USS Benjamin Stoddert DDG-22 was one of the later Charles F. Adams class destroyers. These vessels were originally conceived as mobilization ships that, in wartime, could be produced in larger quantities than expensive frigates they supplemented. Twenty-three Adams class ships were built, of which the Stoddert was third to last. The design was based on the previous all-gun Forest Sherman class, with the number three 5"/54 gun replaced by a Mk 11 Tartar missile launcher. The Tartar missile was later replaced by the SM-1MR (RIM 66C) surface to air missile. Despite the outward similarity, Adams Class ships were not Forest Shermans with missile launchers. Their hulls were marginally larger.
Six Adams class ships were built for export, three to Germany and three to Australia. White Ensign Models offers kits of both these export variants as well, FGM Lutjens and HMAS Brisbane. USS Benjamin Stoddert was commissioned March 7, 1964. Being among the final units to enter service, she had several improvements, most notably a more reliable Mk 13 single arm launcher and SQS-24 bow sonar. The kit depicts the ship as of 1989, a few years before she was decommissioned. At that point she had received the SPS-48 three-dimensional air search radar and upgraded missile battery. It should also be noted that parts are included to build earlier Adams class units. Youll have to consult your references as to the proper fit of these earlier class members.
White Ensign Models has a well deserved reputation as the leading producer of British warship models, so the decision to produce a U.S. Cold War combatant is somewhat surprising, but nevertheless welcome. Ships from this era have been overlooked until recently, and in 1/350 scale you can just about forget it, unless you want to build the Tamiya New Jersey or DML Spruance again. WEM has not let us down in this release. This kit is outstanding in every definition of the term. Take just about any negative quality you can imagine in a ship kit and toss it out the window!
The first thing you see upon opening the box is the hull, and it makes a very nice first impression. WEM now has its casting done by JAG, and the results are impressive. There was only one casting flaw, a noticeably skewed sonar dome. Otherwise, the resin components were flawless. Aside from fixing the dome, very little preparation will be required. Speaking of assembly, WEM has removed a major hassle. The slotted superstructure components fit perfectly into one another, which makes preliminary construction very simple. Even the upper and lower hull line up well, although some sanding and filling will still be necessary. There is one goof on the uptakes; the vents are represented by featureless panels rather than screened in. It is a barely noticible omission, but one that would be difficult to rectify. Smaller parts are excellent as well, cast with only a minimum of flash. The foremast, UNREP post, rudders and shaft bearings are cast in white metal. Their quality is excellent, and the foremast looks sturdy enough to be rigged without fear of deformation. This is a good thing, because it is quite complex and would be a hassle to scratch build. WEM has even gone so far as to supply brass rod. It is used to fabricate the shafts and mast supports. Two sheets of etched brass are included, with everything necessary for the ultimate superdetailing job. The sheets are universal, incorporating additional parts for the exported Adams variants, although the kits themselves are not universal. Topping off the package is a complete decal sheet. Well, almost complete. The sheet does not include perimeter circles for the weapons. This is a minor complaint, but I dont think Ive ever seen these included in any decal set, something that baffles me. Why is this marking so hard to produce? On the other hand, the sheet has the names of all 23 ships in the class, a very nice touch. Instructions are usually the worst part of a cottage industry kit, but once again I was not disappointed. They are comprehensive and easy to follow in a step-by step manner. They even provide alternate steps to build other ships. Be forewarned they do not specify the details of any specific ship besides Stoddert, so have references handy if you want to build any other unit.
This is not a kit for beginners. While it looks like the ship will go together smoothly, theres a lot of etched brass parts that demand some familiarity with simpler models first. If you have some experience with photo etch and are looking to go to the next level, the Stoddert is perfect. The kits excellent engineering means fewer question marks and WEM includes everything you need to build a real masterpiece. I youre a serious ship modeller, you want this ship. Even if modern ships arent your thing, the engineering and craftsmanship will amaze you. This ship just might convert a few WWII junkies! If you are into modern ships, here is my advice: take that Tamiya New Jersey youve been slaving over, set it aside, roll up the instructions and use them to smack yourself in the head. You should have this ship already!