The LHA's incorporate the best design features and capabilities of several amphibious assault ships currently in service: the Amphibious Assault Ship (LPH), Amphibious Transport Dock (LPD), Amphibious Cargo Ship (LKA), and Dock Landing Ship (LSD). The LHA's can handle ten helicopters simultaneously, as well as the AV-8 Harriers and OV-10 Bronco reconnaissance aircraft, they operate with approx. 30 helicopters and 6 VSTOL (Harriers). There is also a large well deck in the stem of the ship for a number of amphibious assault craft, both displacement hull and air cushion. These ships can operate independently or as a unit of a force, as a flagship or individual ship unit in both air and/or surface assaults. One LHA can carry a complete Marine battalion, along with the supplies and equipment needed in an assault, and land them ashore by either helicopter or amphibious craft. This two pronged capability, with emphasis on airborne landing of troops and equipment, enables the Navy and Marine Corps to fulfill their present-day mission.
|There are five ships in this class: the LHA-1 Tarawa, LHA-2
Saipan, LHA-3 Belleau Wood, LHA-4 Nassau, and LHA-5 Peleliu. This kit can
be used to model any of those though you may have to make a few changes
to the weapons depending on what time period you are modeling.
The hull on my kit was nicely molded in two halves, with a separate rear door assembly. The surface detail is pretty good and will look really nice with a light wash to bring out the details. This kit includes a lower hull option so it can be displayed on it's included base as a full hull model or with the separate waterline base. The interior wells are all included so you can display the ship in the process of launching some of it's embarked boats and amphibious vehicles.. The deck has a fair amount of detailing considering how plain the actual ship is. The one thing that really sets this kit off is having the deck filled with Helo's and Harriers. You will have to get your Harriers from some other source as they are not included with this kit.
|The ships boxy superstructure is well represented with a fair amount of surface detail. The masts are well molded and very usable, though the radar's would look better with photo etch replacements.|
|The aircraft included in this kit are the Ch-46, CH-53, and Sea Cobra. They are not bad as far as molding goes and even the rotors are pretty thin. Some rotors are supplied folded so you can display the Helo's parked. I would still recommend a photo etch set to replace those items. Aircraft handing tractors, LVT's, and Landing craft are also included. If you want any additional aircraft you might consider the White Ensign Airstrike 700 line, or some of the Skywave aircraft sets to add to, or replace what's in the kit.|
|The decals include deck markings and are OK. A corrected
sheet with the proper colors is included as well. Instructions are pretty
extensive and include many exploded views. There are also painting guides
and decal diagram notes included in the assembly views to help you in placing
Though this kit has a few faults it is still better than the earlier 1/720 versions of this ship. It provide a good base on which to super detail with the help of some of the aftermarket accessories available such as the Gold Medal USS Tarawa Photo Etch set. A quick look at Peter Van Buren's USS Saipan in the Gallery will prove that.