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Academy 1/350 USS Reuben James FFG 57 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2011 Manufacturer Academy
Subject USS Reuben James FFG 57 Scale 1/350
Kit Number 14106 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice detailing, full hull or waterline option Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $55.00

First Look


Oliver Hazard Perry was a naval officer who distinguished himself for building and commanding the fleet on Lake Erie leading up to the war of 1812. In the battle against the British fleet, Perry lost his own flagship, the Lawrence, but transferred his command under heavy fire to the Niagara and won the day.

The Frigate class named in Perry's honor was designed as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) vessel that was also equipped to defend against anti-ship missiles of the 1970s and 1980s. With 69 Perry-class frigates built, the type was built in the 'short hull' (Flight I) and 'long hull' (Flight III) configurations, with some of the Flight I Perrys refitted to Flight III.

One of the main differences between the two Flights is the flight deck. Flight I could only accommodate the SH-2 Seasprite helicopter while the Flight III could embark the SH-60 Seahawk. The aft capstan located on the flight deck of the Flight I Perry was relocated to accommodate the longer tail of the Seahawk and the deck itself was equipped with the Recovery Assist Securing and Taversing (RAST) system used to secure and move the Seahawk on deck.

Only a few US Navy ships have appeared as themselves on the big screen with two notable examples being the USS Reuben James, a Flight III Perry-class Frigate that was first on-the-scene after the Soviet Typhoon-class ballistic missile submarine 'Red October' surfaced after an alleged reactor leak. The other being the USS Nimitz nuclear aircraft carrier being sent back in time to December 6th, 1941 to have its VF-84 F-14 Tomcats dogfight with A6M2 Zeros.

It was almost three years ago when Academy released the first Perry-class frigate kit, the first plastic kit of this class in 1/350 scale. The kit showed off some nice crisp detailing and had options in the box to render either the Flight I or Flight III configurations. The only down side to the kit was that Academy only included SH-60 Seahawk helicopters in the kit and the Seahawk was only embarked on the Flight III. The kit also needed an SH-2 Seasprite for the Flight I. Markings were provided only for the USS Oliver Hazard Perry FFG 7, a Flight I lead in class example.

In this special edition release, Academy addresses the Flight IIIs with the cover depicting the USS Reuben James FFG 57. The plastic parts are identical to the first release and even the nameplate on the stand reflects the Perry. You can fix this easily enough.

The hull is molded in halves, with a molded-in cut line inside the hull to make it easy to turn this model into a waterline display, complete with a solid bottom provided on the second tree. Should you opt for the full hull, the rudder and single shaft propulsion is provided along with a display base and name plate (mentioned above).

The main deck is comprised of two sections, the majority of the main deck, and two different flight decks. The Flight I and Flight III flight decks are included in the kit but you'll use the longer Flight III deck for this release.

The fully enclosed superstructure is nicely replicated with the deck house sitting atop the forward end. The main mast is nicely replicated and again, all styrene. The yardarms have the various HF, VHF, and UHF antennas as well as the Link 16 dome at the top of the main mast. Nicely done. The main radar dish is one of the few parts that Academy couldn't properly replicate in styrene and while most folks will still be happy with a solid radar dish, some modelers will want to replace this with photo-etch.

The kit includes a pair of SH-60B Seahawk helicopters, and judging from the way the lower chin is molded, we might see some later variants of the Seahawk in the future. The kit provides one Seahawk with its main rotors folded, the other ready for flight.

What makes this kit a special edition is the new photo-etched sheet and new decals. The photo-etched parts provide the experienced modeler with alternative parts for the styrene molded radar and an extensive set of railings for around the deck and catwalks, and a nice set of photo-etched safety nets around the flight deck. These parts are optional for the basic modeler, but they are a welcome addition for the experienced ship modeler.

Markings are provided for nine Flight III Perry-class frigates:

  • FFG 42 USS Klakring
  • FFG 46 USS Rentz
  • FFG 47 USS Nicholas
  • FFG 51 USS Gary
  • FFG 53 USS Hawes
  • FFG 54 USS Ford
  • FFG 55 USS Elrod
  • FFG 57 USS Reuben James
  • FFG 59 USS Kauffman

While only nine sets of names are provided, Academy provides a complete set of hull numbers that will allow you to replicate any of the Perry-class frigates. Deck markings are set up for the Flight III flight deck.

This is still the only Perry-class frigate kit to be released in styrene in 1/350 scale and kudos to Academy for providing the Flight I and Flight III decks. With the addition of the photo-etched parts, the AMS modeler has a great project ready to go out of the box.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!