Revell 1/700 Wasp class LHD

Reviewed by Jeff Hughes
The Wasp class is a direct descendant of the Tarawa Class LPH.  With a dual role, amphibious assault ship capable of carrying 42 CH-46 helicopters, and area control/ASW ship with 20 Harrier V/STOL fighters and 6 Seahawk ASW helicopters.  The first of the class commissioned in July 29, 1989.  They are the largest amphibious ships in the world.  The class was build to hold the LCAC (Landing Craft , Air Cushion), 3 will fit in the well deck.  The Wasp class measures 844 feet long and 106 feet at the waterline.

The much anticipated Revell AG United States Navy Wasp Class LHD Amphibious Warfare Helicopter Carriers is finally on the market and in hobby shops. That is to say much anticipated for those who favor modern ships and/or lovers of the 'gator' navy.  The release of this kit, if memory serves correctly, was delayed at least a year from original estimated release.

The kit comes on 5 sprues molded in light grey styrene and is only waterline.  The casting is very well done, very little flash and crisp details.  The details are not in the same league as the Japanese manufacturers, but not bad.  Definitely on par with the DML Tarawa and better than the old Revell 1/720 Tarawa.  The island details match fairly well with published pictures.

The hull comes in two pieces, left and right.  A separate flat bottom is also provided, as is a hanger deck with minimal detail.  The hull sides on my kit are slightly curved, a result of their thickness (0.050 inches) and packaging.  It does not seem this will cause any problems in construction thanks to the flight deck and bottom that will hold the hull in place once
bonded.  The deck edge elevators are both open, allowing the modeler to show off the hanger deck.

The flight deck is one piece with the various deck markings shown as raised lines.  The experienced modeler will want to remove these lines so that the decals will lay flat.  The nice thing about Revell's raised lines is that they will be easy to remove, as they are not very pronounced.  This is an item the Japanese companies should take note of.

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The Wasp Class is fitted with two Mk 29 Sea Sparrow launchers, which are nicely molded in the kit.  When the class was commissioned they also carried three 20 mm Mk 15 Phalanx CIWS, these are very well done in the kit, with the barrels of the gun well scaled.  I usually replace the molded barrels with brass rod but I don't think it will be necessary with these.  Later on during refits the starboard quarter CIWS was replaced by a Mk 31 RAM launcher and another RAM was added at the forward end of the island superstructure.  The kit comes with three of these new weapons, and they appear to be properly scaled when comparing them with other weapon systems and background items.
The only helicopters that come with the kit are Revell's attempt at Ch-53 Sea Stallion Helicopter, they scale out at roughly 1/750 and just don't look right.  In addition to being under scale, there are only three.  Get after market replacements, There are also 3 other miniature craft, what are supposed to be MV-22A Osprey, they scale out about 1/990 instead of 1/700. I applaud Revell for placing such craft in the kit but they could be closer to scale.  There are no CH-46 helicopters in the kit, if you are building her in an assault mode you will again need to look elsewhere for after market replacements.  There are also 8 AV-8B Harriers, which scale out to a wing span of approximately 1/686 and length at 1/735.  The DML Harriers scale out at a wing span at 1/643 and length at 1/721.  Neither is exactly correct.  If you do decide to use the supplied Harriers you will need to replace their thick stubby landing gear with photo-etch or brass rod. Unfortunately there are no landing craft in the kit.  You do get 9 of what are supposed to be RIBs (rigid inflatable boats), they look more like the crafts used to get around the Florida Everglades than RIBs.  If you want to depict the ship conducting an amphibious landing you will need after market landing craft.  Three deck vehicles are provided, the flight deck crane is a little thick and some PE would definitely help here.
The masts and radar's provided in the kit are not bad.  The masts appear correct for the first two ships of the class.  As with any kit, pick a time frame you want to model the ship in and find pictures as to what configuration she is in at that time.  The radar would benefit from PE replacements.
The decals provided allow you to built either the Wasp LHD 1 or the Essex LHD 2.  There are lots of decals provided, from deck lines, warning circles, landing marking and warning stripes.  A most impressive set of decals that may take as long to install as it will to construct the model.  Of course there is the standard Revell signal flags, I am not sure as to the exact size of signal flags in 1/700, but these do appear to be too large.

The instructions are in booklet form and use only symbols and exploded view 3-D drawings to guide you along the construction path.  They are easy to understand and follow.

In conclusion this is a nice kit.  It has some flaws that the more experienced modeler will want to correct.  With a PE set (the only one I know of at this time is from GMM), I am sure this kit could be built into a beauty.  For those who love the modern 'Gator Navy' these are indeed great times, the release of this Revell Wasp kit, the JAG and Modelwerks LST Newport and LSD Austin and the promised future releases from JAG.  Happy modeling.

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