Gearing Class Destroyer

Snowman Model, 1/700 Scale, Injection Molded Styrene

Reviewed by Devin Poore, November 2018

Essentially an improved Allen M. Sumner class ship, the first Gearing class destroyers arrived in U.S. Navy service in 1945. The late arrival to the war didn't impact their service life, however, as the 98 ships of the class served in the U.S. and other navies for decades. Upgraded and tweaked over the years, they provided general service in specialized roles, as radar picket ships, dedicated anti-submarine warfare, and test platforms. The USS Gyatt (DD-712), modified to DDG-1 in 1956, became the world's first guided missile destroyer. Gearing's served with the U.S. Navy until 1983 when the U.S.S. William C. Lawe left service, and continued to serve well into the 21st century with foreign navies.

The Snowman Model kit, actually two identical kits, comes in a standard box, adorned with striking artwork. Inside are the instructions, two small sheets of basic photo etched brass, decals, and six bags of styrene, 3 per ship. I'll be breaking down the review based upon the contents of each of those bags.

Sprue A and D: HULL
The first bag has sprue A, which contains the ship's deck, and part D, the hull. A quick test fit shows that the deck slips into the hull with very little gap around the edges. A nice fit. The rest of sprue A contains the ship's anchors and a couple of other small pieces. All of the parts marked as "not for use" on the instruction reside on this sprue. They include ship's screws, prop shafts and rudders. Odd to have such pieces in a waterline-only kit, but that coupled with the hull's bottom, that has obviously been designed to accept a lower hull, point to either this kit having been designed as full-hull, but abandoned along the way, or, more likely, that Snowman has a full-hull version of this planned. The company has announced a dry dock kit to be released in the future, with the artwork hinting that a full hulled destroyer may be included.

Based upon the published length of 390.5 feet, or 119 meters, which translates to 170mm length overall in 1/700 scale, the kit's hull is spot-on in length. Deck and hull detail is finely rendered. The splinter shields around the fantail gun position are a little heavy, but that's to be expected with styrene in this scale. Mooring bits are appropriately small and well molded, as are other details such as deck hatches, hawse pipe openings, and gun turret bases.

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Sprue B, E and F: Superstructure and Stacks
The second bag contains the B sprue, and parts E and F. The sprue has several ship components, including bulkheads, decks, platforms, the mast, and the stacks. Everything here is well-defined, with details such as the windbreaks and fire stations being extremely fine. The mast is a thin one-piece affair with several components molded as part of the assembly. The stacks are two-piece assemblies. I do think the vent structures on the sides of the stacks are a bit thick for the scale, and would have liked to see them as photo etched pieces, but that's a minor quibble.

The two deck house structures, E and F, have tons of detailed, with hatches, ladders, fire stations and handrails all cleanly rendered. Purists will likely remove the ladders and hand rails/piping to replace with brass components, but leaving them as-is, they should pop nicely once washes and dry brushing are employed. The fit of the two components is seamless, with large locator strips to make sure everything lines up.

Sprues Ca, Cb, Cd and Ce: Weapons and Other Details
The third and final bag has 4 different C sprues, which contain the majority of the small details for the ship. Here you'll find the weapons, life rafts, depth charge rafts, boats, davits, torpedo mounts, and a few platforms. The 20mm guns are two-piece affairs, with the base and shield as one piece, the barrels with arm rests making up the second part. Dual 40mm mounts are in three parts. The 5" guns are in three pieces, with a base, the gun enclosure, and the two barrels molded as one part. My biggest issue with the kit is with the 5" gun mounts and their rivet detail. As can be seen from the photos, these are way over scale. Fortunately the rest of the detail on the mounts is far enough removed that sanding to reduce or delete those rivets should be fairly straight forward.
Brass and Decals
A 1" X 2", 25mm X 55mm, sheet of brass contains the rest of the fine details for the kit. Prop guards, inclined ladders, radar screen, and stack gratings make up some of these pieces. The builder will have to source their own railings, as well as any vertical ladders they would like to replace. 

The decal sheet is quite extensive, with not only the hull numbers for DD-742 and 831, the Frank Knox and Goodrich, respectively, but also flags and jacks, both regular and wavy. The really nice inclusion are the non-skid decals for the ship's decks. Very finely printed, these will really set-off these models.

Instructions and Painting Guide
Instructions are on a single 8 1/4" X 15" sheet, double sided. An inventory of the kit components is on the first page, along with a brief history of the ship class. The second side of the sheet shows construction in 9 steps via clearly drawn CAD exploded views of components.

The painting guide is a small sheet, with the camo color scheme for DD-742 in November of 1944 depicted. The obverse shows DD-831 as of April 1945, in what appears to be an overall Navy Blue scheme. The U.S. Navy color designations are not mentioned on the color chart, but it does recommend paints from VIC, Mr. Hobby, Tamiya and Vallejo. As with any model, I'd suggest looking for corroborating evidence to verify the colors suggested, and the match of the recommended paints. Another helpful feature of this guide is that one can likely work out the majority of the details if one wants to rig the kit.

What a sweet little kit. And getting two in the box makes it all the sweeter. I only have two issues. First, while I build mostly waterline, it would have been nice to get at least one lower hull in the box. Second, with any 1/700 scale kit, the limits of injection molding means that some of the details will be on the heavy side, the biggest culprits here are the stack vents and the rivets on the gun turrets, but those are minor issues and easily rectified with a sanding stick. What little testing I've done of the parts shows the fit to be excellent. These kits strike me as a middle-ground between the lower priced and simplified Tamiya destroyers, and the higher priced and more complex Dragon destroyers. Prices online for the model fall between $30 and $40 U.S., and with two kits in the box, the pricing follows that thinking. The kits are already available on eBay, and are listed as part of the Coming Soon page on Freetime Hobbies.

Highly recommended.

Thank you to Snowman Model the review sample. 

This is an in-box review showing the kit contents. We welcome your input and comments in the review section of the forum especially if you can share details about fit, ease of assembly and accuracy. Click the logo on the right to join in the discussion.