1⁄700Juan Carlos I (L61)
A very new and unexplored subject from my favorite patron. This time, a Spanish Landing Helicopter Deck the Juan Carlos. Launched in September of 2009, this is the Spanish version of the US Landing assault ships of the Boxer class.
1/700 resin and PE kit from Orange Hobby. This is, without hyperbole, one of the nicest, most detailed kits I have ever built. (And that’s a long list). As can be seen, the 8 pages of instructions lead the builder through all of the assembly with only minor errors in part numbers and a few small operational errors which, if followed, make the kit a bit more tricky to assemble. Out of the box, the entire ship is entirely molded in one piece. Not much to build and thus not much to cause seams or errors. However, the details are not lacking. The molding is almost the best I have seen (except for Admiralty perhaps).
All details are cleanly and crisply done. The wet deck used to launch boats is beautifully detailed on all sides and even much deeper than can be seen from the door when assembled. Details even include railings for the wet deck deep inside the hull. Two landing boats are also included and are exquisitely detailed right down to the prop, prop guard and rudder. Not to mention railing for each. The single greatest flaw in the one piece hull design is the large number of really heavy left over pour spouts which extend down from the hull (a leftover from the pouring process). These over pours are almost as thick as the hull itself and are solid all the way through, making them impossible to remove with just an x-acto blade.
Fortunately, I had at my disposal a full sized table saw with cross-cut sled and random orbital sander. Each of which were necessary to effectively cut off the over pours and sand down the bottom of the hull. In my opinion, the manufacturer should have removed these for the modeler as most will not have access to such heavy equipment and thus will have a great deal of difficulty removing the over pours safely. The next detail not to overlook is the mold release agent which is used to get the kits out of the mold. In this case, the ONLY thing I could find to get the mold release agent off is Wesley’s Bleach White Tire Cleaner. This MUST be used to get the release agent off, otherwise NOTHING will stick to the resin including enamel primer. The release agent withstood bleach, dishwashing soap and muriatic acid. Get the Wesley’s - the only way to go.
The Photo Etched Parts…
The PE included with the kit makes this kit. An otherwise acceptable kit becomes an exceptional build because of the PE included. All railings, radars ladders, motor boat platforms, crane details, helo rotors and doors, and even the horizontal stabilizers for the Harriers are included. What’s more, the PE is some of the finest PE I have worked with. Literally. The railings are noticeably thinner than even that from Lion Roar or Gold Medal. While these gossamer rails present a challenge for those unaccustomed to working with such small parts, they have one tremendous advantage. They are all cut and made for this kit. All bends fall perfectly at a rail post. Each rail fits perfectly into it’s position. No guesswork, no cutting and re-cutting trying to get the right length or trying to get a rail post where you need it.
The PE made doing this kit a joy. Even the nets which surround the kit are not generic. Each piece of netting is made to fit into a particular spot and many have notches cut out in spots to go over protruding hull details. A very nice touch. Using PE for rotor blades on the helos is common, but here, they provide PE horizontal stabilizers for the Harriers for a more scale look. The helos have separate PE doors which can be left off to allow the helos to be displayed with open doors. A very nice touch. The Decals: As with any carrier, the deck is the focal point and this kit does not forget this. An entire sheet of decals includes all deck and elevator markings. But what’s more surprising is the number of very small island details which are done with decals. Small replenishment markings, deck separation striping and even no smoking and prop wash warnings (in Spanish of course) are provided. These small details make the island really stand out.