The USS Ward was a Wickes class destroyer built at the Mare Island Yard and launched on June 1, 1918 after being laid down only 15 days earlier.
She was commissioned on July 24, 1918. The Wickes class, along with the Caldwell and Clemson classes, was commonly referred to as “flush-
deckers” or “four-pipers”.
Ward had a brief career before she was decommissioned on July 21, 1921 and subsequently placed in reserve with many of
her sisters at "Red Lead Row" in San Diego.

With World War II raging in Europe, Ward was recommissioned on January 15, 1941. She was sent to Pearl Harbor where she conducted local patrol
duties in Hawaiian waters over the next year. It was during one of these patrols outside the entrance to Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7,
1941 that
Ward received a signal from the minesweeper USS Condor of a periscope sighting. She later sighted a periscope tailing the cargo ship USS
and she opened fire on the target. Ward ended up sinking a Japanese midget submarine that was hoping to sneak past the anti-torpedo nets
behind the Antares. The midget sub’s conning tower was hit by shell fire and
Ward also dropped several depth charges. So the USS Ward is credited
with firing the first American shots of World War II before the Japanese air raid of Pearl Harbor a few hours later. In 2002, a team of scientists from
the University of Hawaii found the wreck of the midget sub which showed evidence of damage from shell fire which caused her to sink.

In 1942,
Ward was converted to a high speed transport (APD) and she spent the next few years supporting the American island hopping invasions. In
1944, she participated in the invasion of the Philippine Islands when she was struck by a kamikaze, ironically on December 7th of that year. The
damage was too severe and the surviving crew was ordered to abandon ship. She was sunk by gunfire from the destroyer
USS O’Brien.
The Kit - The 1:350 scale USS Ward kit is the latest re-issue under the Blue Ridge Models “Heritage Series” line. About a year ago, Blue Ridge re-
issued a resin 1:700 scale
Ward in this particular line. Like all the “Heritage Series” kits, the Ward was sold under a variety of labels. Gulfstream
Models was the original producer, then Classic Warships and lastly Yankee Modelworks. This is not strictly a repackaging by
Blue Ridge as they
have made some improvements /enhancements to this kit.

With the
Blue Ridge Models version of this kit, all of the smaller parts and the included IJN midget sub, which were originally in white metal, are
now in resin. The box label is also new, with a beautiful full-color original artwork by painter Wayne Scarpaci. Following
Blue Ridge Models
practice, the hull and all of parts bags are snugly fitted into die-cut foam inserts inside the box which prevent breakage and damage. The photo-etch is
at the bottom of the box underneath the bottom layer of foam and the instructions are packed on the top folded over the side of the box.

The one-piece resin full hull has all of the superstructures and deck housings cast into it. The original kit had all of the funnels integrated into the hull
but that complicated the casting process so it was decided to make them separate parts instead. Details such as watertight doors and hatches, bollards,
depth charge thrower, life rings and skylights are included in the casting. The deck has holes of various sizes to help attach the smaller resin and
photo-etch parts.

The hull has a casting runner which is attached to the keel with four individual blocks. The older versions had the casting runner attached along the
entire keel, which made it harder to remove and required more clean-up. The new approach certainly makes it easier to remove the runner and will
require less sanding. The casting is overall excellent and other than the spots along the keel, it will need little if any additional clean-up.
As mentioned above, the small parts are now cast in resin and not in white metal. These include the funnels, bridge roof, searchlight platform,
foremast, torpedo tubes, 4”/50 guns (one with a shield and four without), 3” gun, cowl vents, rafts, propeller shaft struts, searchlights, gun directors
and boats. These parts are not as cleanly cast and need more effort to remove wisps of resin film and any roughness from where the parts are attached
to the casting runner. Since the shielded 4” gun is cast as one part, it is solid, as if it was a turret, rather than an open-shield mount. I would have
preferred to have seen the shield added to the photo-etch fret as one of the improvements. I would also recommend scratch-building the forward mast
with brass rod for a sturdier version and adding the lookout position from the resin part. Last but not least among the smaller resin parts is the
Japanese midget submarine.

The photo-etch brass is actually the original design with just the “brand name” updated to Trident Inc. (which was the precursor to Yankee
Modelworks). Regardless of the vintage of the photo-etch design, it is very well done though it lacks relief etching that is more common in newer
designs. The brass includes pre-measured sections of railings for specific areas of the ship, funnel cap grills, inclined and vertical ladders, boat davits
and stowage racks, searchlight tower, propeller guards, propellers, rudders for the boats, torpedo tube sights, anchors and chain, yardarms, depth
charge racks and handling davits and various smaller fittings. Parts to detail the midget sub, like the rudders, dive planes, propellers and torpedo tubes
guard are also included. What is not included with this kit is a decal sheet, which is a negative, so you will have to use some aftermarket decals instead.

The 13 pages of assembly instructions are essentially a reprint of the set included with the Yankee Modelworks release, which were the original version
with a different title page and two additional pages of general tips. The cover page has the
Blue Ridge Models logo on top but still has the Yankee
Modelworks kit number on the bottom. The illustrations are well done with several blow-up assembly diagrams supplemented with drawings of each
section of the ship as it should appear with everything in place.
This kit is a welcome re-release of a, I dare say, a vintage resin kit that still holds up very well. The improvements made by Blue Ridge Models were
a smart idea that in the end makes for an even better product. My thanks to
Blue Ridge Models for the review sample.
Felix Bustelo