by: Felix Bustelo [ ]
Originally published on:
The Los Angeles class of nuclear attack submarines was designed as a follow-up to the Sturgeon class built in the 1960s. The Los Angeles class was quieter and had a larger propulsion plant than her predecessors. In addition, she possessed more accurate sensors, weapons control systems and central computer complexes than previous classes. They are armed with sophisticated MK-48 Advanced Capability anti-submarine/ship torpedoes. Later boats were fitted with 12 vertical launch system (VLS) tubes to deploy Tomahawk cruise missiles. Her many capabilities include undersea, surface and strike warfare, mining operations, special forces delivery, reconnaissance, carrier battle group support and escort, and intelligence collection.
The lead boat, USS Los Angeles, was commissioned on November 13, 1976. A total of 62 boats were built and are grouped into three sub-classes:
Flight 1 - (SSN 688-718) was fitted with dive planes on the sail.
Flight 2 - (SSN 719-725 and 750) retained the sail dive planes and were fitted with vertical launch system (VLS) tubes.
Flight 3 - aka Improved or 688-I - (SSN 751-773) retained the VLS tubes and were fitted with anhedral fins on the stern to counteract rolling tendencies and to hold countermeasures. For under ice operation retractable bow dive planes replaced the ones on the sail and a protective ring around the propeller and other equipment were also fitted.
Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) Background
In response to the loss of the USS Thresher, which went down on April 10, 1963 with all hands aboard while performing deep diving tests, the Navy took measures to ensure such a tragedy would never occur again. Based on recommendations from the Presidential Deep Submergence Review Group, the Deep Submergence Rescue System was developed in the mid-1960s. The deep submergence rescue vehicles Mystic (DSRV-1) and Avalon (DSRV-2) were the genesis of that program.
The DRSVs were specifically designed as an improved means of rescuing the crew of a submarine immobilized on the ocean floor. The primary mission of the DSRV was to provide a quick reaction, worldwide, all-weather capability to rescue personnel from disabled submarines (DISSUB) at depths of less than 610 meters (2,000 feet). The DSRV's maximum operating depth is approximately 1,524 meters (5,000 feet). The DSRV could be transported by truck, aircraft, surface ship or on a mother submarine. Once on site, the DSRV would dive, locate the DISSUB and attach itself to the DISSUB's rescue seat. After the DSRV was properly attached, the DISSUB's access hatches were opened and submarine personnel could enter directly into the DSRV. The DSRV then detached itself from the submarine and once it resurfaced, transfer the rescued personnel to the support ship.
The Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System's (SRDRS) Rescue Capable System (RCS) has replaced the DSRV. As a result he DSRV program was deactivated starting on October 1, 2009.
The Los Angeles Class Kit
Riich Models has already released individual kits for each of the three versions of the Los Angeles class subs as well as a separate kit of the DSRV with parts to build two complete units. Riich Models has now essentially combined these kits into one package with the parts to make a full-hull model of one of the Flights and one DSRV to hitch a ride.
The bottom hull is essentially common for all there sub-classes, so that and other common parts such as the stern planes, rudders, propeller, scopes, antennas, snorkel and deck fittings are provided on Sprue A. The hull bottom is comprised of two parts split at the keel. The hull bottom of submarine kits from other manufacturers is usually one-piece, so this is a different approach. At the stern of each of the hull bottom parts you will see a raised footprint to which you glue the anhedral fins to if you wish to build a Flight 3 boat. If you wish to build a Flight 1 or 2 boat, you will have to sand these down flush with the hull. Also, since there is no locator pins in the fins and corresponding holes in the hull, attaching the fins to the hull may be tricky and not provide a very strong glue joint. In addition, the protective ring for the Flight 3 propeller is not provided with the kit. You have the option of modeling the sub with all of the scopes and antennas in either a raised or lowered position or in some combination.
Sprue B contains the upper full for the Flight 1 boats, which did not have the VLS tubes fitted, and
Sprue E contains the upper full for the Flight 2 and 3 boats, which did. These look nicely done and the deck area where crew members would walk on has a bit of texture to it to simulate some anti-skid covering.
Sprue C contains the parts for the Flight 1 and 2 sail, with the appropriate diving planes and Sprue D has the parts for the Flight 3 sail which did not have the dive planes. Sprue D also has the retractable bow planes with the option of modeling them in a deployed or retracted position and the anhedral fins. Each sprue has the correct sail top which had a slight different layout for the Flight 3 boats than the earlier versions. A modeling base and pedestals molded in black plastic is included along with a generic brass photoetch nameplate.
A decal sheet is included with the hatch markings, numbers for the sail and hull and draft markings. Names are provided for only three subs (one from each sub-class): Los Angeles, Chicago and Hartford. The lettering is incorrect for the names as they should be a sans serif typeface. Numbers and names were typically used only when a sub was in port (think of them as large refrigerator magnets) and never while underway. I dont know why arrows are included as I have not seen any photos of a Los Angeles class sub which had them. The kits color and decal placement guide does not refer to them which is a good thing. The decals look a bit thick on the sheet and if you want to model a particular boat in full regalia you are limited in terms of ship names. Being from New York, I would like to build a model of the USS New York City or Albany. There is an aftermarket alternative for decals - Blue Ridge Models sells separate decal sheets for each of the three flights with complete markings for all ships in each class.
The assembly instructions come in an eleven-page booklet that covers both the Los Angeles class subs and the DSRV. The booklet is fully illustrated with clear diagrams that do a good job of noting what step pertains to which sub-class. In the instructions, Flight 1 is referred to as 688, Flight 2 as VLS and Flight 3 as 688 I. The first page has a brief class history in English, German and Chinese. Page 2 has some general instructions and page 3 has images of the parts contained in the box. The painting and decal placement guide comes printed in color on a separate sheet and covers both types of subs. Paint references are primarily for Mr. Hobby color and for Model Master, Humbrol and Tamiya when there is a suitable match.
The DSRV Kit
The parts for the DSRV come on a small plastic sprue labeled F and a small photoetch brass fret and it is quite a detailed little kit in itself. Sprue F has the main parts for the hull and the stowage cradle and they are well done. The photo etched parts include the main and thruster propellers, grab handles and other details. Some of the photoetch parts are very small and fiddly but they add a nice level of detail to this model.
As I mentioned before assembly instructions for the DSRV are included in the eleven-page booklet and the painting guide is incorporated separate color sheet. The only negative with DSRV is the lack of decals; however Blue Ridge Models has produced a set with markings for both the Mystic and Avalon that is worth getting.
Overall this is a very good kit combination and will make a great display piece whatever Flight version you choose with a DSRV piggy back on the deck. For the relatively inexpensive price of the kit you get a lot for your money.