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Dragon 1/700 scale USS Arthur W. Radford

Kit: No. 7031
Scale: 1/700
Manufacturer: Dragon, from Dragon Models USA, 626-968-0322,
Price: $21.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 64 parts (3 photoetched metal), decals
Pros: Choice of full hull or waterline, photoetched parts, Seahawk helicopter
Cons: Split lower hull halves, gap between upper and lower hull
Commissioned in 1977, USS Arthur W. Radford was the sixth destroyer built in the Spruance class. Radford completed 10 overseas deployments, including "Operation Enduring Freedom" before being decommissioned in 2003. Since 2004, Radford has been serving as a test bed for new systems for the Navy's DD(X) next-generation destroyer program.

Dragon's 1/700 scale Radford has crisp detail with little flash and light seam lines. Also included is a small photoetched fret containing three mast and aft bulkhead parts.

Options include full-hull or waterline versions, and choice of standard aft mast or the Advanced Enclosed Mast System (AEM/S), the so-called "stealth" mast.

While the kit is well-designed, the full lower hull is split in half lengthwise and required careful alignment and seam filling.

The two-page, 15 step instructions are clearly illustrated, and the painting and marking diagrams are included, listing Gunze Aqueous, Gunze Mr. Color, and Testor Model Master paint numbers.

The decals are thin, in register, and supply hull numbers and names for the entire 31-ship Spruance class. Hull draft markings and deck warning stripes are provided, but the helicopter deck markings must be painted on.

Construction was straightforward - and quick! I spent only six hours on construction. Parts fit was excellent; the only area needing filler was a gap around the upper and lower hull. In step seven, a notch needs to be cut in the styrene section of the mast to better accept the photoetched mast top.

I built the kit in sub-assemblies, leaving off all the deck structures and equipment until after the main deck was painted.

I painted the model with Testor Acryl and Tamiya acrylic colors. After a coat of Polly Scale clear gloss, the decals went down fine with some Micro Sol.

I spent 12 hours total on my Radford. The kit scales well to my reference Norman Polmar's Ships & Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet.

It was an enjoyable and quick build, resulting in a fine representation of the real ship. Beginners with a few kits under their belts should have no trouble, and experienced modelers will have a fine platform for adding photoetched rails and other details.

- Phil Kirchmeier


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