A Tale of Two
1/700 Fletcher Class Destroyers
A Comparative Review by Rob Mackie
Samek Models (Czech Republic): USS The Sullivans (DD 537)
Fletcher Class Destroyer (late version)
Tamiya: USS Fletcher (DD 445)
Scale: 1/700 waterline
Samek: Polyurethane resin and photoetched brass
Tamiya: Injection molded plastic
Samek: Excellent casting, useful PE fret, generally accurate
Tamiya: Easy to build, clear instructions, price
Samek: Bow profile slightly wrong, no parts list, somewhat expensive
Tamiya: Minimal surface detail, inaccurate and out-of-scale guns
Fletchers were the most famous and important of US WW2 destroyers. Their sound
design and long range enabled them to fill a multitude of roles - shore bombardment, fleet
screening, air protection, anti-submarine/surface ship warfare et al. US shipyards turned
out an incredible 175 Fletcher class destroyers during World War II. They saw action
exclusively in the Pacific, where their range and versatility were particularly important.
The Samek kit is a late war Fletcher variant while the Tamiya kit is an early
version. The early Fletchers retained the rounded bridge of the preceding Benson class
destroyers, while later variants had a squared-off, open bridge. This was considered more
suitable for the anti-aircraft /fast escort role in which the Fletchers were primarily
used in 1944-45. The later Fletchers also carried a much enhanced complement of 40mm
Bofors and 20mm anti-aircraft guns. To both compensate for the additional top weight and
preserve stability, one of the two quintuple torpedo tubes was deleted, and the MK 37
director atop the bridge was lowered six feet.
The Samek kit's 73 pieces are flawlessly cast in a cream colored resin. Edges
are sharp and "in-scale", with no voids or air bubbles of significance. The
smaller parts are cast on a thin resin wafer, with detail on either side. This is the sign
of a highly skilled resin caster. I wonder if the Samek people have been talking with Doc
Modell? Minimal cleanup is required and parts fit is commendable. The Tamiya Fletcher is,
well, a Tamiya kit so it is molded to prevailing injection standards. I've seen better
Tamiya efforts, but this one is not bad by any means. But it won't take your breath away.
When compared to profile drawings the Samek version's bow is too sharply raked.
The bow of the Tamiya Fletcher is more accurate. This is not a significant flaw however. A
little bit of careful sanding will quickly fix the Samek problem. Otherwise the hull and
deck structures of both kits seem accurate.
The Samek destroyer has some molded in detail, while the Tamiya version has
none. Both models could benefit from additional detailing (hoses, conduits, deck support
stanchions etc), though it is not essential in this scale.
It is amazing the difference a little stretched sprue can make. The six depth
charge launchers on both kits are oversimplified representations. Consider replacing them
with brass from the Tom's PE destroyer fret.
The Samek kit includes an Eduard photoetched fret. It is very well done but
lacks deck railing and depth charge racks. There is no photoetch included with the Tamiya
kit. It badly needs the Tom's Fletcher PE fret to bring it too life. But at least the
Tamiya kit includes a useable mast. The Samek version gives you a 1:1 template for
building your own, but no brass. This is not difficult as the Fletcher mast is a simple
"T" that should take all of one minute to fabricate from brass rod. And the
Samek mast will look spectacular when embellished with the many mast details on the Eduard
The guns on the Samek kit are particularly well done.
Unlike the Tamiya Fletcher, whose 5" gun enclosures are undersize and whose secondary
armament ranges from bad to awful, the Sullivans' armament looks right. The dual 20mm guns
are rendered in photoetched brass and are especially convincing.
The Tamiya instructions are very clear, no surprise here. Fortunately, the
Samek instructions are also quite adequate, though they lack a parts listing, an
Both of these kits will build up into accurate Fletcher class destroyers. The
Tamiya edition, while not bad by any means, could have been better. Tamiya sets the
standard in injection molded kits, so we always expect a Tamiya kit to be a knockout. This
one isn't but the price is right at US $13, it is widely available, and it is the more
suitable kit for someone new to 1/700 ships modeling.
The Samek Fletcher is the better of the two, and in
my opinion the best 1/700 Fletcher currently available. Its flaws are minor
and it will look nice right out of the box. Samek should have gone all the way and
included railing and depth charge racks on the PE fret. This would obviate having to buy
any aftermarket photoetch. And at US $28 the Samek Fletcher is not cheap. But it's still
the Fletcher of choice in 1/700 scale and a very good kit.