And just what is a Premium Edition kit? Quite simply, Dragon Premium Edition kits are a perfect balance of modern manufacturing technology, and value for the money, with often re-issued and re-used existing DML subject kits. Utilizing the technological advancements made in the injection molding process, to create a better original mold, with greater detail and more accurate parts, equals the creation of an overall greatly improved kit for today’s modeler.
In this writing we will take a closer look at one of DML’s latest Premium Edition offerings, the “USS Independence, CVL-22, 1943”, in 1/700 scale injection mold plastic.
The Original Ship History:
Originally built as cruisers, nine Independence Class vessels were converted into light carriers, as an emergency war time measure; These U.S. Navy carriers offered some of the best combat service at a time of desperate need and a shortage of the more larger and advanced carriers. Because these ships were not originally designed as carriers, the vessels were quite cramped with an extremely small amount of maintenance and storage facilities for the aircraft that was carried on board, with a maximum of 45 planes. The outward appearance of these ships was very distinctive, boasting four funnels, and a small bridge island. These small carriers were light and quite fast, with a maximum speed of 32 knots.
The kit, box, and what’s inside:
This new kit is served up in style to the modeler in a medium weight, open lidded style cardboard box, with colorful and exciting box-art displayed on all sides of the lid. Upon opening the box, you will find six individually sealed clear plastic bags containing the kit’s contents. The first bag that meets your eye is one containing three of the reasons of why this kit is touted as “Premium”, which is the brass photo-etch sheet, the decal sheet, and the updated air-wing sprues, all sealed again in their own bags for protection, attached to a heavy cardstock decorated in Dragon fashion. Each following sealed bag contains the balance of the plastic sprues, most molded in a medium gray, injection molded plastic, typical of Dragon quality. The kit parts are all well molded, with clean, crisp detail and fine lines overall; not one mold seam is present, and on one kit part, #A-8, the forecastle deck, is the only apparent flash present on this kit, albeit a very small amount. Following will be a brief breakdown of each sprue and its contents.
Sprue A- This sprue contains mainly the upper hull assembly, which is molded in three separate pieces; one main mid-ship part, and two smaller fore and aft sections. This sprue also contains many other minor structural hull parts, which include end bulkheads complete with access doors, and well detailed stack external bracing. There also are many parts on this sprue which will go unused (because of the included new photo-etch parts!).
Sprue B- Generic DML weapons sprue, in 1/700 scale, are what these two sprues are; They include a vast array of Anti-Aircraft guns, tubs, searchlights, and hose reels, to name a few...again, a lot of these parts will again go unused.
Sprue C- This sprue is instantly recognizable as different from the others, as it is molded in a fine clear, styrene plastic, fantastically detailed, as well! The largest part on the sprue (and in the entire kit) is the flight deck...What, a clear flight deck? Yes, that’s right, not only is the deck clear, but the bulkheads, side galleries, and gun sponsons are clear as well. These clear parts give the modeler an option not available with the previous versions of this kit, which is the choice of modeling the ship, full hull style, with the clear deck parts, to showcase the highly detailed, relief etch hangar bay that’s included in the photo-etch parts! What a fantastic and unique option, to also highlight the new and updated air wing as well! All details on these clear parts is fantastic, very cleanly molded, including two deck elevators that are very clearly indicated, but molded as part of the one piece deck; thus, they cannot be modeled in a down position. The bulkheads are loaded with details, such as vertical ladders, portholes, and ventilation ports. Also included are seven separate platforms, all with excellent grid detail, twin 40mm guns with separate mounts, and 22 carley floats; and yes, they all can be painted if the modeler wishes to build the ship in it’s traditional sense.
Sprue D- This sprue contains the lower hull, and the propulsion system components, as well as the included molded kit base and nameplate. All shafts, rudders, and screws are again well molded and finely detailed. The lower hull exterior is molded with a slightly grainy texture, which looks as if it will finish very nicely. Note: this model can also be built in a waterline version, by omitting the lower hull section (but no waterline plate is included in the kit).
Sprue K- Another generic DML sprue, and originally designed for the Essex Class carrier kits, this sprue is loaded with miscellaneous fittings and weapons, few used on this version, and many leftover parts for the parts box afterward.
The newly tooled aircraft sprues are a definite welcome addition to this Premium Edition kit, because in the original kit of the Independence, only two aircraft were included, and both of the wrong type! But these three sprues of clear molded styrene are definitely a superior enhancement, as they are well done, super detailed, and 100% accurate. Each aircraft can be built with either extended or folded wings, all with separate landing gear and propellers. Look close at these tiny planes; because they even have scribed panel lines in both the wings and fuselage (remember these are 1/700 scale!)
Brass Photo Etch
The photo-etch fret, one of the highlights of any DML Premium kit, makes for a fine addition to this kit as well, to improve both looks and accuracy, above the previous kit(s) issued. The largest part on the fret is the relief etched hangar bay, that’s longing to be displayed in the clear version of this build! There are also end bulkheads in brass, as well as a detailed, intricate mast tower for the island. A boat crane and SK radar round out the set, along with a little deck railing and a vertical ladder section.
The decal sheet for this set is exclusively designed by Cartograf of Italy, with excellent quality, color and detail, and gives the modeler quite a few options for markings with his choice of builds. There are three different stern plates included, The USS Independence, the USS Monterey, and the USS San Jacinto, respectively; four pairs of large deck numerals, a full set of deck markings, and white hull numerals for three separate numbered carriers are included, as are four national ensigns in two different sizes. How about aircraft markings, you ask? Well, you have your choice of 50 national insignia, with red outlines, used in 1943, and also 50 without, for the remaining wartime. A very cool touch is the specific tail and wing markings, the checkerboard design, which is worn by the vessels air-wing.
The Instruction Sheet
The instruction sheet provided is of the typical fold out style, containing eight separate pages. Well drawn, blow up style construction diagrams clearly illustrate the building process. The paint chart listing has color recommendations for three separate paint makes, Aqueous Hobby Color, Testors’ Model Master, and Gunze Mr. Color. Photo-etch folding diagrams are shown very clearly, and the exclusion of old parts replaced by the photo-etch are clearly discerned, for an easier retrofit. There are three full pages of paint scheme diagrams, with dazzle paint schemes, one for the USS Monterey CVL-26, in January 1944, with Measure 33/3D, one for the USS San Jacinto, CVL-30, January, 1944, in 33/7A Measure, and of course, the USS Independence, CVL-22, December 1943, in Measure 32/8A. All paint scheme charts are well drawn, and clearly indicated with the measure markings and colors.
The Dragon Premium Edition USS Independence shows a remarkable improvement over previous versions, both DML and other manufacturers. There are many new additions, revisions, and re-workings to this version, including photo-etch enhancements, an updated, accurate air-wing, and the clear flight deck building option. Well detailed, highly accurate parts, clean crisp lines, great molding and dynamite engineering all wrap up together into an extremely build-able model kit. Very highly recommended, and a definite must have, from this modelers point of view.
Many thanks to DML USA for providing this excellent review sample!
Keep Modeling! ~Gunny
One of the latest additions to Dragon Models’ 1/700 scale “Modern Sea Power” Series, The USS Independence, CVL-22, 1943, looks to be one of the best versions available of this subject, with added features, improved accuracy, and greater detail, overall, brought to the modeler in a “Premium Edition”.
About Mark R. Smith (Gunny) FROM: PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES
I have been building models of all sorts all of my life, concentrating mainly on the coolest one's when I was younger, but now I focus directly on all military subjects, from armor to warships. After years of counting rivets, I put away the calipers, dial indicators, and micrometers and now just ha...