1/350 L'Arsenal DDG-22
USS Benjamin Stoddert
IPMS Orlando Special Edition

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
February 2012


The US Navy’s first class of smaller destroyers planned and completed as a guided missile platform was the Charles F. Adams class. Authorized in fiscal years 1957–1961, the Adams were built on an enlarged Forrest Sherman hull with increased freeboard forward; the first eight were initially assigned hull numbers 952–959 in sequence following the last Forrest Shermans but commissioned as DDGs 2–9 following Gyatt (DDG 1). 

 Although Congress authorized the first eight ships as all-gun destroyers, they were designed to provide anti-air missile defense for aircraft carriers. Their initial armament carried over that of the Forrest Shermans with a twin-arm (Mark 11) or “one arm bandit” (Mark 13) Tartar missile launcher replacing the earlier class’ after 5-inch gun. Overall length was increased by nearly 20 feet over the Forrest Shermans to accommodate a Mark 16 ASROC launcher between the stacks. 

The US Navy commissioned 23 Adams in 1960–64. Australia and West Germany also purchased three ships each, with modified armament. Shipmates were proud of their appearance, with their sleek hulls complemented by harmonious upperworks. Despite their low freeboard aft, they proved to be excellent sea boats thanks to their high bows. 

The Adams served successfully for three decades, contemporaneous with the Farragut-class DLGs. Over the years, their radar and fire control systems were upgraded from the SPS-37 radar fitted in the first 13 ships to the SPS-40; their original Tartar missiles were replaced with Standard missiles, and when fitted with the SPG-60 and SPG-51D tracker-illuminators, Adams-class destroyers could track three missiles simultaneously. 

Later in their careers, as advances in anti-submarine warfare required destroyers to embark helicopters, new construction such as the Spruance class incorporated helicopter landing platforms. As the Adams’ large superstructure precluded such a modification, they often operated with Knox-class escorts or other helicopter-carrying ships. The 1,200 psi geared steam turbine propulsion machinery, too, proved troublesome and suffered especially in comparison with the Spruances’ gas turbines: with welded fittings, they could not be repaired while a ship was under power. 

In 1889, therefore, in light of the imminent commissioning of the advanced Arleigh Burke-class DDGs, the Navy decided not to undertake further modifications. Between October of that year and the end of 1991, it decommissioned twenty Adams. The last one, Goldsborough, lingered until April 1993, after the second Arleigh Burke was delivered and construction hit stride. 

Today, Charles F. Adams is the only survivor, laid up at Philadelphia awaiting disposition—fondly hoped by the more than 35,000 Adams-class veterans to become the centerpiece of a new Adams Class Naval Museum in Jacksonville, Florida. 

History from the Destroyer History Foundation.

Early ships of the Charles F. Adams class Later ships of the Charles F. Adams class
Length: Overall: 437'. 
Beam: 47'. 
Draft: 15'. 
Displacement: Light: 3,277 tons
Length Overall: 440' 3" between perpendiculars: 420'. 
Extreme Beam: 44' 11½". 
Limiting draft: 16' 0". 
Displacement: Light: 3,527 tons; Full Load: 4,642 tons (Cochrane, 1982). 
Initial armament: Two 5-inch/54 cal. dual purpose guns; one Mark 11 or Mark 13 Guided Missile Launching System (Tartar); one ASROC Launcher; two 12.75" triple anti-submarine torpedo mounts. 
Propulsion: geared steam turbines, 70,000 shp; 2 shafts. 
Complement: 22 officers; 21 chief petty officers; 298 enlisted. 

This new kit from L'Arsenal was released at the 2012 IPMS Nationals. Like most of their new kits, this one benefits from having had a talented CAD modeler design the ship before any parts were produced. 

 The hull is cast waterline style with a separate lower hull. It is also available as a waterline only kit. Casting is very good and the detail is well executed. The ship appears to closely match the lines of the Charles Adams class with details specific to the Benjamin Stoddert. Chocks and bitts are cast along the deck edge. Most of the chocks are cast open with barely a trace of flash. Deck and superstructure detail is very fine.  Click images
to enlarge
The lower hull includes a nicely formed sonar dome and correct bilge keels. The hull is slightly hollowed out with a locating ridge cast on to make the fit better. My sample was slightly longer than the upper hull, but this has already been corrected on later releases. 
The bridge, funnels and other superstructure parts are equally nice in both detail and casting quality. The parts are cast with locator pins and mounting holes for the parts, a real plus. There is virtually no flash to clean up on these parts. 
Two 5" 54 cal main gun turrets are included with abundant detailing. The gun houses have nice hatch and grab iron detail cast on. One ASROC Launcher and two 12.75" triple anti-submarine torpedo mounts are also included. The directors are nicely cast, but you will have to do a bit of trimming to remove the wafer of resin flash around them. 
Various mast platforms and the kingpost are included here. Some cleanup required by nicely cast with fine detailing. 
 The Tartar Guided Missile Launching System is nicely detailed with separate missile, and a mount that can be positioned just like the real one. This set is also available separately. 
More mast platforms some for the SPS-40 and SPS 10 radar assemblies are cast on resin runners. Some cleanup required, but a sharp X-acto knife will make short work of it. 
Bundled floater  nets are nicely cast to add to the included PE holders. Cable reels and other small details are also included. 
A couple of different ships boats are included along with the davits to hoist them aboard. Two types of anchors are also included, both nicely cast. 
These parts are only included in the kits with the lower hull option. The props are some of the nicest I have seen as far as shape goes. You will have to work a little to remove the flash from around them though. Pay attention to the notes in the instructions as these parts are not symmetrical. 
L'Arsenal teamed up with Master Models to produce the gun barrels and mast supports. The result is some finely machined parts that are to-scale and accurate. These are a nice addition to this kit. A length of anchor chain is also provided. 
A relief etched brass photo etch fret includes the railings, platforms, radar assemblies, mast parts and lots of fine details. A ships badge is also provided. A second fret has the funnel grills etched in relief. 
A sharply rendered decal sheet produced by Darren of Hawk Graphics is filled with sharply rendered numbers, warning stripes and all sorts of markings that many companies forget to include. 
The instructions are well illustrated and very thorough. My only complaint is that many of the parts are only numbered not named. Otherwise everything you need to know to build the Stoddert is here. 
Here are some pictures that Tony Bunch sent me to help inspire you in your build of this ship. Tony helped provide some of the research to bring this kit to market. 
This new kit is no doubt now the best representation of the Adams class in this scale. CAD designed and mastered, with the fine casting L'Arsenal is famous for give us a stunning 350 scale DDG. If you appreciate the Cold War tin cans, you will have to get one of these. It should be an enjoyable build with virtually everything you need to build a show winning ship included. I am looking forward to seeing more ships of this class released. 
This kit is USS Benjamin Stoddert DDG-22 available L'Arsenal in France as waterline for 120,00 €. Tony @  L'Arsenal USA has the full hull version for $150 US.