Box Art
Reviewed by Jeff Hughes
The Mitschers were the forerunner of all post war destroyer designs. The Mitscher class design was begun on May 10th 1945 and the lead ship of the class of 4 was completed May 16 1953. Between 1945 and 1953 the Navy debated what the next generation destroyer was going to look like and what function it would play in the "New" post war world. They knew they needed a fleet destroyer to act as a radar picket, provide anti-air cover and keep up with the fleet's carriers. But the threats of submariners also remained and while the speed of the fast carriers and their escorts would somewhat negate the submarine threat, the next generation fleet destroyer also had to be able to deal with submarines. A fleet destroyer that could accomplish all four tasks would, with all the new radar technology and improvements in automated rapid firing guns, need to be quite a bit larger than wartime destroyers and the cost would be much greater also. The final design was armed with two 5-in/54s, two twin 3-in/70s (this weapon was not ready until 1957, so two twin 3-in 50s were installed initially), and two Weapon Alfa. The length was 493 feet on a displacement of 3,650 tons. Only four units were built - two by Bath Iron Works and two by Bethlehem Steel Company.

With modern weapons, technology and the new post war tactics the Mitscher class was an experiment. While they received ASW weapons and sensors, this was a secondary mission. The need for speed made them noisy, thus reducing their effectiveness in ASW. The primary mission for the Mitschers was to act as fleet radar pickets. This requirement reduced the amount of anti-air weapons it could carry as the height finder SPS-8 radar and its associated equipment took up valuable weight. Thus, compared to wartime destroyers, the Mitschers, as well as all destroyers that followed, appeared to lack weapons to effectively handle anti-air protection for the fleet. This was not their designed purpose, they were to act as the eyes of the fleet to warn and direct carrier based fighters to intercept the air threat. Naval planners did not expect the Mitschers to protect the fleet with her guns but with her sensors.

The Mitschers new designed light weight power plants, which provided sufficient amounts of power while taking up less tonnage as wartime power plants, suffered from machinery problems through out their relatively short careers and contributed to the early retirement of two of the class.

The class underwent many conversions during their time in the fleet. In the early 1960's all 4 were equipped with DASH hangers and pads. The Wilkinson was the first to land a DASH at sea in August of 1960. The Mitscher and John S. McCain were authorized in 1966 to be converted to carry the Tarter missile system. They were reconfigured between 1966 and 1968. The conversion removed the Weapon Alpha, the two twin 3-in/70s and one of the 5-in/54s. In their place, an ASROC (forward) and single rail Tarter launcher (40 missiles) (aft) were installed, along with the necessary sensors and directors. The other two ships were never converted and were subsequently decommissioned in 1969. The two conversions remained in the fleet until 1978.

The Loose Cannon Productions kit depicts the DL3 John S. McCain during her Pacific tours of 1960-1963.

The Mitscher kit comes in a cardboard box packed with peanuts and all the parts in plastic bags. Some of the parts had come off the sprues but all parts where in the sealed bags and unbroken. The parts are cast in a soft dark grey resin, nice to see a resin navy ship in grey. Most of the parts contain some light resin flash that is easily removed and very common on resin kits. The casting quality is pretty good, the hull has some pin holes and is little warped. Nothing major, but it will require some time to correct. Dimensionally, the beam is a little over 1 scale foot large or 0.02 inches and the overall length scales out at a little over 1 scale foot small, or 0.03 inches too small per published data in Conways - All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1947-1995. This is better than most plastic kit manufacturers.

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The kit contains some 55 resin parts plus a very extensive PE fret. I like that the parts are numbered just like injection molded plastic kits. As stated earlier, the kit represents the DL3 John S. McCain as she appeared in 1960 to 1963. The kit comes with two 5 in/54, two triple ASW torpedo tubes, Alpha ASW weapon, and a duel 3 in/70 anti-aircraft gun plus a H-34 Seahorse helicopter. The class never embarked this type of helicopter. At the time, the class had the DASH hanger installed and was set up to carry the DASH but the manufacturer, David Angelo, said he was unable to find enough info to include one in the kit. This is too bad as I (and I am sure many others) would love to add a DASH to this kit as well as to other Cold War era ships. Maybe someday a manufacturer will make a 1/700 DASH for us Cold War era ship lovers.
The superstructure is cast in several pieces, much like a plastic kit. There is quite a lot of detail, hatches, ladders, and fire hoses on the parts. Some of the ladders and hatches have lost detail and are not as crisp as others. These can easily be sanded off and replaced by PE. Many experienced modelers will want to replace all the cast-on details anyway, so for them this is not a problem. For others who are afraid of PE, it might be feasible to remove enough of the excess flash from these details so that you are the only one who will know they are not "perfect". The locations of the cast-on details match up wonderfully with pictures and line drawings at my disposal.

It is easy to fit the various superstructure components, bridge, funnels, and DASH hanger together. They come with locating pins and holes in the mating surface. There is enough built in sloop so you can fiddle with the alignment until you are satisfied with the fit. Dry fitting the parts, they will require a little sanding, but go together very easily.

The real beauty of this kit is the brass photo-etch fret. It has just about everything, including tackles for all ships boats, rudders for the whale boat, shell catchers for the duel 3 in/70 turret, funnel guards, fire control radar dish, yardarms, main mast, 31 crew members, depth charge rack, helo parts, propeller guards, anchors, radars, ladders, stairways, platforms, a ton of other goodies, and yes, even railings! The fret is not relieved etched.
Another great item is the directions - step by step instructions with detailed drawings. While some of the drawings are hand done and somewhat small, they fully explain what you should be doing and how. I admit that reading the directions and actually using them to assemble a kit can be two different things, but these directions are written in such a way that I don' t anticipate any problem whatsoever with them. Your ability to take a small piece of PE and fold it to match the drawing is another subject. A brief history of the class, a line drawing and a black and white picture are also provided.

The decals are sharply printed on a small piece of decal paper and contain numbers for all ships of the class and the DASH markings plus helo markings. All the names of the class are given for the stern.

Overall this is a great little kit of an important destroyer in the post W.W.II era. As is typical of older resin kits, time will be spent cleaning up flash and ensuring proper fit of all parts, but the super PE fret and the directions will really bring this kit to life. I would not recommend this kit for a first time resin builder. While the casting is not up to the new standards set by JAG Collective and WEM, this kit, with a little time put into her, will no doubt build into a very beautiful model.

I would like to thank David Angelo of Loose Cannon Productions for this review sample.


Conways, All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1947-1995, 
Naval Institute Press U.S. Destroyers, An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedman, Naval Institute Press