by Phil Toy
1/311 USS John Paul Jones DDG-53 (Scratchbuilt)
The last Cold War USN destroyer, Arleigh Burke AEGIS DDG-51 class, was designed to supplement the extremely capable but expensive Ticonderoga AEGIS cruiser. In exchange for more hulls a less expensive ship was proposed by reducing the firepower to about a quarter of the later VLS Tico CG’s weapons and omitting a helicopter hanger. The result is one of the most successful USN missile destroyer designs, the first to incorporate stealth features, trading aluminum superstructure on steel hull for essentially all steel construction. A relatively short wide hull with high freeboard and flared bow when compared to older designs required more horsepower to maintain speed but resulted in better seakeeping at the expense of lower endurance.
USS John Paul Jones was the third Burke DDG ordered, launched 10-26-1991 by Bath Iron Works in Maine. After acceptance she transited to San Diego, CA for commissioning on 12-13-1993 becoming the first of her class on the West Coast.
This 1/311 scratch-built model was completed in 2000 depicting the ship as she appeared 8-13-1998 during an open house moored to Broadway Pier during Fleet Week in San Diego. DDG-53 is a Flight 1 Burke and lacked many of the satellite domes added later for network centric warfare. Later ships buried the exterior plumbing for the water washdown system inside the skin leaving only the nozzles exposed. The stacks in later ships were altered to bury the actual exhausts eliminating the need for the concentric exhaust rings designed to lower the infrared signature by drawing in ambient air to mix with the hot exhaust. A stealth feature omitted by photo etch kits is the 45 degree vertical axis rotation of the flat railings and lifeline stanchions to present one corner outboard for a diamond like profile to deflect radar beams away from the emitter. Additionally, the railings and stanchions are not mounted perfectly vertically but canted inboard at an angle matching the superstructure’s slope. Of note is the lower half of railing on the mast platforms canted one way and bent so the upper portion cants the opposite way.
The model was constructed of sheet styrene, Evergreen styrene tube, rod, and strips of assorted sizes with stretched sprue details. The RHIBs, radars, and weapons were scratch built. The Serapis Flag was hand painted on aluminum foil. Desron 7 insignia and campaign ribbons were printed on glossy photo paper. Model railroad decals provided efficiency marks. Model railroad 40 link/inch chain was used for the anchor chain. A painted woman’s stocking was cut out for the helicopter deck safety net. The model was mounted on blue plexiglass in a sea of heavy gel medium, acrylic artist paints, pulled cotton, finished with a gloss varnish.