Dragon 1/700 USS Mustin DDG-89

Reviewed by Timothy J. Barron

Arleigh Burke class (DDG) destroyers feature the U.S. Navy's latest warship technology, including AEGIS and stealthy features, with a multi-mission role including both offensive and defensive capabilities. The class is named after Arleigh Burke, one of the Navy's most famous destroyer commanders and former Chief of Naval Operations. The first ship of the class, USS Arleigh Burke DDG-51, was commissioned on July 4, 1991. Burkes are still actively being built, with DDG 112 slated to be the last ship of the class and scheduled to be commissioned in 2012.

There are three major variations of the class which are referred to as Flight I (DDG-51 to DDG-71), Flight II (DDG-72 to DDG-78), and Flight IIA (DDG-79 to end of class). The most noticeable change is the addition of a hangar on Flight IIA. It should be noted that there are also variations within each Flight, particularly Flight IIA. For example, beginning on DDG-89, the exhaust stacks are now enclosed, CIWS has been removed, etc. And then beginning on DDG-91, there is an added structure on the port side. This structure was originally intended for the Remote Mine-Hunting System (RMS), but this has now been cancelled.

In late 2004, Dragon released a 1/700 scale kit of USS Mustin DDG-89. This kit is Dragon's third release of an Arleigh Burke DDG class destroyer in 1/700 scale, preceded by a Flight I (Arleigh Burke DDG-51) kit and a Flight IIA (Roosevelt DDG-80) kit. Other manufacturers offering 1/700 scale Flight I and Flight II Burkes include Pitroad/Skywave, and Fujimi. The kit represents or depicts USS Mustin DDG-89 as commissioned on July 26, 2003. The Mustin is named after the Mustin family, which includes Captain Henry C. Mustin and Vice Admiral Lloyd Mustin. The kit includes some noticeable changes that were made to Flight IIA ships which differ, for example, with Dragon's earlier Flight IIA kit (Roosevelt DDG-80).

Review of Kit Contents

The content of the box includes four individually wrapped sprues (labelled A, B, C, and E), one decal sheet, and the instruction sheet.

Sprue A

Sprue A Photo #1
Sprue A Photo #2
Sprue A Photo #3

This sprue contains a variety of parts that are common across the entire Burke class. The super structures include molded doors, ladders, life preservers, and other molded details. Also included on the sprue are two rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB) for the starboard side, and the Connected Replenishment (CONREP) station devices. The molding of all parts on Sprue A are crisp, with no ejector pin marks that would be visible on a completed model. All parts appear to be fairly accurate when compared to US Navy photos - i.e. all doors, venting, a detailing appear to be in the proper locations.

Sprue B

Sprue B Photo #1

Sprue B is a widely used sprue by Dragon, and included in many kits. Only a handful of the parts are used with the Burke kits, namely the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter and torpedoes. The SH-60B Seahawk is well molded, though the kit includes no decals for it.

Sprue C

Sprue C Photo #1
Sprue C Photo #2

This sprue contains the hull pieces. The ship could be modelled as waterline, or full-hull. The molding of all parts on Sprue C are crisp, with no ejector pin marks that would be visible on a completed model. The upper hull piece is attached to the sprue in five places that are highly visible on a completed model. These would have to be carefully cut and sanded smooth. The stern deck contains many raised details, which can be seen in Photo #2, including the landing stripes, though the kit includes a decal for these same stripes. To ensure proper decal adhesion, some modelers might elect to sand this deck smooth.

Sprue E

Sprue E Photo #1
Sprue E Photo #2
Sprue E Photo #3
Sprue E Photo #4

Sprue E Photo #5

Sprue E Photo #6

Sprue E contains parts relevant to Flight IIA Burkes, such as parts for the hangar bay, the redesigned 5" gun, and the recessed exhaust stacks that begin on DDG-89.

The hangar bay doors are molded closed, as shown in Photo #2. At first glance, one may think that they could simply cut out the doors on the part in order to model open hangar bays. Unfortunately, this would not work as the part gets attached to other parts located directly behind it. The hull has a raised structure (which can be seen Sprue C) that the door piece attaches to. Cutting a significant amount of thick plastic would be required to model open hangar bay doors.

The kit part for the redesigned 5" gun featured on Flight IIA Burkes is shown in Photo #3. The kit's gun appears to be molded in the correct shape, when compared to Photo #5 (U.S. Navy Photo of DDG-89). Given the very sharp corners and edges of the 5" gun shown in Photo #5, some modelers may elect to sharpen the edges of the kit's gun with a little sanding.

Starting with DDG-89, the exhaust stacks are now recessed into the structure, which is slightly taller as a result, which can be seen in Photo #6 (U.S. Navy Photo of DDG-90). Note that the top of the exhaust structure is completely flat. Photo #4 shows a close-up of the kit part for the top of the exhaust structures, and note that the part has raised exhaust details on one side. If you look back at Photo #1, note that the reverse side of the part has recessed holes on the other side. The diagram in the instructions seems to indicate that these two parts are to be assembled with the raised details on top, which is incorrect. The diagram is drawn wrong, and these parts are meant to have the recessed holes on top, and the raised details facing downward. A dry fit of these parts (while still on the sprues) confirms that the part could be assembled wrong. The casual modeler will likely glue the exhaust stacks upside down, based on the way the instructions show it.

When compared to U.S. Navy photos, all of the correct radomes appear to be included for DDG-89 and DDG-90, as commissioned. The only exception can be seen in Photo #6 (U.S. Navy Photo of DDG-90). There is a radome on the front of the forward exhaust structure, and the Mustin also had this radome when commissioned in 2003. The kit includes the platform, but not the radome. This could easily be added from scratch plastic or sprue, or even using the top part of a CIWS which are unused parts in this build.

Decal Sheet

Decal Sheet Photo #1
Decal Sheet Photo #2
Decal Sheet Photo #3
Decal Sheet Photo #4

The decal sheet, shown in Photo #1, contains hull numbers, hull names, landing and warning stripes, and E award markings.

The decal sheet includes hull numbers and names for DDG-89 Mustin, DDG-90 Chafee, DDG-91 Pinckney, DDG-92 Momsen, and DDG-93 Chung-Hoon. The kit can be used to accurately represent DDG-89 and DDG-90 out of the box, but there is a issue with using this kit to model any Burkes starting with DDG-91. The reason is that starting with DDG-91, a structure was added to the starboard side, which can be seen in Photo #2 (U.S. Navy Photo of DDG-91). Parts to represent this structure are not included in the kit, so it would have to be scratchbuilt, though it appears not all that complex to do. Given that DDG-91 was not commissioned until mid-2004, and this kit was released only a short time later, Dragon designers obviously did not have access to any photos at that time. The structure was originally intended to house a Remote Mine-Hunting System (RMS), but this system has been cancelled by the Navy and it is being removed from any ships that already have it, such as DDG-91. According to the U.S. Navy webmaster for the Pinckney's official website, the structure has a stainless steel screen to cover the opening, which can be seen in Photo #3 (U.S. Navy Photo of DDG-93). The U.S. Navy website contains a photo of what the RMS looked like, housed in the structure on DDG-92. U.S. Navy photos of DDG-94 and DDG-95 show that those ships were also built with this structure. At the time of this review, I am unclear what will be done with the structure on ships that currently have it, and what the design of ships beyond DDG-95 will be (i.e. will future ships to be built revert to the pre-DDG-91 design of not having the structure?).

The white stripes and red warning circles on the decal sheet all appear to be accurate markings when compared to U.S. Navy photos. The red warning circle might be a bit thick, and the stern numbers are a bit large. Also included is a blue DESRON logo. The logo is accurate for the Mustin when commissioned in 2003, as can be seen in this photo. The Mustin has since changed DESRON squadrons (i.e. a 2005 photo shows the Mustin with a red and white logo for the "Little Beavers" of DESRON 23). Modeler's with a focus on accuracy will note that Burkes have four vertical white stripes between the hangar bays on all Flight IIA ships, as can be seen in Photo #4. (U.S. Navy Photo of DDG-89). The decal sheet does not include these stripes.

Instruction Sheet

Instruction Sheet Photo #1
Instruction Sheet Photo #2
Instruction Sheet Photo #3
Instruction Sheet Photo #4

The instruction sheet appears to be very clear and organized, which is typical for Dragon. The only concern appears to be the error in diagram of the exhaust structure, as described earlier. As is normally recommended, dated photographs should be consulted for painting guidance. For example, the painting instructions indicate to paint a particular radome white. A U.S. Navy photo of the Mustin, as commissioned in 2003, shows this radome painted gray.

Dragon's 1/700 scale USS Mustin DDG-89 kit has a retail price of $19.99, and I picked it up at a local hobby store for $17.99, so it has an excellent and attractive price point. The kit is sure to please both the casual modeler, as well as the most discriminating of modelers, based on Dragon's product quality and the accuracy of the kit. The kit will enable someone to easily build a highly accurate USS Mustin DDG-89, and USS Chafee DDG-90, as commissioned, straight out of the box. The discriminating modeler will only have to add a small radome, the white stripes between the hangar bay doors, and potentially small other details not covered in this review. With a very minor amount of beginner-level scratchbuilding, the new starboard side structure (that was to house the RMS) could easily be added, so this kit could easily serve as the basis for any post DDG-91 Burke. The addition of optional photoetch details would exploit the fine detailing that the kit already has. Dragon should be commended for aggressively and quickly releasing another Burke kit, which includes some of the latest features.


The Discovery Channel recently aired a program called "Destroyer: Forged in Steel." The hour long program shows the building of the USS Chafee DDG-90, and is both interesting viewing and a great resource for modeling this exact kit.

The following are links to some websites that contain information on Burke class destroyers:

U.S. Navy Fact File - Destroyers - The site contains information on the Burkes and links to each ship's official website.
NavSource - Contains numerous photos of many Burkes.
GlobalSecurity.org - Contains detailed information on Burkes, including some photos.

The U.S. Navy NewsStand website contains numerous high-resolution photos of current ships, and is a top resource. Below are links to photos as of April 28, 2005. Use the search feature at a later date, as you may find more photos..

USS Mustin DDG-89

USS Chaffee DDG-90

USS Pinckney DDG-91

USS Momsen DDG-92

USS Chung-Hoon DDG-93


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