Dragon 1/350 USS Buchanan
DD-484 Tokyo Bay 1945

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
At the Dragon Expo 08, a Special Edition version of the USS Buchanan  produced by Cyber-Hobby.com was introduced. It depicts the ship in 1945 as she was at the time of the surrender signing in Tokyo Bay. The Buchanan was rebuilt in 1944 and the modifications changed the overall appearance of the ship. Gone was the 1.1" on the aft replaced along with a single 20 mm with two new 40 mm twin mounts in rebuilt tub. Two 20 mm guns were added to the bridge wings port and starboard, and a third 20 mm was added on a raised platform in front of the bridge. The existing 20 mm mounts had to be moved out to clear a wider field of fire. Two additional Mk-51 directores were added on the top of the bridge and new SC and SG radar was added. For those of you wanting to do a late war version of the Buchanan this kit will do a 1944 to 45 version. The late war fit is also perfect for many other Gleaves class destroyers.

To do this new version Draon has taken the existing 1942 version and added some additional sprues in a new colectable limited edition package. A fitting upgrade for the ship that carried General Douglas MacArthur out to the USS Missouri for the surrender signing. Even more fitting is the scale version of the General himself molded in plastic. 

Since many of the parts are included in the already reviewed Buchanan 42, I am including much of photos and text from that review. New and changed items are highlighted in blue below.

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 (2 included in this kit)
This sprue include many of the weapons including quad and quintuple torpedo mounts. Only the quintuple mounts are needed on this kit. The detailing is very good with a separate control stand. The tubes are all loaded ready to fire. The torpedo cranes are correct for Benson Gleaves class destroyers
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. A 1.1" gun mount is also very detailed. The base, yoke, and gun barrel assemblies are separate as are the sights and seats. Separate sights and seats are also provided in photo etched brass. The gun barrels are as thin as possible for injection molding. 
SPRUE E (2 included in this kit)
 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 standard kit includes one of these sprues. However the rebuilt Buchanan needs four Mk-51 directors, so you get two of this sprue, a neat bonus.
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. 
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. There are two types of searchlight bases are include the tall ones found on the Buchanan and Aaron Ward, and a lower one typical of those found on ships such as the McCalla. 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 P (New for this kit)
The aft superstructure deck has the two 40 mm twin gun tubs and a modified aft steering station. The deck features the same fine tread pattern found on the other parts. Stiffener ribs are also present on the tub which are molded very thin and without the excessive taper found on some other kits. A new bridge deck and wings are provided to reflect the ship after her 1944 rebuild. New roller rack style depth charge racks are provided for the port and startboard side. Only four are needed, however six are provided to allow you to model similar ships. 
These parts are designed to work with the photo etch parts shown later in this review. A nice feature is the way the can is not split in the center so the seam lines up with the frame. The bridge face is now molded separately. Also on this sprue are a couple forming tools to properly shape the photo etch gun tubs to that perfect shape.
SPRUE P (Base)
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. Hmmmmm 
SPRUE Q (New for this kit)
The real gem in this new kit in my opinion is the 40 mm twin mount. Far more detailed than any other plastic gun mount in this scale, it even outclassed all but a couple of aftermarket versions. The mount includes a separate base, yoke, and barrels. Dragon even went the extra mile and added a slide in the mold to hollow out the ends of the barrels. The platform includes the shell ejection chutes. Photo etch sights, seats and foot pedals are included to give it that extra touch. The best thing about this mount is that it can be elevated and shown at all the same angles of the real one.

Photos of assembled test parts. 
PHOTOETCH (New for this kit)
Two photo etch frets are included with the finer details that just can't be done in plastic. The first fret is a revised version for the late war kit. New forward 20 mm gun tubs are relief etched to make the braces stand out. New 40 mm gun details are also included. 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 won't have to do it yourself.

DECALS (New for this kit)
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. Also on the sheet are the Buchanan's score card as painted on the Mk 37 gun director. There was one on each side and while the decal is small you can make out some of the detail. A couple of squadron markings are included, but there are no photos that show these in use. These are new decals that include the correct markings for the 40 mm gun tubs.
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 kit includes the original eight page instruction sheet found in the 42 version and this four page sheet showing the modifed 45 Buchanan. 
A new set of figures is included in this kit. A 1/350 scale Douglas MacArthur and two other officers to accompany him. The figures scale out to about 6'6" a little tall, but not unlike the larger than life persona of Douglas MacArthur! The detail on these figures is amazing and I am just sorry my camera is unable to show it off properly. You can even make out the facial features and uniform details.

This new version of the Buchanan is proof that Dragon is only just beginning with their new Smart Kit line of Warships. This version was produced to coincide with the 2008 IPMS Nationals and the Dragon DX08 Expo. The first run sold out imeadiately, and thankfully another run is being produced and should be availble as this is written. Even with all the new features Dragon has kept the price down to the same low price of only $39.99 at Dragon USA. This is a fantastic price when you consider all that you get. I'm told that Dragon usually only offers these Special Edition kits once. Get  yours now or be prepared to bid a much higher price for it on E-bay.