USS Fort Worth – LCS-3

Published: November 25th, 2012     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: Tom Pope - IPMS# 47261
Scale: 1/700
Company: Cyber-Hobby
Price: $30.00
Product / Stock #: 7129
Product provided by: Dragon Models USA

Introduction

The US Navy's third littoral combat ship (LCS), the USS Ft. Worth was just commissioned in late September, 2012 - a mere few weeks after Dragon released this kit. Designated LCS-3, the Ft. Worth is a single V-hull, and the second of the Freedom class LCS ship. LCS ships are sleek and fast, make a small radar target, and can maneuver close to the shore in only 20 feet of water. Dragon's LCS-3 Smart Kit is an excellent representation of the LCS class ship, in a small size and with excellent detail, that can be displayed just about anywhere.

In the Box

The kit comes in Cyber-Hobby's usual colorful, high quality packaging. The box measures 7.5" x 11.4" x 1.8" and contains 6 sprues with about 116 parts, but you'll only use about 87 of them. The box also includes the instructions, an instruction correction sheet, and a cardboard insert with the photo-etched parts and the decals attached, each in its own plastic bag. There is a little confusion on the instruction sheet front page where it shows which sprues are included - and that is the main reason for the correction page, so be sure to read and understand what you're starting with.

This kit allows you to build the Ft. Worth in your choice of full or waterline hull. The main superstructure is a single molded part with water-tight door, ladders, etc., molded on in excellent detail. The main mast is also highly detailed, complete with all the communications antennae and tiny weather radar. The twin, directional water jet nozzles are well done, and the weapons included are a turret-mounted Mk110 57mm deck gun, a Rolling Airframe Missile System launcher, two Bushmaster II gun turrets, and decoy launchers. An excellently detailed MH-60S Seahawk helicopter is included, and there's a nice display stand for the full hull version.

Construction/Finishing

Even though the parts are small and plentiful, this kit goes together pretty fast. Probably the trickiest part is hanging on to each part as you detach it from the sprue. I only lost two - a life preserver and an overhead light (at least I think that's what it was). The hull and superstructure are made up of five parts, six if you count the main mast. The rest are basically details. There are even five parts to the Seahawk. On the superstructure, the molding injection tabs are underneath the front surface so you don't have to mar the surface of the ship when you trim the injection tabs off the part. The Ft. Worth is slightly longer than the Freedom (LCS-1) - about 3 meters - mostly added aft of helo deck, so there is a different aft end-cap for the hull that wants to overlap the below-the-waterline piece, so you'll need to think about it a little bit before you cement it in place.

The photo etched parts are very well done and accurate, but man, are they small. The photo-etched guns look like Browning .50 calibers, but looking at the Ft. Worth on the internet, they appear to use smaller caliber, twin guns, at least at the forward positions. They do look like .50s on the aft weapons deck. Anyway, the .50 cal machine guns are made to be cut from the sprue and folded in half at the butt of the gun and then installed in the shield. For someone with sausage fingers, this is going to be a challenge. It took me a couple hours to build the four guns. A plastic alternative is provided, but the plastic .50 cals are closer to 1/144 scale or bigger. It would still be a good-looking model with the plastic guns. The safety netting for the flight deck is excellent, although it was really difficult to keep the CA glue and paint out of the net's webbing.

This kit was finished in the colors recommended on the instruction sheet. The assembled ship was painted Light Ghost Gray with the hull (below the waterline) and the flight deck both Flat Black. The actual USS Ft. Worth was just commissioned in late September, 2012 (after those instructions were printed), and with that, there are new photos and video on-line that show her actual colors (see references below). It looks like the main deck and the horizontal surfaces of the weapons deck are a darker gray, perhaps Dark Ghost Gray. You can research it and decide for yourself.

The decals are excellent, although really small. These decals, particularly the landing stripes for the aft deck and the danger zone rings around the deck gun and missile launcher, tend to wad themselves up pretty easily, but these decals are very tough for their size. Patience and a steady hand (and a clean toothpick) are keys to decal application. There aren't really any spare decals, so there is no margin for error. Once you have the decals in place and have dabbed off the extra water, a small touch of decal setting solution makes them permanent.

After painting and decals, a quick swipe with weathering powders brings out all the fine detail, right down to that 1/700th scale ladders and water-tight doors. It really is something to see. A coat of semi-gloss or dull-cote over everything then completes and seals it.

Conclusions

Cyber-Hobby continues to impress with the accuracy of its kit designs and precision of its molding processes and technology. The 1/700th scale USS Ft. Worth is a fine example, albeit small. This is an extremely challenging kit to build and I recommend this kit for modelers of moderate experience due to the photo etched parts and small size of most plastic detail parts, but less experienced modelers can build it without the photo etch and still be pleased with the results.

My thanks go out to Dragon Models USA for providing this kit for review and to IPMS-USA for giving me the opportunity to review it.

References

You can learn more, watch videos, and/or view pictures of the USS Ft. Worth at the following sites:

  • Instructions 1
    Instructions 1
  • Instructions 2
    Instructions 2
  • Instructions 3
    Instructions 3
  • Parts
    Parts
  • Superstructure
    Superstructure
  • Guns
    Guns
  • Molding tabs to be removed
    Molding tabs to be removed
  • MH-60S
    MH-60S
  • Stern addition
    Stern addition
  • PE and styrene .50 cals
    PE and styrene .50 cals
  • Aft guns
    Aft guns
  • Helo deck
    Helo deck
  • Almost done
    Almost done
  • Complete
    Complete
  • Finished helo
    Finished helo

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