Hobby Boss 1/700 USS Wasp LHD 1 Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||February 2012||Manufacturer||Hobby Boss|
|Subject||USS Wasp LHD 1||Scale||1/700|
|Kit Number||83402||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||Nicely detailed kit||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$63.99|
The USS Wasp is the first-in-class for a series of amphibious assault ships designed to serve as the tactical hub at sea for Marine Corps operations ashore. The Wasp class replaces the Tarawa-class LHA series and is distinguishable by the absence of sponsons on the bow and a full-width flight deck instead. The Wasp-class is over 20 feet longer than the Tarawa-class to better accommodate the LCAC in its well deck.
Combining the functionality of multiple specialty ships of the past, the LHD can embark three Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) or three Landing Craft Utility (LCU) as well as combinations with other smaller amphibious craft all in its spacious well deck. The LHD can lower itself in the water to flood the well deck and allow amphibious craft to embark or dock inside the well deck through a ramp-covered opening in the stern, then raise itself back up to put the well deck several feet above sea level.
The flight deck can accommodate a wide range of US Marine Corps aircraft as well as Navy rotary wing aircraft including the famous AV-8B Harrier, MV-22 Osprey, CH-53 Sea Stallion, CH-47 Sea Knight, UH-1N Twin Huey, and the AH-1W Cobra. Like any aircraft carrier, the LHD as a large hangar below the flight deck and elevators to move aircraft between the flight deck and the hangar deck.
In addition to its aircraft and amphibious craft capabilities, the LHD can embark with up to 2,200 Marines in addition to the Navy officers and enlisted personnel that crew the LHD itself. The LHD also houses a 600 bed hospital. The ships that accompany the LHD at sea provide the supplies from food to fuel and armaments needed to address a wide range of contingency operations. To put the USS Wasp into perspective, the LHD 1 is 844 feet long, 106 feet wide, and displaces over 40,000 tons. The previous USS Wasp, the CV 9 Essex-class aircraft carrier, was 872 feet long, 147 feet wide, and displaced over 36,000 tons. Aside from the narrower flight deck, the modern Wasp is very similar in dimensions and weight to its World War Two predecessor.
If you'll recall, Trumpeter produced the USS Wasp LHD 1 in 1/350 scale in conjunction with Gallery Models (US) and Revell Germany. The kit was very well received and has since been issued with the updated topside details as the USS Iwo Jima LHD 7. As is the normal business model within the Trumpeter's parent company, whatever is produced in one scale under the Trumpeter brand is released in (usually) a smaller scale under the HobbyBoss brand and this is one such case. While there are fewer parts in the kit, this USS Wasp is still a beauty. Let's take a look:
Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on fifteen parts trees plus 21 trees of clear styrene parts and three frets of photo-etched parts. One lower hull molded in red and one display stand molded in black round out the parts in this kit. Unlike the 1/350 scale kit, this kit is molded with separate upper and lower hulls so you do have the option of a waterline build. The only minor glitch is the lack of a waterline plate to mount to the underside of the upper hull should you build this waterline.
While the kit does retain many of the features of its 1/350 scale cousin, it also has a few differences as well. First, the well deck is eliminated out of this tooling so the rear gates are installed in the hull closed-only. Even so, the kit comes with the same compliment of combat vehicles and landing craft so you can display them loaded and operating around the ship.
The flight deck is next and the catwalks that run either side of the flight deck that also serve as stowage for emergency rafts, antennas, and defense positions. The kit also comes with similar number of aircraft and support vehicles for the flight deck as the larger Wasp with the exception of two more Harriers and two SH-60F Seahawks in this release. Still no UH-1Ns for the Wasp.
Next comes the superstructure which looks simple, but you can see in the instructions just how much detail goes into building up this assembly. The kit provides a nice array of radars, CIWS mounts, SATCOM antennas, and even a Link 16 antenna. As with any warship subject, check your references to see what changes have been made to the ship in terms of antennas and such as these will change over time.
The kit provides two frets of photo-etched parts for the ships railings that round out assembly of the basic ship. Next comes the aircraft, flight deck vehicles, landing craft, and a sampling of combat vehicles. These all include:
Flight Deck Vehicles
- 1 x Tilly crane
- 2 x large fork lifts
- 2 x small fork lifts
- 8 x deck vehicles including tow, fire, and service types
- 2 x service trailers
- 2 x M1A1 Abrams
- 2 x M60A3
- 2 x AAV-7
- 2 x M1097 Humvee Shelter Carriers
- 2 x M1114 Humvees
- 2 x M198 towed artillery
- 2 x LAV-25
- 2 x MTVR trucks
- 2 x LCAC
- 2 x LCU
- 2 x AH-1W Cobra
- 4 x AV-8B Harrier II
- 4 x CH-46 Sea Knight
- 4 x MV-22 Osprey
- 4 x CH-53E Sea Stallion
- 2 x SH-60F Seahawk
What's nice about these aircraft is that they're molded in clear (hence all of the clear parts) which means you can paint them overall and call it a day, or you can mask the windows and paint the airframes black and then the appropriate grey to create the illusion of interiors. In the case of the helicopters, the rotor blades are provided in both flight-ready and folded positions.
This kit comes with two sheets of decals. One large sheet contains most of the deck, hull and superstructure markings the other sheet contains markings for the various aircraft and landing craft.
From what I've seen so far, this kit builds up into a beautiful model without any real problems. Given the number of parts, photo-etched details and lots of small styrene details, I do recommend this kit to more experienced modelers, but if you do like the subject, you might want to stash one away even if you don't think your skills are ready for such a project. I'm not sure how long this kit will remain on the market and it wouldn't hurt to have one in your collection to save yourself money later trying to acquire one from the eBay crowd.
AMS modelers will have some fun with this project as there are still open spaces under the flight deck where you can stash all sorts of support gear for fiber optics and other lighting options to really bring this beauty to life.
In any case, this kit is one of the nicest ships that HobbyBoss (Trumpeter) has ever done and it should prove popular with the 1/700 scale naval modelers.
My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!