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USS Independence

Trumpeter 1/350 USS Independence LCS 2 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2010 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject USS Independence LCS 2 Scale 1/350
Kit Number 4548 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Very nicely done Littoral Combat Ship Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $42.95

First Look

USS Independence
USS Independence
USS Independence
USS Independence
USS Independence
USS Independence
USS Independence

The US Navy's Littoral Combat Ship program has been an interesting roller coaster ride from an observer's point of view as the Navy continues to this day to define the missions and capabilities required for this new class of vessel. Originally intended to be a low-observable weapons platform that could operate in littoral waters where the larger classes of combat vessels are more vulnerable, the program has shifted to a more modular and reconfigurable ship that could be a jack of all trades and potentially a master of none.

As different companies weighed in with their concepts and designs, two teams emerged who were given the go-ahead to build their designs. The USS Freedom LCS 1 is the product of the Lockeed Martin consorium that includes Marinette Marine shipyards. The other team led by General Dynamics produced the USS Independence LCS 2. Where the Freedom is a conventional hull design, the Independence is based around a trimaran hull. Both feature faceted hull and superstructure surfaces to minimize radar cross-section.

The USS Independence is currently fitted with a 57mm main gun, four .50 caliber machine gun mounts, two Bushmaster chain guns, and a SeaRAM CIWS for air defense. The ship has a large flight deck on its stern that embarks two SH-60 Seahawks and the MQ-8 Firescout UAV. The deck is large enough to handle just about any helicopter in service in case the Special Operations folks are looking for a mobile platform.

While the Navy has delayed a production decision for the LCS, it is looking like the Navy will have to either build both vessels to keep the program from getting entangled with contractor protests or simply cancel the program as the Navy scrambles to salvage what it can from upcoming budget cuts. Stay tuned!

I had noted that several companies were releasing kits of the USS Independence, most of which are rendered in 1/700 scale. I was pleasantly surprised when this kit arrived for review and it is rendered in 1/350 scale. Given the small box even in this scale, it reveals the relative size of the LCS vessels in comparison to other combatants. As you can see from the images, the stealthy nature of this ship also ensures that the kit will also be fairly simple to build as well. Let's take a look:

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees plus the upper and lower hull halves. Two trees of clear parts are also included for the SH-60 Seahawk helicopters, and three frets of photo-etched parts (one duplicate tree not shown) to round out the details.

Assembly of the styrene parts will be quick and easy. Most of the time spent on this project will be to install the large number of photo-etched parts (including lots of tie-down fittings on the flight deck). So despite the simplicity of the plastic portion of the kit, this project is still rated with an Intermediate skill level for all of the photo-etch. While you can render a nice model without the PE parts, it wouldn't be the same.

Among the photo-etched parts included in this kit are a nice set of railings for around the flight deck, main deck, upper deck, and around one of the forward access hatches.

If you haven't seen these clear aircraft from Trumpeter, give one a try. Simply mask the windows, paint the airframe black (or dark gray), then apply the normal camouflage colors to the airframe. When you remove the masks off the windows, you'll have the illusion of an interior inside the aircraft.

This kit includes the first Fire Scout in this scale which is so small that the rotor blades are in photo-etch.

Markings are provided for the few distinctive markings on this ship (so far) and even the bridge windows are rendered as decals. The nameplates for the display stand are photo-etch! Nice!

If you want a model of one of the newest combat vessels in the world, get one of these nice kits from Trumpeter and you'll definitely have something different to display on the contest table or on your shelf. I sure hope that USS Freedom is also on someone's project list!

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!