|My Review and Build of Testor's 1/350 scale Kit #930,
The USS Ohio SSGN-726, Guided Missile Conversion
Introduction and what's in the box
This model is an excellent 1/350 scale depiction of the USS Ohio Ballistic Missile Submarine, SSBN-726. I decided to build it depicting it after the Guided Missile conversion of the early 2000s which turned it into SSGN-726. The model is actually Testor's remarket of DML's (Dragon's) model of the same name. It is well done, with many very good details. Very little flash, although the injection ports are fairly thick and will require a good sharp xatco knife or good sharp clippers to remove the parts successfully, particularly the very small parts that allow the missile cover hatches to open and close.
There are 172 parts on four sprues. The hull come seperately in two pieces halved along the horizontal axis. The model can be built with moving sail planes, amoving rudder, moving elevation controls, and a spinning prop. In addition, all 24 hatches can be built to open and close, revealing the missiles beneath the 24 hatches.
That area, under tha hatches, is the major area of physical difference for the new conversion. The tubes which carried a single Trident MIRV intercontinental ballistic missile, now carry a pack of seven Tomohawk missiles in each tube accept fo the forward two tubes which are used for SEAL dive tubes, or to enter a SEAL mini-submarine. Making the covers for those Tomohawk missiles would have to be built from scratch.
The instructions are very nicely done with easy to understand steps and a lot of detail, including hints and instructions on various aspects of model building, like weatherizing the vessel.
The decal sheet is also well done including all of the markings necessary to sepict the vessel in its SSNB capacity, which did not change (except for the hatch covers in the SSGN configuration..
The Build - Dry fit and initial assembly
The first thing to do is to examine the various pieces, dry fit the large pieces together, and remove any excess material so that smooth joins and smooth panels are created. One of my grandsons is helping me with this build as his father serves in the US Navy and has served aboard this boat.
So, I used the xacto knife and sand paper to remove some spurs on the hull halves before gluing them together, and along the upper hatch cover deck to which the sail is attached. I also applied the same remedy to the various pieces of the sail. I decided to make the sale planes and the rudder operational, meaning they would be able to be manually operated on the model. The small plastic bars that extend through the vessel to match up with the other piece of the plane on the other side have to be handled and glued carefull to make them work.
Once completed, the parts went together well enough, but rubber bands were requitred to get the best fit for the upper and lower halves.
The Build - Initial painting of hull and sail
At this point after I glued the hull together, I masked off and the portion to paint the upper half of the hull black. I used Model Master flat black for the upper hull above the waterline, and used an off black, weathered black, for the non-skid surface along the top of the vessel, leading forward and aft from the sail where the personnel walk while she is underway or in port.
Then, I masked off the lower half after the upper portion had dried sufficently...usually at least 4-6 hours if not longer. Masked off the upper half and then painted the below water-line area in Hull Red, from Tamiya. After that dried, we touched up the painting, ie. hand painting the curved forward portion of the above water line black area, and the detailed area of the missile hatch deck.
The Build - Completing Hull and starting hatches (scratch building SLCM packs)
Having painted the missile tubes/silos a standard flat gray, it was time to complete putting the hull together with the upper deck which covers the tubes and houses the sail.
I used "weathered black" to paint the off-black areas of the non-skid areas for crew to walk, and then started building the hatches.
I decided to build the first two hatches as they are on the new SSGN as lock-in, lock-out tubes for US Navy SEAL divers and their equipment. Tubes 3-4 can be used for the same, dependig on the operation and the number of SEALS and their equipment. There are also mini-submersibles that can attach to these lock-in/lock-out hatches.
I made tubes 1 and 2 with hatches that can be opened to show the large tubes down into the vessel. I will ultimately add some PE parts with ladders and other details.
Hatches 5-6 I have made into representations of the 7-pack Tomahawk cruise missile packs for the vessel. Up to 22 of the tubes can be used for this, meaning the SSGN-726, USS Ohio and her sister SSGNs can carry a total of 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles if necessry.
I was lucky and found missile covers in the 1/72 scale Testor's NATO Armament accessory kit that have 7 tube rocket launcher covers for 1/72 scale helicopters. These fit perfectly into these areas and with a little more painting will very much look the part of the SLCM packs. I am creating these two hatches with opening covers too.
The Build - Completing the missile hatches, prop, deck vents/openings, the sail sensors a& MK-48 torpedoes.
As stated above, I ended up leaving hatches 1 and 2, and hatches 5 and 6 capable of being open and closed. The others I glued down in the closed position. Hatches 1 and 2 are used exclusively for Lock-Out chambers for US Navy SEALS and I will place two PE ladders up the internal sides of those chambers. They also allow for the docking of SEAL mini-subs, but one did not come with the kit.
Hatches 3 and 4 can be used either for more SEAL activity or as Tomahawk missile launchers with the 7-pak insert. Usually, hatches 5 and 6 and on back are used for Tomahawk missile launches and I have the 7-pak Tomahawk pack build and shown in the open hatches 5 and 6.
I also added the prop painted in brass, added the three small vent/openings along the hull, leaving the last two closed but showing the first in the open position, and added the torpedoe tubes. On the port side I left the tubes opne and on the starboard side I have them closed. I am painting up two MK-48 torpedoes to place in these open tubes. The kit comes with instructions to paint them in the Blue, Silver, Black and Orange of training torpedoes. I am electing to paint my in the green markings of war shots for the US submarine service, which are not shown in the paint scheme. Basically mmost of the torpedo is flat green and I painted the warhead end a slightly darker green, with brass props.
Finally, I started the various Sail sensors/periscopes. There are five that came with the model and they have decals to add on the lower portion of the raised antennae (which I am depciting in the raised position) to show the gray splotched paint scheme on the lower portion of those sensors when raised. I may paint those patterns as opposed to using the decals.
Here's how all that has worked out:
The Build - Decals, Ladders, Sail, and final touch up and completing the model.(5/20/2012)
I completed the sail sensors and added them, electing to paint the pattern on the periscopes and sensors instead of using the decals.
Also added the Photo Etched ladders to the lock-out chambers for the SEALS in tubes 1 and 2 (ladders in front and rear), and painted the Tomahawk missiles in the 7-pack in tubes 5 and 6.
Finally, all of the decals were placed after a coat of gloss-coat, let dry completely, and then added two coats of dull coat.
She ended up looking faily nicels and will be a nice addition to my mixed arm CSG/ARG group I am putting togwether for the US NAvy in 1/350 scale.
You can read about all of that, HERE - Jeff Head's 1/350 Scale Model Shop.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.