Shortly after the conclusion of World War One, the USN had a vast inventory of newly constructed flush deck destroyers. In the period of the limited construction budgets of the 1920s, little thought was given to new destroyer construction. The prevalent thinking was that the flush-deckers were sufficient for the navy’s needs. Other navies continued to build destroyers to new designs. In the late 20s Japan began construction of destroyers that were larger and arguably more powerful than any design elsewhere. The "Special Type" destroyers of the Fubuki and subsequent classes in reality established a new standard, by which all other destroyers would be measured.

It wasn’t until Fiscal Year (FY) 1932 that Congress opened the purse strings to allow new destroyer construction. There were two designs that were put into production, the Farragut class of 1500 tons, to be the standard fleet destroyer and the Porter class of 1850 ton destroyer leaders. The Mahan class of sixteen ships was the follow-on design for the Farraguts and made minor improvements to the Farragut design with one major improvement. The Mahan’s introduced an advance in propulsion.  The maximum rotation of the Farragut’s turbines was 3,460 rpm, while the new design used in the Mahan’s was 5,850 rpm. Other changes were cosmetic, including the introduction of a crew shelter located between the bridge and number 2 mount. In 1934 all 16 vessels in the class were laid down and they joined the fleet in 1936 and 1937. Three of the class are prominently featured in the photographic record of the Pearl Harbor attack. The photograph of the magazine explosion of the Shaw and the picture of the battered hulks of Cassin and Downes in dry-dock ahead of USS Pennsylvania, are standard fare in accounts of the event. Six of the sixteen were lost during the war (View the US Navy Historical Center's excellent photos of the Mahan class destroyer USS Shaw DD-373).

USS Conyngham and sistership, USS Case, were both laid down in the Boston Navy Yard on September 19, 1934 and were both launched September 14, 1935. Almost all of the Mahans were built in pairs at various shipyards. Conyngham served throughout the Pacific. She was with the carriers during the Battle of Midway. In the fall 1942 she served with five others of her class in DesRon 5, screening Enterprise in TF16 in the Solomons. In summer 1943 Conyngham was supporting the allied offensive in New Guinea. She was part of the assault on New Britain in December 1943. 1944 saw her involved in the assault and battles for the Marianas. By January 1945 Conyngham was with 7th fleet in the assault at Tarakan in the Dutch East Indies.

         VITAL STATISTICS
   LAID DOWN - September 19, 1934   LAUNCHED - September 14, 1935
       
COMMISSIONED - April 10, 1937   EXPENDED - July 2, 1948

 ARMAMENT (1944) - four 5 inch guns, twelve 21 inch   torpedo  tubes, four 40mm AA guns, five 20mm AA guns
DISPLACEMENT - 1,488 tons standard ; 2,103 tons FL
PERFORMANCE - 49,000 shp ; 36.5 knots

By 1944 all of the class had received substantial modifications. Number three gun was landed in order to accommodate more AA positions. By 1944 the standard fit for the class, including Conyngham, was four 5" guns, four 40mm in two twin mounts, five 20mm in single mounts and the original torpedo armament. There were exceptions, Lamson had the wing torpedo mounts landed to convert the twin 40mm mounts into quads and Shaw was reduced to three 5" mounts. Cassin and Downes differed completely from the rest of the class. They were almost totally destroyed at Pearl Harbor. New ships were built around the old machinery and they came out looking almost British in appearance.

The Iron Shipwright USS Conyngham
This review is a hybrid. It is part preview and it is part build up. I received the resin parts of the ship and a fret from the IS USS Hull (Farragut Class) Destroyer at the end of September. The fret and instructions for Conyngham have not yet been done. The following week I read that Profile Morskie was releasing a title on sistership, USS Drayton. I ordered the volume and waited for it to arrive before starting on the kit. The Profile Morskie was a perfect match for this kit. The plans and the kit look like they were done together in that they complement each other perfectly.

REFERENCES- USS DRAYTON, Profile Morskie # 28, is the best reference to use in the construction of this kit. It includes 45 photos of ships in the class, 16 pages of line drawings a two page line drawing pullout line plan & profile in 1:400 and a two page color plan & profile. The drawings & pullouts depict the ship in 1944. DESTROYERS OF WORLD WAR TWO, by M.J.Whitley gives an interesting overview of the class and some battle history. Both UNITED STATES NAVY DESTROYERS OF WORLD WAR TWO by John Reilly and US DESTROYERS, AN ILLUSTRATED DESIGN HISTORY by Norman Friedman give great detail on the design history of the Mahan class destroyers.

The resin parts were typical of  IS. All were nicely cast. The hull had a great deal of detail cast integral to it. The  bottom of the hull had some small pinhole voids easily filled and sanded smooth. The port bilge keel was damaged in one place. The damage was squared off and appropriate size Evergreen plastic used for repair. On the upper hull, some of the mushroom vents had small voids that had to be filled with super glue and one wing of the shelter for the after control position had to be replaced with Evergreen plastic. All of these corrections are easily accomplished in minimal time. There were no defects in the smaller resin parts. All parts fitted perfectly with each other.

Resin Parts
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The IS Conyngham is in the 1944 fit. The significant features of this fit include the change in the bridge windows. Originally the bridge had large square windows. This was great for observation but a definite hazard in battle. In 1944 the windows were gone and smaller portholes were present. Because the kit has the portholes rather than the larger windows, this kit does not lend itself into making an earlier version of the class. However, other than Cassin and Downes, almost every other ship in the class as of 1944 can be modeled from this kit. Lamson and Shaw would need the greatest modifications but the others are simple. The kit comes with an option of using one of the two different platforms that sit atop the gun crew shelter. Most of the class, including Conyngham, would use the smaller, narrow platform, which mounted one 20mm gun. However, Cummings was unique in having three 20mm on the single larger platform (see line drawing at page 102, U.S. Destroyers, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman) Conyngham’s Mk 4 (rectangle) and other ship’s Mk 28 (small circular dish) radar normally projected from the face of the director but the Mk 4 of Cummings was mounted on top of the director. Ted Paris of IS told me that the IS Conyngham fret will have both Mk 4 and Mk 28 radars, which will allow the Drayton, Flusser, Cummings or other ships of the class to be built. As far as I could observe, the only differences between Conyngham and Drayton were; Conyngham had a Mk 4 radar, Drayton has a Mk 28; Conyngham has vertical 5 " ready ammo lockers behind the aft control position on the aft superstructure and Drayton does not.

Modifications
I truly enjoyed building this model. Naturally, part of the enjoyment came from working on a kit that had not been released. Another part came from the ease of assembly of the kit. A third area of enjoyment came from making minor modifications to the resin portion of the kit. The kit comes with two AA director tubs that sit between the main mast and 40mm mounts. The parts provided show the tubs mounted on narrow pedestals. Through examination of the photographs of Conyngham and other ships in the class as of 1944, I believe that the tubs should have their lower halves of the same dimensions as the upper halves. To do this, I cut slices from a plastic straw and glued them to the lower halves of the tubs. I also fabricated a torpedo loading boom from scrap resin and mounted it on the starboard side of the aft funnel. Lastly I used Evergreen plastic rod to fabricate what appears to be the galley smokestack that immerges from the forward end of the aft superstructure. The bridge level of the model did not have passageways cut in the deck for the inclined ladders found inboard of the bridge wing bracing. Using a hand drill, I drilled four holes on each side of the deck, where the opening should be located. Then I used a hobby knife to enlarge and square off the correct rectangle shape. I also added small details and platforms on both masts using scrap resin and stretched sprue. All rigging was done with stretched sprue. None of these modifications took any great degree of skill.

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As I mentioned, the photo-etch fret for Conyngham still remains to be done. Although an IS Hull fret was provided, that fret was not sufficient for the details needed for Conyngham. It was necessary for me to scratch build the two rectangles of diagonally cross-braced bridge wing supports on each side of the ship. Additionally I scratch built brass support posts for the 40mm positions. Photos indicate that they are not just cylindrical posts but instead have a definite flair at top and bottom. I cannibalized my fret from the IS USS Moffet for the four K-gun racks and the Mk 4 radar mounted of the face of the gun director. These items, as well as the Mk 28 radar, will be addressed in the Conyngham fret when it is prepared.

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Painting
One reason I like this model is the dazzle paint scheme employed in 1944 on the prototype. In 1944 Conyngham, Mahan, Cummings, Drayton, Lamson, Flusser and Smith all sported Measure 31/ pattern 23d dazzle paint schemes. This information is from the invaluable camouflage database maintained by John Sheridan at www.shipcamouflage.com. The color insert in the USS Drayton Profile Morskie portrays this scheme. Although the pattern does have some curved lines, most are straight. I find it much easier to mask straight lines for painting rather than the complex curves found in British Disruptive camouflage schemes. I have found that Tamiya yellow masking tape is the best product to use for masking. From the boot top up, all paints used were Tamiya because of their ease in spraying. Because Tamiya does not market the USN colors, the paints needed to be mixed to the right shades and tints. The best source for this are the series of color chip sets produced by Snyder and Short. For someone who has not spray painted an USN dazzle scheme, this is a good one for starters because of the prevalence of straight lines. The deck pattern was brush painted with Model Shipways paint and the weathering was done with artists chalk.

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Pendente Lite Findings
The court finds that after taking IN REM jurisdiction over the subject matter, that petitioner, IRON SHIPWRIGHT, has presented evidence of such clear and convincing nature as to more than meet petitioner’s burden of proof. Accordingly it is the finding of this court that, pending final adjudication of the merits of the photo-etch and instructions of petitioner, that petitioner’s model of USS Conyngham be and the same is hereby declared to be the 43rd President of the United States with no dimpled or hanging chads being apparent. (Sorry, I was carried away since this is being written on the night of December 11, while the US Supreme Court is still deliberating it’s second decision in the Presidential free for all.)

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Sometimes people will ask on the message board for suggestions for their first 1:350 resin kit. Quite often a small PT or PC will be recommended. I do not hesitate to recommend this kit. It is easy to build, the parts almost clicked into place. The only drawback was the minor finishing and repair that was needed on the hull, which is easily accomplished. I would further recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the 1930’s 1500 ton destroyers. The build is enjoyable and it makes a very nice model.


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