Blue Water Navy
USS Aaron Ward

A 1/350 Gleaves Class Destroyer Resin kit

With the pending release of Pitroads new Benson/Gleaves class DD and Steve Wipers new book on the subject, I thought I would take a look at some of the other ones available. This one is in 1/350 scale by Blue Water Navy, and is one of many variations of this class that they have available. The Gleaves class destroyers are frequently lumped into the Benson class designation, or referred to as Livermore class, the correct designation is Gleaves class. There are some subtle variations in construction that can be used to identify the two classes. One was the round funnels typical of Aaron Ward compared to the flat sided ones on the Benson class destroyers such as the Farenholt. Blue Water Navy has similar kits available of the USS Tillman in 1943, USS Farenholt 1942 and 1944, and the USS Gwin 1943, so just about any variation is possible. 
The hull is nicely molded and has that distinct Benson class look with the rounded deck edges. One problem is that the hull scales out to be 3/8" short overall in length but is right on in the beam. Also there is no camber to the deck though this might not be too noticeable to most modelers. click here to enlarge
The forward superstructure has that rounded front typical of the Benson/Gleaves class destroyers. It includes the middle deckhouse molded on. The navigation bridge is molded with part of the lower deckhouse attached. I'm not sure why it was molded this way as this is one of the major differences in this ship and others like the Farenholt with it's squared deckhouse.  But it is still quite nicely molded and looks like the plans I've seen of this class with one exception. The navigation bridge has a step on the top of the pilot house much like the round bridge Fletcher class. I have yet to find any views of the Benson class that have this step, I would recommend building up the back with sheet styrene to product a flat deck. Other parts include the gun tubs for the 1.1 guns and the 20 mm ones. They are nicely cast and correctly shaped. The 5" gun houses are right on the money and have the correct offset shape. Both types of gun house are molded with two having an extra knuckle to reinforce from the blast affect of the upper gun. the Barrels are cast in white metal. click here to enlarge
The 1.1 inch gun body is cast in white metal with Photo etch barrels, an interesting combination. The torpedo tubes are all cast separately with a separate base. This should give the assembly some extra depth and a more to-scale appearance. K-guns and depth charges are cast to scale, as are other parts such as flag bags, Mk-51 directors, Pelorus's and anchors just to name a few. I found several extra parts in my kit, which I applaud, some of the parts are quite small and can easily get away from you. click here to enlarge
A full photo etch sheets provides all the railings and radar components. One nice thing is that they are matched to this kit, you should need no extra parts to finish this kit. click here to enlarge
The instructions are pretty well written and read like a how to book on kit building. It is well illustrated with parts shown in place called out by item numbers. I think a little more explanation would be helpful as some assemblies are shown already finished when one might wonder how you got to that step in the first place. The Photo etch sheet is marked with the item numbers so you don't have to be a detective to figure out where that obscure part goes. Your shouldn't appear as worn as mine, I spent quite some time thumbing through the pages before I got around to scanning it. I didn't scan all the pages as these should be sufficient to give you an idea of how they read. click here to enlarge click here to enlarge

Well cast and pretty accurate, this should be an easy kit to build for anyone that has at least some resin experience. Almost every thing that you will need to build this ship is included, so no last minute trips to the hobby shop will be needed. Though there is a little extra over pour on the resin parts, it is cast so that that over pour is offset to the inside of the part making removal an easy job.