The JAG Gearing FRAM in
1/700 scale offers another piece of Cold War USN history. The JAG kit
arrives in the familiar tube, and is well cast in light gray resin. This is a
fairly quick build for many, with lots of room for detailing into a specific
ship for others.
A "ship specific" photo-etched fret is included with the mast supports, radar, parts for the bracing under the helicopter hanger and the spray shields. I like the spray shields in brass-- to make them scale-thin in resin means they would be thin enough to break following a good sneeze by the modeler. Brass is close enough to scale while staying sturdy enough to install without micro-surgical tools. Not included are decals, railings and ladders (I also added some Gold Medal Models PE figures). The instructions are clear, showing an exploded view of the ship, with a detail drawing for the main mast, and some background text.
The parts count is manageable and assembly is straightforward. Included is a
note that the kit
represents a "generic" FRAM and so you may need to add some details if you are modeling a specific ship. The kit builds into a fine ship right from the tube however, and follows closely the images posted on the Steel Navy web site (http://www.steelnavy.com/fram.htm) for the destroyer "Joseph Kennedy", DD 850.
The hull bottom on my kit was dead flat. Casting was clean, with only minimal flash to be swiped away on the major parts. Watch the main gun tubes; they break easily. The "boot" is a bit wide for the slot on the turret itself and needs some trimming. The only other area to watch for is the main mast. JAG provides a resin part that is a challenge to separate intact from its casting flash. Instead, use the provided plastic rod or, in my case, substitute a length of brass rod for strength. The radar platform for the mast is supplied as a PE part, or you can cut the resin version off the resin mast and use it instead.
Who should buy this kit? The generic nature of the kit, coupled with those couple of challenging points raised above suggest a modeler with some resin and PE experience will enjoy this kit more than a beginner. The need to look to outside references also may steer less ambitious modelers further out to sea, though the photo set on the Steel Navy web site is sufficient reference for many. With some resin experience, this kit is a friendly longish-weekend project.