Out-of-Box Review
by John Goodacre
The Amphibious Command ships provide command and control for fleet commanders. Commissioned in 1970, these are the only ships to be designed initially for an amphibious command ship role. Earlier amphibious command ships lacked sufficient speed to keep up with a 20-knot amphibious force. Subsequently, both ships became fleet flagships. USS Blue Ridge became the Seventh Fleet command ship in 1979, and USS Mount Whitney became the Second Fleet command ship in 1981.
The hull was finely molded with no over pour to sand away. Details from the hatches to hoist for the boats are finely done. Other details of the hull are the warning circles, helicopter pad and the impressions to help the placement. It is packed in bubble wrap to prevent damage to the fine bulwark of the bow.

There are 34 resin parts and the details are just as fine. Included in the resin parts are radar domes, LCVPs, LCPs and a number of bridge decks. I liked that the bridge levels were in different parts, because it makes the build more interesting. They notched all the pieces so they would fit properly together. It also came with two sheets of plastic in order to cut various walk ways and a 0.8 rod. In the instructions there are templates to do so. The other 97 parts are white metal. Included in these parts are search lights, SLQ-32(V) 3, Mk36 SRBOC DLS, SPS Radar, Mk 15 Phalanx CIWS, and the anchors.

Various brass rods of different thickness (0.6 0.3) are needed to cut for braces, antennas and riggings. The photo etch consists of different VHF, UHF and NTDS. Extreme caution should be used around them for they are fine and easy to damage. The decals were easy to apply with out any problems. The sheet that came with the kit is a generic US Navy sheet for many classes of ships. With this you can model a LCC-19 or LCC-20 as I have chosen. No warning circles are included in the decals, but the deck has the impressions in order to paint them.

The instructions consist of six pages and are well drawn and easy to understand even if they are only in Japanese. It would be nice to have a set in English. As with any instructions it is wise to read them first. The last pages give you a set of drawings for the ship as it was commissioned in the 70s and a set for a refit in 96. The LCCs have been refitted again sometime after 98. It is easy to model the ships as they sail today. The first page shows all the parts of the kit, which is useful when you open the two small zip-lock bags of white metal parts. The instructions are broken down to 6 or so sub structures.

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Conclusions:
This was my first Hi-Mold product and the most expensive I have worked on. I had high expectation for this kit and it delivered. I was very pleased with the kit, even though it cost was $100.00.  It is the only Command Ship on the market as far as I am aware of. Finely molded, many sub structures, and easy enough to follow directions make it fun to build. Like I stated before, English would be nice for the instructions. One thing I would like to see would be some railings and nets  for the ship.   In conclusion I would recommend this kit to anyone building a complete gator navy. 

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