Dragon 1/350 USS Gearing DD-710 1945

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The Gearing class was the ultimate wartime destroyer design incorporating the lessons learned from previous classes. The Gearing featured a flush deck and six 5" 38 cal gun mounts in three twin mounts. Originally designed to have two quintuple torpedo mounts, the second set of tubes was replaced with a quad 40 mm mount before Gearing saw action. 

This new Dragon kit depicts the Gearing in 1945 as she operated in the Atlantic. The fit is typical of most of the WW2 Gearing and this kit can be used as the basis for other sister ships in the class. 

Before you read this review, you should be aware that I had a hand in the design of this kit. My opinions are a little biased, but I will try to contain myself and let the pictures do the talking. Before this kit was even started a very talented designer, Darius Lipinski with the help of noted researchers produced some stunning 3D CAD of the ship. These drawings were then converted to mold ready drawings and the team of Dragon Engineers went to work in an attempt to preserve as much detail as is possible in 350 scale. The end result is in my opinion the new best ship kit on the market.  If the Buchanan didn't convince you that these new Dragon Smart kits are the new state of the art, this one will. Dragon is paying attention to what ship modelers want in a kit. This new kit is proof of that. 

The first sprue consists of the main deck and most of the superstructure parts. Notice the deck has a long graceful arc to it much like the real ship. There are nice thin splinter shields that are not compromised by excessive taper. Those that overhang also have underside bracing. The walls have extensive detail molded on and include open doorways with nice raised lips and gutters overhead. You will find an abundance of lockers and hose reels and many other details molded on. Some of these details are also provided as separate parts. I wish the ladders would have been left off, but they don't look bad at all. Click images
to enlarge
The second sprue includes the upper hull, bridge funnels, and other parts. The hull includes nice hawse pipe detail, and lines that compare nicely to the real ship. The bridge includes recessed position lights and lots of detail on the inside of the wings. The funnels are slide molded as single pieces with separate base and caps. A nice insert gives the funnel fantastic detailing. The caps are nicely done and the separate piping and vent grills will make these look awesome even without photo etch. The main mast on this kit is a single part with detail that has to be seen to be appreciated.
This sprue features the deck propeller gear and lower hull and main deck. The main deck has a cambered surface like a real ship and a nice waterway molded all the way around the perimeter. Note, this comes in handy if you add railings as they mount along the edge. The superstructures parts are located by the recesses in the deck. Gun tubs are molded onto the stern for the anti aircraft guns. 
Bits are included as separate parts that have really nice detail for this small size. 
The lower hull includes molded on bilge keels accomplished using slides in the mold. The twin rudder setup is realistic and is molded in two parts. The prop shafts and props are well done for those who like full hull models. 
This sprue is from the Buchanan and provides the quintuple torpedo mounts and right hand practice loading machine. The torpedo mount has fine detailing and a separate control stand. The practice loading machine is done in three parts, a base, gun assembly, and gear motor. All more detailed than anything else on the market in plastic. 
As a bonus you get a lot of parts that can be used to upgrade other kits. 
 The sprue contains the radar and directors. It is the same as the one in the Buchanan, but without the Mk-37 director front. The parts that you will use on this kit are the SC radar antenna, the Mk 12 antenna mounts,  and the Mk-51 directors.  The radar antenna are nice for plastic, but I would recommend replacing them with photo etch. Dragon now includes an SC style photo etch antenna in their kit and the instructions show how to modify the plastic mount for the PE. 
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)
Separate plastic doors are included on this sprue as well as some nice 300 lb.. depth racks. The latter include photo etch parts to finish the assembly. Many of the deck fittings are included on this sprue such as bents, anchor well covers, and chocks. The funnel piping and grills are also include on this sprue and the molded on louvers are awesome. There are even separate oxy/acetylene bottles for your damage control crews to use. 
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 from the Buchanan. It includes a multitude of parts, many not used on this kit. The ones you will use are the two piece deck winches, K-guns, davits, doors, pelorus, and 12" searchlights. The others are a bonus for your other projects. 
 Note to Carl M, this is the kit you need to stock up on accurate closed chocks!
This sprue includes the 20 mm twin mounts. Molded similar to the 20 mm singles these also have separate ammo cans that you can leave off if you find them too small to handle. The electric gun sights are also included and if you examine them under a magnifying glass you will be impressed. 
Plastic shields are included or you can use the photo etch ones provided as an option. Notice that even on simple little parts like these, that Dragon went to the extra expense to add a slide in the mold so that detail could be included on three sides of the gun barrels. 
Two sprues of 5" 38 cal twin mounts are included in the kit. These are extremely detailed with raided rivets, and nice recessed hatch details. Extensive use of slides in the mold allowed Dragon to preserve a lot of the detail on this part. That not only allows a great looking parts, but it results in fewer seems for the modeler to fill. 
These gun mounts have hollowed out gun barrels, separate gun captain hoods that can be left off  as many ships only used these when there was another turret directly behind the mount. Traverse stops on the front give it that extra fine detail look. Sighting hoods, and raised lips around the gun slots are among the features that make this mount very realistic. 
This sprue includes the later Mk-37 mount with the open director captains spot. A separate canvas cover is provided to close it up. Once again Dragon used slide molding to allow maximum detailing to be included on each part. More Mk-51's are included with separate base and sight details.
Finally a detailed and accurate 40 mm quad mount in plastic. Dragon has molded this one similar to the twin mount. It include separate twin barrel assemblies with nice flared out ends that even have simulated hollow ends and nice recoil springs. The base includes lots of detail with shell extraction chutes and detailed yoke and even some underside detailing. 
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.
Several twin 40 mm mounts are included in this kit. 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. 
Two brass photo etch frets are included with the finer details that just can't be done in plastic. These include relief etching to make the otherwise flat details stand out. SC radar antenna, ladders, chain, and gun details are all included. Supports for the Mk-51 director tubs are included in case you don't wish to use the plastic ones. This fret gives the modeler a lot of choices. 

The second fret includes the optional doors. These are nice and are relief etched on both sides. Four  types are included in 60" 66" styles. 
New anti skid walkway decals are provided with a series of patterns to fit around the ship. These are divided up into sections so you can use them to do most any pattern that would fit on a Gearing class DD.
A second sheet includes hull numbers, draft numbers in numeric and roman numeral style, and warning outline for the twin 5" practice loading machines. Optional squadron marking are provided for the funnel. I don't think these were ever applied, but it's cool that they are included.
A third 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 an eight page step by step instruction booklet. These are broken down into subassembly views building up to the final assembly. The last two pages show the Ms-22 camo and it's colors. 
Six crew members are included with this kit. Three served on the Buchanan and have been reassigned to the Gearing. Three are all new including an officer. These are 3D figures and the best available in plastic. Each one has it's own personality and you can even make out the facial features. 

If you thought the Buchanan kits were the best ship kit ever in plastic, well it was for 2008. But it's now 2009 and this Gearing is the new best ship kit. It improves on all previous kits and gives modelers even better detail options. This kit should allow you to do many of the World War Two Gearing's and you won't have to spend and a lot of dollars to upgrade the details, Dragon has already done that for you. 

This is kit number  DRA-1029 with a suggested retail price of $49.95. It should be available at Dragon USA now. This is a fantastic price when you consider all that you get.