USS Lafayette SSBN 616
by Paul Helfrich

1/200 USS Lafayette SSBN 616 (Revell Germany)

This was a 2004 birthday present from my wife and sons, and it's finally done. This is the venerable Revell "cutaway sub," most recently issued by Revell Germany as the USS Andrew Jackson. Decals were included for the USS Lafayette as well, and those are the ones I used.

The biggest problem with this kit is the arrangement of the parts on the sprues. There's no rhyme or reason to it at all - they seem to have been arranged in the most space-efficient way, rather than through sequential numbering or anything having to do with the order in which they're used - similar assemblies, for instance. To make matters worse, as is common with these older kits, a good number of the pieces are likely to have separated from the sprue by the time you open the box. This means that about half your time building will be spent hunting for the next piece. On the good side, after working on a kit like this, when you build one of the newer Trumpeter kits, with their individually bagged, logically-organized sprues, you do appreciate it a lot more.

The kit does show its age - the parts have lots of flash, dimples, and separation lines, and my sample had some pretty seriously warped decks that I was not able fully to correct. The fit of even the non-warped pieces isn't so great either. Nevertheless, I'm pleased with the final result - impressive based on sheer size alone.

I chose a paint scheme with most of the sub (below the waterline) in anti-fouling red. I understand this is common in newly-commissioned subs, with all-black becoming more common later in the boat's career. Most of my refences on modern submarine show all-black schemes in their illustrations, but that's awfully boring, especially on such a large model as this one.

Building this kit is like building a little bit of modeling history. I'm glad to add it to my collection.

Paul Helfrich