1/200 USS Curtis Wilbur

Reviewed January 2024
by Martin J Quinn

The USS Curtis Wilbur is a member of the Arleigh Burke Class of guided-missile destroyers.  According to Wikipedia, "The Arleigh Burke class of guided-missile destroyers (DDGs) is a United States Navy class of destroyer centered around the Aegis Combat System and the SPY-1D multi-function passive electronically scanned array radar. The class is named for Admiral Arleigh Burke, an American destroyer officer in World War II and later Chief of Naval Operations. With an overall length of 505 to 509.5 feet (153.9 to 155.3 m), displacement ranging from 8,300 to 9,700 tons, and weaponry including over 90 missiles, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are larger and more heavily armed than many previous classes of guided-missile cruisers.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer has four variants, referred to as "Flights". Newer Flights incorporate technological advancements.[2]

Flight I: DDGs 5171
Flight II: DDGs 7278
Flight IIA: DDGs 79124 and DDG-127
Flight III: DDGs 125126 and DDG-128 onwards"

Destroyer classes based on the Arleigh Burke have been adopted by both Japan (Atago, Kongo and Maya classes) and South Korea (Sejong the Great class). 

Curtis Wilbur is a "Flight I" ship.  She was laid down on March 12, 1991 at Bath Iron Works in Maine, launched on May 16, 1992 and commissioned on March 19, 1994.  Some notable moments from Curtis Wilbur's career include participation in RIMPAC '94, being the first Aegis-class ship to integrate women into the crew, and being home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan, as part of the Seventh Fleet.  In 2007, she sustained minor damage after colliding with a Russian Udaloy-class destroyer while docking at Vladivostok. Since September, 2021, she has been home-ported in San Diego, California. 

For more information on the Burke-class, or for more on Curtis Wilbur's history, click the hyperlinks to check out their Wikipedia pages, where this information was taken from.  I also recommend Classic Warship Publishing's Warship Pictorial 24 "Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers", which was a great source of information for this review. 

The  USS Curtis Wilbur

I Love Kit's 1/200 USS Curtis Wilbur comes is a large, sturdy cardboard box.  On the box top is a handsome painting of Curtis Wilbur at sea.  Upon opening the box, you'll find the contents divided into two sections.  In one half of the box is the large, one-piece hull, which is wrapped in plastic, with two sections of the hull also wrapped in polyethylene foam, while the bow and the stern are protected by large foam inserts, to prevent damage.  The main portion of the deck is packed with the hull.  The other half of the box has the over 40 "sprues" (if you count the separate superstructure parts as "sprues"), the stand, anchor chain and PE, with the smallest sprues being co-located in a small cardboard box.  There's over 1,300 parts included, which should keep anyone building this kit busy for quite a while. 

As mentioned, the hull is one piece, save the 2-part SQS-53C sonar bulb.  There's lots of detail on the hull, with various piping and small rectangular bumps meant to represent the prominent padeyes on the hull.  Super detailers might want to shave these off and replace them with photo-etch.  You'll also find the openings for the towed-array and Nixie decoys on the transom stern, along with the hawse pipe on the bow.  This latter part doesn't quite look right, in comparison to photos. It's missing a notch where the anchor fits into it.  There is no line around the hull to mark the waterline. 

In talking with Keith Bender (look for a build review of this model from Keith in early '24!) he noted that the rudders are molded too far apart.  To quote Keith, "In reality, the rudders are 20' apart and the shafts are 26.26' feet apart.  The manufacturer has molded the rudders 25 scale feet apart, and the shafts 32.66 scale feet apart".   Keith followed up that statement by saying "I'm leaving them as is, because most people won't know or notice the difference". 

The deck is two pieces - the main deck and the flight deck.  The main deck is the largest of these parts, and has good details.  ILK opted to pose some of the VLS tubes, on both the forward and aft launch pads, open (a PE parts gets folded and inserted under the deck before said deck is attached to the hull), but one of the "tubes" they are posing open on both pads is, in fact, the location of the collapsible reload crane (which took up three launch cells) that was found on the earlier ships.  In glancing at the instructions, I don't see a part to replicate that crane, so the "open" rendition of these cells would be incorrect. 

The flight deck has recessed tie-downs with distinct pad-eyes and is very well done. 

The struts, shafts, props and bilge keels are all separate parts, and are located on this sprue.  As a follow up to his comments on the hull, Keith Bender pointed out that the props are molded in reverse pitch.  So while this is a minor point, and they aren't "incorrect", per se, it's not how the props show in most photos and makes them look a bit odd. 

Here you'll find the bulkhead for an interior passageway in the forward superstructure, along with davits, antennas, equipment for the underway replenishment stations and other small parts.  The detail on these bulkheads is nice, especially considering you won't see much of it once they are installed. 

This sprue contains parts for the mast, including the yardarms.  The yards have the correct diamond shaped pattern, used to reduce reflectivity. 

 There are two of these sprues - the largest in the kit - where you'll find SPY-1D radar panels, SRBOC chaff dispensers, fires hose, life raft canisters, speakers, radar domes, the sliding padeye for at sea transfers, bollards, chocks and the RIBs.  These boats do, unfortunately, seem to have large knock out pins in the bottoms of their interiors. 

Bridge equipment and a platform is on these sprues. 

These two sprues hold the stacks and davits for the RIBs. 

Another pair of sprues, where you'll find various bridge equipment and details that will be glued onto the bulkheads.

A bulkhead, platform and the obligatory nameplate. 

More parts for the mast, including a platform that supports the IFF. 

Here you'll find what look like access ladders to the RIBs, another platform, and the base for the forward CWIS. 

More platforms, the crane for the boats, more unrep equipment and antennas. 

Here is a part of the forward stackhouse - there is nice detail here, especially in the grilles - davits and what looks like equipment lockers for the deck. 

The majority of the superstructure, save what was found earlier, are in these "Y-series" of "sprues", each of which is a separate piece.  Each of these pieces is a different part of the superstructure - this modular approach makes me think follow on versions, of later flights, may be in the offing. 

The parts are labeled as YG1, YG2, YG3, YH (the largest piece), YJ1, and YJ2.  Everything is nicely done, with recessed bridge windows and good detail on the all the bulkheads.  All of this will look quite nice under a pin wash. 

Similar to the above, the "Z-series" of sprues have a variety of parts. 

Z1/Z2 - while labeled as separate sprues, they are molded together, and contain the parts for a single helicopter.
ZA - 5in/54 cal Mk 45 mount
ZC (X2) - CWIS parts
ZG (X2) - Bushmaster parts
ZK (X2) - SLQ-32 parts
ZL (X2) - Torpedoes
ZM (X3) - Illuminators
ZN (X4) - Harpoon Missile launchers

There is nice detail on the parts, and while there are some mold lines here and there, it's nothing that can't be removed easily. 

There are six (6) photo-etch frets included.  Included are lots of railings, inclined ladders, the "VLS launchers", platforms, hatches and more. PE fret B specifically says not to use parts 1, 4, 18, 32 and 47, which reinforces my belief that follow up versions will be released.  All of the rails, from what the instructions show, are supposedly "drop-fit". 

There is a typical black display base included with the kit.   
The kit comes with an un-blackened anchor chain, in a small plastic bag. 

There is one decal sheet included with the model.  On it you'll find hull numbers, flight deck markings, warning lines for the deck, decals for the helo, DesRon markings and the national ensign and jack.  These latter parts come in two options - straight or "fluttering". 

The instructions are 44 pages, in booklet form, in the usual Trumpeter/HobbyBoss/I Love Kit format. 

The painting and marking instructions are, as is usual for this stable of brands, a separate glossy color sheet.  Also, as usual, I'd pretty much ignore them (for USN Haze Gray, which is commercially available, they have you mixing different paints). 
There was built up, pre-production sample, of this kit on display at the 2023 IPMS USA National Convention is San Marcos, Texas.  It caught my eye then, and now, seeing the production version, albeit in kit form, I'm even more impressed. Even though this is a 1/200 scale model, it's the same size as a 1/350 battleship or carrier, so it won't take up all your shelf space (and probably take less time to build). 

Minus a few issues - with the rudder location being too wide (which most people won't notice) a little flash and some knock out pins, this is, overall, a nicely detailed kit, with a complete PE set and everything you need to build an impressive model of the modern US Navy's best looking ship right out of the box.  Based on the parts breakdown, I'm guessing further versions, of later Flights, maybe forthcoming, so if this isn't the version you are looking for, standby for further developments. 

This is I Love Kit's kit number 62007, the 1/200 USS Curtis Wilbur.  The model retails for $215.99, and is available from Squadron Models - who I'd like to thank for this review sample - for $172.79.  Recommended, especially for fans of Modern US Navy ships and fans of larger scale models. 

This is an in-box review of the kit contents only.  Your mileage may vary once you start assembly.