USS Fort Worth the the second of the Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ships to be launched, and the first ever named for the city of Fort Worth. The Littoral Combat Ships are designed for operations in coastal waters and in support of special combat units. This is accomplished by staging prepared modules, or large containers, with all equipment and systems already in place, that can be essentially inserted into the hull and deployed with the vessel. They can be quickly switched out to change missions.
Her design is similar to the LCS-1 Freedom, with minor changes made to her hull based on operation experience with the Freedom. Most notable was increasing the length of her hull to improve her efficiency. The added hull length increased her speed and improved her range. She uses the same propulsion system, two Rolls Royce MT30 gas turbines and two Colt-Pielstick diesel engines, and four Rolls Royce water jets, creating 47 knots maximum speed. The ship has a 3,500 mile range and 21 day endurance capability at 18 knots. In comparison with the Independence Class LCS her internal capacity is somewhat smaller but she has better ability to launch and recover sea craft, particularly in rough seas.
Basic armament of the Fort Worth is minimal (and a source of major contention), consisting of a Mk 110 57mm gun, 2 Mk 44 Bushmaster 30mm guns, and topside .50 cal mounts. Depending on the type of module being carried, additional armament would be available.
Based on experiences with LCS-1, in which there were 52 major issues noted during sea trials, Fort Worth only had 7. It is expected that as the following ships of this class are launched they will continue to reflect lessons learned and added technologies to improve performance.
Cyber-Hobby have followed up their previous release of the LCS_1 USS Freedom, reviewed LCS-1 Review
with the second of the class, LCS-3, Fort Worth.
The kit comes in a small, top opening box with artwork showing the Fort Worth in operation. The kit contents appeared to be identical to those in the Freedom release, but upon closer examination, there were some differences.
First, sprue A, which includes the hull bottom, fore and aft deck sections now includes a new stern plate that extends the hull length by approx. 5 mm. The rear deck section has also been lengthened by the same amount. I don't know if this is the correct length as I was unable to find any specific reference on the exact amount the hull was lengthened, but it is a nice and noticeable difference. Incidentally, the new part is not indicated on the sprue map on the front of the instructions.
Part B is the waterline hull. This includes molded on detail such as the starboard side launching bay for watercraft and the four exhaust ports, two per side.
Sprue C has the RIM-116 launcher module, with the launcher tubes recessed, and part of the upper rear superstructure.
Sprue D has the main mast and antenna display, radar, spotlights and two of the styrene .50 cal guns.
Sprue E has the bridge, carefully molded with mult-slide mold technogy. The two 30mm guns are molded with hollowed out muzzles, something not done for the bow 57mm gun on sprue D. There are also a number of extremely tiny superstructure details.
Sprue F is a single piece main superstructure, also done with slide mold technology. There are a couple of small bits of flash on the edges that will need to be carefully trimmed to prevent loss of other details.
There is an additional A sprue that holds the MH-60, with optional folded or extended rotors.
A small etch fret with landing deck nets and .50 cal guns and shields.
The decal sheet, from Cartograff with markings for the landing deck, hull details, MH-60 and national insignia. The decals are thin and everything appeared to be in register.
The instructions are the same as for the LCS-1 USS Freedom, with an insert for the MH-60 assembly.
I followed the instructions for the build, beginning with step 1, which is broken down into A, B, C and D sub assemblies. This is assembly of the antenna array, main gun, missile launcher and hull side platforms for the .50 cal guns and spotlights. Step 2 assembles the helicopter, basically the same as the extra instruction page included. Step 3 is assembly of the main bridge. All three steps are clear and correct, with no issues beyond the size of some of the tiny parts. The antenna masts D3,4,5 and 6 should be angled towards the rear. I opted to use the styrene .50 cal guns to see how they would look. They look like 5" guns.
Step 4 adds the radar assembly to the superstructure, and some detail parts to the rear. The instructions have not been corrected here. Proper pairing of what I believe are the smoke generators is parts D9 and D11 on the port side and D8 and D12 on the starboard side, or left and right side looking towards the front. Add parts D23 first, and you may need to do some light trimming to get them to sit evenly. Photos of LCS-3 show a different radar/antenna setup than that included in the model, which is the same as for the original LCS-1 kit.
Step 5 adds two more .50 cal guns to the rear topside as well as the missile launcher built in step 1. Again, the styrene .50 cal guns look abnormally huge. The etch guns are much smaller and give a better scale appearance.
Step 6 assembles all major parts-superstructure, fore deck and aft deck/landing pad to the waterline hull, and then the waterline hull to the hull bottom. The first issue to address is the extension added to the waterline hull. I had to do some filling and sanding to get this to fill the join line. I then dry fit the fore deck, placed the superstructure, and once they were fixed in place, added the landing pad. This afforded the best fit. I left this kit as a waterline hull.
Step 7 adds the etch safety screens around the landing deck. While Cyber-Hobby extended the deck length, they didn't extend the screen length. As a result, the screens are correspondingly 5mm too short. As a result, I removed them.
Step 8 adds the external openings for the water jet thrust system, but since this is a waterline model, I did not use this step.
Step 9 adds the completed model to the base, also a new part. The base has been enlarged to provide better stability for the completed model, something the previous base needed.
The included painting guide shows the kit with a light gull gray upper hull and superstructure, and black below the waterline. Antenna domes are white. On the actual vessel, the upper structure has a complex appearance of multiple shades of gray or aluminum changing from panel to panel which should satisfy those modelers who feel the need for a challenge.
This is a fairly simple kit, Th only issues encountered were the above mentioned error in step 4 (Dragon/Cyber-Hobby never pair even and odd parts together), the too short safety screens for the extended landing deck and the enormous .50 cal styrene guns. Considering how small some of the other parts were, they should be able to mold a smaller gun. I think it is time to look at the upgrades this class is getting in the sensor array, as there are already two more under construction and I am sure they will be kitted as well. Assembly should not present much trouble for the average modeler. It will make a nice addition to the shelf of any fan of modern naval vessels.
I searched online and found prices varying from $20.00 US to $32.00 US, before shipping.
References I used for this build came primarily from Wikipedia, which had quoted most other sources, and from image searches of "LCS-3" and "USS Fort Worth."