On March 21, 2014, China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) commissioned the first of its Luyang III (Type 052D) class guided missile
destroyers. The
Kunming, pennant number 172, appears to be an improved Luyang II (Type 052C) class destroyer, particularly in terms of design,
weapons and sensors.
Changsa, pennant number 173, is the second ship in this class and it is currently undergoing sea trials. She is expected to be
commissioned in 2015, if not earlier. Another eight ships are currently planned.

The Type 052D is similar in layout to the earlier Type 052C, but there are some changes. The Type 052D superstructure slopes inward at a greater
angle, providing better stealth. The helicopter hangar on the Type 052D is moved to the center, as opposed to being on the left as on the Type 052C.
A pair of enclosed boat/raft launching systems was added, with one on each side of the helicopter hangar. The ship can accommodate a crew of 280
and carry up to two Harbin Zhi-9A Haitun or Kamov Ka-28 Helix helicopters on its flight deck.

The armament of the Type 052D is improved compared to the previous class. The Type 052D has a brand new vertical launching system (VLS) for
surface-to-air missiles, cruise missiles, anti-submarine missiles, and anti-ship missiles. The Type 052D carries the new single barrel Type H/PJ38
130mm gun, which replaces the Type H/PJ87 100 mm gun on the Type 052C. It is also fitted with a Type 730 30mm CIWS, a FL-3000N launcher
with 24 missiles and four ASW Multiple Launch Rocket System launchers with 18 rockets each.
The Type 052D is fitted an enhanced version of the indigenously developed Type 346 Dragon Eye active phased-array radar on its forward
superstructure. This has been called the “Chinese Aegis” because of the similarity to the system used by the U.S Navy and some of its allies. The ship
also has a bow-mounted sonar and towed array sensors. The Type 517HA VHF radar mast was moved toward the stern of the ship. This new class
of destroyers gives the PLAN capabilities reportedly approaching those of the Burke class DDGs.

The Kit - The Changsa kit is one of the two Bronco Models kits just released of a Type 052D destroyer. The other kit is the Kunming, but since
this review examines the
Changsa kit, I cannot comment if there are any differences other than the decal sheet. The release of these two kits is rather
timely since the
Kunming was just commissioned and the Changsa is currently undergoing trials.

There are approximately 330 parts on seven sprues as well as some separate items. The injection molding is rather good overall and the parts are
pretty well detailed. The parts count is on the high side for a ship this size and that is because a lot of the smaller, individual details, such as the
mooring bitts, radar panels and communications equipment, are all individual parts. Some of the subassemblies, such as the main 130mm gun, CWIS
and radars, are broken down into multiple parts. This approach mirrors that of
Dragon kits which has its pros and cons. While this may complicate
assembly a bit and increase the risk of losing parts or damaging them when removing them from the sprues, the end result will be a detailed and busy
looking model. There are injection molding spots and blemishes, but it looks like most of not all will be hidden once the kit is assembled.
The main parts are the full-hull halves and a lower deck piece that acts as a stiffener. The hull parts are done in the traditional port and starboard
halves with the sonar dome at the bow. There are openings or indentations for the stabilizers, bilge keels, rudders and propeller shaft assemblies.
Looking at the inside of the hull halves you will see a slot running along the waterline. This slot also appears on the inside of the transom stern, which
is a separate part on another sprue. This slot is designed to fit the lower deck piece that will give the hull some rigidity. Now the instructions do not
indicate that this as an option, but it appears to me that cutting along this slot will allow you to convert the model to a waterline version and this lower
deck piece could be used as a waterline plate. You can see numerous injection molding blemishes along the insides of the hull halves but these will be
hidden from view once the hull is fully assembled.

There is a white box that contains the main superstructure, which is also the middle section of the ship. Although it was boxed separately and
wrapped with some foam packing material, the very tips at the aft end of this part are either bent or broken off. This will require some repair work.
This part is also cleanly molded with little actual surface detail, but since this ship is supposed to be stealth, there really shouldn’t be any. This part
will fit flush with the hull and rest on top of the foc’sle and flight deck parts. There is a nasty looking mold part blemish but again this will be
concealed with the funnel housing. The VLS launchers have the option of leaving 8 cells open or closed as the doors are separate parts. You also have
the option of leaving the hanger and the RHIB stowage bays open or closed. If you decide to leave the stowage bays closed, you will not need to
assemble the RHIBs and cradles, which are again multi-parts affairs. If you opt to leave these open there are no bulkheads or interiors behind the
stowage bays and there will simply be an empty space in between. The same can be said about the hangar. I cannot imagine that this is like this on the
actual ship. This is also the case at the stern where on each side of the hull there are openings but nothing to go inside and you will probably be able
to see right across into a void. I am guessing that there is a deck with mooring bitts and/or a capstan fitted there. It will be up to the modeler to
decide whether to close off the bays and hangar or add some scratch-built interiors here and at the stern. With how much effort Bronco expended to
add detail just about everywhere else with a slew of parts, some rather tiny, I am disappointed that these areas were essentially overlooked.
The bridge and the aft housings are also molded as separate parts. There are really good details molded into these parts but at the back ends there are
some sprue bits that may leave marks when removed.

The bulk of the parts are on the remaining six sprues. Sprue A has the foc’sle and flight decks, the stern, parts for the funnel housing, the base housing
for the Type 517HA VHF radar mast, propeller shafts, propellers and VLS array for the foc’sle deck. Again, you have the option of leaving 8 cells open
or closed. Sprue B has the parts for the 130mm gun turret, CWIS, hangar door, radomes, various platforms, RHIB hull and other parts. You get two of
Sprue C which has the rudders, stabilizers, more parts for the RHIB and most of the tiny parts like the VLS doors and bitts. Also on this sprue are the
Yagi arrays for the Type 517HA radar and the panels for the Type 346 Dragon Eye system. The latter could have been easily molded into the
superstructure so I don’t understand the logic behind the decision of having these as separate parts. Sprue D has the rotors, wheels and other parts for
the Ka-27 ASW helicopter. The fuselage for the helicopter is molded clear on Sprue E.
The kit comes with two photo-etch frets, with one being the name plate for the model. The other contains railings, what should be flight deck safety
netting, some vertical ladders and alternative parts for the Type 517HA Yagis. The latter are much finer than the plastic parts but will of course make
assembly more complicated. Still it is nice to have this option. Other parts include the racks for the life raft canisters, propellers for the RHIBs and
some details for the helicopter. The plus with the photo-etch is that the railings are pre-measured and designed to fit into the shapes of certain sections
of the ship, though they have individual stanchion ends. However, Bronco made a major flub here with the flight deck safety netting – there is no
netting!  Instead you have what amounts to railings but the few photos of I have seen of a Type 052D show that this should be netting. You will have
to seek another source for proper flight deck netting. Each fret is sandwiched between two pieces of clear plastic that serve to protect the parts and is
supposed to peel off without difficulty and not leave any residue. My one experience so far with removing this kind of plastic film from some photo-
etch, produced by an after-market producer and not Bronco, resulted in pulling on and damaging some of the finer parts. So you will have exercise care
when removing this film. A small decal sheet is provided with hull numbers, flight deck markings, flags and markings for the helicopter. The stenciled
numbers on the sheet apparently are not used as they are not referenced in the assembly instructions.

Assembly instructions are provided in an 11 page A4 sized booklet. The cover has the box top art and a brief description of the Type 052D destroyer in
English, German and Chinese. The first page has some general tips, a glossary to explain the icons that appear throughout the assembly guide and color
references, when possible, for Mr. Hobby, Hobby Color, Humbrol and Tamiya paints. Apparently there is no match for the hull color. Page 2 has
images of all the kit parts and decal sheet. Pages 3 through 9 contain the actual assembly diagrams which are very detailed and clear. Photo-etch parts
are shown in a brass color, in addition to the part prefix of P, which helps make them standout. The last page has a color painting and decal placement
guide. You also get a full-color poster of the box art with which you can decorate your modeling space.
Overall this appears to be a good kit, though somewhat over engineered with unnecessarily complicated assemblies in some areas and head-scratching
omissions in others. Still it should build up into a detailed replica of the newest class of destroyer in the People’s Liberation Army Navy. If you have an
interest in modern navy ships, this model will make an interesting addition to your fleet. My thanks to Dragon USA for the review sample.
Felix Bustelo