The United States embarked on an accelerated building program during and shortly after WW1 that resulted in 273 "4 pipers", otherwise known as Wickes, Clemson and Caldwell class destroyers. These ships saw little use until the onset of WW2. Though outdated, they were available and there were lots of them. They filled numerous roles with the United States and Royal Navy. See the Warship 4-stacker photo feature for a more extensive discussion and many photographs of these hearty little destroyers.
The Iron Shipwright USS Decatur represents a typical Wickes/Clemson class destroyer of the late 30s and WW2. There are many optional deck levels, guns, tubs and funnels. By combining the approrpriate parts, the modeler can construct a USS Ward (DD 139), USS Bainbridge or any number of other Wickes/Clemson class destroyers of this period. Armament and fittings varied greatly during the war years. As built, these destroyers typically had four 4"/50 guns. This was an effective surface weapon but had no anti-aircraft capability. To remedy this shortcoming, many 4 pipers were re-armed with 3"/50 dual purpose mounts and 20mm light AA armament. Two of the 3-tube torpedo mounts were often landed to compensate for the added weight. The kit permits these and many other variations to be constructed. It should also be noted that the bridge and midship areas are open rather then solid. This is the proper way of simulating these structures and should enhance the model's realism. The open area under the midship structure (on top of which which were mounted two 4"/50 guns) between #2 and #3 funnel permits some interesting modeling possiblities on the IS kit.
Casting quality on my pre-production sample was good. There was a void in one of the deck vents and a large sprue along the keel. The sprue is a by-product of the one piece full hull casting. The resin has to enter the mold somewhere, and the keel is the least visible place. It is worth noting the deck levels are fully detailed on all sides. The support struts are cast into the underside of the various bridge and deckhouse pieces. You will not have to add them via photoetch, and no flat-sanding is required. The many small parts will require clean up, typically removing a thin resin film and snipping off the casting sprue.
Neither etched brass nor instructions were available when I prepared this preview (23 January 2000). The kit appears accurate according to my references. A caveat; because of the many variations possible, consult photos or other sources if you are modeling a ship besides the three for which the kit was designed. More than likely the model will allow the construction of most WW2 era 4-stackers, but some variants may require a small amount of modifications to the IS kit.
The kit is scheduled for release on March 1, 2000. For a limited time Iron Shipwright will be offering their USS Decatur 4-stacker kit for $49.95. This introductory price will be available until February 15, 2000. at which time the kit will revert to its normal retail price of $85.
Commanders Models, Inc.
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