Friday, August 7

Build review: Bronco Models 1/350th scale Chinese Navy Type 055 DDG Large Destroyer

It all seems so simple - You look at a model in the box - limited parts count, simple construction & some good detail - what could go wrong? Paul Lee had this sensation as he took on Bronco's new 1/350th scale Chinese Navy Type 055 DDG Large Destroyer, the detail, simple construction & low parts count seemed like the perfect kit... See what happened on the way to him building & painting this kit to a very nice standard in his build review...

Build review: Bronco Models 1/350th scale Chinese Navy Type 055 DDG Large Destroyer
Manufacturer: Bronco Models
Name: Chinese Navy Type 055 DDG Large Destroyer
1/350th scale
Type: Polystyrene, photo-etch, and waterslide decals multimedia Kit
Available from Hobbylink Japan for $89Aud
Product Link on the Bronco Models distributors worldwide
The machine - the Chinese Navy Type 055 DDG Large Destroyer
Historically, any nation on the rise has also risen with an associated rise in military power. China is the new kid on the block in the world stage, and while she has always had a large military, it could not be said that the equipment she possessed was cutting edge technology. Although this has changed significantly and China has been modernizing her military with sticks that are bigger and bigger, and some may even say better than what the rest of the world has. One can only hope that we never find out and fight our wars through speculation….
One of China’s latest sticks is the Type 055 Renhai class destroyer, although the US and Nato classify this ship as a cruiser. For comparison, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers displace between 8300 -9700 tonnes, while the Ticonderoga class cruiser displaces 9800 tonnes. The Type 055 displaces 12,000-13,000 tonnes so it would seem that the Chinese classification of this destroyer is just a tad on the conservative side. 
Boasting two Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) at the front and the middle of the ship, of which there are 112 missile cells in total. It is believed that the ship will carry a variety of anti-air, anti-ship, anti-surface, anti-submarine missiles, and helicopter hangar facilities, so it comes as no surprise that the US see this as a flagship for the Chinese fleet and will act as a primary escort for their aircraft carriers. 
Bronco Models 1/350th scale Chinese Navy Type 055 DDG Large Destroyer kit
I do fancy a good shop model, although I do find modern ships with their long sleek lines and flat VLS to be rather dull, and prefer the bustling look of the guns or actual missile launchers on decks. However, I will admit that I was won over while going through the box with the editor, and seeing only about 50 -60 parts, with two frets of PE, and agreeing that this would be a fairly simple build. 
The kit comes in two main pieces being the upper and lower halves, and probably the biggest sprue runner you will ever see in a kit, although this is covered up by the superstructure so you don’t need to worry about removing it. The instructions would have you attach the various details to them before combining them together to finish the kit, but a bit of forward-thinking will tell you that this is just asking for disaster, so I joined the upper and lower halves first, but did not realise what an ordeal this would end up being. 
The biggest problem is that the sides of the hull were warped so I had to blend them together with a fair amount of putty. It seems like a fairly simple operation but for some reason, the seam just didn’t want to disappear resulting in loss of motivation several times. 
There are not a lot of details to go on the hull, with the main gun and CIWS up the front, five other launchers at the back, and various details of which I do not know what they are. One clever bit of engineering is that Bronco moulded the sprue gates to the bottom of the attachment points so they just slide into their associated slot and only a minimal amount of clean-up is required. The main gun is probably the most labour-intensive sub-assembly with a ridiculous FIVE pieces, so construction is really a very simple affair with this kit.  At this point, it seemed like a pretty obvious decision to paint the top surfaces in the kit colour recommendations. 
The instructions call for the main hull colour to be IJN Grey which I thought was a bit dark when compared to photos of the real ship so I decided to go with Gunze’s H338 Light Grey. Attaching the fins and strakes to the lower hull was fairly straight forward, although the instructions make it look like the fins cant inwards, a quick comparison to the paint chart clearly shows them canting outwards. Masking the demarcation for the lower hull proved to be another headache because while peeling the tape off, the tape decided to remove some of the putty that I had used to blend the side of the hull. Resulting in another loss of motivation. The markings on the rear helicopter deck is provided in a single decal with some very thin lines so I cut it into smaller pieces to make placement easier. 
At 1/350th scale, railings are pretty much a must for any ship kit, and while Bronco gives you two frets of PE, they are only for the antennas, and the safety nets on the helicopter deck. Big Blue Boy provides a set of railings for this kit, and I’m tempted to say that they fit perfectly, but had some problems with the middle sections, but I think that was down to my terrible PE cutting technique and bending some of them out of shape. The antennas provided in the kit are slightly square in profile, but not too noticeable so they can pass muster, but I’m sure a turned set would be better, but no such set exists. 
The real ship probably still has that new ship about it, so there isn’t going to be a huge amount of weathering on the ship. Pictures of the ship generally seemed quite clean, and spotless when obviously on parade with the crew standing along the sides. However, that just isn’t my style so I mixed up a grey wash to give it some streaking after a long day’s sailing. 

The completed ship in a walk around showing stem to stern...
Apart from the warped hull sides, there is no reason why this kit could not be done in a fairly short period of time, possibly even in a weekend! However, this was a kit that just didn’t want to play nice with me for some reason, but in the end, turns out to be quite a nice looking model. The only thing that I can think is missing is the Z-18 helicopter which would’ve been a nice addition to the rear deck, however, this doesn’t exist in kit form.
I think this was just one of “those” models you build from time to time, but really, I didn’t come across any major issues apart from the warped hull so I can recommend this kit. 

Paul Lee

Thanks to Bronco Models for sending this kit to build and review