Orange Hobby Blue Series
1/700 USS America (LHA-6)

Reviewed Octxober 2017
by Martin J Quinn
USS America (LHA-6), the fourth U.S. warship to be named for the the United States of America, is the first of the America-class amphibious assault ships for the U.S. Navy (there will be only one other ship of the class, Tripoli).  Laid down in July, 2009, she was launched in June 2012 and put to sea in November 2013.    America entered service in July, 2014, replacing Peleliu of the Tarawa class.  She designed to act as the flagship of an expeditionary strike group or amphibious ready group, carrying part of a Marine expeditionary unit into battle and putting them ashore with helicopters and V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, supported by F-35B Lightning II aircraft and helicopter gunships. 

After entering service, she sailed from the US, down around South America, making numerous stops, and showing the flag along the way.   While she'll be home-ported in San Diego, she was formally commissioned in San Francisco, in October, 2014. 

The ship's design is based on USS Makin Island, but to allow more room for aviation facilities she does not have a well deck, and has smaller medical spaces.  With a displacement of 45,000 tons, she is as large as the aircraft carriers of many other countries' navies, and can fulfill similar missions when configured with 20 F-35B strike fighters.   The lack of a well deck has generated considerable debate, leading to an agreement between the Marines and Chief of Naval Operations that the ship after Tripoli - Bouganiville - will return to the more traditional format, with a well deck included. 

For further information, check out her Wikipedia page here, which is where this information was taken from. 

The Orange Hobby USS America

This 1/700 model of the USS America is one of the latest resin kits in Orange Hobby's "Blue Series".  America comes packaged in a sturdy cardboard box.   Inside is a the hull, flight deck, photo-etch, decals, instructions, and numerous resin "sprues", which is where you'll find the majority of the kit parts.   The parts are cleverly and compactly packaged - other manufacturers should take note of how well Orange Hobby has packed this model to avoid damage.   In fact, it's packed so well, I don't know how I'll get all the parts back in the box!
America is a big ship (roughly the size of a WW2 Essex class carrier).   The waterline hull is about 14 1/2 inches long, a tad bit over 1 3/4 inches in width.  This measures out pretty much perfectly in scale to the real ship's 844 ft in length and 106 ft in beam.  The outside of the hull is covered with lots detail.  There are openings along each side of the hull, all of which have vents, piping, supports for the elevators, and other detail, all of which is very nicely cast.

With the hangar doors modeled in the closed position, the hangar deck (remember, there is no well deck) is not visible, and therefore has no detail inside.  There are three attachment points for long screws and nuts to secure your America to it's base (and prevent any future warpage).  There are 12 large casting stubs on the bottom of the hull, which will have to be removed and sanded flush. 

The large flight deck is festooned with a myriad of very finely done tie downs.  There is also some nice detail along the edge of the deck and most of the small platforms around the sides are sharply cast.  The underside of the flight deck is cast to fit the inside of the hangar deck.   Again, as the hangar deck is closed, there is no detail on the bottom of the flight deck.  My flight deck as a slight warp to it, but once it's secured into place, that should disappear. 
The America's large island is cast - sans funnels and masts - in one piece.  As with the hull, there is really nicely cast detail, as well a large casting stubs on the bottom of the island.  Windows, hatches, piping, etc., are all crisply done. 
The majority of the parts for America are spread across eighteen (18) resin sprues.   Six of the sprues are lettered, the rest are not, but have each part numbered for identification. 
There are four sprues where parts numbers are proceeded with the letter A. Two of them have parts for weapons (CIWS, etc.), while the other two have the vertical stabilizers for the F-35s and the rear exhaust for VSTOL engine.
The single B sprue is where you'll find six (6) F-35 Lightning's.  Three have are cast with "open" recesses for photo-etch, to make the aircraft appear in takeoff configuration.   The other three are cast as parked aircraft.
These two sprues have all the resin parts for the heavy lift crane.   One sprue has the body of the crane and tires, while a second, small sprue has the boom of the crane.   This is well cast, and a nice addition to the model. 
The remaining 11 sprues have a variety of parts:  RAM launchers, radomes, flag bags, platforms, anchors, the mast (wish this had been brass), life raft canisters (these cover two and a half sprues), ships boats, the flight deck edge elevators and the funnels.   Detail is outstanding all the way around, with minimal flash.   Many of the platforms have detail on the underside, and the elevators are especially well done, with fine detail on both top and bottom. 
There are three decal sheets.  Two are waterslide while the decal for the flight deck is a very large, one piece dry transfer, that will need care when applying.   The aircraft decals are pedestrian, but the decals for the island and hull look decent.  My dry transfer for the flight deck was damaged in the box, and is unusable.  I'm not a fan of this type of decal, which also is very glossy.   I can imagine it would be very difficult to put down. 
There is, pardon the pun, a boatload of photo-etch in this kit.   There are eight photo-etch frets.   Fret A is the largest, and has the photo-etch for the deck edge catwalks and other platforms, as well as supports for the mast.   Fret B has the parts for the elevators, plus the supports for the life raft canisters.   On Fret C has doors, railings, deck edge netting and inclined ladders.   The rest of the frets are smaller, containing platforms, parts for the heavy lift crane, two small frets for the F-35s and a very small fret with one part (a radar).   The photo-etch is extensive and well done, with relief etching. 
There is a small bag with the screws  and nuts to attach the hull to a base (not supplied) and a small brass rod.
There are six pages of double sides instructions, along with a large sheet showing painting a plan and profile view, with decal placement and color callouts.    There is no parts inventory page.   The instructions are well laid out and very detailed.   Resin parts are identified by a gray box with white letters, photo-etch by a black box with white letters.  The F-35s and the heavy lift crane each take up a page.  The instructions look more like what you'd find in an injection molded kit.   Other resin manufacturers should take note of how well Orange Hobby does their instructions. 
This is a first rate resin kit.  The casting is excellent, the photo-etch set is extensive, the directions are comprehensive.   Orange Hobby has hit a home run with this release.  On the box top, the model is described as a "Complete Resin Kit".   Orange Hobby isn't kidding - this is a complete kit, with everything you need to build a fine replica of the Navy's newest Amphibious Assault ship, America.   Highly Recommended!

This is Orange Hobby's 1/700 USS America, kit number NO7-127-498. The model lists for $99.99 and is available from many of our sponsors. This is an in-box review, your mileage may vary once construction commences.  Thanks to Orange Hobby for the review sample.