Well this took five and a half months and was my second ship ever built. An USS WASP (LHD-1) kit from Revell -Germany, pains-takingly converted to my ship the USS IWO JIMA (LHD-7). I had no idea the differences were so many but it really helped me pass the time during an eight-month deployment.

Photo-etch is from Gold Medal Models. It came on a very easy to work with "Stainless Steel" sheet vice brass. A few 350 scale Gold Medal Decals were used to replace the kits supplied hull numbers, although they are still a little small. Only comment on the photo-etch is that I wish it would have came with more rails & ladders. I came up short on the catwalks after spending so much time on the Island, and needed more ladders to properly do the masts.

First off my dislikes...

- The Revell kit lacked details, RAM launchers seemed to small.

- Missing domes. Today's modern Big Decks are full of them. I manufactured a few, but lacked resources to make the WSC-8 domes.

- Lack of Helicopters. No 46's, Cobras or Huey's. Only came with 8 Harriers, three 53's and three yet to be deployed Ospreys.

- Flight deck decals and instructions were incorrect. I ended up with a second set so corrections were easily made.

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Modifications...

- Masts !!! Forward mast. If built by the kit instructions it would have been only 6 pieces including antennas... This was one of the biggest differences between LHD's 1, 2 & 3 over the later. My forward mast is entirely hand made of over 70 parts. Aft mast was pretty close but was detailed and is now made of 25 pieces over the original 8.

- Forward missile deck (Biggest visible difference). Earlier LHD's had their forward CIWS mount located below the bridge, ours is above it. So some laborious cutting and pasting was needed. Then the forward CIWS mount was made by hand and set in the signal shacks place once it was relocated next to the forward stack.

- Opened stacks.

- Custom King Post and hand crafted winch for refueling station.

- Twin whips, INMARSAT antenna and flag bags added to 07 level.

- Re-location of port & starboard SLQ-32 antennas.

- Forward CHBDL platform hand made on forward missile deck and forward & aft antenna domes added.

- Blast shield added between forward NATO Launcher and WSC-6 dome.

- SPN-41 domes and aft platform.

- LCAC vent doors and port, side port opened up.

- 35' whips on flight deck.

- 4 hand made EHF domes and 3 added platforms.

- Extended starboard aft catwalk for SMQ-11 antenna relocation.

- Bomb farm made with extra decals.

- Various other stuff.

 

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ETCS(SW/AW) A.G. DUNIKOWSKI
USS IWO JIMA (LHD-7)
C5 DEPARTMENT LCPO
PLANKOWNER

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