by: Darren Baker [ ]
Originally published on:
This introduction is from the South China Morning Post written by Liu Zhen in Beijing and published at 11:04pm, 5 Aug, 2018.
They are Asia’s largest and most advanced destroyers, designed to guard China’s first home-grown aircraft carrier and meet the navy’s demand for modern warships. Moving at top speed to build up a global blue-water navy to safeguard its maritime interests, China has launched four Type 055 guided-missile destroyers in the past 13 months — two simultaneously in July — and is building four more.
The home-built warships — which analysts have called the second most powerful globally — are to serve as the primary escorts for People’s Liberation Army aircraft carrier strike groups. The as-yet unnamed aircraft carrier that would provide the primary offensive firepower for a battle unit concluded its maiden sea trials in May. Here are five things to know about the Type 055 destroyer:
1. Its size and armaments put it closer to a ‘cruiser’ than a ‘destroyer’
Type 055 is well equipped to be the primary escort in China’s aircraft carrier strike groups. At more than 180 metres long and 20 metres wide with a full displacement of more than 12,000 tonnes, it is a fearsome piece of marine and military engineering, equipped with air-defence, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons. Despite being officially classified by the PLA navy as a “destroyer”, the vessel’s size and capabilities exceed the traditional standards for the type of small, fast warship that typically plays a defensive role against submarines and aircraft. In fact, in the US defence department’s annual China military power report, Type 055 is called a “cruiser”, which, by the US definition, is the largest and most powerful surface combatant after an aircraft carrier.
2. It is said to be the world’s second strongest destroyer
The type 055 has a larger vertical missile-launching system than most of the world’s destroyers. Its Vertical Launch System (VLS) cells are also bigger than those found on US naval ships. The warship has a 112-cell VLS to fire HHQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missiles, CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles and missile-launched anti-submarine torpedoes. It also has a 130mm dual-purpose naval gun and close-in weapon system and carries two anti-submarine helicopters. The destroyer’s features include advanced X band radar in four active electronically scanned arrays and an integrated electronic system similar to the Aegis combat system on US naval ships. Given its size, Type 055 could also serve as a platform for developing next-generation weapons such as high-energy laser equipment or rail guns, according to military analysts. In theory, Type 055 is the world’s second most powerful destroyer after the US Navy’s DDG-1000, or Zumwalt class, the analysts said.
3. It still trails the US Zumwalt class
While China’s Type 055 destroyer raises comparisons with the US Navy’s Zumwalt class destroyer, the Chinese vessel still lags its US counterpart in important ways. The Zumwalt is the world’s most technologically advanced destroyer, with 15,000 dominant tonnes of displacement. Possessing a unique tumblehome hull design — where the sides slope inward — and an angular shape, the Zumwalt has a reduced radar return that can make it as stealthy as a fishing boat and quieter than a small submarine. The Zumwalt also is equipped with a next-generation electronic system. Designed primarily as a land attack vessel, the Zumwalt is fitted with powerful naval guns that include a 155mm advanced gun system and an 80-cell VLS distributed peripherally around its outer shell. By contrast, Type 055 is designed to focus on air defence and anti-submarine missions and thus has more missile cells and a longer range than the Zumwalt class.
4. It can compete with other warships in Asia
Type 055 destroyers will probably play a role similar to that of US Ticonderoga class cruisers and Arleigh Burke class destroyers, even though the Chinese ship is larger than both of the US vessels, which have displacements of fewer than 10,000 tonnes. Type 055’s radar, electronic and missile system also uses newer technology than the two US warships, which were developed in the 1980s and 1990s. Type 055 also has been compared to other warships deployed in the region, notably South Korea’s Sejong the Great class (DDG-991) and Japan’s Atago class and its newly launched Maya subclass. Both the Sejong and Atago-class destroyers have full displacements of around 10,000 tonnes and Aegis combat systems, with the Sejong the Great class boasting a 128-cell VLS. But analysts said they believe Type 055 surpasses the Korean and Japanese vessels in size, radar system performance, missile capacity and multi-functionality.
5. It will trigger a shortage of warship names
One of the Type 055 vessels under construction will be named “Lhasa”, after the capital of Tibet. The names of the other seven Type 055 vessels remain unknown, but the Chinese navy’s vessel naming rules call for larger destroyers to be named after China’s regional central cities, in most cases provincial capitals. However, amid the recent boom in naval shipbuilding, 25 provincial capitals have already been used for warship names. Just two mainland capitals remain available: Nanchang in Jiangxi and Nanning in Guangxi.
This latest offering from Bronco Models covering the new Type 055 Destroyers is packaged in the usual manner of a cardboard tray and a card lid. Inside the parts are packed in their own plastic bags with the exception of the hull and main deck that is secured with a cardboard insert. There are two frets of photo etch and a good decal sheet also included. The instruction booklet is of the usual good quality.
I know very little about this vessel or its type and even the instructions do not share any knowledge of the vessel and that is why I have included the introduction above from another source and correctly attributed it. The hull and deck are moulded in two complete pieces which is quite impressive for a model of 20 inches in length. The moulding of these two pieces is very clean with a single recessed area to deal with on the underside of the hull, and there is a very heavy feeder rail on the upper hull that will just need removal and general clean up, but further investigation reveals that the sprue can stay in place without affecting the build. There are a couple of lines on the sides of the upper hull that will need cleaning up.
I have only been able to check the accuracy of the model against online images and I have to say it looks very good. The vessel has very visually pleasing lines that seem to be very well replicated here. The upper hull moulding has a huge amount of detail moulded in place and this detail is very crisp where needed. The command deck and exhaust stack have been separately moulded and require very little in the way of extra parts to complete them.
The propulsion units, rudders and ship stabilizers are well catered to in the model, but I have no way to confirm their accuracy other than some three dimensional drawings that have proved inaccurate against images of the actual vessels. The bulbous bow is a separate part and I believe that has been done due to the moulding requirements of a single piece hull. The only other plastic parts other than the electronics tower behind the command deck are the weapons systems that have been well covered with one exception, no helicopters are included in the model; this is a real shame as I feel the helicopters would have added a pleasing visual detail and yes they can be bought separately.
The photo etched elements in this model are provided in two gauges and if I am honest what scares me the most where ships are concerned is the photo etched parts. On this model you need not run for the hills if you share my fear as there is no need to make 30 bends in a microscopic piece of metal. I have checked the instructions several times and there does not seem to be the need for a single bend, so remove and correctly locate with a steady hand. Earlier I said I had found an issue with online drawings and that error is a deck break in front of the main gun turret which is not seen on images of the actual vessels, or at least not the ones I have looked at.
A nice touch with this release is a nicely moulded display stand that is a very nice addition to the model for placing the model on during construction, painting and finally displaying your work.
This offering from Bronco Models is a very appealing model of a vessel with great visual lines. The parts count is amazingly low for a ship model of this size and scale and I congratulate Bronco Models for not making parts that didn’t need to be separate. I feel that this is the first modern warship I have seen with photo etched parts included that could be tackled reasonably easily by modellers of all skill levels. The only negative I can make against the model is the lack of helicopters that I feel would have been a really nice finishing touch.