Pit-Road 1/700
USS Mount Whitney LCC-20

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The Amphibious Command ships are designed to provide a mobile command platform for Amphibious operations. Early command ships were conversions that  lacked the speed to keep up with the modern amphibious task forces. The Blue Ridge Class was the first purpose built command ships to address this need. The Mount Whitney was the second of these ships Commissioned January 16, 1971. While the Blue Ridge serves in the Pacific, the Mount Whitney served as the flagship for the Second Fleet in the Atlantic She was home ported at Norfolk, VA, until replacing the command ship La Salle (AGF 3) as the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship in February 2005. The ship is not designed to land troops, or carry helicopters, but has limited provisions for both tasks. The ships real weapon is it's ability to send and receive large amounts of secure data from any point on earth through HF, UHF, VHF, SHF, and EHF communications paths. No other ships can match them in this capacity.

This kit represents the ship in it's configuration as the command ship of the 2nd Fleet minus the 25mm Bushmaster guns.

This kit is a cooperative effort with Pit-Road and Trumpeter. Waveline the resin casting component of Pit-Road previous cast this kit in resin. A review of the USS Blue Ridge by John Goodacre can be found here. They used their previous research as a basis and the tooling capabilities of Trumpeter to produce an all new injection molded kit of this Amphibious Command ship, the USS Mount Whitney. A sister ship the USS Blue Ridge is also available. Click images
to enlarge
The deck is three pieces. The bow has engraved detail on the deck and the mid section and stern. The deck markings really stand out and some modelers may not like this approach. But these are recessed lines and not the raised lines found on older kits. 
The main sprue has most of the superstructure parts. The bridge windows are what stands out to me. They are finely molded and quite distinct.
The hull sides for the lower deck are on this sprue. The parts are nicely cast on this sprue, with just a touch of flash. 
This sprue has most of the small parts, the fittings and some of the ships boats. The radar towers are molded with solid insides, but this isn't a problem as this kit has a bonus photo etch fret with it that replaces such items.
This sprue has the rest of the superstructure and the radar domes. The gun turrets and other fittings are nicely done.
Found only in the Pit-Road version of this ship is a photo etch fret. Relief etched in stainless steel  to replace those details that just don't look right in plastic. This set was made by Lion Roar for Pit-Road. The quality is very good. 

The main towers and radar's are much nicer in photo etch and have a much more realistic thickness. Railings are tailored to the kit, so you wont be doing a lot of cutting and fitting. Just follow the separate instruction sheet that notes how the photo etch relates to the kit parts.

A display base is included for full hull display.
The decals are sharp and well rendered. Warning circles, hull numbers, and flags are all included.
A 10 page instruction booklet is included to guide you through a step by step assembly process. The parts are all called out and placement is well illustrated throughout. 

A nice B sized color sheet is included with camouflage markings for the ship and aircraft. Paint colors are called out as well.

This is a great subject for your modern amphibious fleet. It features great molding and detailing. The addition of a photo etch fret makes it a really good value. Check out this and other modern ships on Hobby Link Japan's searchable website.

This kit is 1/700 USN LCC-20 Mount Whitney 2004 w/Photo-Etched Code: PITM-25E Series: Modern Ship for 4,000 yen or about $33.94 USD. You can also get this ship without photo etch for 3.500 yen ($29.69 USD), or get her in the previous 1997 version. 

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