In September 1920, the last of the Flush Deck Destroyers were laid down by the United States Navy. Twelve years would pass before the USN laid down the next destroyer, USS Farragut DD-348, on September 20, 1932. In the 1930’s the USN designed many classes of destroyers in an effort to replace obsolete flush deckers. The initial three classes were Farragut , Porter Class Leaders, and Mahan, all of which featured two funnels. The next five designs, Gridley, Somers, Bagley, Benham and Sims had only a single funnel. This was done in order to provide more deck area for a heavy torpedo armament and other space-consuming fittings. Sims Class Destroyers were the last of the single stack designs. They represented a transition from most pre-war US destroyers - all of which featured a high, angular bridge - and the designs that evolved into the Fletcher Class.

Expand.gif (1054 bytes)
Russellptsup589.JPG (47370 bytes) Russellstbforesup586.JPG (28284 bytes) Russellstbsup588.JPG (35862 bytes)

As initially designed, the Sims Class emphasized surface combat capabilities, with five 5 inch gun mounts (1,2 and 5 mounts being fully enclosed and 3 and 4 mounts being open) and three 21 inch quadruple torpedo mounts (two on the beam and one centerline). With its emphasis on surface combat, single-stack design and limited displacement, the Sims Class was the final evolution of the US "1500" ton destroyer designs. The following Benson/Livermore Class was an intermediate step between the "1500" ton designs and the large destroyers of the Fletcher Class. The rounded stream-lined bridge (to reduce wind resistance and turbulence), reducted superstructure silhouette, and the Mark 37 gun director all appearaned for the first time with Sims class destroyers. The very large programs of the Benson/Livermore Class and Fletcher Class repeated these Sims Class design features.

The first Sims class ships were significantly overweight and top-heavy. To improve stability the two beam torpedo mounts were quickly replaced by one centerline mount. The Sims Class was completed in 1940, when the danger of the German U-Boat threat had become all too apparent. To improve habitability in North Atlantic conditions, Sims destroyers were provided with half-shields instead of open mounts for #4 and #5 aft 5"/38 positions. It quickly became obvious that the Sims class destroyers needed more ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) capability. This necessitated further reductions in top weight, accomplished by removing #3 gun mount, smoke generators, one torpedo director, bridge range-finder and both 24 inch searchlights.


   Sims Class Destroyers
1,764 tons (standard); 2,350 tons (full load)
Dimensions: Length- 348 ft 4 in (oa); Beam- 36 feet; Draught- 12 ft 10 in (mean)
Performance: 50,000 shp; 35 knots; Range: 6,500 nm @ 12 knots
Armament (initial fit): five 5"/38 dual purpose mounts (5x1),
four .50 cal MG, eight 21 inch torpedo tubes
Complement: 192

The increasing threat from air attack provided yet another design challenge. Overweight from the start, more topside weight reductions were needed to accomodate an enhanced AA fit. The second torpedo director was landed, as were the 26 foot motor whaleboat, life jacket deck lockers, weather deck lighting, all but one of the boat handling floodlights, watertight hatch cover on the forecastle, slop chute and garbage rack, and the small platform that extended forward over the pilothouse. Even the anchor chain was shortened, but these reductions only allowed for a limited AA armament fit. This consisted of four Oerlikon 20 mm guns and two twin Bofors 40 mm mounts. By 1945 USN destroyers were receiving "Kamikaze AA fits". Very few options were available for the Sims Class. Three class members, Mustin, Morris and Russell, were refitted by removal of all torpedo mounts in exchange for two additional twin Bofors 40 mm mounts. Future plans called for the replacement of the single 20mm Oerlikons with twin Oerlikon mounts, but this was not done except for Russell, which received only one twin mount. Wainwright was an exception. In September 1944 she landed her after torpedo mount and acquired three Army Mk 3 40mm guns. However she reverted to her two torpedo mount configuration by June 1945. (Class history from U.S. Destroyers, An Illustrated Design History, by Norman Friedman and United States Navy Destroyers of World War II, by John C. Reilly, Jr.)

Expand.gif (1054 bytes)
Russell592.JPG (52833 bytes) Russellstbfqtr601.JPG (34463 bytes) Russellstbsuppro585.JPG (47263 bytes) Russell593.JPG (63474 bytes)

In December 1941 USS Russell, along with all of the rest of the class, were in the Atlantic. By January 1942 the entire class, except for Wainwright, Buck and Roe, were transferred to the Pacific. In February 1942 the class as part of TF17 took part in the hit and run carrier raids against the Caroline Islands and Makin. Russell was with the Yorktown during the Battle of the Coral Sea. Russell then participated in the Battle of Midway. In August 1942 Russell, along with the rest of the class in the Pacific, served in the Guadacanal campaign. In November 1943 she was involved in the Gilberts campaign, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Hollandia, Biak and Morotai. She then particpated in the Philippines Campaign and in early 1945 helped sink the Japanese escort destroyer Hinoki off Manila Bay. In April 1945 she was at Okinawa. At the conclusion of World War Two, the survivors of the Sims Class were quickly placed on the excess list and were expended, scuttled or scrapped. USS Russell met this last fate in 1947. ( Ship history from Destroyers of World War Two, by M.J. Whitley)

Resin Casting
Last December I finished Iron Shipwright’s USS Conyngham, Mahan Class Destroyer. (Review of Iron Shipwright’s USS Conyngham). It was an enjoyable build, but the Conyngham did require repairs to the bilge keels and splinter shields. The first thing that I noticed upon taking the Russell out of the box was the improved  hull casting. Although there were still very minor pin hole voids along the hull bottom, repairs to splinter shielding were extremely minimal and the bilge keels were flawlessly cast. No resin part in the kit required anything other than a light sanding. IS has started to design superstructure parts that click together, greatly simplifying construction. Locating the superstructure parts to the hull is a simple process. The only part where you need to check alignment is the aft 20-mm/searchlight tower and its fit to the aft deck house. The hole in the searchlight platform should align with the hole in the aft deckhouse. The searchlight had a support post that passed through the searchlight deck to the deckhouse. The searchlight in the kit did not have this support post, so the post was cut from Evergreen rod and adjusted to the correct length before the searchlight was attached.

Expand.gif (1054 bytes)
Russell329hullA.JPG (35305 bytes) Russell343smallparts.JPG (65087 bytes) Russell331fret.JPG (108080 bytes) Russell330plan.JPG (28368 bytes)

The Iron Shipwright kit, which depicts Russell in late 1943 and 1944 after she had landed number three mount, comes with a choice of 5-inch gun mounts. At various times Sims class destroyers used fully enclosed, open-topped half shielded, or completely open gun mounts at #4 position. The IS Russell comes with an optional open gun mount with PE railing. A photo of Russell taken July 17, 1943 shows her with a completely open mount in the number three position. (Page 53, United States Navy Destroyers of World War II, by John C. Reilly, Jr.) Photos indicate that the Carley floats on Russell had rounded corners. The parts in the kit have squared corners. Lightly sanding the corners of the floats will in large part correct this discrepancy. One last point, when I mounted the foremast, I noticed that the holes in the three decks through which it passed were not in perfect alignment. I didn’t catch this until after I had affixed the bridge to the hull and attached the railing. I found that the hole in the middle deck was slightly too far aft. Since I had already completed the superstructure with railing, to move or enlarge the hole on the middle deck required some delicate use of a hobby knife and hand drill, with the subsequent replacement of a small portion of railing. This inconvenience would have been eliminated had I checked alignment before assembling the forward superstructure.

Expand.gif (1054 bytes)
Russellptaft590.JPG (45653 bytes) RussellWL603.JPG (40803 bytes) Russell584.JPG (33119 bytes) Russellstbaft587.JPG (59211 bytes)

Photo Etch
The IS Russell comes with two photo-etched brass frets. Since IS is releasing kits of all of the pre Fletcher destroyers, they have simplified the photo-etch process by including different parts for the different classes on the same fret. As a result the PE has a great number of parts that are not used on Russell. All of the PE parts went smoothly onto the model with one exception. The bridge supports (lettered G on the fret and listed as type 5 in the instructions) are too long. I had to cut away the upper and lower horizontal support bars to get a good fit. Also, the support pillars for the bridge support normally align with the horizontal support beams on the underside of the bridge. They don’t on this kit. However, I might have made an incorrect assumption about this alignment.

The PE part for the funnel grating is of the incorrect pattern. The part and instructions show a simple cross design for the grating, when a photo clearly shows a Tic-Tac-Toe pattern for the grating. (see photo below) Luckily, the solution is right there on the large PE fret. The PE also comes with the grating for USS Patterson (Bagley Class). It was very easy to cut this part to make the correct style of grate for Russell. It is simply a matter of cutting the part at the right points and adding one bar. (see photo below) The Russell uses two types of railing. The most common railing (labeled type C railing in the instructions) is for the forecastle and main deck. However the superstructure requires railing with the stanchions spaced closer together. (Labeled type B railing) There was only one strip of type B railing, which was insufficient to cover the fore and aft superstructures, and ten strips of type C railing. I used the wider spaced type C for the aft superstructure. The kit needed one more strip of the type B railing.

Russellgrate573.JPG (57957 bytes) Russellstackphoto578.JPG (90065 bytes) Russellsupptcut575.JPG (89520 bytes)

These are not your dad’s Iron Shipwright Instructions. In the past Iron Shipwright has been justifiably criticised for the inadequacy of its instructions. IS has heard you and starting with the USS Allen released last summer has used far more comprehensive CAD designed instructions. The instructions for Russell are twelve pages in length. They include a history, paint scheme, inventory of resin parts list with photos, photos of the PE frets with labeling and step by step narrative with diagrams for construction, rigging and drawings of parts to be added with plastic sprue or wire.

Expand.gif (1054 bytes)
RussellInstr576.JPG (40669 bytes) RussellInstr577.JPG (38077 bytes)

The instructions do have mistakes. They show the attachment of a torpedo crane. No torpedo crane was in the parts package nor is it shown in the photo display of the parts. I fabricated using plastic rod for the post and scrap resin sanded to shape for the arm. They also show the placement of smoke generators on the fantail. Although the parts are shown in the photo display, they were not in the small parts bag. This however, is a moot point since the above cited references indicate that the smoke generators were landed fairly early in order to reduce top weight. The instructions are not clear on the placement of the inclined ladders at the rear of the forward superstructure. They give a profile that shows the inclination of the ladders but I believe a cross section would have been better to show placement. There is no mention of the option for an open mount style number three 5-inch gun mount, although, as mentioned, the parts are included.

The labeling of the PE parts in the construction narrative and photo of the PEs are consistent with each other but vary from the alphabetical designation on the frets themselves. Just follow the labeling in the instructions and disregard the letter on the fret. The diagrams show cross bracing on some forms that do not have cross bracing. Again, just follow the instructions about the PE piece. Other than these discrepancies, the instructions were very complete. The paint scheme shown in the instructions, placed Russell in the Ms. 22 false horizon (5N and 5H with 20B decks) design. Consulting John Sheridan’s Warship Camouflage page, revealed that in 1942 and 1943 Russell wore Ms. 21, overall 5N with 20B decks. However, there was no information on the camouflage for Russell in 1944 or 1945. There are quite a number of photos of other Sims Class ships utilizing Ms. 22 in that time period, so I followed the instructions and painted her in Ms. 22.

Expand.gif (1054 bytes)
Russellptforesil581.JPG (39231 bytes) Russell594.JPG (33226 bytes) Russellplan591.JPG (28408 bytes) Russellptstqtr600.JPG (39162 bytes)

This is a very good kit. The CAD produced instructions are far superior to prior efforts. The hull casting was cleaner than before and almost repair free. The PE frets are very complete. The kit almost clicks together. It is hard to ask for anything more.

Be forewarned. Building one of these kits is like eating peanuts or potato chips, it will take great will power to stop with just one. After building the IS model of USS Russell, more than likely you'll want to build an IS model of another USN destroyer class.