by Steve Varhegyi
The basic kit is the Tamiya Fletcher 1:350. Given the constraints of the plastic medium it is quite detailed. Addition of the Gold Medal Models detail kit really brings it to life. The kit seems to scale very closely to profiles illustrated in the Squadron Signal Fletcher DDs in Action.
The kit depicts USS Fletcher early in her career, June 1942, wearing the measure 12 camouflage scheme of haze gray, ocean gray and navy blue.
The kit goes together like a dream, however the bridge superstructure part sits a bit uneven on the forward gun deck. This part should be checked for fit prior to installation and corrected where necessary. Also check the alignment of the aft funnel. Apart from these minor corrections, the kit goes together like a dream.
The Gold Medal detail set is designed specifically for this kit and the fit is nothing short of superb. Even the mid ship railing sections which I thought might pose a problem fell in place like a dream. None the less because of the detail there is a lot of work.
Gold Medal Models provide details for the early, mid and late war Fletcher variants, including the later square bridge models. The level of detail is truly astounding. One of the things I really wanted to replicate in my model was the netted railings. To my astonishment when I opened the package there they were, netted railings engraved in 1:350 scale. There are also un-netted ones provided for the faint hearted.
The set also provides two types of superstructure railings as well as a fitted railing for the bridge roof. All the ladders, doors, whistle platform and mast details are there. The radar arrays for the surface contact radar and gun director are superb, but very fiddly for a newcomer to this type of modelling. Perseverance pays off with a crowning glory for the model. Among other details the set also comes with propellers and rudders for the motor launches, details for the 20mm Orlikons and 40mm Bofors and depth charge racks ( you have to make your own depth charges, which I did from evergreen plastic rod).
So far as scratch building and alterations are concerned one major area which needs attention is the searchlight platform on the rear funnel, which has these moulded barrier style railings, not correct for this model. These need to be removed prior to fitting the gold medal parts.
Careful study of photographs also indicates that there are supporting beams under the searchlight platform. I fashioned these from sheet styrene, drilling the holes the right size and in the right position was quite a task, given how small these parts need to be. A punch and dye set would have helped here. The aerial support on the rear funnel also needs to be replaced and can be fashioned from 0.012" 0.008" brass rod.
The second area highlighted in photographs are the various support beams under the bridge and the rear superstructure behind the gun deck. Careful study of the squadron book will help with location of these beams. Once again I used 0.012" brass rod. Just to add a bit more realism I detailed the torpedo tubes with railings and opened the blast shield hatch on the rear tubes. I also added a flagpole and bracing to the rear funnel as indicated in photographs.
All moulded ladders and hatches were removed and replaced with GMM parts. Just to add realism I opened up two doors on the superstructure.
The model was painted with Humbrol Super Enamels and if you haven't tried these theyt are super. They brush on very well and brushed on camouflage demarcation lines settle down nice and smooth after matting down.
Overall the model took me about 120 hours (mostly drilling holes for the railings). For someone wanting to get started on ship detailing I would highly recommend this kit and Loren Perry's superb Gold Medal Model detail kits.
Apart from the odd swear word here and there, it was an enjoyable experience and my next ship exploit will be more adventurous, say a Bismark / Tirpitz or King George V, Prince of Wales or Yamato / Musashi or New Jersey / Missouri in 1:350.
Model and Text Copyright © 1999 by Steve Varhegyi