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In-Box Review
USS Buchanan DD484-1942
Dragon Gleaves Class Destroyer
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by: Jim Adams [ GOLDENPONY ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

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The Vessel

USS Buchanan, DD-484, the 29th Gleaves-class destroyer, was the 2nd ship of the United States Navy to be named for Franklin Buchanan. He was an officer in the U.S. Navy who became an admiral in the Confederate Navy during the American Civil War.

Buchanan was launched November 22, 1941 by Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, New Jersey. The ship was sponsored by Miss Hildreth Meiere, great-granddaughter of Admiral Buchanan. She was commissioned 21 March, 21 1942 with Lieutenant Commander R. E. Wilson in command.

During World War II, Buchanan was a busy ship. After a shakedown period in the Atlantic she headed off to the Pacific in May 1942. While serving her country she took part in many notable actions. Including the landings at Guadalcanal, the Battle of Savo Island, the Battle of Cape Esperance, and the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. During the later she was hit by friendly fire and was forced to withdraw from action.

After an overhaul and refresher training she returned to action and took right up where she left off. Nearly every major action saw the Buchanan in harms way and coming through. She did receive some damage from a typhoon in the Philippine Sea. After action against Luzon, Formosa, and main land China in early 1945 she headed back to the bulk of the US Fleet. Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and actions against Japan herself filled the remaining time until Japan’s surrender.

Buchanan was not done being in the fore front of the action after Japan surrendered. She escorted the USS South Dakota in Tokyo Bay on August 29. On September 1 she transferred Fleet Admirals Nimitz and Halsey to a meeting with Mac Arthur. The following day she took Mac Arthur to the Missouri to accept the Japanese surrender.

She returned to the US in October of 45 and soon headed to the east coast for an inactivation overhaul. She was turned over to the Turkish Navy where she served her new country until 1976. After her many years of service she met her end at the scrapper’s torch.

For her service in World War II she earned 16 battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation.


Displacement: 1,630 tons
Length: 348 ft 3 in (106.1 m)
Beam: 36 ft 1 in (11.0 m)
Draft: 11 ft 10 in (3.6 m)
Propulsion: 50,000 shp (37 MW);
4 boilers; 2 propellers
Speed: 37.4 knots (69 km/h)
Range: 6,500 nautical miles at 12 kts (12,000 km at 22 km/h)
Complement: 16 officers, 260 enlisted
Armament: 5 × 5 in (127 mm) DP guns,
6 × 0.5 in. (12.7 mm) guns,
6 × 20 mm AA guns,
10 × 21 in (53 cm) torpedo tubes,
2 × depth charge tracks

The Kit…

This kit has been the most hyped kit of the year from Dragon Models. It has been touted as the best ship kit ever produced, and full of details. The kit was manufactured using some of the best technology in the hobby. So, is this kit everything it is cracked up to be? Read on and you shall see.

The kit comes to you in a standard lidded box with a painting of the Buchanan along side an unidentified cruiser. Inside the box you will find instructions, a color painting guide, bags of sprues, two PE frets, vinyl flags set, decals, and the hull. The kit can be built either full hull or water line.

Currently marketed with this kit is a special set of PE parts. These are not in the regular issue kit, however since this is the way this kit was purchased it is reviewed along with the remainder of the kit.

Inside the Box...

Sprue A :Located here are several different sections of the ships superstructure. Exterior bulkheads have openings for watertight doors. This allows you to pose the doors open or closed. Also on the exterior bulkheads are finely molded railing, cable runs, and other piping. The ships stacks are also present and these are molded in one piece, so no need to sand away any seam lines. However the Other parts include water tight ammo lockers and many small detailed parts.

Sprue B: More superstructure parts on this sprue as well. Exterior bulkheads feature the same details as stated on sprue A. Ladders, piping, cables, and rails are present on all of these as are the openings for the water tight doors. An optional set of funnels is supplied on this sprue. This set has the ladders molded on the sides. So either use these or the set on A and then add the PE ladders. The funnel caps have the grills molded into them. These look a little thick, so you might want to consider using PE, but these are not included. Even the nonskid surfaces are molded into the decks.

Sprue C: Main decks, propellers, propeller shafts, and cleats are located here. The props are finely done and not clunky as in most ship kits. The main decks have cut out areas for the superstructure to more accurately represent them being installed on the decks. The main sections are also slightly arched to show the correct lay of the decks. The shafts are missing that normal mold seam that comes on so many other ship kits. Including the cleats is a great detail and will only enhance your build. Another nice touch is the lack of anchor chains. This will allow you to use PE chain or small scale chain without sanding the deck.

Sprue D: This brings us to several of the ships weapons. Included in the weapons is a quad 1.1 inch gun system, also know as the "Chicago Organ". There are two different sets of torpedo launchers, one 4 tube and one 5 tube. However only the five tube launcher is used for this ship. Wonder why they made a 4 tube? Comparing the tubes to a set of resin tubes showed they resin were still nicer, but it was close! The other weapons on this sprue are also very close to comparable resin weapons.

Sprue E: Ranger finders and radars are located here. They are nicely done and very nice representations in plastic. If you do not use the PE details for these parts you will still have a nice looking build.

Sprue F: This is a first. There are three form tools included in the kit for bending PE to the correct shape. In the instructions they call these form tools out as parts from the D Sprue. These are used to shape the ships screw guards and brackets for life rafts. HINT: Hold onto these!

Sprue G: x2 What is a ship without its main guns? The guns are made up of 3 different parts each. Two different styles of barrels are included, with and without blast bags. The instructions only show using the barrels without blast bags. Make sure to research the ship to ensure you install the proper barrels for the time frame you are building. They are also counter bored. The turrets feature side hatches, top escape hatches, and even the top rivet pattern.

Sprue J: The only clear parts for this kit are the search light covers. The lenses even feature crosses on the surface, just like the real ones.

Sprue K: Included here are many of the small miscellaneous fittings found around the ship. One new feature is the separately molded watertight doors. This allows you to pose them open or closed. They can be substituted for the PE doors if you wish. Depth charge racks are nicely done, but there will be a seam right down the middle. Different search light mounts are included incase you wish to model a different ship within the class.

Sprue P: The stand for the ship. Dragon has made a decent stand this time, similar to the Hasegawa stands. There are extra holes in the base, more than likely for up coming ships. The lamp style finales are molded in one piece so there will be no sanding needed.

The Details…

The kit includes 2 PE frets, one set of preformed lookout shields, vinyl flags and a set of Cartograf printed decals.

One fret of PE is the watertight doors which can be shown open or closed. Both sides show details of the real doors and they seem more in scale than the plastic doors provided. Three different doors are provided, 60”,66”,and the “bridge” style with port holes. The instructions do a good job at letting you know which door to use where.

The other fret has the screw guards, various ladders, gun details, anchor chain, and life raft mounts. Platforms for the funnels are present along with supports for the bridge wings.

One nice addition are the preformed guards for the lookout positions. These could have been formed in plastic, but the PE will make a better scale thickness.

The decals provided include a set use to replicate the rubber non skid applied to ships at this time. These might prove a little tricky to add considering they need to be installed on the deck after the deck is painted. Two colored draft markers are included, white on the boot and black above the boot. Only hull numbers for the Buchanan are included on the set.

The set of vinyl flags included feature some signal flags as well as two styles of national ensigns. The National ensign and Naval ensign do have 48 stars. Very careful trimming will be needed to use these.

The Figures…

Included in the kit are two small sprues with 6 molded plastic figures. These are very nicely done and will make you ship come alive. A big plus over previous figures is they are not flat and are nicely detailed. But there are only 6 included in a ship that had over 200 crew members. The crew is nicely detailed, but my pieces would require some minor clean up around their edges. The figures are all wearing GQ outfits, helmets and life vests.


The instructions are 8 pages of step by step assembly that followed a logical sequence. A full color painting guide is provided showing the Buchanan in her 1942, Measure 12(Modified) and 1943, Measure 21, paint schemes. You may need to alter your assembly depending on which scheme you wish to use to allow for easy of painting.

Cyber Hobby Extra PE…

On the kits original release Cyber Hobby added a special set of PE to the ship kit for a special price. If this offer is still running, get it. Get it even if the price has gone back to regular. The set includes some of the most innovative PE seen for some time.

The Mk-22 radar is preformed, which will save major headaches. Also for the Mk-22 are its supports and a small brass rod.

There are also 4 different styles of railings in this set. There are enough railings to do the entire ship. The canvas covered railings are very nice as are the three chains with safety netting. These will make your build two to three notches above your previous ships.

Final Thoughts…

We have all seen those new kits come out with fan fare and hype only to be let down when we get out hands on one. Well, this one is not that way. Dragon did a great job jamming so many small details into this kit. The kit might be a small stretch for a novice, but it will be well worth it in the end.
Highs: Detail, detail, detail. Jam packed
Lows: Difficult assembly with the walk way decals.
Verdict: Top notch kit for both the novice and old salt.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:350
  Mfg. ID: 1021
  Suggested Retail: 39.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: May 29, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United States

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About Jim Adams (goldenpony)

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Adams [ GOLDENPONY ]. All rights reserved.


Fine review, Mr. Adams, of a very fine looking kit...DML is setting the bar quite high for the plastic injection competition with this kit, for sure, and hopefully, the trend will continue with more exciting releases of the same caliber...thanks for the coverage, mate!
MAY 30, 2008 - 02:09 PM
A fine review, of an exceptional kit!
MAY 30, 2008 - 02:49 PM
This is a beautiful kit and the level of detail is awesome. Gator
MAY 30, 2008 - 02:56 PM
hello Jim, Great review and a Great kit.thanks for sharing. cheers, Bruce
MAY 30, 2008 - 03:05 PM
Thanks guys. Now if I get a chance to build it, I'll be really happy.
MAY 31, 2008 - 12:18 AM

What's Your Opinion?

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