11 years ago
(USS Melvin DD680);
457 parts (412 in grey styrene, 17 black plastic driveline parts, 7
copper coated steel rods, 7 steel screws, 5 brass electrical parts, 4
rubber bands, 2 vinyl couplers, 1 motor, 1 length of copper wire, 1
length of copper chain); retail price (this release) US$129.95
Advantages: relatively (!) inexpensive large-scale ship kit suitable
for remote control; many working parts and moving parts when the ship
is moving; relatively easy model to assemble and rugged enough to run
in still water
Disadvantages: =93child of the 1960s=94 and it shows it; many
discrepancies with actual Fletcher Class destroyers
Rating: Recommended with Resevations
Recommendation: to anyone into cheap R/C conversions or a good project
to carry out with their kids
Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s the plastic model industry was
getting into its prime - the =93first golden age of modeling=94 =96 and wer=
starting to branch out into larger and larger model kits. Revell
launched its line of large ships in 1/96 scale and Monogram turned to
1/8 scale car kits. Lindberg, as something of an =93also ran=94 at the
time, tried both lines as well but as all of them wanted a =93niche=94 of
their own soon turned to large scale motorized ship kits with working
features. The first two were a 1/350 scale Bismarck and a 1/350 scale
HMS Hood. Both kits had programmable (via a camming system) movement
in the water, moving turrets, and large size =96 each ship was about 27"
long when complete.
The acme of their ship kits were their 1/32 scale PT-109 PT boat kit
and the 1/125 scale =93Blue Devil=94 destroyer kit. The latter did
everything: it could follow one of four different pre-programmed
courses in the water, had its gun turrets move and elevate along with
torpedo tubes and gun directors, and was really BIG =96 36" (910mm)
long. In order to achieve that, Lindberg picked the somewhat odd scale
of 1/125 (apparently making it 1/96 would have made it nearly four
feet long and exceeded the capability of molds, as well as made it
The model was supposedly based on the USS MELVIN, a Fletcher Class
destroyer built in October 1943, active in the Pacific, reactivated
from 1951-1954, and then struck in 1975. There are two photos of the
ship on pages 20 and 30 of the Squadron/Signal book =93Fletcher DDs in
Action=94 that shows her to be a modified Fletcher in the =93Late War=94
configuration: =93square=94 bridge, five 5/38" mounts, ten torpedo tubes,
five twin 40mm mounts, seven twin 20mm mounts, two roller racks and
six K gun depth charge launchers.
As time went on, the kit started to look like, well, a Lindberg kit.
Too many =93working features=94 to permit scale accuracy, too many
compromises, and too many toylike parts soon caused a number of
modelers to condemn this kit to the flea markets (unless they enjoyed
operating it either with its four fixed patterns or via an R/C setup.
A few hardy souls did attempt to accurize the kit and turn it into a
scale model, but that took a lot of work and detailing of the parts.
Lindberg went out of business for all practical purposes by the
1980s, but in recent years many of its kits have been re-released
under their original manufacturer=92s logo. (The people who now own
Lindberg (J. Lloyd) also own the old Hawk brand now =96 less the kits
which went to Testors =96 and are also selling them again as well.) This
kit is now one of the re-releases (from number 815M in the 1960s to
70815JL signifying the new ownership.
The kit is 100% of the original kit - no modifications, no drop-outs,
no changes or upgrades. That is both good and bad, as many kits from
that era have been =93corrected=94 which usually means a kit which no
longer has some of the charm of that era nor represents an accurate
model. It retains the complete motorization option in which six D cell
batteries provide power as well as ballast for the model; unlike most
Lindberg kits of the time that used pulleys and rubber bands to drive
the propellers in their motorized form, this one has a substantial
gearbox and vinyl shaft couplings to drive the two twin-bladed
propellers. (Oddly enough the typical Lindberg retouched frontspiece
artwork shows three-bladed props; no clue if the first kits had them
or it was the test shot mockup which did.)
To their credit Lindberg did concentrate on trying to do a good job
(great for the time) of the model and made it as accurate as they
could and still permit all of the working features to be serviceable
and the six D cell batteries. That meant the seven screws used for
fastening the deck in place would be exposed, but with the level of
sophistication of the time that was easy to overlook.
The kit has none of the niceties most modelers today expect, such as
fine molded parts or etched brass to replicate screens or mesh (such
as radar antenna). For its time, it was kind enough to provide
stanchions for the railings rather than a big rim with ridges as did
nearly every other kit.
The 5" gun houses come in nine parts (gun, mount, base, traverse pin,
four part gun house and rear vent) with an optional flash cover (parts
126) for the gun. The guns do not elevate as they did on the Bismarck
or Hood, so anyone wanting a scale effect may wish to install them.
The main gun director also rotates and comes in seven parts, but the
screen (part 93) is very thick and only simulates the actual radar
Each twin 40mm consists of two parts; however the gunners=92 sights are
crude semicircles so anyone wishing a modicum of accuracy may want to
replace them with clear styrene circles or etched brass on general
principles. The 20mm mounts have three parts - mount, guns and
shields, with the latter also being thick as well.
Torpedo tubes come in sets of five with details for the fore and aft
sets included; the latter has the blast shield housing for the crew to
protect them from the midships 5" mount.
Probably the least impressive parts by today=92s standards are the
depth charges and the main mast. The charges are split down the middle
and the seam that results is nearly impossible to remove due to the
fact they sit on racks, those on the K guns have huge depressions on
the ends. The mast is one single piece with only a small radar antenna
that is added to it; the main radar antenna is way too thick and only
hints at a mesh texture.
The whaleboats consist of four parts each =96 hull, interior, canvas
cover, and rudder assembly. As with other bits, these are a bit thick
or smooth, but again recall this was done in the mid 1960s.
One thing not mentioned in the motorization steps is to ensure that
the shaftways are heavily coated with Vaseline prior to assembly as a
sealant against water leakage. I recall more than once when I missed
this step as a kid and watched a ship suddenly heel over and sink to
the bottom of my grandmother=92s swimming pool. While retrieving it was
not a problem, it wasn=92t anything I had expected!
There are numerous other shortcuts taken =96 for example, the stacks
come in only two parts and have no protective grid over the top of the
cap. Anyone who wants to turn this model into a showpiece has his work
cut out for him.
Finishing is another missed opportunity. After highlighting the
ship=92s history in the directions, the directions indicate it should be
painted in a splinter pattern (Measure 32) scheme. But according to
the Squadron/Signal book and the two photos the actual vessel was
painted in Measure 21 which is how it got the nickname =93Blue Devil=94.
This scheme is listed as: Vertical Surfaces - Navy Blue 5-N (all
vertical surfaces without exception); Horizontal Surfaces - Deck Blue,
20-B; Wood Decks - except on submarines and carriers shall be darkened
to the color Deck Blue, Deck Blue paint shall be used in lieu of stain
for this purpose; Canvas Covers - visible from the outside vessel are
to be dyed a color corresponding to Deck Blue. Decals consist of only
the bow numbers, two =93Blue Devil=94 insignia which apparently go on the
after stack, a scoreboard for the side of the bridge, and one other
small decal. Photos show it should also have smaller numbers at the
stern behind the propeller guards and a low relief name welded on the
Overall, this is something that can be described more as a fun
project than a serious model. I intend to put this one together, paint
it up, and use it to excite my grandchildren. And it=92s a perfect
father/son project as well!