USS Cushing DD-797 late war square bridge Fletcher class destroyer.
The hull is molded in one piece with a bow insert. It is shaped nicely and has the proper sheer and flair of a Fletcher class DD. The center superstructure is molded onto the hull, and while nicely shaped is pretty void of any detailing. This is good for those of you that will be adding PE hatches and other accessories. but it makes for a rather bland Out of the Box kit. 
The biggest problem I have with this kit is the small size of the 5" 38 cal gun turrets. They are just too small, I learned just how much when I dropped one of the kit parts onto the carpet. No problem I'll just replace it with one from the the Skywave E-6 Weapons set, well if you are going to replace them, it's all or nothing as there is a noticeable difference between the two.
The kit include the Bridge parts on  a separate sprue, with alternate parts for the top level. Some later Fletcher's had minor shielding  differences so consult a good reference before building you kit. There are two inexpensive books to refer to if you need a little help, they are:
  • Warship Perspectives US Fletcher, Gearing, and Sumner Class Destroyers of WW2
  • Squadron Signal's Fletcher Class Destroyers in Action
The decal sheet includes flags and numbers for the only a couple  of DD's. If you wish to detail this kit out, be advised that Duane Fowler has created some great walkway decals for this ship under the Dunagain Decals line. You can also dress out your ship with the signal flags and other decals available in his line.
The instructions are pretty basic, showing the parts in several exploded views. The extra bridge part is not mentioned in the instructions, nor are the other extra parts; and a couple of  unshielded searchlight platforms. While I appreciate having extra parts included in the kit, it really helps to know where and when they are used. 
The back of the box includes a pretty good painting guide for the USS Fletcher. However please note that ALL horizontal surfaces are to be painted 20-B, this includes the turret tops and upper deck surfaces.
In conclusion this is a pretty good kit, though is has a few problems they are easy to remedy and it is a great kit to get someone started into building and detailing waterline kits. Lester Abbey has done a build up of this kit for the Friday the 13th feature so be sure to check it out.

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