USS Fletcher 1:350 Scale Dragon Model
This post is not really Philippines or expat related – but it is hobby related. And I got to do something with my time, right? I served onboard DD-992 USS Fletcher from 1989-1993. It was kind of my college years ha ha. Even though I have been on disability since my separation from the Navy I still have many fond memories of the old girl. Quite a few years ago someone on an old forum posted some pictures of a Fletcher model. I went and looked for one online but the only place I found it was out of stock – for years! Of and on I would go look for one. I did find one once but it was like $60 (for a $25 model), so I passed on that. Well a few months ago I looked and found one at a Chinese model company for about $22. Of course since I live in the Philippines I paid about that much again on shipping. So I made sure to order all the paint, glue, sand paper etc that I would need. I have yet to find a good hobby shop over here. So, about 6 years later I finally get to build a Fletcher model – good thing I learned some patience.
Well the big day arrives, after 6 weeks for shipping, and I get to unpack my model. At first glance it looks fairly detailed. As I begin I am happy with the way the pieces fit together. Which is good because the model putty I ordered did not ship. But it does not look like I will need it. I am careful with my sprue snips and use some judicious sanding so there are no leftover sprue scraps in the way. As I build it I decide to do the main body as one piece, and the superstructure as a separate piece. It seems like it will be easier to paint and decal that way. I give most of the parts a first coat of paint as they are built. And nothing shows off poor painting more than a picture! Oh… yeah my “bronze” paint showed up more like a purple putty. So I cannot paint the screws or rudders until after our Christmas trip to Manila. I do not have a paint sprayer here, in the Philippines, so it will be all hand painted. It won’t look as nice but hell our ship was hand painted so it may look more natural. The hobby shop in Manila had tons of military models: aircraft, boats, tanks, but no decals for any of them. All they had was some techno looking decals for an anime I am unfamiliar with (and forgot the name of).
The only real problem I have is that the decal sheet comes with numbers and lettering for 4 different Spruance class ships and none of them are the Fletcher! So I have to find some decal sheets to finish. This kit does not include handrails or nets around the helo hanger deck. There is a company that makes the detail set for the model but it cost twice as much as the model, and I decide if I don’t mention the missing details maybe no one will notice. So forget I mentioned it. I order the decals and while waiting for them found an acrylic display box. It says it is for Destroyers 1:350 scale. Like a fool I believe it – and buy it. The length is so tight I will have to turn the American flag sideways to get it into the box. The height unfortunately does not take into account the height of the mast! Melane suggest I turn it sideways. So instead of the black bottom and a clear case over the boat we will have a black back. I can live with that. Still waiting for the decals.
As I wait for the decals to arrive I get the rest of the model finished. I still kept it in two pieces. I will glue the superstructure to the main deck after the decals are on. The painting is going ok. I did get some bronze paint in Manila, at Christmas. It is a bit browner than I hoped but it will work. Once it is on the stand I do not think the screws or rudders will be very visible anyway. Too bad. Also the kit came with VLS, a vertical launch missile that was not on my Fletcher. It got added after I left. I was on the ASROC Fletcher. So I look online for some pictures and kitbash an ASROC. It is a little too large I think, but I am not making another one. I was an Engineman so was not familiar with the armament very much, so it looks good enough to me. If you worked on the ASROC I apologize for mine ha ha. For most of you, who did not serve onboard, the ASROC is the box on the bow (pointy end of the boat). It is right in front of the superstructure and behind the forward 5” gun.
The decals finally arrived and are better than I had hoped. Not only do I now have some 2’s so I can make a few 992’s, I also have a lot more detail decals. The original Dragon kit has some nice decals but the circle on the flight deck and the white squares front and back were part of the replacement decals. Nice touch. Some of the helicopter decals were so small I could not handle them well, and the new decal sheet has the same decals but just a little bigger. They still look like the right scale but my fat fingers could handle them better. The only thing missing is the lettering to put “Fletcher” on the back of the boat. It is not very visible, and maybe I can add it later. I am not good enough at painting to try and do it by hand.
So I finally got all the decals on, and some last touch up painting done. The instructions did not say to paint the Capt’s gig and motor whale boat red on the bottom, and I forgot that ours were red. So I had to do that after they were glued in place – not a good idea. But having the superstructure separated from the main boat was very handy for decaling. And I finally glued the superstructure in place. Done!
I intentionally worked slow, and if I got too much done in a day I would stop. I was trying to enjoy it as long as I could. I did not track the time so have no real idea how long it actually took. But with having to wait for our Christmas in Manila for paint, and ordering decals I had a lot of down time. I received the kit sometime in early November, I think. And finally finished it in early March. If I had everything here before starting I could have done it in a week easily. But where is the fun in that?