"These ships are optimised for general warfare instead of anti-submarine warfare as are the ‘Spruance’ class. They are the most powerful destroyers in the fleet. Originally, it had been planned to build the entire ‘Spruance’ class to this design, but because of ‘costs’ the design was altered to the current plan." (Jane’s Fighting Ships 1984-85, at page 685)
If you flip through the pages of a Jane’s Fighting Ships 1978-79, you will fin an entry for four ships being built for the Imperial Iranian Navy. Typed as missile cruisers (CG) by the Shah’s navy, they were Kouroosh, Daryush, Ardeshir, and Nader. The names commemorate ancient kings of Persia and were fitting for vessels far larger than any other ship in the Iranian Navy. At 563 feet in length and displacing 8,500 tons full load, they were big ships.
Originally there were to be six ships in the class but two, Shapour and Anoushirvan were canceled on March 2, 1976. Ordered from Litton Industries in 1974 in the United States, the class design was modified from the USN Spruance Class design. "They are modifications of the ‘Spruance’ design with improved AA capability, better radars, and more powerful air-conditioning." (Jane’s Fighting Ships 1978-79, at page 241) The first ship was scheduled to be received by the Imperial Iranian Navy in 1980. Jane’s Fighting Ships 1978-79 was still fresh from the printers, when the section on these Persian King Cruisers was rapidly outdated in the shadow of contemporary events.
The Iranian Islamic Revolution hit and the Ayatollah Khomeinei installed his theocracy and deposed the Shah. The new Iranian government did not want the expensive ships, especially since they were being built in the United States, which had supported the Shah. The orders were cancelled on February 3 and March 31, 1979. Litton suddenly found itself with four 600-foot ships on the slips with no buyer. If effect they ran a "fire sale" and the USN was pleased to step in. For a paltry $1.35 billion (per U.S. Destroyers An Illustrated Design History) ($510 million per ship according to Combat Fleets of the World 1990/1991) the USN acquired four destroyers that were more powerful than the Spruance Class ships entering service. The price was a little more than the cost of six Perry Class FFG-7 frigates, which were purchased in FY79 for $1.2 billion. A supplemental budget request was submitted and on July 25, 1979 the Executive Order was signed that allowed the purchase of the four for the USN. On August 8 they were reclassified as DDGs and given the hull numbers DDG-47 through 50, in place of the DD-993 through 996 originally assigned to the ships. However, they did wind up with those hull numbers as they were again reclassified as DDG-993 through DDG-996.
The origin of the class can be traced back to 1966, when a great many converted ships of World War Two were nearing the end of their service life. Oddly enough, the requirement did not come from the USN but from the Office of the Secretary of Defense that was more often engaged in paring down ship construction programs rather than introducing them. Two designs were required. The DX was for the standard destroyer and the DXG was for the missile destroyer. From the start it was to be a package deal. The government would purchase a large number of destroyers all from the same builder. That way the government anticipated significant savings in overall and unit costs. A DX/DXG Development Plan was prepared by October 1967 and added an additional factor to lower costs, that they could operate with smaller crews. A couple of the requirements determined that the size of the ships would be large. One was that the DX should be able to be converted into a DXG, which with its required missile magazine required more internal space, hence a larger ship. Another factor was the requirement that the design was to be able to maintain 30 knots in Sea State 4 (i.e. North Atlantic rough sea) conditions. Previously speed requirements were based upon Sea State 1 (i.e. calm) conditions. To maintain this speed under the more difficult standard required a larger ship. The DX would have two 5-inch guns and the DXG only one because of the inclusion of the SAM system. The DX would be in the range of 6,000 tons and the DXG in the 7,000 ton range. It was hoped that contracts could be awarded in August 1969 for the DX and delivery in March 1973. For the more complex and costly DXG December 1970 was the target date for contracts and September 1974 for delivery. Competition was opened for the new designs and Litton Industries was awarded a contract for construction of 30 of their DX design, which became the Sprunace Class destroyers. None of the DXG design was ordered, as it was significantly more expensive. With the requirement that DX design could be able to be converted to DXG status, it was decided the less expensive design and perhaps modify those later on. The Litton DXG, although not purchased by USN, was the design purchased by the Imperial Iranian Navy and eventually came back to the USN as the USS Kidd Class.
The four ships were officially called the Kidd Class but they have been given some informal class nicknames. One is the Ayatollah Class because of the manner in which they were acquired by the USN. Another is the Dead Admirals Class because of the USN admirals for whom they are named, all of whom died in combat in the Pacific in World War Two. USS Kidd DDG-993, ex-Kouroosh, ex-DD-993 was named after Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd who died on the bridge of his flagship, USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. USS Callaghan DDG-994, ex-Daryush, ex-DD-994 was named after Rear Admiral Daniel Callaghan who died at the First Naval Battle of Guadacanal, November 13, 1942, aboard USS San Francisco. USS Scott DDG-995, ex-Nader, ex-DD-995 was named after Rear Admiral Norman Scott, who also died at the First Naval Battle of Guadacanal, aboard USS Atlanta. USS Chandler DDG-996, ex-Anoushirvan, ex-DD-996 was named after Rear Admiral Theodore Chandler, who died on January 7, 1945, as a result of burns received from a kamikaze crashing into his flagship, USS Louisville, the previous day.
As the four ships entered service, their robust capabilities an enhanced capabilities were readily recognized by the USN. Combat Fleets of the World 1990/1991 at page 795, called them "superb ships". The had better air intake and filter systems as well as significantly better air-conditioning because they were designed for duties in the Persian Gulf. As a consequence, the ships of the class were the optimum destroyers for duty in the Indian Ocean and connecting sea areas. Displacement went up by another 1,000 tons largely with the inclusion of additional Kevlar and aluminum alloy armor. Kidd was the first to be launched on August 11, 1979 with the remaining three following every few months until the last, Chandler, was launched on May 24, 1980. Likewise all four entered service in a nine month window starting with Kidd on June 27, 1981 and ending with Chandler on March 13, 1982. (History from Combat Fleets of the World 1990/1991, Jane’s Fighting Ships 1978-79, Jane’s Fighting Ships 1984-85, U.S. Destroyers An Illustrated Design History, 1982 by Norman Friedman)
Enter the Dragon
True to life the Dragon Kidd enjoys a great degree of commonality with the Dragon Spruance kit. It has additional sprues that add Kidd specific details and parts. If you have a Dragon Spruance, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect with the Dragon Kidd. If you don’t have the earlier kit from Dragon, you can expect a very fine kit with the Dragon Kidd. With nine sprues and 260 parts, Dragon gives you a lot for your money.
From the extremely sharp clipper bow to the separate fantail piece, the hull parts have some nice detail from the open bow anchor hawse, and some delicate side detail. The bilge keels appear to be thicker than the prototype. The extended thickness appears on the bottom of the hull and should not be noticeable in displaying the finished model. The black boot-topping line is indicated by raised upper and lower boarders. These are very fine raised lines and will probably disappear in the finished model but those raided lines are there. Many will wish to sand off these lines.
Most deck pieces do not have much detail as are the base for the substantial superstructure for the ship. In forecastle and quarterdeck, and flight deck areas, you’ll find significant deck detail. There are bollards, anchor chain and other deck fittings found on the foc’sle. The capstans feature bolt detail. Most will probably wish to sand off the anchor chain detail and add actual chain. As with the hull certain painted lines are shown with slightly raised lines to assist in painting these deck markings, as they are not included in the decal sheet. It is up to the modeler if he wishes to leave these lines present to guide in painting or to sand them off. These same lines appear on the flight deck or more accurately flight deck. There are actually two flight decks provided by Dragon. The Kidd uses part J8. However, there is another flight deck included in the set, part E-4, which was probably the flight deck for the Spruance. Both have the same slightly raised flight deck markings that are not on the decal sheet. Again you face the same choice as on the foc’sle. In addition to part E4 there are a great number of parts that are included in the kit that are probably for Spruance and not Kidd. Some of the C and J sprues, most of the E sprue and almost all of the F and L sprues are not used with the Kidd. The last page of the instructions shows in blue shading parts that are not used.
It is with the detail of the superstructure where the detail included in the parts really starts to pop. Vertical ladders are integral to the superstructure parts. Some are a little heavy but most modelers will be happy to leave them just as they are. There is some really good detail. Door detail includes hinges, handles and some other items. There are many pieces with recessed positions with nice hose detail. Another nice feature are open windows. Just glaze with Micro-Klear and you’ll have glass windows with a true three-dimensional impact. Other notable detail are air intakes, louvers and modern day equivalents to the carley rafts all molded on Kidd superstructure parts.
Smaller parts range from fairly plain to well detailed. The helicopters are outstandingly detailed. You get two, one with main rotor deployed and one with main rotor folded. Charles Landrum, who frequently posts on the message board, at one time served as the air operations officer on a Kidd, and mentioned that the class normally only carried one helicopter. The gun mount of two pieces has raised bolt detail but the incised lines on the sides of the mount are a little over-done. Likewise the fold-lines in the hangar doors could be considered a little too prominent but these are fairly minor points. One area most definitely requires replacement, radars. The ones provided in the kit are thick, solid parts that may be fine for the novice builder. However, any modeler with even a minimal level of experience with brass photo-etch will undoubtedly replace the solid parts with brass photo-etch as it becomes available.
Dragon provides optional parts for the Kidd of the 1980s and the Kidd of the 1990s. Most of these are fairly small, such as the radar fit or a minor shape change in some fittings. Some deal with markings, found on the decal sheet being found in an area in one era and not the other. Another area of difference is in the color in which some parts are painted, as the paint used in certain areas changed over the ten-year period. All options are noted in the instructions with double arrow icon.
The Dragon USS Kidd is now in
stock and available from TOTALNAVY.COM, where the Captain, Shaya Novak,
will be happy to assist you in all of your modeling needs.