by Richard Sliwka
1/350 USS Stoddart DDG-22 (L'Arsenal)
This model was built using L'Arsenal's 1/350 resin USS Stoddart kit. The kit was released at the 2012 IPMS National Convention where I purchased it.
Overall, this is an outstanding kit that provides all the material, except glue and paint, to complete an impressive model of the late production Cold War era Charles F. Adams Class guided missile destroyer. The resin castings are very well done with molded detail and without pinholes or casting defects. The brass parts--mast poles, yardarms, antennae, gun barrels--are machined. The decal sheet is extensive and provides the names/numbers for all Adams class destroyers, US and foreign. I had a little problem in getting these decals to set; but, that was probably due to my inexperience in working with modern decal material. Also, no anti-skid walkway decals are provided. The most challenging aspect of this kit is the PE. The design of the individual PE parts are excellent and extensive; however, the sheet thickness is very thin making the removal and placement of these parts without damage a major effort. The instructions are very good although some pre-study of the diagrams is necessary to insure a complete understanding of the assembly process. In several instances, the indicated instruction part number does not match that of the actual part.
The two-piece hull assembly was accomplished without any major problem after doing a little filling and sanding to properly mate the hull sections. I replaced the kit's resin prop shafts with brass rod--my preference as the kit's were very accurate. All individual superstructure/deck items fit well and were accurately positioned using the marked/molded placement points. The only question I had was the exact location of the aft Tarter missile launcher housing/structure. Using the molded positioning slot, there is a gap between the housing and aft superstructure. In other Adams Class kits, it is a flush fit. I detected this after I had completed and mounted the model so decided to let it go "as is". It may be correct; but, a little research is required to confirm this. While there is an adequate amount of molded/provided detail parts, I elected to add a number of storage lockers, overhang support stanchions, stowed refueling pipes, and assorted deck details. Also, I replaced molded ladders with PE ones.
The most complex aspect of this "build" was the assembly of the mast with its numerous platforms, support bracing, antennae, domes, and radars. I would strongly recommend reviewing the assembly diagram/instruction before embarking on this phase as several of the indicated part numbers do not match those on the PE sheet. The provided machined brass mast and "legs" fit perfectly using the pre-marked attachment points. The ease of the mast assembly was complicated by the extremely thin PE. After some frustrating PE assembly battles (I lost), I simply replaced many of the mast platform support bracing with thin brass rod using the PE part as a guide. On-the-other-hand, I had no problem assembling the PE radars. While the kit provides four machined brass pieces for the two yardarms, I elected to use a single piece of brass for each yardarm (a lot easier to align and position). I ,also, added some detail to better reflect the actual yardarm configuration.
The forward 5" gun mount antenna was scratch-built as the provided PE antenna parts are overly delicate and appear to be the wrong configuration for the Stoddart.
Another challenge was the PE railings, again due to the thin PE. I "threw-in the towel" after finishing the bridge upper deck railings with the kit's PE and used Gold Medal Models modern warships railing for the O-1 and main deck. I slightly sanded the cast deck edge chocks to provide a slight lip for the railing to set on. In hindsight, I should simply removed the chocks and reattached after the railings were in-place (would have eliminated the problem of having vertical stanchions directly in front of a chock).
Caenis and nylon thread were used for rigging. I used Model Master Acrylic paint. I spent about 200 hours building this model and am very satisfied with the result.
Despite my complaints about the thinness of the PE, this is an outstanding
model. I would highly recommend this kit to anyone who wants to build
a classic Cold War era Adams class destroyer. Overall, I would rate
it a 9 out of 10 due the difficulty of working with the PE. I understand
that the thickness of the PE will be increased in the near future and the
hull will be offered as single piece (Check with L'Arsenal USA to confirm
this). Once that happens, this will be a near perfect kit.