Dragon 1/350 USS Frank Knox DD-742

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
June 2012

Frank Knox (DD-742) was launched 17 September 1944 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine; sponsored by Mrs. Frank Knox, widow of Secretary Knox; and commissioned 11 December 1944, Commander J. C. Ford, Jr., in command. She was redesignated DDR742 on 18 March 1949.

After extensive training on both coasts, Frank Knox arrived in San Pedro Bay, P.I., 16 June 1945 to join the fast carrier task forces in their raids against the Japanese home islands. With such a force, she entered Sagami Wan 27 August, and was present in Tokyo Bay during the surrender ceremonies on 2 September. She served on occupation duty in the Far East until sailing for San Diego, her home port, 4 January 1946.

In 1947 and 1948, Frank Knox completed tours of duty in the Far East, and upon the outbreak of the Korean war, sailed 6 July 1950 to join the 7th Fleet's fast carrier task force in air operations against North Korea. During her tour of duty, she also took part in the Inchon invasion, conducted shore bombardments, patrolled the Taiwan Straits, and on 30 January 1951 joined in a mock invasion of the North Korean coast. This deception proved so effective that Communist troops were withdrawn from central Korea for a time. A final 40-day period was spent in bombardment of the east coast rail centers, Chongjin and Songjin, cutting supply and communications routes.

Returning to San Diego 11 April 1951, Frank Knox operated along the west coast and in the Hawaiians until 19 April 1952, when she sailed for Korean service again. Her duty, similar to that of her first wartime tour, included several weeks in Wonsan Harbor to give fire support to minesweepers. The destroyer returned to west coast duty 18 November 1952. During her 1953 Far Eastern cruise, which coincided with the Korean armistice, Frank Knox conducted patrols, and covered the transportation of former Chinese prisoners of war who had elected to go to Taiwan rather than return from Korea to mainland Communist China.

Her next tour of duty in the western Pacific, in 1955, found Frank Knox taking part in the evacuation of the Tachen Islands. Her annual deployments to the Far East through 1962 included intensive training operations, often with ships of foreign navies, and good will visits to many ports under the President's "People-to-People" program. Several times she visited ports in Australia and New Zealand.

Frank Knox received one battle star for World War II service, and five for Korean war service. 


Like the real life DDR upgrade, this new kit is an upgrade of the Dragon USS Gearing and Chevalier kit. The kit represents the Frank Knox in 1945 while she still had her aft torpedo tubes. It is a only slightly different than the USS Chevalier DDR that had no torpedo tubes and instead fitted a quad 40 mm gun in that position. Knox later had the torpedo launchers removed as well and a quad 40 was fitted.

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.
SPRUE A Newly tooled
The first sprue consists of the main deck and most of the superstructure parts. This is a new sprue modified to fit the DDR conversion of the Gearing class. In place of the forward torpedo launcher, are locator spots for the large tripod mast that was fitted to these ships. The aft gun tub found on the Gearing and Chevalier is replaced by a mounting hole for the quintuple torpedo mount. 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. 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. 
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. This sprue has also been modified for the DDR kit with a revised stern gun tub layout.
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. 
SPRUE H (x2) Newly tooled
One of the slight differences in this ship and earlier ones is the reinforcing added to the forward 5" gun mounts. This is reflected on this newly tooled sprue. Note, this sprue is called out as the M sprue on the instructions. The new reinforced turret goes in the numbe 1 spot. The other two are the plain style. These turrets are extremely detailed with raised 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 seams 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 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. 
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. 
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 resin 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.
This sprue is all new for this kit. It features new bridge parts with the subtle changes of this ship as well as the tripod radar mast assembly that distinguished the DDR upgrade these ships underwent. Those mast parts are very nicely done with nice platforms featuring a mesh pattern. The latter would look better as Photo etch upgrades, but we will leave that to the aftermarket folks. 
Also new on this sprue is the 4 bladed props that many Gearing class destroyers were updated to. 
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. The ships crest is also included on this sheet. 
A second decal sheet includes large and small plain hull numbers without shadows. 
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.
SPRUE Z (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.
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. 
Study the instructions carefully. You may find it easier to assemble and paint the hull and deck before adding details. 
Seven crew members are included with this kit. Three served on the Livermore and have been reassigned to the Knox. Four others are included, two each standing at ease and two at attention. 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. 
Hopefully soon Dragon will release these as separate figure sets, but until then if you want them you will have to buy this kit.
These are photos of a fully assembled production version of this kit  shown below. 
This early DDR is a welcome addition to the Dragon Smart Kit line and a great upgrade of the Gearing kit. It combines the features of the Gearing and Chevalier and adds some nice reinforced turrets. For me the real bonus in this kit is that it has the parts to allow you to do an as-built Gearing with the two sets of torpedo tubes. With this kit, you should be about to model most any version of the Gearing during WW2 or with a few teaks a Korean War version. Let's not forget that this is yet another ship that was present in Tokyo Bay for the surrender signing. Now all we need are some FRAM upgrades!

This is kit number  DRA-1045 with a suggested retail price of $52.95 as of June 2012. It should be available at Dragon USA now. This is a fantastic price when you consider all that you get.