JAG 1/700
USS Cimarron AO-177 Out of Box Review

Reviewed by Peter Van Buren
JAG once again has produced a beautiful resin kit: frighteningly good molding, detailed PE and full decal sheet, coupled with comprehensive instructions and an overall professional presentation of another modern US Navy ship otherwise not available elsewhere. Looking over the kit, this will be a pleasantly complex build, challenging without bogging the modeler down with ugly pour stubs or the need to scratch-build or replace parts.

No JAG review can start anywhere but with the quality of the casting. Having built dozens of resin kits from most of the major makers, none compare to JAG for quality. The hull in my kit was dead flat, with no pour stub to hack away. You can begin building right after unpacking (though give it a quick wash in dish soap to remove any left over mold release oils).

Take a look at the two detail photos of the main hull, especially the forecastle, to note how crisp the detail is. There are no resin boogers to remove, no chunks of blue-green RTV rubber in the crevices. A light wash of Payne’s Grey oil paint over your favorite flavor of USN haze grey will see those details pop out.

Another piece of significant casting work is on the large deck pieces, one about half the length of the overall ship, plus two smaller pieces. All three are dead flat and fit within tight tolerances, no small task given how resin tends to shrink while cooling. Test fits suggest only a small amount of filler needed at one edge of the main piece (JAG suggests and supplies a strip of styrene for this but I will likely use CA glue). Details are crisp throughout.

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I received a pre-production kit, which included many small parts molded in resin; JAG’s production kits will likely feature many of these in white metal, particularly the large vertical king posts for additional detail and strength.

Two changes from previous JAG doctrine stand out here as beneficial to the modeler:

JAG has cast the many small platforms on sprues this time, not on flat sheets. The casting is wicked thin and the parts are available to you with merely the slice of a sharp knife. In the past these platforms had to be delicately sanded off of a flat wafer, and in many cases ended up ruined, broken or covered in blood as one sanded through the resin and into one’s finger tip.

The other nice change is that more of the deck details (especially ventilators) are now cast separately. This will allow the modeler to paint the decks their darker color, and then attach the painted small pieces later. No more masking of tiny objects or trying to paint around myriad raised details. I know I ended up slicing off and later reattaching details from previous JAG kits to make painting the decks easier; no more.

JAG also includes a set of 21 shipping containers, plus two detailed deck forklifts with their own PE, very prominent features of these ships at sea. With the Sacramento oiler kit from JAG the modeler had to scratch build deck cargo and steal forklifts from another kit.

The other detail parts are well-cast, and appear unique to the kit and not just Skywave copies.


The ship-specific photo etch carries a lot of the detail that makes these ships wonderfully “complex” looking in real life. Unlike their previous tanker Sacramento, the modeler will not have to form his/her own hoses and tackle—these are supplied as PE parts. Real detail people will use white glue or multiple layers of paint to give the hoses some thickness. JAG also supplies the ladders, safety nets and much of the railing needed.


JAG is offering for sale a companion photo CD, well worth the money in my opinion. The CD includes 135 images, over 52 megabytes. Most images are big and detailed, as high as 2144x1520, with only a few at 640x320. The images include a selection of photos of the kit parts dry fit together, very helpful in assembling the kit and accurately placing the many small parts. While a few “beauty shots” of the real ship at sea are included, the bulk of the images are detail shots of particular use to modelers searching for that extra detail needed to build a truly outstanding replica. The detail shots are all in color; here are two samples:

This photo CD is especially useful in that it is hard to find good, clear pictures of ships like the Cimarron. Aegis cruisers and carriers spawn their own photo magazines and books at reasonable prices and common availability but for the lonely oiler, these are not readily available, making the JAG companion CD a good buy for the super detailer.

There are 4 pages of instructions.

It is hard at this stage to find much to criticize. The PE is steel, much harder than brass, which allows for detail and is easier to keep straight, but for me at least is more difficult to cut and bend. As in all resin-type kits, the decal carrier film is not separated and so the modeler will need to cut out each tiny piece. There are a lot of decals to apply, and this will be a three beer/four cups of coffee task (Photo 12).

Not a criticism per se, but this is not a resin kit for beginners. The complexity of the ship herself dictates a complex mix of photoetch, resin and white metal, and some very small parts. In looking at the details to be added to the mast, JAG is really pushing the theoretical limits of how small a part one can grasp with tweezers. The instructions that come with this kit reflect the complexity necessary to deliver a truly state-of-the-art replica. This kit will require a taste for detail, and demands the modeler spend some time with the instructions before starting in gluing parts. That said, time spent with this kit will reward the patient modeler with a great ship for his/her collection, and I am really looking forward to beginning work. Stay tuned for photos of my finished vessel!

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