by: Guido Hopp [ ]
Originally published on:
While all the glory and attention are directed towards the bird farms and Big Guns, there is a lot of down and dirty work to be done in naval warfare, which usually doesn’t get a lot of attention as long as they are doing their jobs well. Mine sweeping is is exactly of this nature. The ocean-going Aggressive Class Minesweeper was developed to cope with the North Korean passive anti shipping measures in the confined waters of the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan.
Their hulls were full wood constructions to thwart the thread of magnetic mines. The equipment was laid out to cope with all conventional sea mines: acoustic, magnetic, bottom and moored contact mines had to be dealt with. The first units were launched in 1952 and their life span exceeded even most optimistic estimations: The majority served longer than 20 years and some even in the first Gulf War. MSO-455 USS Implicit left the US Navy after 40 years of service and was then to sail on under the Republican Chinese banner of Taiwan.
In total 74 ships of all three variants were built, while only one was canceled. Many ships were sold to other navies than the USN. According to the information available the last Aggressive Class MSO was sold for scrap in 2002, fifty years after the launch of the first unit.
Packing and instruction...
The kit from Normandy comes in the usual white folding box. Besides the hull, the parts are packed in 4 zipper bags, while another bag holds a photo etch sheet. A decal sheet and the instruction can be found at the bottom of the box. Even though the hull is not wrapped up individually all parts seem to be adequately protected. How my issue of the PE sheet got kinked in one corner, laying flat in the box near the bottom, I don’t know. The resin parts are complemented with a length of round styrene rod and length of round brass rod. The instruction style of the L’Arsenal kit has received a makeover: Everything is shown in CAD drawings, which is a significant improvement over the line drawings of their older kit instructions and lay testament to their new approach in kit development.
The parts count isn’t excessive, but with good detail and great fit this kit promises to be nothing but modeling fun. Except a smaller bit of flesh and a bit of bubbling on the keel the parts are flawless. There were no pin holes, but the creamy white colour makes detecting them difficult. I am sorry that some the photos are somewhat below par: I still hope can see the good quality supplied. My camera simply would not allow me to make shots of higher contrast at the given resolution and lighting.
The connections between casting stubs and parts are so fine that some parts are falling off, but this makes for very easy parts cleaning. There is quite a bit of super thin flesh to be removed from the small parts. A bit of scraping with the Excato blade will do the job just fine. Dry fitting reveals no fit issues whatsoever. Maybe the 40mm gun barrel I will want to replace with a metal barrel. I would very much wish for co-operation between BMK and L’Arsenal to supply such fine detail. In many Aggressive Class vessels the 40mm was replaced by a 20mm or 20mm twin gun, but there is no such option included in the kit. Otherwise all the small parts are just fine. While the bridge of the kit is designed open there is, besides a very nice compass, no detail to equip it.
Photo Etch Parts...
The parts are finely relief etched and provide folding lines for ease of construction of the more complicated parts such as the bridge window with its attached roof. The inclined ladders have no folding steps, which is somewhat below expectation. There are no replacement parts whatsoever, so be careful in construction, especially when dealing with the pre-shaped railing: There is not a bit to spare.
The Decal sheet is -quality wise - beyond criticism. The thin film is printed in perfect register. The hull numbers supplied allow markings of USN, Portuguese, Italian, Belgian, Dutch and – of cause – French vessels. It is most unfortunate that no national flags are supplied for these countries on the decal sheet.
Besides the missing national flags and bridge equipment, the few gripes I am having with the kit are negligible, really. Here’s a 1/350th scale kit that will appeal both to the beginner and the advanced modeler. I am quite certain that even the super detailer would have a ball with this one.